It’s 5:17 p.m., and I’m two minutes late for my first New York Men’s Fashion Week event. I’m out of breath, sweaty from wearing a suit in July, and overtly conscious of both—that is until I step inside Todd Snyder’s Madison Park flagship store, where I immediately hear laughter. The laughter echoes through the impeccably decorated storefront and only continues to grow as I’m escorted out back to the door that reads “Private Client.”
I push the door open slowly, assuming I’m interrupting something, and it’s like a scene straight out of The Kingsman. There’s a brass bar cart to my left filled with a liquor for any nobleman who finds himself back here, and above it, there’s a black and white photo of James Dean. On the first wall to my right, two beautiful outfits hang, awaiting their subjects. To the right of the clothes, I discover the source of the laughter: two seated gentlemen wearing jackets, ties, and dark framed glasses and sharing a glass of 12-year Balvenie scotch and a Hendrick’s and soda. It’s costume designer William Ivey Long and BSG editor-in-chief Antonio “Tony” Marion, who Long calls a “baby producer” as Marion is currently represented by the Tony-nominated musical Groundhog Day.
Tony’s a good friend, and Long is a stranger. I shake hands with both, and Long promptly hands me a glass of scotch, which is the best scotch I’ve ever tasted. “Delicious,” I say. Long, without hesitation teasingly rolls his eyes as if I should be fully aware of the quality of any scotch put into your hand by the legend.
Soon after, Derek Klena, star of Anastasia on Broadway, arrives, and the four of us toast a great night ahead. Klena washes down a few bites of his Sweetgreen Harvest bowl with his Belvanie and comments on how delicious it is as well, which Long follows with eye roll and I smile internally. Corey Cott, one of the stars of the new musical Bandstand, arrives shortly after, and it’s time for him and Klena to try on their outfits.
Laid-back California boy Klena wears a navy sports coat, a brown knit polo, light-washed denim jeans, and brown desert boots. Cott, the Ohio native, wears a light grey plaid suit, tapered high to show some ankle (a favorite touch of mine), an olive knit polo with matching olive suede Alden’s loafers. To finish off each outfit, each star wears a gifted Timex watch from Snyder himself, and the boys are ready to hang with Men’s Fashion Week’s finest.
It’s 5:55 p.m., and Tony’s phone dings notifying us that our black SUV has arrived and it’s off to the show. Marion and Long escape to the back. Cott and Klena take the middle bench seat, and I sit in the passenger seat. Long talks about his houses scattered from Massachusetts to North Carolina, where he grew up. Cott discusses his 50-bottle whiskey collection that he and a friend share. I would usually feel out of my league in a conversation like this, but these are four retiring gentlemen, respectful of their Broadway prowess and speak suppliantly about pipe-dream-type success. We then arrive in front of the Cadillac House where a group of photographers and city-goers are gathered out front before the show.
As we walk toward the two men dressed in black with a clipboard of names, we’re stopped by a group of Broadway fans who recognize Cott. “I loved your show!” one of the girls screams. He gladly agrees to take pictures and makes small talk before we’re asked to go inside. I’m a part of an interesting group: They’re discreet in the fashion world, but travel 40 streets north to Time Square and you’ll find a collection of people who travel from all corners of the world purely to see these gentlemen and their work.
The room starts to fill with a more and more fashionable audience. The ego-boosting social hour comes to an end, and we take our seats. Marion, Cott, and Klena sit adjacent from me. In the front row, model/influencer Eric Rutherford, male model Sean O’Pry, Washington Wizards forward Kelly Oubre Jr., and celebrity stylist Preston Konrad, to name a few, join them. The devilishly handsome actor, Matt Bomer and husbands Nate Berkus and Jeremiah Brent sit directly behind them. The lights dim. The crowd quiets. “Please sit the fuck down,” Lewis Del Mar sings. The lights illuminate the runway as the first look hits the stage. A seven-minute, 42-look, two-song Del Mar performance later, and then a step out from behind the curtain smile and wave from Snyder and it’s complete. Loud applause transpires and a sense of alacrity can be felt throughout the audience—it was a smash. A wide range of versatile styling all centered around timeless prints and fits from schoolboy knits to military boots and an assortment of faded colors from all of over the world.
We’re quickly grabbed by Katie Woolley, Snyder’s director of private clientele, to head backstage. The man of the hour, Snyder, is irradiated by camera flashes and crowded by celebrity endorsers eager to congratulate him on the show. We wait our turn and then Klena, Cott, and Marion gather with the smiling designer and share a few laughs before the next leading light repeats the process.
We head back to the showroom where the runway and benches have been cleared. There’s music playing, and we’re immediately handed drinks. What was the organized mess of a show prior to heading backstage is now a party of people talking. We continue to chat for a couple of minutes, stopping only to pause for our photograph to be taken. It’s 9:15 p.m., and Long has Irish-exited. It’s certainly a night to remember that could only have been cultivated with this illustrious mixture of Broadway and fashion.