As New York City continues to try to bounce back from the economic fallout and mostly empty offices caused by the pandemic, Mayor Eric Adams will turn the spotlight on fashion designers next month.
On September 8, the night before New York Fashion Week, Adams is hosting a cocktail party at Gracie Mansion to celebrate the upcoming shows. Council of Fashion Designers of America CEO Steven Kolb and Condé Nast chief content officer and Vogue editor-in-chief and global chief Anna Wintour will host the event.
The mayor’s office said Tuesday there were no details to provide at this time, but additional information was expected to be provided closer to the date.
A spokesman for the CFDA declined further comment, and a spokeswoman for Condé Nast could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
Adams has already shown her support for the city’s fashion scene, appearing at the Met Gala in May, Ralph Lauren’s runway show at the Museum of Modern Art in March and Michael Kors’ runway show in February. Six weeks into his administration, Adams unveiled a partnership with the New York City Economic Development Corp. to create new jobs for New Yorkers, expand Brooklyn’s fashion industry and strengthen the city’s economy. Shortly after, in an interview with WWD earlier this year, Adams vowed: “We’re going to make sure the fashion industry survives and provide that support [it needs].”
Despite his straight-talking attitude and self-described “swagger,” Adams tackles such issues as public safety, combating homelessness, subway crime, open drug use on the city’s streets and sanitation issues.
In an Aug. 10 article, Partnership for New York City President and CEO Kathryn Wylde highlighted how Adams was elected to make the city safe and livable and is taking steps to do so with an increased police presence in the subways, becoming “unprecedented number guns’ off the streets, expanding psychiatric beds and services and tightening policies around rubbish storage and collection, among other things.
While some of Adams’ predecessors, including Bill de Blasio and Michael Bloomberg, welcomed the designer crowd to the historic Upper East Side mayoral residence during previous fashion weeks, next month’s party could be a much-needed reminder to voters and tourists alike that not only is New York City a fashion capital, but also the ecosystem – designers, manufacturers, retailers, stylists, influencers, photographers and others – is important to the city’s economy.
While Adams has been vocal in recent months that the city is open for business, tourism has yet to return to pre-pandemic levels. By the end of this year, 56.7 million visitors are expected to have visited, which is about 85 percent of the 66.6 million people who visited in 2019, according to NYC & Company. Meanwhile, some city businesses, developers and landlords are hoping for a boost after Labor Day as some companies and corporations require employees to return to their offices at least a few days each week.
In mid-June, the city’s office occupancy rate exceeded 40 percent for the first time since the March 2020 shutdown, according to Kastle Systems, which monitors occupancy in 10 cities. The nonprofit Partnership for New York City, which also tracks occupancy by surveying more than 160 large employers, has predicted that return-to-the-office numbers will increase after Labor Day, with 49 percent of workers expected to be in the office on an average weekday next week. month. An update will be released next month, according to a spokeswoman for the organization.
Before the pandemic, New York Fashion Week was known to be a significant contributor to the city’s economy, attracting 150,000 attendees and generating close to $600 million in 2019. Proenza Schouler’s Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez kick off next month’s edition on September 9 and Tom Ford will wind it up on the evening of September 14. The preliminary show schedule features more than 109 confirmed designers.
Fashion’s ties to Gracie Mansion are firmly established. In 1927, WWD reported plans for a reception and exhibition there of “old New York costumes and heirlooms of famous New York families.” The selection included a range of ball gowns from the 1800s – to mark the date of the construction of Gracie Mansion – and styles from every decade through the early 20th century.
In 2014, former Mayor de Blasio hosted a 2014 Fashion Week kickoff party with Michael Kors, Ralph Lauren and Tory Burch among the attendees. De Blasio also used the occasion to unveil the expansion of Made in NYC to the apparel industry and to present the first two Fashion Production Fund awards.
His predecessor Bloomberg welcomed the fashion crowd to Gracie Mansion for a 7th on the Sixth 10th anniversary celebration in 2003. Although major designers were scarce for an afternoon closing NYFW event, models like Alex Wek and Maggie Rizer made the rounds.
Other New York City mayors have used Gracie Mansion to host the fashion and beauty industry for other reasons. At a breakfast in 1995, then-New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and his wife at the time Donna Hanover hosted a breakfast for 80 retail and manufacturing executives to kick off the annual Fashion Institute of Technology scholarship fundraiser.
Back in 1977, Mayor Abraham Beame hosted a party for the New York Fashion Council and local and outside retailers, when designers such as Oscar de la Renta, Diane von Furstenberg and Giorgio Sant’Angelo gathered on a summer night to the sounds of Peter Durchin during a yellow and white tent at Gracie Mansion. The guests were reportedly more interested in Bloomingdale’s Kal Ruttenstein’s next career move than the next mayoral race, according to WWD.