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.”
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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?
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