NEW YORK (AP) — Philipp Plein promised something different for his first turn at New York Fashion Week and delivered with a huge crowd packed into the monolithic main branch of the public library, live music courtesy of Nas and The Kills, Madonna turning up last minute on his front row and the Fashion Week debut of Jeremy Meeks, the ex-gang member whose mugshot made him a viral superstar.
Plein, reveling in his disruptor status and usually a mainstay in Milan, didn’t disappoint. An army of people dressed as Statues of Liberty entertained his guests, along with Times Square’s Naked Cowboy.
The German designer promised and delivered something different, with a hashtag rallying cry of his very own launched days in advance on Instagram: “Let’s Make NYFW Great Again.”
Did his giant black and silver puffer coats and luxe sportwear deliver? It was a tad hard to see the clothes from the cheap seats, but Plein the businessman is making a retail push into the U.S. market, coveting consumers here as his discerning next step.
“This dream came true for me tonight,” Plein said, making the unusual move of addressing the crowd before the show after Nas performed to help get everyone all warmed up. “Even my girlfriend is here and she didn’t have a seat.”
“It’s all about having fun,” the affable Plein told the horde.
And you know what? It kinda was.
Madonna was accompanied by photographer Steven Klein and joined in the crowd by Kylie Jenner, Tiffany Trump (Secret Service in tow) and Paris Hilton. The handsome, blue-eyed California con Meeks, with the teardrop tattoo on his face, was joined on the meandering runway by rapper Desiigner and graffiti artist Alec Monopoly, who goes anonymous by covering his face with a bandanna.
So why New York?
“I killed Milan. I did the biggest shows ever in Milan. There was nobody who could really compete with us anymore, so the next step was to come over to New York. America is one of the biggest economies in the world. We’re coming to America, and the people that ask all these questions tonight, ‘Who the (bleep) is Philipp Plein?’ You know, I’m here to answer the question,” Plein said in an interview backstage before the show. “It will take a while before they get to know us, but that’s why we’re here.”
Meeks’ searing blue eyes and perfect cheekbones lit up the runway after doing the same on the internet in 2014, after his arrest for gun possession in a gang sweep in Stockton, California. Police there posted his mugshot on Facebook and women went wild. He had a record for auto theft and has served time in both state and federal prisons, so why put him in a fashion show?
“We’re all bad boys,” Plein said. “I’m a bad boy.”
PHOTO: Jeremy Meeks Instagram