THE QUEEN HAS HER DAY: As the unofficial queen of New York’s nightlife for 30 years running, Susanne Bartsch will be crowned with an exhibition at The Museum at FIT this fall.
“Fashion Underground: The World of Susanne Bartsch” will feature 80 designs from designers such as John Galliano, Jean Paul Gaultier, Pam Hogg, Stephen Jones, Alexander McQueen, Thierry Mugler, Rick Owens, Vivienne Westwood and others.
The tireless night owl has been throwing parties for a mélange of New Yorkers — uptown, downtown, gay, straight, multiracial — since 1986, and guests know to dress in their own versions of high fashion, street style, drag and even Mardi Gras extravaganza. Her first bash took place at a club near the Chelsea Hotel, where she has lived for many years. “It was about seeing and being seen.”
When the show bows Sept. 8, visitors will find three areas: The main gallery will showcase Eighties fashions in decor reminiscent of the surrealistic boutiques Bartsch ran at that time. The second section will spotlight creations Bartsch and her fellow revelers wore to such clubs as Savage, Copacabana, and Le Bain, with one part dedicated to the AIDS balls. The third component will be meant to evoke her apartment at the Chelsea Hotel, the center of her creative world.
There will be 30 years’ worth of videos and projected photographs of Bartsch’s over-the-top self-expression and influence on the international fashion scene.
Bartsch and Valerie Steele will curate the exhibition, which will be designed by Kim Ackert and based on a concept by Thierry Loriot. Bartsch and her fellow fashion undergrounders approach dressing for the occasion pretty much as performance art.
The nightlife doyenne has said, “Style is about expressing yourself. You can be whatever you want to be — a silver-screen star, a Marie Antoinette Baroque creature, a Victorian punk. I love that about fashion and makeup.”
A muse for fashion designers and makeup artists, Bartsch specializes in connecting creative people in a range of fields, staging events that bond fashion and art.