Italian denim brand Diesel—perhaps sensing that this is hardly the time for a celeb-infested store opening party with sponsored cocktails and a surprise performance by Kanye West or M.I.A.—is celebrating its massive new Diesel Planet flagship (all 20,000 square feet of it!) at 54th and 5th with a series of dinners in the store window. The first, on Monday, Feb. 16, featured just four guests: "club kids" Richie Rich, Kenny Kenny, and Patrick McDonald, and an ample blonde drag queen named Farrah whom Diesel’s publicist had sighted and invited on the spot the night before (other dinners this week will feature models and "It" girls like Arden Wohl and Hope Atherton).
Around 9 p.m. the guests took their seats around a table in the window of the new store, which opens to the public on Thursday, in full view of confused passerby. They nibbled Olivier Cheng catering while a pack of photographers snapped their photos through the large glass window, and Diesel employees and some invited press roamed the store.
"It’s so much fun!" declared Mr. Rich, one half of defunct design duo Heatherette (his new eponymous line will debut this week at the Waldorf), pausing from his half-eaten avocado salad. "We just had a homeless woman, I felt very Victor Victoria, when Julie Andrews had no money to eat and she’s just kind of like staring at people… This woman was just staring, I almost wanted to go outside and give her a glass of champagne! She hasn’t left since we got here!"
He motioned behind him, where a woman in a blue sweatshirt who was missing several teeth was gesticulating wildly through the glass. "We had a crowd earlier that was amazing, cameras, a bunch of tourists…" continued Mr. Rich. "If I just came to New York I’d love to see us eating here!"
"When you first came to New York, what was your song you sang on Fifth Avenue?" interjected Mr. Kenny, sitting one seat over in copious eyeliner and an elaborate fur hat that he said was "Woodbury Commons bargain-basement Galliano."
"Love You a Million," said Mr. Rich.
"The video is on YouTube," said Mr. Kenny.
"It was in front of Tiffany’s," Mr. Rich recalled wistfully. "That’s when I was a club kid with Kenny."
"I mean like hard core," clarified Mr. Rich, in a velvet Marc by Marc Jacobs jacket, his visage generously powdered. "Like every night my life was going out, going out, going out, going out. I’ll always be a club kid at heart; I think Kenny will always be a club kid at heart. Madonna will always be a club kid…"
Mr. Kenny piped in. "Clubs were a place where creative people in the ‘80s went because there was nowhere else for us to fit in. We didn’t get jobs in fashion, you know, they were like, ‘You’re too crazy, you’re too weird, you’re too unpredictable, you break all the rules, are you male, female?’ So we went to clubs."
Both agreed that club-land was making a recession-driven comeback.
"People still want to, like, dress up and have fun," said Mr. Kenny. "They’re sick of hipster and depressed, ‘My hair’s in my eyes,’ so introverted. People are wanting energy because that’s what they came to New York for… I’ve been in nightclubs for 20 years and I have not seen this energy since the ‘80s!"
"There has to be more to this whole city than, You gotta make money," he continued. "For so long, with the bottle service and everything…You couldn’t get into clubs without spending $350. I really think that something really good can come out of this."
Before the dinner, Steve Birkhold, Diesel’s U.S. CEO, had pretty much agreed. "The whole Fifth Avenue quarter is changing, you know," he said. "With Juicy [Couture] opening, us opening, Tommy [Hilfiger] opening next to us. It’s going to bring in not only the super-premium customer but it’s going to bring…We appeal to a different consumer than Chanel and Versace and Fendi and all those other brands."
Hence this series of low-key, "guerilla" dinner-dates for "legendary" New Yorkers.
He turned to a colleague. "Can we fit three New York Giants in there tomorrow with their wives?"