As New York City continues to try to bounce back from the financial fallout and largely empty offices brought on by the pandemic, Mayor Eric Adams will be turning the spotlight on fashion designers next month.
On Sept. 8, the eve of New York Fashion Week, Adams will host a cocktail party at Gracie Mansion to celebrate the upcoming shows. The Council of Fashion Designers of America’s chief executive officer Steven Kolb and Condé Nast’s chief content officer and Vogue’s editor in chief and chief global director Anna Wintour will cohost the event.
The mayor’s office said Tuesday that there were no details to provide at this time, but additional information was expected to be provided closer to the date.
A CFDA spokesman declined further comment and a Condé Nast spokeswoman was unavailable for comment Tuesday.
Adams has already shown his support for the city’s fashion scene, turning up at the Met Gala in May, at Ralph Lauren’s runway show at the Museum of Modern Art in March and at Michael Kors’ runway show in February. Six weeks into his administration, Adams unveiled a partnership with the New York City Economic Development Corp. to create new jobs for New Yorkers, broaden Brooklyn’s fashion industry and strengthen the city’s economy. Shortly thereafter, in an interview with WWD earlier this year, Adams vowed, “We’re going to make sure that the fashion industry survives and give it the support [it needs].”
Despite that can-do attitude and self-described “swagger,” Adams is dealing with such issues as public safety, curbing homelessness, subway crime, open drug use on city streets and sanitation issues.
In an Aug. 10 op-ed, the Partnership for New York City’s president and CEO Kathryn Wylde highlighted how Adams was elected to make the city safe and livable and is taking action to do so with increased police presence in the subways, getting “unprecedented numbers of guns” off the streets, expanding psychiatric beds and services and tightening policies around garbage storage and collection, among other things.
While some of Adams’ predecessors, including Bill de Blasio and Michael Bloomberg, welcomed the designer crowd to the historic Upper East Side mayoral residence during previous fashion weeks, next month’s bash could be a much-needed reminder to constituents and tourists alike that not only is New York City a fashion capital, but also its ecosystem — designers, manufacturers, retailers, stylists, influencers, photographers and others — is important to the city’s economy.
While Adams has been vocal in recent months about the city being open for business, tourism has yet to return to pre-pandemic levels. By the end of this year, 56.7 million visitors are expected to have visited, which is about 85 percent of the 66.6 million people who visited in 2019, according to NYC & Company. Meanwhile, some city businesses, developers and landlords are hoping for a post-Labor Day boost since some corporations and companies are requiring employees to return to their offices at least a few days each week.
In mid-June, the city’s office occupancy rate exceeded 40 percent for the first time since the March 2020 shutdown, according to Kastle Systems, which monitors occupancy rates in 10 cities. The nonprofit Partnership for New York City, which also tracks occupancy rates by surveying more than 160 major employers, has predicted that return-to-office rates will increase after Labor Day, with 49 percent of workers expected in the office on an average weekday next month. An update will be released next month, according to a spokeswoman for the organization.
Before the pandemic, New York Fashion Week was known to be a significant contributor to the city’s economy, attracting 150,000 attendees and generating close to $600 million in 2019. Proenza Schouler’s Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez will kick off next month’s edition on Sept. 9 and Tom Ford will wind it down on the evening of Sept. 14. The preliminary show schedule features more than 109 confirmed designers.
Fashion’s ties to Gracie Mansion are well fastened. In 1927, WWD reported about plans for a reception and exhibition there featuring “old New York costumes and heirlooms of well-known New York families.” The selection included a range of ballgowns from 1800 — to mark the date of the building of Gracie Mansion — and styles from every decade through the early 20th century.
In 2014, former Mayor de Blasio hosted a fashion week kickoff party in 2014 with Michael Kors, Ralph Lauren and Tory Burch among the attendees. De Blasio also used the occasion to reveal the expansion of Made in NYC to the apparel industry and to award the first two Fashion Production Fund awards.
His predecessor Bloomberg welcomed the fashion crowd to Gracie Mansion for a 10th anniversary celebration of 7th on Sixth in 2003. Although big-name designers were scarce at an afternoon end-of-NYFW event, models like Alex Wek and Maggie Rizer made the rounds.
Other New York City mayors have used Gracie Mansion to host the fashion and beauty industries for other reasons. At a 1995 breakfast, then-New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and his wife at that time Donna Hanover hosted a breakfast for 80 retail and manufacturing executives to launch the annual Fashion Institute of Technology scholarship fundraising drive.
Further back in 1977, Mayor Abraham Beame hosted a party for the New York Fashion Council and local and out-of-town retailers, when designers like Oscar de la Renta, Diane von Furstenberg and Giorgio Sant’Angelo gathered on a summer night to the sounds of Peter Durchin under a yellow and white tent at Gracie Mansion. Guests were reportedly more interested in Bloomingdale’s Kal Ruttenstein’s next career move than the next mayoral race, according to WWD.