“Gossip Girl here – your one and only source into the scandalous lives of Manhattan’s elite.” Do you remember this famous intro speech narrated by Kristen Bell for the famous TV Show Gossip Girl?…I was lucky enough to host some amazing events and Fashion Shows exactly on the rooftop of ‘Chuck Bass’ Hotel. Yes, Kilame Collection was more than once the protagonist of beautiful nights and runways inside the Empire Hotel overlooking the Lincoln Center and the Upper Westside of New York City.
From Hotel to condominiums to Hotel again, in 2007 after a big renovation, the Hotel opened back to the public. The interior of the 413-room property was reimagined by interior design firm Goodman Charlton. The result of their efforts is a very Old Hollywood-esque tapestry of golds, blacks, oranges, and the occasional zebra print. The sweeping two-story lobby is marked by swaying curtains, tall cushy sofas, and a massive staircase. The rooftop with a big terrace and bars was perfect for a drink with a stunning view of Manhattan. It is not at all hard to see how the Empire wound up on Gossip Girl. Its design is so very, very Chuck Bass.
The site first showed up in the Season 3 episode of GG titled “The Lost Boy,” in the scene in which Chuck (Ed Westwick) announces to his longtime girlfriend Blair Waldorf (Leighton Meester) that he has cashed in all of his Bass Industries stock in order to purchase the Empire.
The hotel’s next appearance on the series was in “How to Succeed in Business,” also from Season 3, in which Chuck opens a speakeasy on the premises.
The Empire then went on to be featured regularly in both establishing shots, and in various on-location shoots throughout the remainder of the series’ 6-season run.
According to a January 2010 CNN Entertainment article, the Empire saw a 5-10% increase in bookings and a 50% increase in website traffic due to the filming – at a time when most hotels were experiencing a decrease in numbers. So many hotels, restaurants, and businesses considered filming and be featured in new TV Shows a new way to be seen by potential customers, especially for the young generation, and also started to let people organize events open to the public. New York is the perfect City for networking and entertainment, events such as Runways shows were combining many types of businesses together. Why not have a drink while watching a live Fashion Show with beautiful models wearing amazing Fashion pieces that you only see in magazines?. Live Fashion Shows during Happy Hour time, or dinners, giving people the chance to network and also be part of a new fun experience. Designers and models to be seen, photographers to shoot, and everyone with the chance to exchange business contacts. Soon enough this New Fashion appointment, became a trend between New York’s venues.
Ten years later and more than 100 Fashion shows and events hosted in the City, here i am telling you my experience as a Fashion Designer and events organizer in this new era of the Fashion world.
I had some amazing Fashion Show at the Empire Hotel, every time really felt like being in one of the episodes of Gossip Girl. I was arriving with my luggage full of dresses and shoes, by a cab ride or by subway from my apartment in Chelsea, usually 1 or 2 hours before everyone else to set up.
Kilame Fashion Show, Empire Hotel 2013
Sometimes during New York Fashion Week i remember long lines of people outside the Hotel trying to get it, they all wanted to attend my Kilame Fashion Show and i was amazed by this incredible energy. I was dividing myself welcoming my guests on the rooftop, running backstage to check all my models and the outfits, and trying to get everything ready for the show.
Kilame Fashion Show, Empire Hotel 2015
Sometimes with photographers, we were trying to get some shots in the lobby or on the roof before it was packed with people, it was fun and exciting.
The Fashion Shows on the rooftop overlooking Manhattan had an incredible atmosphere, with lights, colors, and good New York vibes. I loved to do events at the Empire Hotel, classy, elegant, sophisticated, matched my Kilame Collection perfectly.
Shoes, dresses, and accessories worn by stunning models were photographed every time by New York photographers that were showing up at every event, i am grateful for all the press and guests who attended my events over the years everywhere in New York.
I collaborated with organizing events at the Empire Hotel with Mr. Herbert Fox, an events specialist in New York since the old times of Studio 54 and Mr. Eric Vega, also very well known in the New York events scene. Events at the Empire Hotel were usually every Thursday or Friday.
New York City is magical, everything you dream of can become true if you work hard. My journey as The Cinderella of New York since day 1 never stopped to amaze me.
Follow me for more insight stories and if you would like to fully read my journey you can check my book ‘The Cinderella of New York’ available on Amazon.com
PH Credits: Rj Ensalada, Jason Chen, David Cheng, Hideki Aono