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Society / The Seen

One Wicked Night in Midtown

Masked Voyeurs, Poseurs and Pretty Boys Go Eyes Wide Shut

BY // 01.10.17
photography Daniel Ortiz

We doubt that Rich’s, the two-level midtown nightclub, has ever seen as striking a gathering as the one that took over the private second floor on Saturday. On this frigid night, the sellout crowd of 250 swept in cloaked in capes and furs, masks and costumes, creating a tableau well suited for a very dark opera.

The “Back in Black Masquerade Ball,” held on 1/7/17, launched the New Year for Vivian Wise‘s Heart of Fashion charity, which designated proceeds for the Human Rights Campaign.

“I decided that the New Year should be celebrated during the year it happens. Sixteen was bittersweet,” Wise said. (Last year, she was diagnosed with two incurable skin disorders, Sweet’s syndrome and pyoderma gangrenosum.) This evening was an effort at countering the bad. “Seven has always been my lucky number,” she added. “So this is a New Year’s after party or a do-over, however you want to look at it.”

She advised guests to wear black and think Eyes Wide Shut. And they did. Men and women in feathers and furs, sequins and rhinestones populated the second floor which features a balcony overlooking the dance floor of the club below — making way for voyeurs and poseurs gazing up and down. Despite the dark theme, the night rocked with provocative frivolity.

It was a fashion affair as well. Wise first wore a multi-tiered, bejeweled tulle skirt, created for her by Jonathan Blake, topped with a Givenchy tuxedo jacket. Later, only moments before midnight, she changed into a black leather cocktail dress by Ruben Singer and welcomed a daring Lady Gaga drag queen to the stage. As the music blared, models, wearing feathered wigs and Viviane’s favorite dresses from her designer-laden closet, sashayed in the spotlight.

The philanthropist’s message to the gathering — “When we take off our masks, when we take off our costumes, we are all human, we are all the same.”

The equalizers: Shannon Hall and Marcus Sloan, Maya and Hank Fasthoff, Jaquel and Jeremy Andrews, Amir Taghi, Becky Hollands, Jennifer Brown, Page Parkes, Bubba McNeely, Beth Muecke, Craig Ledji, Pam and Paul Brown, Fady Armanious, Joubaier Joubert, Nicole Lassiter, John Evatz, Tamara and Dr. James Bonar, Delise Ward, Erik Bechtol, Annie Tan, and Stephanie Ou.

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