The club kids — and adults — were out en masse on Thursday night to mark the opening of Susanne Bartsch’s exhibit, “Fashion Underground: The World of Susanne Bartsch” at the Museum at FIT.
Similar to Bartsch’s exhibit downstairs, the scene was a snapshot of what New York City nightlife was like in her late Eighties heyday and what it’s like now. Guests wore latex, ornate headpieces and multicolored costumes while either snapping away with their smartphones and tablets — the younger set — or documenting the night with an actual camera — the older set.
Around 8 p.m. Bartsch sauntered into the room clad in a reflective swirl of an outfit that she accessorized with a matching headpiece, knit lavender thigh-high socks and gold eyelashes that were at least 4 inches long — she’s working with MAC and costume designer Patricia Field on a line of false lashes that will be out later this year.
Her first photo-op was with model Pat Cleveland. The two preened for the cameras before Bartsch gracefully made her way to the official step and repeat while being clustered by adoring fans and no less than four cameramen.
“Susanne! Susanne!” yelled Valerie Steele, the museum’s director and chief curator who was attempting to get Bartsch’s attention to pose for a photographer. “Sorry I’m late,” Bartsch said in her smoky voice and extended her arms through the crowd to greet Steele.
Steele said Bartsch approached her about the exhibit and went to her apartment where they sifted through her large collection of clothes. “She’s got all this stuff so it’s kind of like herding cats,” Steele said. “She’s bringing in a thousand things and we are like ‘Stop, stop, stop, we have 80 outfits!’ Just yesterday morning she was bringing in more accessories and I’m like, ‘Sweetie, the exhibit is up already.’”
RuPaul, who wasn’t wearing his drag get-up, walked in to take shots with Bartsch and quickly evaded the crowds to stand by the museum’s entrance, which was lined with guests outside peering through the glass windows.
“People are not in the moment anymore,” said Bartsch of the changing New York City nightlife scene. “People are on their phones and everyone wants to know what’s going on at the other place and what celebrity is where. The moment is killed. But I feel like New York and nightlife is a place to express yourself and that’s never going to be bad.”
Amanda Lepore teetered in and designer Maria Cornejo stopped Bartsch to exchange air kisses before Norma Kamali and Calvin Klein made their entrance together.
“Susanne is the ultimate party,” Kamali said. “She is creative and imaginative and she’s a great people person so this is a great tribute to her.”
“We were at those parties,” said Klein, whose name has resurged with a new generation of partiers — Kendall Jenner and Justin Bieber — who have embraced his underwear designs from the Nineties with the #mycalvins social media campaign.
Klein seems to be far removed from the happenings surrounding his namesake brand.
“I really haven’t been staying in touch with fashion,” Klein told WWD. “I’m more interested in politics right now and what’s going on with the nominations and elections.”
Klein: a club kid all grown up.