When we first walk into Native Ken, sunlight pours through the glass storefront, highlighting the stark contrast between the minimalist white shelving on the left and the burgundy brick wall on the right. A single frame is on each shelf, nestled between detailed design sketches. It’s Friday, July 21, and we’re celebrating the official launch of Native Ken’s “Made in the USA” eyewear line. Native Ken is a luxury eyewear brand with a brick-and-mortar in the heart of Chelsea.
Cofounder Chris Tsiplakos is standing behind the checkout table, which will soon transform into a food and beverage table. He’s attending to a walk-in customer who is interested in a pair of sunglasses. Off to the left, co-owner Adam Porter-Smith is surveying the nearby red carpet as his husband, Billy Porter, is perched atop a white counter fiddling with his iPhone. Porter jumps down to greet us and smiles.
By 7 p.m., a steady stream of guests begins to trickle in. Nathan Lee Graham, of Zoolander fame, is one of the first to arrive. He isn’t blue-steeling tonight, but he’s really into spinning for the camera. As the evening goes on, eyewear starts to disappear from the shelves as partygoers take pairs down to sport around the room.
Tsiplakos has built a loyal customer base over the years, and some of the guests are longtime customers. When he and his brother, Tom, first opened Native Ken in 2010, it was called Tina Catherine Eyewear. After joining forces with Porter-Smith, they launched the brand as Native Ken.
“I’ve been coming in here for maybe five years,” says Jerome Brooks after he spent a good 20 minutes filming a moonwalking sequence. The musician happened to walk into the store one day. Brooks wishes he wore his Native Kens tonight, but they didn’t quite match his outfit. The frames he chose for the evening have a delicate gold frame that pair well with his hat and gold skull t-shirt. Brooks estimates he owns at least 30 pairs of glasses and looks for original designs that stand out. He walks off sporting a pair of Bond sunnies.
The Native Ken line is best described as vintage-inspired with a modern twist. The styles range from the Buddy Holly-influenced Rivingtons to what one guest described as “the Jeffrey Dahmer.” These titanium wire Bleekers are the frames that the Tsiplakos brothers imagined their uncle was born wearing. “Imagine a big Greek guy with his shirt buttons popped open,” Tsiplakos says with a laugh.
By 9:30 p.m., the store is crowded, as Broadway shows are letting out and more people are arriving. Kathryn Gallagher steps up to blow us some kisses. Adrienne Warren and Rafael Casal stop by. Kate Rockwell and Vanessa Ray gives us a few high fives and snaps. And Tony Award winner Jessie Mueller does the robot.
The next day, everything is different in the store. A large bar with shiny new taps stands where the red carpet was, and Tsiplakos is planning to serve coffee from Five for Coffee. “Sometimes people come and just want to hang out,” he explains. It’s just another way to cultivate the community that has served them well.
In the upcoming months, Native Ken plans on releasing a new line in collaboration with Porter. They plan on participating in Fall Fashion Week and hope to have another party to celebrate their new coffee bar. Native Ken also offers free eye exams and 30 percent off frames for Equity members.]]>
If you haven’t seen Michael Campayno don Fiyero’s white pants in Wicked, you should get your tickets now. The sexy star is scheduled to end his yearlong run with the musical about the good side of the green lady of Oz at the end of next week. But we couldn’t let him go without asking a few final questions.
Beer or cocktail?
I’m a whiskey man.
Velvet or tweed?
I love the antiquated look—tweed.
Cash, credit card, or Venmo?
Sneakers or Chelsea boots?
Ah, come on, you know I love shoes. But the boots.
Wallet or card holder?
Wet shave or electric?
Traditional tux or white dinner jacket?
There is nothing sharper than a black tux.
Town car or taxi?
Denim or leather?
I’m a sucker for leather jackets…haven’t tried the leather pants…yet.
New York or Los Angeles?
I’m a suburban boy. I would have to say L.A.
Paris or London?
Waiting to find the love of my life to go with :)
Musical or play?
Beyonce or Adele?
Favorite New York bar?
One of my favorite questions: On the Rocks.
Makers on the rocks
“Do I know what product I’m selling? No. Do I know what I’m doing today? No. But I’m here, and I’m gonna give it my best shot. Hansel” – Zoolander.
Favorite New York restaurant?
Saggio. Every single Sunday growing up, my mom would make the best pasta sauce in the world—so you know my recommendation is valid.
Favorite thing to collect?
Poems. I’m not the best at putting my feelings into words, so when I find a good poem I make sure to hold onto it.
Best lesson you’ve learned from a mistake you’ve made?
I wouldn’t call it a mistake, but I’ve spent countless hours judging, overthinking, or anticipating my life instead of being present with it. I’ve recently made a commitment to myself to live a life that is driven more strongly by curiosity than by fear. It’s a constant practice.
The one thing you must achieve on a first date?
Dating is always fun, and I try not to have expectations. I love getting to know people. But I need great conversation and to connect with their sense of humor in order to plan a second date ;)
What would you tell your younger self at this moment in your life?
Little Michael, you little people-pleaser you, it’s not about making everyone else happy—it’s about making yourself happy. It’s not your job to make people understand you. Believe, trust, and embrace your true self, and people will see your light.
What movie changed your life?
Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet. His magical realism style is so captivating to me, and I will always try to live life as passionately as his style of movies.
What book have you read more than once?
I keep a book called Consolations with me everywhere I go. It’s by a poet, David Whyte, and gives positive perspectives on different life events like heartbreak, friendship, etc. It’s a must have.
Fort Tryon Park
Someone puked on me once. I don’t want to talk about it…
Tuck that shirt in.
New York City
New York Men’s Fashion Week is always a busy week with multiple events to attend. You combine that with balmy July temperatures and a shitty MTA system, and it can go from fun and exciting to sweaty and overwhelming very quickly. In fact, that’s what happened to me on Wednesday. I was running late again. At 1:15 p.m., the goal arrival time, I was still on the subway platform in Williamsburg. I was running up to the Skylight, where the Parke & Ronen show was taking place, just as the clock was hitting 1:40 p.m. I was sweaty, out of breath, and yearning to enjoy the satisfaction I get in the fall while wearing a leather jacket. Then I spot a glimmer of hope on the corner. I see Tommy Dorfman, star of 13 Reason’s Why, who I actually met on another corner in Soho the night before. Dorfman is the exact opposite of his character on the Netflix show. He’s down to Earth, charming, and engaging.
After walking completely around the building and finding ourselves on the Westside Highway (I’ve always hated this venue), we’ve made it. Dorfman goes first: “Hi, Tommy Dorfman.” “Yes, of course,” the pretty blonde responds with a smile and an assistant comes and takes him away. “And you?” she says to me. “Hi! Drew Jessup!” “Hmm how do you spell that?” I guess it pays to have been a part of a popular Netflix series. She finds my name and I walk assistant-less backstage, where it’s a sea of diversified six packs coming off stage from walk-throughs. I’m already planning my next trip to the gym.
I was seeking succor when BSG editor Tony Marion finds me and we head back to the VIP section. There’s Dorfman, Andrew Rannells, and Matthew Risch telling stories that consistently end with laughter. Kyle Dean Massey and husband Taylor Frey are being interviewed by NY1’s Frank DiLella nearby. I must feel like how Taylor Swift’s photographer feels when they’re hired to shoot Taylor and her power friend groups emerging from empty beaches, I’m here for one reason. I start snapping away while there’s yelling in the background that it’s almost showtime.
All the VIPs and I head to the runway where it’s social hour before the lights dim and the music comes on. The who’s who’s of New York Men’s Fashion Week, usually dressed in the designers clothes for the show, is talking while a cloud of photographers stand on the runway yelling, “Tommy, look here!” “One more for me, Andrew!” Fashion weeks are funny, especially at the more well-known shows, and it’s a very consistent type of crowd that’s deemed relevant enough to attend. Sometimes it’s athletes. Sometimes it’s models. For Parke & Ronen it’s actors. There are the six mentioned above and then Broadway star Billy Porter with husband, Adam Smith, Hugh Sheridan from The Divorce, Elijah Boothe from Blue Bloods, and Keith Powers from Famous in Love and Straight Outta Compton.
Suddenly people dressed in black and wearing headsets and hugging their clipboards appear. If you’ve ever been to a fashion show, this means get to your damn seats. Parke & Ronen Spring/Summer 2018 is filled with short, tight tastefully printed bathing suits and looser-fitting button downs and sweaters. The collection also incorporates some of their best pieces from past years in celebration of the 20th anniversary. The show concludes with designers Parke Lutter and Ronen Jehezkel coming onto the runway for a short walk, which ends in waves and a kiss before they go backstage. And just like that, the hype is over, the show is done, and the palpable anticipation once felt a mere five minutes ago evaporates. The room scatters and everyone is off to once again battle the unbearable heat of summer. Good thing Parke & Ronen have a few extra bathing suits and tanks laying backstage. It may be the only way I’ll survive my journey back to Brooklyn.]]>
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.]]>
Michael Benz was visiting family in New Jersey when he received a voicemail from his manager. He didn’t know what the quick call was about, but he had a sneaking suspicion: He had won the role of Leo Hubbard in Manhattan Theatre Club’s Broadway revival of Lillian Hellman’s The Little Foxes .
Twenty minutes after learning he’d be making his Broadway debut, his brother and sister-in-law asked him if he would be their daughter’s godfather.
“It was a great day!” says Benz. While picking up celebratory champagne, he bought a lottery ticket. “I thought maybe it would be three for three.”
The London-born actor didn’t win Powerball, but his third string of luck came when he learned his cast mates would be Laura Linney and Cynthia Nixon, who rotate in the roles of Regina Hubbard Giddens and Birdie Hubbard.
Benz says he has “total friend crushes” on the actresses. “They are an inspiration for me, professionally and personally, in the way that they lead their careers with their integrity, their talent, and their choices,” he says.
Benz usually is cast as nice guys in Shakespeare plays like Sebastian in Twelfth Night or Ferdinand in The Tempest, and he’s excited to be expanding his repertoire with Leo Hubbard, a conniving, manipulative schemer who isn’t even liked by his mother.
“I always play the sweet, kind, bubbly nice guy,” Benz says. “I have that kind of demeanor, I suppose.”
Benz laughingly credits the small mustache he grew for the role as the key to his performance as Leo Hubbard. The early 20th-century attire sported by the upper echelon of Southern society at the time also helps.
“It is amazing what a collar can do to a performance,” he says. “It really does just place you there—these big, stiff collars. It’s amazing how it changes the physicality.”
The costumes are certainly enviable—the women don bustled gowns, feathered hats, and velvet chokers, and the dapper men wear three-piece suits and shiny shoes.
“I don’t think there is anything better than opening a show with the costumes we have,” says Benz. “All the men in white tie and tails and the women in those beautiful gowns.”
However, in his daily life, Benz leaves his coattails in the dressing room.
“Simple is what I do. I think a white t-shirt and a fitted blazer, you can’t go wrong with that.”]]>
Broadway’s most stylish and chic stars flocked to Todd Snyder Madison Park on Monday night to celebrate the holiday season with Broadway Style Guide. As amouse bouches circulated the luxury menswear designer’s flagship store, partygoers, decked out in their finest tuxedos and gowns, mingled while sipping beer, wine and cocktails provided by Union Beer and Castle Brands. Kathryn Gallagher and Clarke Thorell performed holiday songs alongside bandleader Steven Feifke with music presented by Sound Associates. Guests included Ashley Park, Laura Osnes, Gideon Glick, Derek Klena, Charl Brown, Jenna Ushkowitz, Courtney Reed, and many more.
Check out highlights from the glamorous evening below.]]>
Ashley Spencer is effortlessly beautiful—whether she’s high-kicking onstage or posing on the red carpet, she definitely knows how to nail a look. Spencer has been seen on Broadway in Rock of Ages, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Hairspray, and Grease, and recently finished a run as the sultry Ulla in The Producers at Paper Mill Playhouse.
We chatted with Spencer to get the inside scoop on her daily skincare and beauty routines, how she makes it through the dry winter months, and what makes her feel beautiful.
What are your can’t live without beauty essentials?
I always have Clinique pep-start eye cream with me to hydrate and brighten up under my eyes throughout the day. Another favorite: The Yves Saint Laurent multi-action concealer stick is my secret weapon! Great for under eyes and covering blemishes.
What does your everyday beauty/skincare routine look like? How is it different if you’re doing a show?
Morning and night, I wash my face with either the Kate Somerville gentle daily wash or the First Aid Beauty face cleaner for sensitive skin. After I wash my face in the morning, I use the Peter Thomas Roth un-wrinkle turbo toning lotion followed by his rose stem cell bio repair precious cream for my moisturizer. I also like to exfoliate my skin once or twice a week with ExfoliKate by Kate Somerville. The only thing that really changes for me when I’m in a show is my makeup remover and a good primer. The best product I have found and swear by for removing stage makeup is the Clinique take the day off cleansing balm. It’s the best!! Hourglass veil mineral primer is my favorite right now.
How do you alter your beauty/skincare routine in the winter? Any must-have products?
I like to switch over to a heavier face cream at night. My favorite right now is the Kate Somerville age arrest cream. I’m a fan of Kiehl’s Coriander hand and body lotion with aloe vera and oatmeal. It’s hydrating, calming, and smells nice too!
What is the best beauty advice you’ve ever received?
Drink lots of water and get good rest!! My mom has always said “Put on a little lipstick and you’re ready to go!” As far as lipstick goes, my favorite go to is rouge artist natural N9 by Makeup Forever. Its a great anytime color!
What is a product/beauty trick you wish you had discovered sooner?
Avene thermal spring water or Mac charged water hydrating mist to set your makeup. It saves you from having to completely redo your makeup on a two show day which is helpful. Its a quick way to refresh or reset your look!
What makes you feel beautiful?
I feel beautiful when I’m happy and I’m happy when I’m doing the things that I love!
Finding the perfect opening night threads amidst a busy preview schedule is no joke. Fortunately for the men of Falsettos, the sartorial experts at Brooks Brothers are happy to help. Join BSG and Christian Borle, Andrew Rannells, Brandon Uranowitz and newcomer Anthony Rosenthal in the fitting room at the Brooks Brothers flagship store on Madison Avenue at 44th Street for an exclusive inside look as they get suited up.
Click here to see the full red carpet gallery from Falsettos opening night!]]>
Corbin Bleu is used to going on a “rollercoaster-like” journey as his character on Broadway. From playing Usnavi in In the Heights to playing Jesus in Godspell, he’s grown accustomed to big ups and downs. But with Holiday Inn, he’s enjoying a simpler pace onstage as Ted Hanover. “My character wants to go out to Hollywood and he wants to get this girl, but that’s about as deep as it goes,” Bleu says. “It’s not a really torturous role—it’s just more making sure that every day I’m going out there and giving everyone a good time.”
But that doesn’t mean that performing the show isn’t taxing. Fred Astaire played Hanover in the 1942 film of the Irving Berlin tuner, and Bleu has his tap shoes throughout the show. “It’s the most physical show that I have done!” he adds. “So as far as taking care of my body, that’s a different approach in terms of the amount that I need to warm up my body every day.”
The show, produced by the Roundabout Theatre Company, is currently running through the new year at Studio 54, and Broadway Style Guide chatted with Bleu about his High School Musical days, his dream vacation, and what it means to be the perfect gentleman.
Pick one: New York or L.A.?
New York. Everyone has their own stuff going on, and I love that you can walk down the street and everyone is kind enough to give you directions if you ask for it but at the same time, if anyone notices me walking down the street they usually don’t come up and make a big deal of it. They just kinda go, “Hey there’s Corbin Bleu,” and then they keep walking. They have stuff to do!
If you had to live your High School Musical days over again, what would you do differently?
Wow. I think I would have taken more personal pictures and videos. I have a bunch from those days but not enough. It really was so surreal. A lot of the things we got to do as far as the traveling and the concerts and just everything. It was definitely an amazing time in life. But I have some great videos! Stuff like when we flew the Disney jet around to different countries, just us, a bunch of teenagers, living this crazy life.
What does being the perfect gentleman mean to you?
There’s just a respect level for everything. A perfect gentleman isn’t just someone who has respect for women, he’s someone who has respect for himself, everybody else around him, and respect for what he does—and treats everything as such.
You have two brand new cars in front of you: an Aston Martin and a Tesla. Which one do you choose?
Tesla. Right now I drive a Camaro and I’m so sick of the gas prices, so that’s why I would say a Tesla.
Gym, or “Netflix and chill”?
Oh, come on! Netflix and chill!!
Who is the most famous person in your cell phone?
Oh god, maybe, Zac [Ephron]? [Laughs]
Who was the last person you texted?
My wife—she’s really who I text mostly on the daily. Anybody else would be my cast.
What place on Earth are you most content?
Italy, my motherland hands down. I’m Italian—best food in the world and it just reminds me of my family. It’s just a beautiful, beautiful country.
You have a one-way ticket to Capri and you can only bring four things. What do you bring?
My cell phone, my wife…I mean I guess, I could cap it off at two. That’s all you need these days, your cell phone and some company.
So you need no clothes?
I said I have my wife! So we’re good!
Styling by Antonio Marion
Hair & Makeup by Austin Thorton
Clothing by Todd Synder and Stephen F
Shoes by Stephen F and Noah Waxman
Accesories by Timex
In last week’s Summer Prints Look Book, Broadway Style Guide and TriStyle NYC showed you how to loosen up for summer with breezy fabrics and vibrant prints. Well this week, we’re taking it back to all-American classic with all denim, all the time.
That’s right, just because it’s summer doesn’t mean you have to shelve your favorite pair of jeans. Take a cue from actors Laura Dreyfuss (Glee, Dear Evan Hansen) and Blake Daniel (Spring Awakening, Jack & Diane) who know how to layer denim on top of denim for an effortlessly casual look. Opt for your pair with a ripped knee and roll them up at the ankle to keep things cool.
Styling by Kayla Foster and Elizabeth Judd for TriStyle NYC
Make-Up by Brittany Bell Spencer
Clothing by Max ‘N Chester, Matiere, Original Penguin, Mavi and All Saints
Jewelry by E. Shaw Jewels
Shoes by Pikolinos and Delman