Up & Down hosted the fashion week party that everyone wanted to throw Friday night and it was not just because Lil Kim was on the bill. Bullett joined Vashtie, Uzi, and Jesse Marco to mark the final installment of the weekly party called Duh at the 14th Street club, drawing downtown’s most effervescent and carefree party to a temporary close. With Russell Simmons, Public School’s Maxwell Osborne, Atrak, and Kid Cudi in tow, Duh’s fashion week fête was a fitting coda to the party’s stylish run.
Despite the bittersweet air of the Duh crew and their fresh-faced following, the party at Up & Down stayed packed late into the night. Many people eagerly awaited Lil Kim’s performance, which did not start till after 2am. Luckily, Duh co-founder and rapper Alex Chapman buoyed the restless crowd with a delightful DJ set, doing what he does best, mixing songs by Internet phenoms like Le1f and iLoveMakonnen with nostalgic crowd-pleasers from Missy Elliot and J-Kwon.
Model Shaun Ross and singer K Rizz were some of the first idiosyncratic fashion characters to arrive at the party. K Rizz said she came in support of Chapman and clarified why the party was so HAM in generational terms. “It’s amazing, especially for people who were born and alive in the 2000s. They’re playing all our jams right now so I am happy.”
Sometimes fashion week can feel alienating and hostile, but Duh offered the perfect sanctuary for those who wanted a taste of the glitz without the narcissistic sting. Green-haired Tumblr star and IRL New York City bad gyal via Alabama Chloe Mackey explained how to traverse the scene. “It’s a shitshow, but when you’re with your friends you can make it enjoyable. No matter what really happens, if you’re with them and you make a joke out of it and you have a good sense of humor everything’s fine,” she said. Open bars help too she added, quoting Beyoncé’s prophetic line, “I’ve been drinkin’.”
The party also drew tenured fashion figures. Tyson Beckford, Richard Chai, Joe Jonas, and one of the DSquared2 Caten twins converged downstairs, their entourages encircling a ring of plush couches. Earlier in the night J.Crew president and creative director Jenna Lyons escorted a chic procession of friends through the throng of revelers with a white tailored blazer slung over her shoulders. Duh co-founder Joe Grun hopes the young community he’s helped cultivate will learn from the successful guests who have hung out at the party over the past thirty weeks. “As we mature we want our audience to mature with us. We can do much more of what we want to do, and branch out and do something different,” he said.
Jesse Marco gave the party a native New Yorker stamp of approval with a set that weaved contemporary hip hop with Fat Man Scoop chants. Lil Kim began her set just in time to uplift wavering partygoers. She complimented the crowd that amassed below the DJ booth upstairs, but they already knew they looked good so it did little to remedy her tired performance. She’s still Queen Bee, though. Even when she rambles over backing tracks to hits like “Lighters Up” and “Get Money.”
It was ultimately a win for the Duh family, the performance a testament to the importance of moving on. “Our plan is to grow, expand, and evolve. There’s a lot of parties that end up stuck in a spot where they are just going over and over and over. You just get stale. Either the party gets lame or you get tired and annoyed so you don’t want to be there,” said Chapman.
Actress and writer Hari Nef joined the Duh team over the summer and hosted the party on Friday, one of the many fashion week engagements she balances with attending Columbia University full-time. She greeted friends as she glided through Up & Down’s mirrored corridor. Under the glow of teal lights, she spelled out the Duh dream. “We created the family. We created the movement. We created the aesthetic. And we’ve wasted no time. Now we are scooping it all up and taking it global.”
The following photos by Elliot Brown Jr.