It seemed all of lower Manhattan got their freaky dressing on last night to celebrate the opening of Nicola's, Nicola Formichetti's pop-up concept store with BOFFO Building Fashion. The black-leather-filled line that snaked up Walker Street held enough silver studs to decorate a Hun army, and I counted no fewer than six people with primary-colored hair all before even entering MI-5, the uber-cool bar next to the pop-up where Thierry Mugler parfums was throwing the celebration.
The outfits themselves weren't the only unusual sight. Rarely do you encounter a store in the middle of Tribeca with an interior of fractured mirrors and a giant panda in the window. But that's Formichetti for you; the Thierry Mugler designer and Gaga stylist is always mixing it up.
So how did it all come about?
"Boffo approached me and asked if I'd be interested in opening a store," Formichetti told us. "And I was like, 'Well, it's not like I'm not busy.' But it was such an amazing concept that I said yes right away. It was a work in progress, and I had to think, 'What would my kind of store be?' I wanted to create something physical. Because I was getting too much into the digital world and I wanted something you can touch. I came from a shop floor when I was 21; that's how I got into fashion, as a shop assistant. I'm here now, and I wanted to do something in New York. It's my home now."
Of building the unconventional space, Formichetti said, "I was looking for a medium, a material that would represent everything I do. I didn't want it to be something boring or simple, and when I met the architects they had this rendering of a crystal cave, with stalagtites and everything, and it was just so beautiful." Lasers shot around the futuristic space as Formichetti himself stood behind the counter branding fans on heads, arms and chests with a panda stamp, a favorite icon of late.
Partygoers weaved among racks of Mugler clothing and mannequins wearing Formichetti-designed Lady Gaga costumes, Belvedere vodka drinks in hands, occasionally pausing to check out the exclusive but affordable wares on sale: T-shirts, phone skins in black and white with the Nicola's logo (what else but a tiny cartoon panda head) and lucite rings, some starting at as little as $20. "They are items that kids could buy easily and mix with something couture," said the designer.
As the pop-up party wound down, Formichetti and co headed next door to MI-5, where the party's after-party had already started, to see a live performance by Jessica 6. The fashionably late arrived: the Courtin-Clarins girls were there, as well as many of the designer's friends like Richard Chai, Yi Zhou, Inez and Vinoodh, Kate Lanphear and Mary Alice Stephenson, to name but a few.
As the night came to a close, Formichetti was among the sweaty throng who stepped outside into the Tribeca night for a cigarette, leaning against the wall of the darkened store. It will be up and running each day, and if you find yourself at 50 Walker Street sometime soon, it's likely you'll encounter the designer, or his muse, Zombie Boy, hanging out with shoppers. Fashion for all, all for fashion. That's the Formichetti way.
**All photos courtesy of Billy Farrell Agency