Some of my friends were going to the Tavi Gevinson fashion party, so I took the 6 uptown after work and walked over to the Ace Hotel. I was expecting a crazy line because earlier today Joe texted his little sister and asked if she wanted to go to the Tavi Gevinson fashion party and she said, “I’m already going!!!” and if word of this party had already spread to the 18-year-old little sisters, it signaled that this was probably going to be one of those parties where you stand on line outside with a thousand people for a while and then never get in, like a Vice party or that MTV Skins party on the West Side Highway last year. But then I got here and there wasn’t much of a line! I’m gonna think twice about using Joe’s little sister as a bellwether of party inclusivity in the future.
Anyway so now we are standing on line outside the hotel. I catch a glimpse of myself in the reflection of a closed storefront and put on my cap because my hair is sticking up on the sides more than I’m comfortable with, and then we go inside the Ace Hotel and stand in the lobby.
The Ace Hotel is a luxury lifestyle hotel designed to appeal to creative-class jetsetters. There’s an Opening Ceremony and a Stumptown Coffee, very dim light, black walls, a general den-of-sin/debauchery vibe as filtered through a corporate imagination, and also a lot of stylish Nordic people. Sometimes brands like Converse get hotel rooms here and have invite-only, hotel-sanctioned sales on exclusive items inside the rooms. We are the generation who bought more shoes and we’re getting great deals on exclusive items at the creative class luxury lifestyle hotel.
So there are a lot of people using their laptops around the communal WiFi table in the middle of the lobby, and as we walk to the bar, I discreetly peep over their shoulders to see what they’re working on. One guy is editing a blog post about the Congressional Special Election for the seat that Anthony Weiner vacated, but the text is too small to read anything but the headline and still appear to be not overtly reading over someone’s shoulder in public, so I move on. A woman near him is shopping for shoes online with the brightness way down, and a man next to her is reblogging a picture of a model on a runway on his Tumblr.
We go over to the bar and I order a Guinness and then the bartender brings over one of those Guinness cans with the plastic ball inside it that maintains a draught-like consistency in the beer, and he says, “Eleven dollars,” which is when I realize that the open bar is in the downstairs room, not this room. How many issues of AdBusters will I have to read to atone for pumping $11 into the creative class luxury lifestyle hotel economy? ¹
Then we walk downstairs, through a hallway filled with elderly women wearing extravagant couture, and into the basement ballroom, which is called Liberty Hall. The walls down here are black too, and the ceiling is very low. There is a woman standing in the corner who looks like Frau Farbissina, including the gelled curl stuck to the face.
Tavi Gevinson is sitting on a couch a few feet from the entrance and talking to a man in his 30s who we think is the style blogger who is co-hosting this party with Tavi. Then someone comes to interview her and she sounds, as you’d expect, more thoughtful and mature and humble than at least everyone on TV and every elected official. What else is there to say about Tavi? Later I will be standing outside with a young adult novelist who will wistfully say that Tavi is an ideal version of his younger self.
Then I come over and say, “Hi, I’m David, we hung out at Pitchfork,” because Tavi was my friend Angelica’s +1 at the Pitchfork Festival in July and the three of us hung out one afternoon there. I don’t know if she’d remember me because she meets thousands of people, and I don’t want her to not remember me, but I don’t want to introduce myself as if we’ve never met before because then she might think I am doing that thing where you knowingly introduce yourself to someone you’ve already met and pretend you don’t remember them to show them that they’re not important to you and consequently you are cooler than they are. But Tavi was really friendly at Pitchfork, and also, she is 15.
So I stand there for a moment, with a slice of ego on the line, while Tavi scrutinizes my face and then she smiles and says, “Oh, hi! I remember you!” I suspect she is telling the truth but once someone tells you that they’ve met you, there really is no tactful way to say, “Oh, well I don’t remember you.” I push that consideration to the back of my mind and then we talk about the party for a minute and eventually I say, “Have you seen Austin Powers?” She nods and looks at me quizzically and I say, “There’s a woman here who is a dead ringer for Frau Farbissina,” and I show her the headshot on Frau Farbissina’s Wikipedia page and she laughs, and then we say bye because she has 500 other people to talk to tonight, and also there’s not really very much conversational common ground between me and Tavi Gevinson that I know of, and then I go to the bar where I get a cup of Stoli with ice.
Later someone will ask Tavi about the possibility of a romantic relationship with the blogger she’s co-hosting the party with and she will tell them, “It’s really weird that you would say that to me.” I think she responded appropriately because if she’d sarcastically responded in the affirmative, the sarcasm probably wouldn’t show up in print.
So we stand near the bar and admire the people at this fashion party. There are a lot of women in their seventies and eighties, maybe more than half of the crowd, all of them wearing outrageous fashions. A woman who looks like she’s 85 and is about 4’7″, standing at the bar, has spiky gelled platinum blonde hair. Another woman is sitting on an armchair and playing with her primary fashion accessory, a puppet that looks like it’s from 1890, next to a woman who is wearing an asymmetrical cone-shaped black hat that covers one of her eyes. At least one of these women is named Beatrix, and at least a few smell like mothballs. The blogger Jenna Sauers suggests that the ones who smell like mothballs must have recently excavated the finery they’re wearing from the closet.
The Frau Farbissina is standing behind a table that has a sign on it offering fashion advice for 5 cents, which I guess hasn’t recently been adjusted for inflation. A man walks past us wearing a floor-length leopard-print trenchcoat over a t-shirt that says ACCEPT THE MYSTERY across the chest.
Everyone is taking pictures each of other and complimenting each other on their outfits, but one older women walks past me and I can overhear her as she reveals the dark undercurrent that must be swirling around at a lot of fashion parties. She says to another woman, “She’s just BEGGING to get her picture taken.” Unrelated, I get another cup of Stoli.
Then Ira Glass walks in, wearing a green Crumpler messenger bag, and orders two glasses of champagne at the bar. He is wearing Levi’s 501 jeans, size 34×32. Eventually he finds Tavi and sits down next to her on a couch, and they chat but I can’t hear them and am not trying to listen, and then I realize I am drunk enough to be a liability in conversation, so I text my friend that I am ready to leave and to meet me outside when he’s ready. I stand outside for a while and Tavi comes out of the hotel, surrounded by a pack of women and girls. Then my friend hails a cab to a party on 44th Street. We get out of the car steps away from The Sofitel, the hotel where Dominique Strauss-Kahn allegedly didn’t rape a chamber maid, and stand on the street looking up at it. Is this oddly fitting, somehow related to what the rest of this story is about, a reflection of a larger cosmic conflict, or a meaningless coincidence? I think probably meaningless coincidence. But I’ve never seen The Sofitel before, even after living in New York for 5 years, and now it’s maybe the most internationally known hotel in New York. Here is a picture of it!
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David “Shapiro” is 23 and lives in New York City and has a Tumblr.