The New Classic with Brendon Babenzien
On the Wednesday night before New York’s Fall Fashion Week officially kicked off, some 200 guests packed into Jean’s, a new nightclub in Noho, at the invitation of Brendon Babenzien, promising a surprise performance. Babenzien, the former Supreme design director and founder of Noah Clothing, had quietly but profoundly steered a generation’s vision of American menswear, and the evening’s events were called to celebrate his latest appointment as men’s creative director for J.Crew. The basement space beneath Lafayette Street had previously housed the infamous mid aughts clubstaurant Butter, but the latest iteration was more Free Williamsburg in look and feel, with exposed brick walls and a dimly-lit, understated bar slinging Brooklyn Lagers. A distinct rockstar energy filled the space, as the crowd naturally parted to make way for the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
The day before the party, The New York Times had published a profile of the band, heralding an “electrifying, emotional return” to making music after a nearly decade-long hiatus. The effortlessly cool trio charmed the crowd with a rollicking seven song set, awakening a bygone sense of excitement for a brand that has historically trafficked in timeless, if sometimes safe, Americana. Publications like Nylon, Vogue, and Spin had already clocked the return of Indie Sleaze, the dominant look and feel of the mid to late aughts party scene, immortalized most notably (for better or for worse) on camera by Mark Hunter aka The Cobrasnake. While Babenzien and his collaborators were certainly looking to recent history for inspiration, there’s more to this new era of J.Crew than mere Obama ‘08 optimism redux.
After the show, a select group made their way across the street for a VIP dinner at Indochine, another storied institution that’s delighted downtown darlings for nearly 40 years. As guests trickled into the dining room, a dimly-lit space with cozy black leather booths and banana leaf wallpaper, they were greeted with lychee saketinis and live DJ sets from Justine D and Stretch Armstrong, each icons of the club scene in their own right. Holistically considered, the evening introduced a new era of J.Crew - a bonafide lifestyle brand that had outgrown but not entirely abandoned its Tribeca Liquor Store past, expanding its definition of what we consider classic to encapsulate a broader vision of New York. “It’s not nostalgic, it’s just like, there’s good things we take from the past, and we bring them forward. Things are just coming out when they’re supposed to,” Babenzien told GQ fashion writer Samuel Hine. “This type of clothing, this type of fit, this kind of music feels good again, you know? It just happens naturally.”
Presented by J.Crew
Executive Producers: Care of Chan
Lead Producer: Jane Gelb
Performance: The Yeah Yeah Yeahs
DJ Sets: Justine D and Stretch Armstrong
Music Producer: Dani Edgren
Photography by Madison Voelkel/BFA