This story first appeared in the Sept. 13 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
The only thing more important than your seating assignment during New York Fashion Week (Sept. 5 to 12) is a strategy for getting through the week's nonstop schedule of runway shows and parties. That's especially true with the fashion presentations toggling between the official Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week shows at Lincoln Center (10 Lincoln Center Plaza) and the downtown shows at Milk Studios' Made Fashion Week (450 W. 15th St.) in Chelsea, presenting such labels as Peter Som and Cushnie et Ochs.
Fashion Week veterans have unique ways to power through. Designer Carlos Campos goes for a shot of Los Amantes Mezcal at Casa Mezcal (86 Orchard St.) "to get the blood going," while Francisco Costa, head womenswear designer at Calvin Klein, relies on "a quick coffee downstairs at Nick's Place" (550 Seventh Ave.), a secret designer standby cafe tucked away in the Garment District.
DOWNTOWN'S NEW HOTSPOTS
Just in time for Fashion Week, three buzzworthy boites are opening. The Bowery Hotel team of Sean MacPherson will open The Marlton -- a hotel located in Greenwich Village at 5 W. Eighth St., where Jack Kerouac once lived -- on Sept. 1 for guests and private parties.
Although officially not set to open until Sept. 19, that's not keeping the first NYC outpost of the international nightclub chain VIP Room (409 W. 13th St.) from taking part in NYFW. The new Meatpacking District lounge -- which has sister spots in Paris and Cannes and has seen the likes of Rihanna and Leonardo DiCaprio -- is expected to host a series of invite-only parties. And expect a swirl of stars, models and bottle-buyers at Bar Nana (63 Gansevoort St.), opening in the former Double Seven space in the Meatpacking District. Designer Prabal Gurung says he's looking forward to hitting it up soon after he debuts his show.
On the Lower East Side, former hotspot Kenmare reopened in July as Japanese-inspired Maison O (98 Kenmare St.) restaurant, where womenswear label Suno will throw a Sept. 6 party. The space includes a 25-person basement cocktail bar, the Stardust Lounge. And while not new, the boutique Jane Hotel (113 Jane St.), which has attracted the likes of Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, has opened a private rooftop bar that already is popular with the fashion crowd.
THE LINCOLN CENTER SCENE
Those without time to leave Lincoln Center between shows hit the invite-only Mercedes-Benz Star Lounge, the industry's go-to haven. The intimate area, which has entertained the likes of Emma Roberts and model Karlie Kloss, offers Champagne, coffee and small bites.
For elevated fare nearby, Daniel Boulud's casual modern Mediterranean cafe Boulud Sud (20 W. 64th St.) is directly across from Lincoln Center. Project Runway's Nina Garcia and designer Zang Toi are fans. His Bar Boulud, around the corner at 1900 Broadway, is known for its charcuterie case and wine bar.
For a more casual hideout, there's the Upper West Side's P.J. Clarke's (44 W. 63rd St.), known for its burger and once frequented by Jackie Onassis. "I love being casual and old school at P.J. Clarke's," says Lisa Benson, IMG manager for such models as Kate Upton and Chanel Iman.
Ed's Chowder House (44 W. 63rd St.) also has become a fave with fashionistas like designer Charlotte Ronson. "People haven't discovered its existence yet, but I'm sure that day is coming," says Elle magazine creative director Joe Zee. It's located in the 90-year-old Empire Hotel, an impromptu office during Fashion Week for bloggers attracted to its quiet lobby areas. Another hangout for editors -- and models like Coco Rocha -- is the 35th-floor lounge at the five-star Mandarin Oriental (80 Columbus Circle) in the Time Warner Center.
MILK STUDIOS ESCAPES
For a quick meal, it's hard to beat Chelsea Market (75 Ninth Ave.) and its 44 restaurants and gourmet shops. "During Fashion Week, I spend huge sums of money at One Lucky Duck in the Chelsea Market," says fashion writer Derek Blasberg of the popular juice bar and raw/vegan cafe.
If a caffeine fix is needed, Mazdack Rassi, co-founder of Milk Studios, heads to The Smile, a pop-up of the East Village cafe and store, on Milk's second and eighth floors. Looking for espresso with a side of chic? Blue Bottle Coffee's (450 W. 15th St.) brown cups with blue bottle imprints have become a status symbol for those in the know. "We like it for a quick pick-me-up," says Danielle Snyder of sister design duo Dannijo.
Come sundown, Rassi heads for The Electric Room (355 W. 16th St.), the basement bar located in the Dream Downtown hotel that has drawn the likes of Alexander Wang, Jennifer Aniston, Mick Jagger and Scarlett Johansson -- and mobs of models -- in previous Fashion Weeks. On Sept. 6, the bar will host designer Jason Wu's afterparty. Not too far away is the rooftop bar Gallow Green (542 W. 27th St.), a fashion-crowd favorite opened a year ago atop The McKittrick Hotel. Georgina Chapman, Marchesa designer and wife of Harvey Weinstein, was a recent guest at the spot, where alcoholic punch is served in copper bowls.
Too much late night leaving the batteries drained? The Dream Downtown also offers charging stations by its first-floor staircase, making it iPad central for Milk Studio-goers between shows.
Two social standbys are staying in the game as well. Soho House (29-35 Ninth Ave.) is setting up a series of DJ sets and bashes for members and their guests, to include a party with rapper A$AP Rocky and designer Jeremy Scott on Sept. 10 and a Fashion Week closing fete with the designers of hot label Timo Weiland on Sept. 12. And The Standard Hotel's famed Top of the Standard bar (848 Washington St.) will celebrate its fifth anniversary with a private bash Sept. 5. For those not lucky enough to score an invite, The Standard Grill is a top meeting spot. Says Zee: "After all these seasons, it's still the place to go."