Infiltrating Project Runway at Refinery Hotel in New York
Regular readers will know my views on fashion weeks. I wrote a post a few months back about trying to ignore London Fashion Week because it makes me feel a tad short and podgy. But in the end, every year, the excitement of the latest designs and beautiful clothes gets the better of me and I trawl magazines and the internet looking at hundreds of photos and reading dozens of articles.
Astonishingly though it didn’t occur to me that I would be in New York for their fashion week this year. It also didn’t occur to me that I would be staying in the hotel where Project Runway has been filmed this season, the Refinery Hotel New York. For those who don’t know the programme it’s a reality show that encourages new designers in a competition format with top judges including the ridiculously beautiful Heidi Klum. I was already excited about going to New York – as I’ve written in the past I go a couple of times a year every year because I love it so much.
But my excitement jumped about seven notches when I walked into reception and discovered that the season finale for the show was being filmed at the hotel that day. I don’t usually loiter around the hotel too much when in NYC as I’m too keen to get out to the endless stream of new restaurants, bars and shops. But I did do a fair amount of loitering that day so keen was I to catch a glimpse of Heidi and the designs the contestants had come up with.
Needless to say they are fairly secretive and don’t want any old English girl strolling onto set so I saw nothing but the occasional beautiful person. But what I did do was have a good look at the hotel – a hotel which is well known for its association with fashion over the years – when usually I don’t do much more than sleep in my chosen accommodation.
It is something special. A 12-storey building (which is about as high as I like my buildings to be), and a lobby bar that harks back to the days of prohibition and therefore feels far more exciting than most non-descript modern bars with their clean lines and minimalist décor.
It also has a roof-top bar with an impressive view of the Empire State Building. It still surprises me how few roof top bars there are in New York. Those of you who seek out such things will know the options are sparse which is why this bar is a magnet for guests and local people.
The building started life as the Colony Arcade Building housing a 19th century milliner and a tearoom. The pleasing result of this is that much like the bar, the rooms feel as far from cookie-cutter as it’s possible to be. The atelier room I was staying in had a ceiling so high a basketball player wouldn’t be able to touch it, a writing desk that looks like a 1900’s sewing machine and a coffee table that looks like a factory cart. It was delight to be somewhere that embraces its past rather than plasters over it.
So I didn’t get to see Heidi, and I didn’t get to go on set. But I found a new favourite place to stay in my favourite city. So a weekend well spent I’d say. Is anyone else going to New York fashion week?