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Fashionista Festivities

Written by Jack Curtin
Photographed by

Frank Travis





I’m a sucker for an open-bar. (Who isn’t?) Of course they’re not without their limitations. Like a free-trip or a free lunch or anything “free”, they often don’t pan out as promised and have a set of built-in limitations. And I don’t often attend invites from PR companies (usually they’re never as good as billed – surprise, surprise). But when EMRG Media invited me to the Major Models Management Fashion Week party at Frederick’s on West 58th St., around the corner from my apartment, I realized I couldn’t pass this one up.

Fashion Week Models and Designers
Frederick's Members' Only Room

Besides being close, I thought this may be a party actually worth attending (it is Fashion Week, after all), and despite our relative proximity to one another, I had never been to Frederick’s. Moreover, I already planned on attending a St. Tropez party at Pink Elephant, hosted by Thomas Ribeiro (formerly of the late, great nightclub Fizz) a bit later in the evening, so the more I thought about it the more sense it made – I’d have one big Fashion Week party-hopping article.

Frederick’s opened back in 2004, and – with its patented finger-print scanner (I never saw it when I was there and am skeptical it’s even still around) and Members’ Only room – attracted many bold face names and much media attention. Simply put, it was all the rage. Fast-forward a few years, and even though it’s cooled a bit, the Uptown society set still enjoys a stiff cocktail in the subterranean space after an overpriced meal at Nello’s. Thus I wasn’t at all surprised to find a line full of eager attendees at the door. After a few minutes of waiting we were graciously whisked past the velvet rope and headed downstairs straight for the open bar. Not surprisingly, the place was packed. Even more ‘unsurprisingly’ the drink selection was limited to vodka (but if you’re only going to have one choice, vodka’s not a bad way to go). Clubs located north of 14th street tend to be more glam and less edgy than their downtown counterparts. Warm lighting, plush seating – Frederick’s has a polished aesthetic that in many ways is a refreshing change of pace from the ‘trendier than thou’ attitude of other nightspots. Sort of like your friend that’s not afraid to don an expensive suit. Our gracious host Erica Maurer of EMRG (thank you Erica) even got us into the exclusive Member’s Only lounge which, truth be told, is basically the same as the outer bar area. From what I could gather this is where most of the models were hanging out, and while I’m not used to being the most unattractive person in a batch of photos, it was still a fantastic way to begin the evening.

Jack Curtin Being Dissed at Pink Elephant

I wish I could say the same for our next venue. Walking down 27th street, I didn’t have any indication I would have a problem getting into Pink Elephant. I’ve been many times without any problems and have even helped organize events (not to mention spent a lot of money) here. So I won’t say I wasn’t shocked when we were turned away at the door. “That party ended at 11 o’clock, sir”. I looked at my invitation (in hand) – no reference to any specific end time. I skeptically looked at my watch – 11:45pm, which, on a Thursday in New York seemed a little early to end a party. I looked at the doorman (again), and he let me know (again) that we weren’t getting in. “But I have a professional photographer with me”. “We don’t allow photography inside the club, sir”. (Funny, how a bunch of photos appeared in New York magazine the following week). I completely understand that any doorman is in a difficult position and at the end of the day is only doing his job (to be fair we were two guys). But we were also here to write a review and had clearance from the host of the party. Either we were being lied to or the lines of communication at this club are as disorganized as our current administration – either way it isn’t professional and doesn’t make the club look good.

Jack Curtin at the Brite Bar

After our mild set-back at Pink Elephant, we headed down 27th street past the likes of Guest House and Home (over and so-over), BED (closed) and Bungalow 8 (still going strong despite) to find Brite Bar - an unexpected oasis of well-made, reasonably-priced cocktails in what has become a desert of overpriced mediocrity. Brite Bar swims against the stream of unjustified and largely unnecessary pretension (Bungalow is still pretentious as hell, but frankly they’ve earned it) that has become de rigeur for the area. And it’s much better off for it - I only wish they realized this. To be fair, no matter which way you slice it, Brite Bar generally functions as a bar for clubland spillover – a place to come when you haven’t made the cut at the clubs down the street (us); it’s the fly-paper of 27th street. Which is why a mild inferiority complex is valid and entirely forgivable. But it’s a bit of a shame and more than a little ironic because were it located anywhere else than the heart of NYC clubland, Brite Bar would be perpetually packed and perennially hip. Sleek design, polished wood, attractive and friendly staff – all the necessary elements are there. And though you may not have to sell your first-born to get through the door – from the décor to the drinks to the dj - it genuinely offers everything you want in a club and, for the most part, is one of the better options in the area. Perhaps even more ironically (and with the possible exception of Bungalow), I’ve had at least, and probably more, celebrity sightings (David Byrne, for example) here as I have at any of the big names down the street. Not that that really matters (I don’t bring my cocktails to the zoo and prefer not to bring the zoo to my cocktails) but it does merit mention because for these other clubs the possibility of a celebrity sighting is often a prominent selling point. So after a few shots of Patron and some degradation-free conversation with the fantastic staff, I got over my difficulties at Pink Elephant. They say everything happens for a reason. And it soon became clear that this was the perfect way to end a (mostly) perfect evening.

(212) 752-6200
8 W. 58th Street (between Fifth and Sixth Avenue)

Pink Elephant
(212) 463-0000
527 W. 27th Street (between Tenth and Eleventh Avenue)

Brite Bar
(212) 279-9706
297 Tenth Avenue (at 27th Street)


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