The Chelsea Hotel has long been one of the most romanticized New York institutions—a creative commune for tenants like Patti Smith, Robert Mapplethorpe, Bob Dylan, Stanley Kubrick, Jasper Johns, and Andy Warhol.
Dylan wrote “Sara” in room 211. Warhol filmed parts of his 1966 film Chelsea Girls at the hotel. And Janis Joplin gave Leonard Cohen “head on the unmade bed” there, as he recounted in “Chelsea Hotel #2.”
It’s also a fixture of the gritty, bad old days in 1970s New York City, which accounts for much of its allure. (Think Sid Vicious stabbing Nancy Spungen to death in her first-floor room at the hotel).
The hotel has been undergoing renovations since 2011, when it closed its doors to guests, and is set to re-open as luxury condominiums in 2018. Ahead of its reopening, Alice + Olivia designer Stacey Bendet decided to create her own version of Chelsea Hotel as the setting for her Spring 2018 collection.
“My version of the hotel would only be occupied by women,” Bendet told The Daily Beast Tuesday at her “interactive gallery of fashion and art” in Skylight Clarkson studios, where a number of female artists created “rooms” for the hotel and its model occupants wore designs from Bendet’s latest collection.
In Francesca DiMattio’s “Collage Lobby,” models wore a mish-mash of floral prints and Moroccan-inspired patterns. DiMattio also designed the Instagrammable “Feminist Hallway,” where models paired white pantsuits with black leather chokers and dagger-like platform sandals.
The models in artist Lola Schnabel’s room wore a floral, painterly print created by Schnabel and fashioned into dresses by Bendet. At the center of the room stood an eccentric plaster sculpture of Bendet that Schnabel made (Bedet’s plaster likeness is also draped in the print).
The walls of a living room were hung with paintings by Girls star Jemima Kirke, while the floor was strewn with Susie Lopez’s artfully annotated pages of Finnegans Wake by James Joyce.
The clothes reflected the art and spirit of each room. One of the best looks in the living room—a floral ruffled top and matching wide-leg pant—evoked the garden of Kirke’s mother’s townhouse.
Bendet’s collections are often about escapism. So we escaped to her reimagined Chelsea Hotel for her show this season, indulging in nostalgia for the original and dreaming about a new-and-improved haven for women artists and creative types that reflect the spirit of Alice + Olivia.
It was the flaming red swimsuit that shocked everyone at Badgley Mischka on Tuesday morning. If you were still sleepy from revels the night before, this stunning creation, with flared ruffles down sprouting from one shoulder, would have roused you.
Badgley Mischka, as designed by the handsome and urbane duo Mark Badgley and James Mischka, is really known for its glamor. Proper, old-school, no stinting on the dreams, glamor.
This collection was inspired by 1960s Capri, the men said; so think of it as the kind of glamor that’s always ready for an aperol spritz; hence we began the show with a long, orange shirt-dress, topped with straw hat.
Sun, sea, and sand were the themes, we were told, with a list of influences beneath, encompassing limestone cliffs, crushed lemons with mint, salt-sprayed hair, and insouciance.
The dresses were colored gorgeous sounding things like bitter orange, fuchsia, champagne, ‘cloud,’ and ‘champagne.’ (Note, for the last two, not ‘kind of grey’ or ‘browny yellow’. Badgley Mischka are way classier than ye and me.)
And oh, the materials: glazed poplin, Guipure lace, satin crepe, tapestry brocade, not to mention “antiqued and super-polished gold and rose gold floral motifs, diamond-cut sequins, fanciful feathers and handmade tassels.”
If they wanted to, Badgley and Mischka could diversify into audiobooks to send us into happy slumber.
A flowing summer dress came with a breastbone-cover of sequins, a short tunic dress came with similar shiny accessorizing. There were short summer dresses, with smooth folds and ruffles, a stunning thin-strapped summer dress flaring out from just below the sternum.
A siren-red short dress, again with playful ruffles on the sleeves, would make morning meetings fun, and more drama came with short-sleeved blue shirt paired with a thigh-split yellow dress.
There were more conservative pieces—a long yellow short with white trousers, a khaki skirt with white t-shirt—but more intriguing were basics (like a shirt dress) being gussied up with a fancy bow, and the ginormous white rose-like shape on the shoulder of a white dress.
Most gorgeous was a mint-colored dress, with marabou trim, and pink dress with petal-like shoulders, and a slinky pink evening gown with another bow. A shimmering golden column-style dress was followed by another, more geometrically tricksy golden dress in stripes. Hint hint: just as their designs implied, some of these would make the perfect gifts. Failing that, you’ll see them on a red carpet soon. TIM TEEMAN