JOE BOXER: HAVE AN ICE DAY
Byline: Karen Parr
REYKJAVIK, Iceland — Sunday, 2 a.m.: A vodka-drenched Gunnar Thor Vilhjalmsson, Icelandic teenager and all-around hell-raiser, commandeers the microphone of a hotel shuttle bus and raps like a Brooklyn homeboy — “Joe Boxer’s in the house!”
Welcome to “Joe Boxer Goes to Iceland.”
Joe Boxer’s eccentric founder and president, Nick Graham (also jamming on the bus at 2 a.m.), had arranged a fete of international proportions. The plan: In 48 hours, cap off 7th on Sixth by importing a motley crew of 157 media members and others to this city of 100,000.
The purpose: To view a Joe Boxer fashion show in a Reykjavik airplane hangar on Saturday night.
In case you thought fashion week was a little like summer camp — one big group being collectively pushed to its limits — you were wrong. This trip was. Joe Boxer had the guests on a rigorous schedule of sightseeing, partying, show-watching and pigging out.
And what a schmoozefest. The captive audience included fashion editors and writers from Esquire, GQ, Elle, Cosmopolitan, the New York Post, Paper, Village Voice, Visionaire, YM, Mirabella and others, publicists and corporate sponsors, and the token celebrity, Finola Hughes of Aaron Spelling’s “Pacific Palisades,” who managed to out-diva everyone. (Some editors were flown and housed for free; a few, including WWD, paid their own way.)
Here, a play-by-play report:
Friday, 10 p.m., JFK International Airport: The whirlwind wingding begins. The fashion friendlies leave Bryant Park and jet out of JFK. As Fern Mallis, executive director of the CFDA, walks down the aisle in a blonde hairpiece, one editor says in loud whisper, “Look at Fern in that tacky wig!” The tone is set.
Saturday, 7 a.m., Reykjavik Airport: Fashionistas et al trudge off the jet in a haze of jet lag. Mysteriously enough, Finola Hughes still looks fab.
Saturday, 8 a.m.: The Joe Boxer bus pulls up to one of the better Icelandic lodges, Hotel Loftleider, which is painted an aqua straight out of the Seventies. One traveler pipes up, “This is our hotel? It looks like a prison.”
Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.: Some hearty guests go horseback riding. WWD goes shopping. From the looks of the fashion in the shops and on the streets, Icelandic teenagers are into alien logos, Adidas, hair barrettes, bright colors and platform shoes. At Flip, a downtown shop, store manager Olof Asgeirsdottir says the girls like vinyl and bright colors. Owner Johann Guthmundsson says he imports his goods from France and England: “Icelanders travel a lot and notice when they’re abroad what’s in.”
Saturday, 5:30 p.m.: The Joe Boxer party calls on President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson and his wife, Gudrun Katrin Porbergsdottir, at their Danish Colonial-style house by the sea. Fern wears her blonde wig to meet them, and Nick Graham gives them a crystal decanter with a Joe Boxer Viking logo on it. The president’s wife tells WWD she designs her own clothes.
Saturday, 8 p.m., to Sunday, 3 a.m.: Reykjavik airplane hangar: A night of festivities and a Joe Boxer fashion show. The mother of alternative music icon Bjork shows up along with about 1,400 other locals. After dinner, the Joe Boxer show begins, destined to whip up the nationalism in any Icelander.
The Barnakor Karsness children’s choir lines the catwalk in white robes, looking like angels at St. Peter’s Gate against the glaring spotlights. They sing traditional songs, and later, the national anthem.
Then, fair-haired men and women from Reykjavik’s Eskimo Models stroll down the runway, proving they’ve got a good gene thing going on in this country.
Looks on the runway include the new Joe Boxer Jeans, blue velvet women’s underwear sets with marabou trim, pajamas galore and board shorts. And of course, blonde braids and Viking horn hats.
Following the show, former president Vigdis Finnbogadottir, who was the world’s first woman to be democratically elected a head of state, speaks to the crowd in Icelandic.
The Harlow-headed Mallis kicks off the Fashion Targets Breast Cancer project in Iceland and officially closes 7th on Sixth.
Sunday, 2 a.m.: Things get wild on the shuttle bus, as a small flock of Icelandic teenagers filter in with the dwindling Joe Boxer party, which includes Nick Graham.
Overheard: “I have to sit down — I have a 20-pound champagne bottle in my bag.” “Patro! Patro! Patro! [Gunnar Thor Vilhjalmsson calling frantically after Joe Boxer photographer-at-large Patrick McMullan.]”
Sunday, 2:30 a.m.: Sleep-starved editors hit Tetriz, Moon or Astro, downtown clubs in Reykjavik.
Sunday, 4 a.m.: The Reykjavik revelers spill out of the clubs. The sound of crashing beer bottles is heard in the distance.
Sunday, 10 a.m.: Brunch and a fashion show for a young Icelandic designer team, Elsu & Filippiu. Mallis finally ditches the wig.
Sunday, 1 p.m.: Bus ride to Blue Lagoon Spa, an outdoor pool of geothermal seawater in the middle of a lava field. As the bus rolls down the narrow road, one volcanic rock bleeds into another, a surreal moonscape. Overheard: “This area here looks very familiar — I think we’re going in circles.”
At the spa, the travelers sink into the steaming pool, smear their faces with blue clay from the lagoon’s bottom and take in the scenery — huge, snow-topped mountain ridges towering in the distance.
Sunday, 5 p.m.: The fashion pack jets back to New York.
In all, this takeover of a small country was a tribute to advance planning, and Graham once again proved theatrics are his forte. In an interview, he said the trip was “not cheap, but worth every penny.” He wouldn’t say how many pennies, but added, “It’s giving us a presence for our first show. It cuts through the clutter of Seventh Avenue.”
Like an ice pick.