New Yorkers Free Their Minds At Park Avenue Armory

The Park Avenue Armory’s Wade Thompson Drill Hall
Photo by Laurel Marcus

Despite all the ills (both real and created) that befall us, New York’s social and gala season is in full swing. Approximately 400 people were happy to get out, get up, and boogie, as witnessed last night at The Park Avenue Armory celebrating its welcome back dinner entitled “Free Your Mind.”

En Vogue
Photo by Laurel Marcus

The title, I later realized, was inspired by a song of the same name by singing trio-who-used-to-be-a-quartet En Vogue. The ladies performed three sets featuring some of their greatest hits, including a rousing rendition of “Never Gonna Get It (My Lovin)” to open the dinner. A few attendees couldn’t stay in their seats and came up to dance close to the stage.

Gala Vice Chairs Slobodan Randjelovic and Jon Striker
Photo by Laurel Marcus

With a dress code of “No Boundaries,” I was curious to see what would arise. Somehow I had envisioned everything from bathrobe-clad attendees to those in full ball gown regalia – naturally, it was everything in between. People are definitely dressing up and enjoying it, so if you throw on your athletic wear to one of these events, just know that you will be outclassed.

Jonathan McCrory and Sade Lythcott
Photo by Laurel Marcus

The event was held in the Wade Thompson Drill Hall, which, if you’ve ever been to the Armory, is a giant cavernous space so named because actually military drills used to be performed there. The horse stables leading off the main room are now used as dressing rooms, making it very convenient for particular fashion designers (Marc Jacobs) who often hold their runway shows there.

George Edel and Sofia Milonas
Photo by Marilyn Kirschner

The benefit was to support the Thompson Arts Center at Park Avenue Armory, which puts on Broadway quality plays (Hamlet and Oresteia over the summer) and is a favorite of multimedia artist and musician David Byrne, multi-Grammy Award-winning performance artist Laurie Anderson and performance artist and Armory board member Marina Abramovic (she might want to play down her Ye association about now).

Park Avenue Armory President & Executive Producer Rebecca Robertson with Gala Vice Chairs Ning Jin, Jessie Ding, Derek Hu
Photo by Laurel Marcus

The evening brought together an eclectic group of people in the arts – from the worlds of dance, drama, and architecture with socially prominent New Yorkers who support these things. At any rate, it was interesting to see a section of well-heeled people who aren’t fashion people.

Cool Couple
Photo by Laurel Marcus

I love my fashion peeps, but sometimes it gets a little insular! The Museum at FIT held its opening for the Shoe exhibit early, and a few traveled over from that event, including Armory board member and FIT President Joyce F. Brown.

Laurel Marcus and guest
Photo by Marilyn Kirschner

Back to the dress code: silver seemed to be on the body and the table – weirdly, a silver skirt was my OOTN. There were silver sequins and paillettes, holographic leather including the gentleman I recruited at the check-in table to pose with me for a photo, and all manner of shiny, happy people on parade.

Pink clad guest
Photo by Marilyn Kirschner

Bright saturated, almost neon color was also a lewk – from an uber stylish hot pink Mach & Mach dressed woman to capes, saris, colorful jackets — color ran riot.

Julia Flatto, Jeff MacDonald
Photo by Laurel Marcus

Black is always popular, but many saw fit to punch it with a metallic or colorful touch that screams, “notice me.” For a non-fashion industry event, it was a valiant effort! It’s important to remember that fashion, after all, is an art, and the art of putting oneself together should never be overlooked.

Karen Eckhoff
Photo by Laurel Marcus

Of course, it’s the season for spooky – several attendees went a bit costumey, and I’m definitely here for it. Take some Goth, sprinkle in some ever-fashionable skullduggery, and add some racy-looking leather and season to taste! Why not? We were celebrating the Yank’s win last night — moving on to the postseason! (Silent prayer: please don’t get creamed by the Astros – I want a Yanks/Phils World Series rematch).

Photo by Laurel Marcus

The room was decorated in a very space-age style with silver Mylar fringe serving to curtain off the dining room during the cocktail hour. The reveal of tables saw the parting of the red sea, er… make that the shiny silver ribbons – later, there was a confetti drop. The drama crowd definitely was not disappointed.

A Caped Crusader
Photo by Marilyn Kirschner

I will leave you with the lyrics of En Vogue’s “Free Your Mind,” assuming that this is the anti-prejudicial message of the evening.

“Free Your Mind, and the rest will follow. Be colorblind, don’t be so shallow.”

A little like preaching to the choir here in multi-racial NYC, no?

Latest Comments:

  1. Your content, photos and presentation are a fashionista’s dream! So happy to have met you at Publicolor last night and…

Laurel Marcus

OG journo major who thought Strunk & White's "The Elements of Style" was a fashion guide. Desktop comedienne -- the world of fashion gives me no shortage of material.

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