On Friday evening I had the pleasure of catching the tail-end of a gathering at fashion space The 1929 – a popup store created by a collective of young designers who have recently lost their commercial spaces in the wake of the r*******n. You can check out their whimsical-yet-very-New-York collections on the corner of Mott and Broome. I first stumbled across the boutique about a week ago when I was wandering up Mott St. after some delicious duck at Big Wong King and ended up spending over an hour chatting with the super-friendly designers about their project “to bring fashion to the masses”. All the pieces are modified vintage - excellent quality and with deliciously un-delicate neo-embroidery, and plenty of jewel and zipper detailing. The standout piece was a body-con LBD with a voluptuous, sculptural collar built on a sweeping bateau neckline (think Queen Elizabeth I meets Marilyn Monroe) and made entirely of black and gold zippers. A smattering of cute, gold, star-shaped studs added to the sparkle. If you're still in the market for a winter coat, ask if Levi Okunov is around: he is a partner in running the space and also runs a design/down factory upstairs. Whether you're looking for a gold leather blinging bomber, an electric blue vinyl puffa with magenta raw silk lining and a tutu-esque skirt (my personal favourite), or just a common-or-garden black waterproof, he can whip you up a bespoke coat in a matter of days.
The shop-floor and basement doubles as a nocturnal art and performance space and that's where Friday's party was . When I arrived, the music was a teensy bit minimal for my taste but the DJ soon redeemed himself by building up to an excellent blend of hooky electro chock-full of OTT tearouts (reminiscent of Alter Ego's Why Not?!), and breaks that included a mix so good it made Beyonce's Single Ladies sound fresh. The crowd was small and fiendishly hip (yet friendly) and the basement boogie-ing went on until the wee hours.
And just so all you anti-fashionistas out there can see we're not a completely vacuous bunch I met a gentleman there who works for an awesome peace initiative operating out of the UN headquarters: SPIRIT or Students Participating in Resolving International Tensions. Taking their cue from the Irani bloggers and tweeters, who enlisted international support for their cause way before the mainstream media caught on, they promote the use of new media in creating grassroots advocacy for peace. In their own words, they are promoters of "open source peacemaking: building peace by piece". They work in partnership with graduate students from the Columbia University Business School and Centre of International Conflict Resolution (CICR) and the conflicts they are focusing on are Palestine-Israel, Afghanistan-Pakistan and Colombia. SPIRIT are working towards a conference in April where students and world leaders (diplomatic, corporate as well as academic) will meet in an effort to bring some fresh ideas to the conflict resolution table. They will be discussing selected plans that were uploaded to their website by the general public prior to December 23rd (I'm so bummed that I missed the deadline!). May the best plan win (and, more importantly, may it work!).