As the founder of an emerging fashion label, the first position I hold is not of designer, creative director or even CEO, but rather as Head Hustler. In this role, I cover off on everything from wheeling and dealing with clients to sourcing materials and branding opportunities, and my inner-hustler is at its height when in an Empire State of mind.
That said, trips to New York are beyond rushed, and my Google calendar builds its own towering skyscraper of stacked and overlapping blue scheduling squares. Meeting-filled days turn to event-packed evenings that flow into playing email catch-up at sunrise over espresso.
I can’t slow down even if I want to – this city’s high gets me every time. And before I know it, I’m crashing in an airport-bound cab to catch my flight home to Chicago (for a much-needed rest).
My latest trip for fashion week began no differently. In the taxi I got right to work on the backlog of iPhone messages that attack post-flight. Time flies when you are having fun on iMessage, so when the cab driver declared that I was at my destination, I was irritated at the interruption.
My tech-induced haze quickly lifted though the moment I stepped foot inside the NoMad hotel, conveniently placed just north of Madison Square Park. With the trellising ivy vines and dark entryway, if ever I was at the doors of The Secret Garden, this would be it. I was overcome with nostalgia over my favorite childhood novel about whimsy, fantasy and the promise that everything will turn out alright in the end.
My label focuses on luxury, differentiation and confidence. My garments are handcrafted in limited runs to ensure exclusivity and super detailing, and I strive for mindful, modern opulence. As I was swiftly ushered through the NoMad’s dark and mysterious passageway entry into a lobby styled with a palette of rich black cherry and deep gold, I felt a shared vision surrounding me here.
This would be the perfect backdrop for my solo mission that included creating the fashion week 2015 mood board, material sourcing excursions to the Garment District and the list of shops on my agenda (several of which were within three blocks of the hotel).
The creative director in me tried to pinpoint the interior’s era and inspiration. It wasn’t Ralph Lauren-classic and it certainly wasn’t Maison Margiela-modern, but there was an unspoken visual balance – contemporary, yet timeless.
I absorbed the layered textures and graphic details in everything from the elegant room divider screens to the Hollywood Regency-style ceiling lights. As someone who covets the unpredictable, the entirely unique design was refreshing indeed.
I made a quick survey of the ground floor and entered a gorgeous drawing room that flowed into an inviting dining room. I explored the nooks that led every which way, and happened upon a cozy den with a massive fireplace (six times the average size). I envisioned it as the hero of the most perfect Instagram shot with my feet (clad in Del Toro for Moda Operandi Emoji smoking slippers) propped up in the foreground on the deep-red velvet couches.
I continued on into the clubby main bar (which I noted as the ideal future setting for meetings with colleagues and friends), and into a library. It was the epitome of modern grandeur with Chesterfield sofas, two levels of books and floor-to-ceiling geometric windows framed in deep mahogany.
The best discovery was yet to come, though: my Oversized King room. I entered through a dramatic framed archway with a long hallway trimmed in black cherry wood millwork. The first point of curiosity was the number of doors in the room which led into the drawing room, massive bedroom, vanity and the bath. If my husband had been traveling with me, we would have certainly retained our own sense of space, a key element that’s usually lost in the average hotel room.
The true beauty of the space came from the soft lighting along with a well-curated, offbeat collection of furnishings and accents that mimicked the aesthetic of the ground floor. None of it contrived or expected.
I slipped into the plush Frette house robe and slippers, hung up my spring/summer 2015 wardrobe and prepped for the night ahead. On the agenda: an opening reception at the Metropolitan Museum of Art for the Bartholomeus Spranger exhibit curated by one of my clients, followed by a performance and gala at Carnegie Hall.
The artistic spirit of my first evening was quickly lost the following morning when the business portion of the trip took over. In an effort to retain my sanity, I held meetings in the spacious and sun-filled library. I closed my parade of back-to-back appointments with a private client and invited her up to my room so that I might fully seduce her – with a fitting and styling session, of course. It worked.
I had another night full of activities and dinners, but the homebody in me craved nothing more than an evening spent in my robe, snacking on room service and working right from that royal bed.
It wasn’t to be that night, but for every moment spent there, the NoMad was my stuff-of-fantasies home-away-from-home. Not for one second did I feel that I was in the confines of just another luxury hotel, but rather my own personal flat in this magnificent city. It's true, this is one NoMad that could tempt any world-traveler into settling down for good.