Recently, The Observer went “stoop-side.” It was Labor Day weekend, the calm before the storm of Fashion Week, and Mr. Benz had spent most of Sunday coalescing at Sant Ambroeus with friends after casting the models for his show the day before with the help of a stylist, Jessica Diehl, whom Mr. Benz called “a magician.” Wearing a plaid blazer with shiny blue lining, blue slacks cut to mid-calf, a vintage 30’s brim fedora, and Ray Ban aviators, he was joined by two friends, Talullah Rufus-Isaacs, 19—the stepsister of Ms. Amurri—and her best childhood friend, Morgan Stewart, 20, who had recently moved from L.A. “Can’t you tell?” said Mr. Benz, motioning to Ms. Stewart’s large Nicole Richie sunglasses and general blondness.
Stoop News, Mr. Benz lamented, has not lately been getting the attention it deserves. “I’ve been so busy,” he said. “After the show I’ll get back into it. Expectations are just so high when you have a blog! It’s like, an entire womenswear collection isn’t enough, I need to update the blog constantly, too?”
He sighed and lit a Marlboro Light. “Usually, I just wait for something great to happen, and then I put it up,” he said. “But many a night is spent on the stoop when there is nothing happening.”
Mr. Benz’s silver Vespa was parked across the street. He motioned toward it. “I let everyone in the building use it,” he said. “I don’t care. It’s insured!” He wasn’t sure what kind of Vespa it was. “I don’t know, an Italian one? My friend Eric—actually, Eric Neis, won it on The Real World/Road Rules Challenge and gave it to me. He was on the first New York Real World.” He has since moved to California and become a life coach, Mr. Benz said, but this year accompanied the crew to Mykonos after a mutual friend who works at MTV introduced them.
“Was he the really buff one?” Ms. Stewart wanted to know. Mr. Benz nodded.
“He sounds gay,” said Ms. Stewart.
“No!” cried Mr. Benz. “He’ll be at the show. I told everybody they better look good.”
Mr. Benz and Ms. Rufus-Isaacs became fast friends, she explained, when she e-mailed him out of the blue two years ago after seeing a small blurb on him in Elle. “She said, ‘I am not a crazy person, but I just love your clothes, and I’m going to the British Oscars, and I have simply nothing to wear, and everything in London sucks,” recalled Mr. Benz.
“So he sent me this box of the most amazing clothes,” Ms. Rufus-Isaacs chimed in. “And I wore them everywhere, and everyone flipped for them.” This past February, she visited New York for his debut. “And then I convinced her to move here!” Mr. Benz said. Ms. Rufus-Isaacs relocated last week, and now lives on 15th Street—though she’s a frequent visitor to the Stoop.
“I wish Sant Ambroeus was 24 hours,” Mr. Benz was saying. “We’ve spent like the entire weekend there. It’s kind of a satellite Stoop, with food and beverage service!”
A tall, strikingly attractive man in a T-shirt and baseball hat approached. This was Scott Rozic, 26, resident of the building and one of the identical twins Mr. Benz writes about on his blog. Mr. Rozic and his brother look like models, but they are actually attorneys.
“Did you get some hot bitches?” Mr. Rozic asked jokingly, referring to Mr. Benz’s model casting.
“Yes, about 25,” said Mr. Benz. “Now we spend the next week fitting them.”
“I can’t wait for the show,” said Ms. Rufus-Isaacs.
Mr. Rozic whipped out his phone to update Mr. Benz on a certain pressing Stoop reconnaissance mission.
“Allegedly, the old woman with the two dogs has a terrace,” explained Mr. Benz, somewhat bitterly. “It’s the only one in the building. Our friend Justin lives next door, and you can go out on his terrace and kind of see it.”
Mr. Rozic and Mr. Benz moved on to the subject of their new neighbors, “two new boys who just moved in,” according to Mr. Benz. “I always give people one chance to be part of Stoop crew,” he said. “We’re nice to everyone. We ask them what apartment they’re moving into, blah blah blah, and they have one chance to nail it down. If we sense weakness on the stoop, it’s over! Like those British kids … really not offering a lot to the Stoop.”
“Do people even sit here when you’re not here?” wondered Ms. Rufus-Isaacs.
“Sometimes,” Mr. Benz said. “But then I’ll walk up and like stand there and be watching my iPhone or something and I’ll be like …” he looks out from behind his Ray Bans, demonstrating his “move on” look.
“I just like how the Stoop is this timeless thing,” Mr. Benz said. “People sat on their stoops in the 1800’s, and it was all about neighborhood gossip.”
Plus, it’s nice to do something that doesn’t involve fashion, he said. Not that he’s at all worried about his impending spring presentation. “I just hope all the models come in on time so they can get their hair and makeup done and we can put on their outfits and tell them to get out there!” he said. “Everybody has their job to do.”