NEW YORK — White wine and tea sandwiches were plentiful but designers were scarce Friday at Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s 10th birthday bash for 7th on Sixth at Gracie Mansion.
Vivienne Tam, B. Michael, Max Azria and Ron Chereskin were among the few who found their way to the Upper East Side estate, where the affable mayor posed for photo ops and talked up the industry. Fern Mallis chalked up the low turnout to the tail end of fashion week, even though many designers RSVPed.
Affable and relaxed, Bloomberg joked about his fashion sense, dismissing newspaper reports that described him as “dowdy.” Referring to Gracie Mansion’s 203-year-old history, he said, “I’m not sure what the fashions were 200 years ago, but I’m glad they’ve changed.”
Bloomberg seemed at home with the model-heavy crowd, despite the designer absenteeism.
“Every year, I say I’m going to go to 7th on Sixth and look at the clothes — first of all I’d look at the models — but I never get there,” he said.
So, this year they came to him. Maggie Rizer and Alek Wek were among the IMG models who turned up. Some were puzzled by the brief history of interior design lesson, but how else would guests have known the ballroom they were standing in once was the site of restrooms for a nearby park?
Before presenting Fern Mallis with a proclamation, Bloomberg stressed the importance of keeping apparel companies in the city and attracting out-of-state buyers. He also said a fashion committee — similar to the ones for film and theater — is being set up.
Afterward, when asked for specifics about his plans for the fashion industry, Bloomberg crossed his arms and said, “I’m trying to get people to invest in the industry. It’s a terrible business to invest in, you know.”
Bloomberg also said he has lined up Anna Wintour to put together a committee that will focus on the apparel industry.
New York City’s apparel industry employs 150,000 people and generates $35 billion in revenues annually.
A teary Mallis thanked the long list of people who helped put 7th on Sixth in motion. She later explained her emotion: “For 10 years, we were beaten up by the New York press. No one ever says, ‘Nice job. This is great for the industry and the city.’”
The decorum was considerably more relaxed near the bar on the veranda where wind gusts off the East River prompted one IMG model clinging to her miniskirt to offer, “I’m trying not to lose my skirt. I’m just wearing a string from the show.”
“Yeah, I know,” a well-chiseled man responded.