For New York’s most style-obsessed hotels, Fashion Week is a gift. What better way to fill rooms during the dead of winter? W Hotels, a super-savvy marketer, goes a step further and embraces Fashion Week as an opportunity to fill rooms and strut its stuff.
Not only is W a sponsor of Fall 2011 Fashion Week, currently sashaying through its new(ish) Lincoln Center home through February 17, on Thursday night W unveiled its own collection, Global Glam Fall 2011, nine new looks designed to capture the ethos of three new W properties in Austin, Mexico City and Tapei.
Has W acquired a house designer, a Marc or Stella or Project Runway winner, to dream up clothes that complement its carefully honed cool?
Not quite. It’s brought in stylist Amanda Ross, an alum of Conde Nast, Harpers Bazaar and TV shows like Lipstick Jungle, to curate, as W terms it, three top-to-toe women’s looks for each of the properties with items to be sold at W hotel stores worldwide and online.
Curating in this context means Ross commissioned new pieces from 15 designers, including Eugenia Kim, Mara Hoffman, Twinkle by Wenlan, Clare Vevier, Deepa Gurnani, Noir, Paola Hernandez, I-Luck, Myne, Posse, Shaesby, Sibilia, Catherine Nicole, Yarnz and Contego Eyewear. They range from Kim’s floppy hat accented with a pheasant feather (Austin) and Sibilia’s mixed metal pendant necklace (Mexico City) to Twinkle’s bold fuschia kimono-style dress (Tapei).
What happens when a hotel meets a runway? I missed W’s first foray last fall, so eagerly signed up to see the February 10 show.
Runway is a loose term, as I realized when I learned that Global Glam would unfurl in the Box, a seat-free space where models pose for an hour or two for audiences who arrive in waves, scrutinize, snap pictures, then leave, like last season’s Andrew Buckler show. In other words, no pecking order, no straining to see Blake Lively/Sarah Jessica Parker/Anna Wintour in the front row.
But who knew the Box could have a velvet rope feel? As the first strains of house music pulsated around 8:30 pm, I found myself in the thick of an orderly, mostly well-dressed throng. Gaining entry took forever, or to be precise 35 minutes, and a big crowd waited as we wedged our way inside.
Still, everybody in line had a ticket or a pass — to paraphrase Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, it was a sure thing. And the mood was upbeat. I chatted with three fashionable women who, like much of the crowd were dressed for clubbing, and discovered their $100 tickets(!), purchased on American Express, included seat assignments. Huh?
Did they enjoy the show? Or wonder where the seats were? I’ll never know because I never saw them again. Inside, the box mashed up rush hour and a cocktail party – dark room, throbbing music, wall-to-wall people, flashing cameras and an open bar (white wine, champagne and a pretty strawberry-infused house cocktail were the drinks of choice).
And the clothes? Nine models perched on three islands, labeled by city and defined by differing backdrops and colors. The clothes fit their settings – luxe hippy/bohemian for Austin, colorful, Asian-inflected silks for Taipei and high drama prints and bold jewelry for Mexico City. Given what you see in W shops and online, accessories ruled, from Eugenia Kim’s fetching fedora donned by Mexico City to the killer patent leather open-toe clogs sported by Taipei.
The models posed good-naturedly with anyone who asked. Many did. Though not cutting edge, the clothes were wearable, contemporary and fun, just the thing to wear at a W hotel restaurant or bar. My favorite: Austin’s long print dress, cinched with a wide leather belt and topped with a floppy hat. It quietly screamed 2011.
Note: W is offering fashion packages for the rest of Fashion Week including admission to select shows including Anna Sui, Nanette Lepore and Vera Wang (Bagdley Mishka and Tory Burch are sold out). Information at W New York Catwalk.