A 25th birthday is no milestone to toast quietly. DKNY got the memo, celebrating its quarter-century with a blowout bash on Monday night in the former J.P. Morgan building on Wall Street. The pseudo-industrial space — airy with beams coated in pasty stucco drippings — evoked a Nineties vibe, as if an Ecstasy-fueled rave had occurred the night before. Graffitied walls and neon lit signs — “GIRLS GIRLS GIRLS,” et al. — around the room added to the milieu. Up front, a massive screen rolled footage of New York City — aerial views of the city, shots of the Statue of Liberty and the Brooklyn Bridge — superimposed over the brand’s familiar logo.
Revelers sucked down Champagne from Moët & Chandon mini bottles handed out at the bar. Gold spouts sticking out of them made the straight-from-the-bottle look less coarse. Notables scattered around the room included Hailee Steinfeld, Natalia Kills, Chelsea Leyland, Emmy Rossum, Jared Leto, John Legend and, of course, Donna Karan.
Eventually a set list was taped down to the stage floor, signaling the imminent materialization of headliner Rita Ora. Partygoers lurched forward and began clumping up around the front stage. Karlie Kloss and Joan Smalls came out to introduce the crooner.
“Hello, New York City!” Smalls said to the sea of people.
“Happy Birthday, Donna!” Kloss added.
“Yeah Joan! Oww! Oww!” a male crowd member howled.
Kloss swung toward him.
“Hey! What about me?” she said, feigning offense.
Ora took the stage in a logo-laden ensemble — a to-the-floor hoodie and tracksuit, all DKNY-ed out. Iggy Azalea joined her, and the two thrashed around while covering Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” A mosh pit (albeit an extremely tame one) soon spilled over onto the stage with Ora’s blessing — “Get up here!” she told the crowd. Rossum, Smalls and Kloss, along with a handful of mere mortals, let loose on stage. It provided the perfect diversion. Toward the back, A$AP Rocky (the party’s surprise performer) and Chanel Iman, hand in hand, heads down, shades on, were ushered quietly backstage, where the rapper’s A$AP Mob crew was ample and a distinct stench permeated the air. After her performance, Ora and Rocky took refuge in their separate dressing rooms.
“Was it all right?” Ora said, sitting by the vanity in hers. “You always get a bit scared when it’s a fashion event,” the singer continued in her easy British lilt. “The crowd is so different than at concert. When you’re at concert, you know they’re there for you and they’re ready to party and they know your songs. So this was really scary for me, especially since we’re in America. I’m like, ‘Do they know me here? Do they know my songs?’”
Soon, Rocky emerged and hopped up the rickety stairs to the stage. The crowd erupted as Rocky, joined by A$AP Ferg, performed. Iman, wearing a gold grill and a Balenciaga baseball jacket, nodded along. Afterward, Rocky and Iman were whisked out insulated by his crew.
“No pictures! No pictures! Get back!” they shouted at photographers, swatting them away as the huddle quickly moved through. So quickly, in fact, that when something dropped out of one member’s bag with a loud clank, they kept it moving.
“What is that?” a partygoer asked. “Oh,” she chuckled, picking up a bottle of Hennessy.