Caterers Clad as French Maids! Burlesque Perfomers! Indie DJs! Gramercy Condo Opening Aims for 'The Right People'


“This is not a building opening—it’s just a party,” said luxury-property propagandist Michael Shvo.

He was standing along a black carpet runway with black velvet ropes and a big white backdrop bearing logos for the new Gramercy, a 21-story high-end apartment tower on East 23rd Street outfitted by eccentric French designer Philippe Starck.

The building, in fact, is not yet open; it’s scheduled for completion next year. But the Third Avenue sales office officially opens Friday. “We have over 1,000 people on our wait list to get in to see the building,” Mr. Shvo said.

Meanwhile, Tuesday night’s splashy promotional celebration gave an estimated 1,000-plus others a sneak peak of the planned venue’s polished chrome door knobs and quartz countertops in a sort of movie-premiere-like atmosphere—if that movie was, say, Grindhouse.

Scantily clad burlesque performers mingled and danced among the packed crowd. One posed spread-eagle upon the edge of a model bathroom’s sample washtub. “We make it look good,” she said.

Servers in skimpy French maid outfits wielded trays of hors d’oeuvres, including mini burgers and fries; while bartenders in black berets slung blueberry-garnished rum drinks and champagne.

Spinning blaring background music were celebrity DJs the MisShapes, who downplayed the potential indie-cred-killing factor of shilling for such a yuppie development. “This is an amazing fucking event,” said the MisShapes’ Leigh Lezark. “We love DJing artist parties and for fashion designers, and in the same vein are the architectural designers. Philippe Starck is one of our favorites.”

Multiple flickering video screens showed the visionary Mr. Starck attempting to explain the project through wild hand motions of his cherry red gloves. You couldn’t hear what he was saying on account of the thumping bass.

“He’s talking about really how he designs for his tribe,” explained Mr. Shvo, whose crew flew to Paris to film Mr. Starck for the multi-media presentation. “He doesn’t try to appeal to everybody. Just to the right people.

“There’s no demographic that connects the people,” Mr. Shvo added, “it’s more psycho-graphic—it’s how they think, what they think about. It’s people that are young, not necessarily by age, but in their mind.”

How many of those “right people” turned out Tuesday was unclear by appearance. The event attracted a mixed crowd of svelte types in suits and shiny dresses and others sporting hoodies and sneakers.

“The architecture and the real estate, compared to the party, is a little misleading, in terms of who’s actually gonna be buying and who’s just hanging out, having a good time and drinking for free--like me,” said party guest Christopher Ouellette, a painter dressed in a blue H&M suit, orange tie, and sneakers.

Some attendees struggled to even grasp the point of the promotion. “The whole set up of this party is kind of weird,” said Mary Ann, another guest who declined to give her last name. “Is it a hotel that’s opening or a restaurant?”

Not that it really mattered. “As long as you have free booze, everybody’s happy,” she added.

Caterers Clad as French Maids! Burlesque Perfomers! Indie DJs! Gramercy Condo Opening Aims for 'The Right People'