There was plenty of champagne and tuxedo-ed waiters serving cheeseburgers and chips on silver platters. But one rapper who shall not be named wanted something from the not-yet-open bar, so he reminded staffers it was their fuckin’ job to make sure he got his way.
He shouted and gesticulated until someone pulled him back towards the center of Hammerstein Ballroom, where Philipp Plein staged his second epic New York Fashion Week show on Saturday night.
“It has become a monster, as you can see,” Plein told the crowd--“It” meaning them and his brand and the star-studded show he’d put together. The Hammerstein was packed with at least 1,000 people, whom Plein thanked for waiting outside in chaos before the theater was at capacity. “There’s probably another 2,000 still waiting,” he added.
Plein wasn’t exaggerating for the sake of fluffing his own feathers; a line on 34th street stretched beyond 8th and 9th Avenues in both directions. And there was plenty worth waiting for inside.
Dita Von Teese kicked off the night with a burlesque striptease, wiggling out of her sequined dress and corset on stage until she was down to a g-string, nipple tassels, and sparkling garters, splashing around a martini glass the size of a small tub.
After the burlesque show, Plein delivered an earnest speech (“I’m nervous,” he admitted) and introduced Future, who rapped onstage in a silver puffer coat during the actual runway show, which featured both men’s and women’s clothes. The show’s on-the-nose theme was “Good Gone Bad,” printed on tees above a bound, gagged, and busty Alice in Wonderland.
A sequined Bambi lookalike also appeared on ripped white jeans and denim jackets.
Some models wore harness dresses over their “Good Gone Bad” shirts and sucked on daisy-shaped pacifiers. This was classic Plein: so over-the-top absurd that you either grimace or laugh, or maybe both. I scanned the room wondering who would ever wear this stuff when Paris Hilton suddenly entered the frame.
One of the models twirled and whipped her floor-length fake braid towards the end of the fashion show. Except the show never fully ended. Before long, the plebs had climbed up on the raised runway to dance with the models and Teyana Taylor, the actress and singer. Even the security guards were bopping their heads and mouthing Ludacris lyrics: I wanna li li li lick you from your head to your toes.
Around 11:30, the music stopped and staffers tried to clear the stage for the next performance. People started yawning and scrolling through their Instagram feeds.
It was half-past midnight when Dita Von Teese reappeared on stage, clothed again and sectioned off with a small group of people. This reporter was heading for the exit when Nicki Minaj finally came out for a finale performance with Future and Yo Gotti, stopping briefly to “shout out” to Plein for championing racial diversity in his cast and audience.
“A lot of designers get really big and you don’t see people who look anything like me in the front row most of the time,” she said.
For all the people still waiting to get in at 1:00 AM, Plein is all about inclusivity. He’ll just have to find a bigger venue for his show next season.