Above: Pieces from the new collection, a plethora of pincushions, Nile Cmylo in her salon.
Dear Shaded Viewers,
One enters the storied lobby of the Chelsea Hotel and drifts through the vaunted hallways, now a phantasmagoria of construction: exposed wires, stripped walls, bare bulbs, plywood doors, wrought iron dappled with patina. The Chelsea, still home to eighty or so permanent residents, is a legend in flux.
You arrive at a door protected by a canvas dust cover, which you unzip, and knock. What lies ahead is in vast contrast to the raw hallways: a gilded salon bathed in a heavenly glow of fuchsia. Mellifluous 1960s protest songs float towards you, a formidable feline (Jezebel, named after alleged former tenant Bette Davis) coolly vets you with orange glowing eyes (eat your heart out, Pyewacket), and designer Nile Cymlo, resplendent in long purple hair, greets you with a warm smile and “What are you drinking? A Negroni?”
The occasion is Nile’s New York Fashion Week presentation of her latest capsule collection, “NC-17,” which confronts you the second you step through the door, worn by a phalanx of saucy mannequins sporting wigs styled after the Pink Pussyhats of the anti-Trump women’s movement.
After I settle into my bar stool and dive into a stiff Negroni, Nile explains the collection to me:
“I am heartbroken that this is not a capsule collection of pantsuits. Voting at the High School of Fashion Industries at 5:30am on Election Day, a line wrapping around the block, I was looking forward to dressing clients, friends and family alike in pantsuits for the next eight years.
So, raincoats it is. Protection from the elements. The painted coats with the big collars offer protection from harsh weather, while the vinyl prints will keep you dry with whimsy—and their cotton compatibly printed linings breath. The first coat in line is my favorite: clear vinyl sprayed with leather stars in green, purple and black patent. It somehow invokes the protests of the late ’60s.”
Some of the looks were accessorized by necklaces from jewelry designer Carly Sommerstein. “The pieces are mostly related to words or word-concepts that I find, or that are stuck in my head. You’ll see that two of the necklaces are liquor tags.”
The necklaces are composed of various pieces that Carly finds at vintage stores, yard sales and on eBay.
“I am heartbroken that this is not a capsule collection of pantsuits. So, raincoats it is. Protection from the elements.” —Nile Cmylo
Soon, glamour pusses galore began arriving to view the new collection. Here’s Studio 54 legend Snoogy Brown and moi, weathering the storm with paper umbrellas.
Christy Nyiri, center, and friends Tristan and Ann. Christy is one of my colleagues at MoMA Design Store.
Erin Holland, another of my colleagues at MoMA, cozies up to the bar.
James Dean and Marilyn Monroe? Close! It’s Joshua Casey, another of my team members at MoMA, and Snoogy.
Aloof and alluring, Jezebel held court on the couch.
Thanks for reading.