Glass House

David Rimanelli at Imitation of Christ's Fall 2005 show

New York

Left: Mary Kate Olsen. Middle: Tara Subkoff. Right: Models backstage. (Photos: Patrick McMullan/PMc)

The Imitation of Christ show at Lever House on Park Avenue last Sunday was a very chic fashion-week ticket. Tara Subkoff, the mind behind the madness, is notorious for her unconventional approach to the runway—in this case, she’d dispensed with it altogether. The seats fanned out in three directions to face the glass curtain walls of Lever House’s lobby; models stalked around the perimeter while the passersby and paparazzi outside looked on. There were also a number of planted gawkers, young but conspicuously unstylish women holding up copies of Marie Claire, Nylon, Vogue, etc. Perhaps they had a better view of the proceedings; within, one had to crane one’s neck an awful lot just to catch high-energy glimpses of the nonstop yet dispersed action. Mary-Kate Olsen was seated front and center, facing Park. Also in attendance: director Wes Anderson, Subkoff’s (former?) boyfriend. Imitation of Christ has always enjoyed a significant art-world following, and seen among the crowd were Jessica Craig-Martin, Cecily Brown, Stefania Bortolami, Amalia Dayan, Clarissa Dalrymple, Klaus Biesenbach, Mark Fletcher, and Milena Muzquiz of Los Super Elegantes. Mother Inc., so very present in the last few weeks, performed throughout the show to great acclaim. Dayan described Yvonne Force and Sandra Hamburg’s performance as “a piece of realism.”

The clothes: skimpy, revealing, pretty, and sometimes pretty absurd. Insect-faced models were typically draped with swathes of chiffonlike fabrics, often carefully arranged so as to barely cover their bee-stung tits; several looks were completely topless. But hey, this is Imitation of Christ, not Lane Bryant. Subkoff received cool reviews in the fashion press, but the mood at the show was buoyant. “Boots were very important,” remarked Muzquiz. “Floaty fabrics sewn into men’s suiting gave the garments an air of the contemporary business woman.” Word has it that Subkoff has some Imitation of Christ licensing deals in the works, so maybe her distressed and redressed thrift store/Courrèges aesthetic is about to hit the big time.

As Subkoff received her accolades from the crowd, we heard a loud crashing noise. A pane of Damien Hirst’s twelve-panel Pharmaceutical Windows (which once adorned his now-defunct London restaurant Pharmacy) had been smashed. Apparently the accident occurred when security guards were compelled to intervene as paparazzi ganged up on Olsen. A friend of mine with extensive connections among les grands was immediately on his mobile to art collector and Lever House owner Aby Rosen, who was upset but not freaked-out. Subkoff, however, blanched with horror. A friend consoled her: Darling, there’s insurance for this sort of thing, and besides it isn’t even a real work of art anyway, just lobby decor.