Inside the Whitney Museum 2023 Studio Party
Luar bag count? At least 5.
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WHEN: Tuesday, May 16
WHO: Rowan Blanchard, Blake Abbie, the Dare, Mariska Hargitay, Antwaun Sargent, Fiffany Lu, and more
WHERE: Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City
WHY: Whitney Museum of American Art's 2023 Annual Studio Party
THE VIBE: Galas are funny. Half-filled with patrons, half-filled with people deemed cool/hot/relevant (or some combination of all three) enough to be on a list, they can often feel like tiny social experiments, or microcosms for the city itself. The after-party for the Whitney Gala was as such, with each subset of the New York creative industry represented, even just by the handful of people I talked to: There was the lawyer carrying the Luar bag. (As was I, as was my plus-one Kim, and I clocked at least three others. At one point, Kim and I knocked our Luar bags with another woman’s in a toast to Luar designer Raul Lopez.) There was the Upper East Side patron who said he’s soon moving downtown. When I asked where downtown, he said “Tribeca.” Then there was actual downtown, at least by way of the L train: The Dare played a DJ set, just hours off his GQ profile written by Sam Hine, who was surprisingly not in attendance. There was a stunning Rowan Blanchard, on the phone as she and a friend sashayed through the party greeting guests.
But before all of this, we were directed to check in at a long table with enough staff to fill a starting lineup. Immediately after check in, I spotted Blake Abbie, the heartthrob who has become a fixture of New York City nightlife made more visible by his role on the NYC season of Netflix’s reality hit Bling Empire. We said hello to PR powerhouse Gia Kuan and posed for a photo before getting Hendrix dirty martinis at one of the three bars; two lined the sides of the Whitney lobby, while one wrapped around a giant paint can, where The Dare was stationed. Throughout the night, you could catch his dirty blonde Beatles haircut bobbing in and out of the can to switch out records, mainly of the new wave and electroclash variety (a particularly excellent choice was Units’ “High Pressure Days,” which I never expected to hear in the modern, yet hallowed, halls of the museum).
We wandered up to the galleries, which were mostly empty. The most crowded exhibition was Josh Cline’s “Project for a New American Century,” which is a kind of sculptural graveyard of capitalism. A lawyer sat alone in a chair staring at one of the installations. “Kind of depressing, huh,” she said, to which we shrugged and nodded. “I’m a lawyer, and another lawyer walked by me and was complaining that AI is going to take her job,” she told us. “But I wouldn’t mind that.”
We ventured out to the deck and took some photos; the Empire State Building was lit up in as many shades of purple as Taylor Swift wore on her Midnights press tour. We didn’t know why, but guessed that it was either Prince’s birthday or the Knicks won, or something. At one point, we peered over a balcony, where below us, we saw the event staff placing hundreds of empty glasses on hot pink plastic dishwashing trays, an entire ecosystem out of sight. We wandered around and found ourselves on the floor where the Gala took place and saw the remnants of the dinner, which was mostly some gorgeous orange floral arrangements and abandoned bowls of Marcona almonds and olives covered in oil and orange zest solidifying. A middle aged man conspicuously shuttled an entire bottle of red wine out a door.
From the stairs, we got a view of hundreds of guests, all opera gloves and long gowns, some in sunglasses, and two in cargo pants, grabbing chicken bao, dumplings, truffle cheese balls, and bacon cheese and egg bites off trays, clinking glasses of champagne, looking monied or cool, and sometimes both. We spotted stylist Beverly Nguyen.
At the bar, a handsome, tall man informed us he is recently out of a relationship, and asked, “What brings you two here tonight?” He ordered a vodka on the rocks with three maraschino cherries. We asked him what he was doing here, and he said “supporting the arts” with a shrug. Later, we meet an art dealer who was hoping more people would be dancing, before adding, “But we’re here to network, right?” She pulled out her phone so we could all exchange Instagrams.
BEST DRESSED: Rowan Blanchard in a yellow Standing Ground cutout gown and a yard-long braid.
Whitney Museum 2023 Studio Party
Photos by Darian DiCianno/BFA.com