Bryanboy is standing outside, wearing a hat and dragging on a cigarette, a tre petite Chanel bag draped over his shoulder. He’s talking to another blogger, some short girl who always wears red lipstick and John Lennon glasses. No one is looking at each other. The rest of us hoard around the door, conspiring our entrances.
Jenna cuts through the crowd and presses herself straight against the velvet rope. “Jenna Gitano,” she states to a girl holding a clipboard clutching onto white pages with a do-or-die vice grip. For a moment there is that brief moment of doubt as to whether or not we will get in. Then the door opens, revealing William Diaz in his sharp black suit and his neat little tie.
“For anyone who knows me or thinks they know me, come over to the left side,” he says. We move towards him like cattle while I laugh at our willful subservience. Everyone kisses him on the cheek as we enter, rising out of gross irrelevancy and through the front door.
A sour-colored hallway covered in yellowed mirrors and patterned wallpaper leads us into a smoke-spewing basement with red banquets and a jagged mirrored ceiling reflecting fractured images of the beautiful people below like some broken, Tim Burton disco ball.
Everyone in here is pretty, well-dressed. It is a meticulously curated mass. There are girls in sequins, boys in glitter, grown men in torn tee shirts. The ratio of cigarette smoke to pure oxygen is falling in favor of me having shaved off at least a week of my life when I emerge from this underground sweat lodge four hours from now.
Jenna and Little B order drinks at the crowded bar while I walk around the room, crawling between sweaty, dancing bodies, scouring a mob of pretty people for pretty Eva. Some girl with messy blonde bob and pink lipstick grabs my arm. “Hey, I think someone is looking for you,” she yells over the music, pointing at the elevated section behind the DJ booth. Eva waves, her arm shrink-wrapped in something expensive, her hair thrown up into a bun.
It’s easily twenty-degrees warmer behind the DJ booth, the hot air and cigarette smoke rising towards the ceiling, screaming for an exit. Eva and Katie stand crammed around a two-top with an empty bucket of ice and upside-down cups, holding drinks and shifting their weight back and forth at an attempt at movement. Prabal Gurung is dancing to the right, wearing his signature white V-neck and a pair of snug black pants. Next to him is a fashion journalist I recognize but cannot remember the name of – some guy who reminds me of Truman Capote and Albert from The Birdcage. Katie, in her low-cut tank top and her red tutu, starts freaking the tan guy dressed just like Prabal and it all feels very Copacabana in here.
The other girls are dancing below with the twins, their necks covered in a thick armor of jewelry. From the opposite side of the room, I see Karlie Kloss on the approach. She’s as tall as a sniper tower, wearing six-inch heels on an already six-foot frame. Her shoulder blades pass in front of my face as she drags behind her Arizona Muse and some new girl named Cara. The cameras click and Karlie smiles under the powder-gun flash of a spotlight, lips straining around a mouth of beautiful teeth, her arms draped around two unsmiling boys, a distinct look of confused terror in their eyes.
I walk towards the bar to get a drink of water because I feel like I’m dying, stranded in the middle of the Lut Desert, not dancing in the basement of Le Regine’s.
That’s where I meet Federico.
“Let me guess-ah,” he starts. “You are ‘ere a’modeling.”
Federico has long, stringy hair and crooked teeth. He is from Milan. He introduces me to the girls behind him as “ze biggest super model” which would be flattering if I were 19 years old and silly. I laugh, ignoring him, and say something like “I haven’t been this sweaty since my senior class trip to Cancun,” not caring that the statement is the antithesis of chic and would be damning were he from America. It doesn’t matter anyway; I’m pretty sure Federico isn’t actually listening to me.
After “Ni**as in Paris” comes on for the third time, I grab my purse and coat to leave, my shirt and my shoes covered in sweat and spilled alcohol, thinking this a fair enough bar to consider a timely exit, but when I pull the door open to the outside, William is standing there, keeping people out and, apparently, people in.
“I think I’m leaving,” I say. “Should I leave?” I am incapable of making my own decisions.
“Look how many people are trying to get in here,” he says, and I look out at a semi-circle of women in furs and men in coats and everyone is wearing faces that look both eager and bored. He pushes me back towards the wall, away from the exit. “You stand over there and think about it.” I am always going home too early and for no good reason. I take a deep breath, taking in as much oxygen as I can before I turn around and head back into the dank, smoke-filled, stinky, festering fashion dungeon and continue to dance under blown-out speakers while some Rihanna song plays on loop, everyone pausing in recognition of the repetition until the chorus comes on and then, fuck it, throws their hands up towards the jagged ceiling.
[Photo: Courtesy of Botanist]