Off the Runway: Where to Celebrate During Fashion Week

Colleen Clark

Twice a year, the streets of New York click-clack with the stiletto'd army of models, fashion editors and assorted glamazons descending upon the City for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. The sartorial circus centers on the tents at Bryant Park (where the shows are held) and fans out in town cars to the City's hottest hotels, restaurants and bars. We've got the scoop on where the fashion crowd goes after it leaves the front row, from the new hangouts in the Financial District to the old Bryant Park standbys that are getting their last hurrah before Fashion Week moves uptown to Lincoln Center next fall. Want to hobnob with an editor? Dying to meet a model? Here are a few places to try your luck.

Courtesy, Andaz Wall Street

Andaz Wall Street 
The Financial District recently got a dose of Cali-cool in the form of the new Andaz hotel. Floor-to-ceiling glass windows and soaring, light-filled spaces will serve as a dramatic backdrop for the crop of fashion parties set to take place here. The hotel's Bar Seven Five has bar stations and roaming chiseled bartender types who would look equally at home on the runways (but can still mix a mean Manhattan). Label execs, fashion editors and their ilk have already come to gawk. And many a model will be tempted to break her diet with the yummy doughnuts at the hotel's Wall & Water restaurant.

Courtesy, 10 Downing

10 Downing 
This cozy West Village spot is where designers, celebutantes and models congregate for laid-back dinners and lazy Sunday brunches. Heavy on style and light on scene, this is where you're likely to find designers like Erin Fetherston and Cynthia Rowley decompressing between parties and shows. The market-to-table, mostly organic fare is waistline-friendly as well, a plus for fashionable ladies like Harley Viera-Newton, who dined there recently.

Photo: Robyn Lee

Minetta Tavern 
Design deals will be sealed over power lunches and late-night dinners at Minetta Tavern, the old-school West Village haunt that got a makeover in 2009 courtesy of Keith McNally. On any given night, kings (and queens) of the industry, from Calvin Klein to Anna Wintour, occupy crimson leather banquettes in the dark wood–paneled space. Fashion Week only ups the ante. The menu isn't kind when it comes to calories, but the burgers are designer. Black Label's half-pound, aged-beef patty takes a cue from Coco Chanel, stripping down to just one artful accessory: sweet, caramelized onions.

Photo: Several Seconds (via Flickr)

The 18th Floor Lounge at The Standard 
The bar on the 18th floor of The Standard hotel (formerly called the Boom Boom Room) was hosting Fashion Week parties before it even officially opened. Everyone from Madonna to Marc Jacobs has taken in the 360-degree Manhattan views and fought off vertigo on the glass-floored smoking balconies. Valentino has hit the dance floor next to Hugh Jackman with Jesus Luz on DJ duties. The bar is hush-hush about what events will be going down during Fashion Week, but its white leather banquettes will certainly not lack for leggy starlets.

Courtesy, Café Gitane

Café Gitane at The Jane 
The bar at The Jane hotel was the hip-kid hangout in 2009. But like many things in the fashion world, its time in the spotlight was short-lived due to neighborhood noise complaints. Ordinances have kept it from reopening in time for the Fashion Week crowds, so the hotel has turned to a mellower endeavor—a new outpost of NoLIta model hangout Café Gitane. Grab a cappuccino at the marble bar to ogle girls like Karlie Kloss and Agyness Deyn tucking into French-Moroccan fare.

Courtesy, The EMM Group

Abe & Arthur's 
Abe & Arthur's is so popular with designers that the venue managed to double-book after-parties last season. Charlotte Ronson and Rag & Bone shared the space, which also hosted bashes for Erin Fetherston and BCBG. The restaurant has an old-school cool, with a zinc bar, antique mirrors and marble herringbone floors. And you're within stumbling distance of default after-party spots like The Standard.

Photo: Rob Loud

The name of Chelsea club 1Oak stands for "one of a kind." Though the concept might be cheesy, the execution is big on style. Chevron floors lead to ostrich-leather banquettes offset by a curving raw-oak ceiling. And designers like Tory Burch and Catherine Malandrino have hosted after-parties here. Try to talk your way into the VIP room, which is popular during the chilly February shows for its roaring fireplace and racy nude painting.

Courtesy, Koi

Located just a hop, skip and a jump from the tents, this sushi spot in the Bryant Park Hotel has been as much a staple of Fashion Week as Anna Wintour and her ubiquitous sunglasses. Though its cachet has waned in recent years, it's likely to be back on the map again as editors wax nostalgic about Fashion Week's last season in Bryant Park. Book a table at lunchtime and toast the end of a fashion era with Koi's famous crispy rice and spicy tuna.

Photo: Amy Hou

Ace Hotel 
The Ace is doing for Herald Square what The Andaz is doing for the Financial District. Its hip lobby bar and The Breslin restaurant have already hosted a who's who of fashion types, and the hotel is upping the ante this February with the opening of two shops: cult-favorite boutique Project No. 8 and another retail outlet from those arbiters of cool at Opening Ceremony. You can browse through designer condoms and Alexander Wang tote bags amid the cost-conscious fashion editors who will be staying in the hotel's boho-budget rooms. Or you can just ogle the off-duty male models staffing the hotel's Stumptown Coffee counter.