Long before there was Project Runway there was Gen Art, which has been scouting and showcasing new talent in art and fashion for nearly fifteen years. Gen Art’s ninth annual International Design Awards and Runway Show was at Hammerstein Ballroom last night, and it featured young talent you’ll likely see at the Bryant Park tents in a year or two. (Gen Art has nurtured famous stitchers like Zac Posen, Rebecca Taylor, and Vena Cava.) The names to watch out for from last night’s show? We have no idea, but Kim Friday, the nice WWD editor we were sitting next to, suggests these: ardistia, T-County, Julianna Bass, and especially the design collective Form, which everyone was buzzing about. We, meanwhile, hunted down the more familiar names.
Fashion Week pooh-bah Fern Mallis, one of the night’s judges, said hers was a harsh industry that “takes it all in, chews it up, spits it out, and murders a lot of people along the road.” She also said she didn’t want to see any more corsets on the runway. (There weren’t any … we don’t think.) Emcee Robert Verdi threw shade at Bill Blass auteur Michael Vollbracht, also judging the show, outing him from the podium as a Log Cabin Republican. (Vollbracht, proud of his preppy thrift-store duds, told us he preferred Florida’s trailer-trucker Gulf Coast to the swank Miami scene.) Village person John Bartlett revealed he was opening his first store on Charles and Seventh Avenue South, because “it’s always been my fantasy to walk my dog from my house to my store.” And Jay McCarroll, Runway’s season-one winner, told us he was making a doc about his life but wouldn’t divulge details because he’d been “bamboozled” at a previous Gen Art show by a New York reporter who (gasp) printed things he’d drunkenly said. Dastardly reporters, printing things you’ve said.
Our fun question for the night: What shmatte do you wear at home alone? Mallis: “A fabulous, luxurious cabled long black cashmere robe,” with “the same thing in white” for her Long Island weekend house. Bartlett: “A cashmere blanket that I wear as a sarong when the delivery guy comes.” McCarroll: Pajama pants from Old Navy. (“I love that place,” he gushed.) And what about P-Diddy “butler” Farnsworth Bentley (né Derrick Watkins), who has an etiquette book coming out soon? Havaianas flip-flops and boxer shorts, nothing more. Would he rock that look out on the Upper East Side, where he lives? No way, he said: “It’s hard enough for me to get a cab.” —Tim Murphy