Fashion Week wrapped up last Thursday night, with a masked ball thrown by Lady Gaga at the Guggenheim Museum, to introduce her new fragrance, “Fame”. A slew of fashionable celebrities attended, including Yoko Ono and Marc Jacobs. The requisite drama was provided when Lindsay Lohan, newly arrived in NYC, via the Atlanta film set of “Scary Movie 5”, spied her nemesis, Paris Hilton, as she walked into the venerable art institution. LiLo had a mini meltdown and almost refused to enter the bash. But she got her revenge when Mama Monster rebuffed Hilton, and instead bestowed favor on the scandal ridden star with a hug, and a promise to cast Lohan in the first video from her upcoming album, “Artpop”.
The Guggenheim event was typical of the type of flash soiree that takes place most nights during Fashion Week. The night before, however, a different, and rather chill affair, took place on the roof of a chic hotel in midtown. This was not one of the usual frenzied fashion shows that tend to dominate the headlines and columns of the fashion pundits. It was the premier of a fresh new designer, one who seems to possess the sensibility of the formidable Ayn Rand protagonist, Howard Roark.
The Regien Spring/Summer 2013 presentation was held at Haven, the rooftop oasis of Sanctuary Hotel, located on West 47th Street, at the gates of the Diamond District. Nestled amidst tall office buildings, Haven’s vibe is urban Arabian Nights, with low, pillow laden sofas and long tables that are sheltered by canvas tents. Tall ornamental grasses wave softly in a breeze that bends around the surrounding skyscrapers. The bar served as the perfect backdrop for the designs of Maggie McGrath, the momentarily unknown design force behind Regien.
McGrath is a New York City designer, by way of Detroit, with a brief stop over in Barcelona. Back in Motor City, this child of an art teacher mother worked for Chrysler, in labor negotiations. But that semester she spent in Spain planted a seed of inspiration, and a strong interest in design and more creative pursuits. McGrath came to NYC and worked with the designers Daryl K. and Sue Stemp. She honed her chops at pattern making working with tailor Lee Copperwheat, one half of Copperwheat, and eventually came to the conclusion that there was a dearth of clothes that were simultaneously fun and interesting. McGrath holds that clothes should be well structured, but not devoid of the accents and subtle embellishments that convey femininity and playfulness. Regien, Catalan for ‘Regal’, was launched from her Brooklyn apartment in 2011.
McGrath presented her Spring/Summer 2013 line on a group of five models, perched atop a low table with the skyline of midtown as their backdrop. To tunes mixed by model and DJ, Cory Kennedy, the girls changed outfits, and regally posed for the crowds who gathered to hang out and drink specialty cocktails courtesy of Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum.
As late afternoon sun glanced off the glass spires of midtown, and the surreal voice of Bjork echoed off the walls of nearby buildings, editors and photographers joined guests who crowded the roof to admire the soft pastels and elegantly structured lines of McGrath’s clothes. There are many fringe fashion shows that take place during Fashion Week in New York, well away from the stratosphere that is the Mercedes Benz Fashion Week at Lincoln Center. But Regien’s presentation stood out in particular, perhaps because of the subdued and understated cool of McGrath’s clean minimalism. It may not be long before Regien’s models strut the catwalks of the tents.