the Insiders


February 22, 2010 8:04 PM

Eye, Fashion

Strip House: A New York Fashion Week Adventure

The scene at The Westside Gentleman's Clubphoto by Lexie Moreland Covering events during New York Fashion Week can feel a bit like being trapped in a better-styled, more attractively populated version of the film "Groundhog Day." After a few...

The scene at The Westside Gentleman's Club
photo by Lexie Moreland
Covering events during New York Fashion Week can feel a bit like being trapped in a better-styled, more attractively populated version of the film "Groundhog Day." After a few too many back-to-back nights at Kenmare or the 18th Floor of the Standard, a feeling of overwhelming déjà vu takes over and suddenly the whole week is a blur of Champagne flutes, black leather leggings and the highly prolific Justin Theroux (who seemingly didn't change clothes for seven days, making differentiating between nights all the more challenging).

This past fashion week, however, there was one night that left an indelible imprint on my memory and will, I can safely say, never be the source of déjà vu attacks. That would be the "Valentine's Evening to Remember" thrown by The Smile, Evisu and the high-end erotic publication Jacques at The Westside Gentleman's Club. In case you haven't already guessed, this bacchanalia took place in a strip club and involved even less clothing than Lindsay Lohan's spring collection for Emanuel Ungaro. To put it mildly, there wasn't a pasty in sight, though a lot of other things were. (Mom and Dad, if you are reading this, I swear I attended in a professional capacity. Just ask my editor.)

There is a certain refreshing novelty and gumption to throwing a party during fashion week that celebrates a complete lack of clothing. Though, as The Smile's co-owner Carlos Quirarte explains it, the genesis of the event was founded on more than just shock value (nor was it his first foray to the club in the name of publicity).

"We had been carrying Jacques at the Smile since its first issue," says Quirarte of the magazine, whose current edition features profiles of the Tampa, Fla.-based girls who danced that evening. "I had done a book launch for Doug Aitken [at The Westside Gentleman's Club] a few years back and fell in love with the space. With the launch of the new issue and Evisu's new direction, we thought, 'Let's bring the girls featured in the new issue to New York and have a big Valentine's Day bash.'"

And bring it they did. The girls, who hailed from the Tampa club Mons Venus, put on a show that had even jaded style folks dropping their jaws. One particularly dexterous gal did many an upside-down trick on one of two central poles, while some of her adventurous playmates decided that G-strings only held them back in racking up bills from the amped-up audience, whose members often joined them on stage.

"[The only request I made] was that they keep their bottoms on," says Quirarte. "They did not follow that direction."

No one seemed bothered by this breach. Least of all, Jacques editor in chief Danielle Luft, who sat front and center throughout the proceedings. Dressed like the naughtiest of French nurses (with what appeared to be an Alaïa belt cinching her waist), Luft broke the occasional smile between intervals of fanning herself. Hot in here, indeed.
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