The past two weeks New York City was under the spell of Nicola Formichetti’s pop-up shop. Of course I had to see this mirrored place with my own eyes, and admitting that it was quite an experience, I think there is enough written about this piece of shopping-art. Fortunately, there are always enough exciting things going on in this city to write about.
Sometimes even a little overwhelmed by all the things happening here, I suddenly thought about a short documentary I had seen a few months before I left to New York. This documentary called Influencers explores how trends and creativity become contagious and is filmed in New York. One of the people interviewed, Jeff Staple, founder and owner of Staple Design, tells about the Lower East Side as creative neighbourhood. ‘The Lower East Side was the place where immigrants came into town, from the beginning of time of New York City's history LES has always been a melting pot of different cultures. This was the reason why the rents were low, and that attracted a lot of young, creative people who started their businesses and art galleries here. LES is a nice community of different people doing different things.’
And it’s true, walking around in this vibrant neighbourhood I find out about new things every time. Last Saturday it was a small store on the Norfolk Street that got my attention. Grand Opening is a concept store with a different theme every month. The initiators aim to create ‘interactive stores and events that get public attention and engage the community.’ After being a drive-inn movie and a wedding chapel, this month’s theme is LES Runway, which means the store is a place where both young and more established designers can show their work and pursue their careers further.
Talking with one of the initiators I found out that during the day the place serves as a pop-up shop where designers can show and sell their collections. But on Friday, Saturday and Sunday night the store transforms into a runway show. This night it was Ukrainian designer Tatyana Merenyuk who would have the opportunity to show her collection named ‘Reddol.’ My friend and I got curious and we bought a ticket for the show (which cost $12,-, including something to eat and drink).
And so we arrived at 139 Norfolk Street that night, where we hardly recognized the store anymore. All the shelves and racks had made place for a small runway and two rows of chairs. After having a glass of champagne we set down on, of course, the first row. The show started and the first model walked down the runway in a voluminous red cocktail dress, followed by eighteen other very feminine creations in mainly white, red and black. The designs weren’t outstanding in originality but I’m sure they would fulfil the desires of a lot of New York’s young career woman who are looking for perfectly finished handmade pieces of clothing.
After the show the designer and the initiators were having a drink with the guests, while the famous meatballs from The Mighty Balls were served. In the mean time the chairs were neatly put in a row, ready for the guests of the next show (which would start 30 minutes later) to take a seat on.
This Saturday it was Tatyana’s day: three shows in one night and the possibility to speak to those interested who just found out about her brand. And on Sunday, another designer would have the opportunity to show his or her collection to the curious of the Lower East Side.
On our way back we wondered why there are so much more creative initiatives in New York than in, for example, Amsterdam. Is it because New York is such a big city with so many creative people that all those people need to do something special to stand out? Or is it that Dutch people simply wouldn’t pay twelve dollar (less than 10 euro) for a fashion show of an unknown designer?
It must be the combination of a lot of factors, but one thing is for sure: whether it is Nicola Formichetti’s pop-up shop or an initiative of local creatives, together the people living in New York form the unique climate of this city. Lower East Side’s melting pot of different cultures has transformed into a melting pot of creativity, that goes beyond the borders of this neighbourhood and where everyone gets stimulated to show and develop their own talents.