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On Monday night in Chelsea, the British singer-songwriter Tom Odell brooded beside a pint glass that was empty except for a used tea bag. “I’ve been up for almost 24 hours and I’ve gotta do a show in about 20 minutes,” he lamented during a brief interview in a booth at the McKittrick Hotel. Burberry had shipped the 22-year-old in for one night only to perform a set of his propulsive neo-folk as part of its music discovery initiative-cum-marketing campaign, Burberry Acoustic. (Odell also played live at the brand’s women’s wear runway show in London in February.)
A pack of fashion week socials that included Fiona Byrne, Tennessee Thomas and Genevieve Jones was a floor above on the hotel’s roof awaiting Odell’s show. It was, in fashion speak, a more “intimate” appearance than the festival gig he had played a day earlier, opening for Elton John at the Isle of Wight.
“I’ve looked forward to this thing in New York for so long,” he said, slowly rallying to the cause.
It was nice to hear someone get enthused for a fashion week event.
“Well, I haven’t done it yet, so it might be awful,” he laughed.
If the Leonardos and Caravaggios on loan or Pasolini film festivals running of late hadn’t made it crystal clear, 2013 has indeed been “The Year of Italian Culture” in America — at least as per the office of the Italian foreign minister looking to boost cultural ties between the two countries in the wake of the European financial crisis.
Earlier Monday night, the fashion world got in on the action when Vogue Italia editor in chief Franca Sozzani cohosted a cocktail reception for “8 Short Videos x 8 Long Stories,” a video series in which eight up-and-coming filmmakers from around the world made shorts that riffed on the personalities of eight Italian fashion houses, from Prada to Versace.
“I thought creativity cannot have a country,” Sozzani explained of the directors at the Italian Trade Commission on the Upper East Side. “So they’re all young from different countries and they make interpretations of different brands.”
Those on hand to toast the works included Natalia Kills, Mia Moretti, Giovanna Battaglia and Italo Zucchelli.
The actress Joy Bryant was watching the Valentino-themed video and trying to make sense of a quote about fashion printed on the wall beneath it attributed to the house’s creative directors, Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli.
“‘It is a workshop of endless contaminations.’ I don’t even know what that means,” she read aloud. “I mean ‘it is a workshop of endless contaminations’ is kind of like…it’s kind of far out. I don’t even know? What does that mean?”
WWD agreed with Bryant. Presumably it sounded better in the original Italian.