Dion Lee | Inside the Buzzy NYFW After-Party

The Boom Boom Room hosts a surprise appearance from Azealia Banks.

Written by

Rob LeDonne

Photographed by

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Photographed by Thomas Razzano/BFA.com.

The wrap-around bar in the middle of the Boom Boom Room at New York’s Standard Highline encircles what I always perceived to be a run-of-the-mill pillar, for lack of a better word. Apologies, but I’m not totally familiar with architectural terminology. It's Fashion Week in New York after all, not Modernism Week, and most people don’t take in the construction of a bar unless they wake up on the floor and are staring at the ceiling.

But on this Friday late night, I got a good look at this stupid pillar. A really good look. And I soon came to realize this was no boring, drab, sight-line reducing pillar at all. The reason why I’m looking at this thing is that any moment, there is word that Azealia Banks is going to come out from wherever someone like Azealia Banks spends her time, and bestow the crowd with a surprise performance. 

Banks was recruited to help celebrate Dion Lee, the brand from its eponymous Australian designer who earlier in the day debuted his Fall 2023 Ready to Wear collection. And so here we are; friends of the brand, models from the show, photographers, editors, and whoever else has the pull at the door downstairs to take the elevator; the one Beyoncé and Jay-Z made (in)famous, up to the penthouse of the Standard to this Boom Boom Room. 

The guests who made the trek up that Lemonade elevator are eclectic. Natasha Lyonne is here. So is Malia Obama. Fellow designer Christopher John Rogers came to show his support, as did the playwright Jeremy O. Harris. And of course, Lee himself. Elsewhere, the crowd, as WWD so eloquently put it, gave off a “you-may-not-know-me-but-I’m-big-on-TikTok energy,” (Personally speaking, the first half of that is true but the second part is extremely incorrect.) 

Which brings me back to this pillar that I’m waiting in front of to be ready for Azealia's 1 AM showtime. I’m standing here because despite the fact that one friend wants to dance, nobody is dancing. It’s tragic, especially considering they’re pumping out a very danceable soundtrack. (P!NK would be crushed). 

And as the minutes tick past one, it dawns on me: the pillar is actually designed to resemble a mushroom cloud. From its narrow base, to its thick cloud-like ridges and how it fans out on the ceiling. Hence, this place’s Boom! moniker. 

Perhaps it’s appropriate then that an explosive personality like Banks is scheduled to appear. But it’s now 1:30 and the room is filling up and Banks is either late, not coming or my 1AM intel is incorrect.  

By 1:45AM, the bartenders stop whipping up cocktails and stand to the side. The music lowers before finally going silent. Then at the stroke of 2AM,  Banks herself pops out from nowhere and onto the bar. There she catwalks back and forth, running through her hits from “212” to the family-friendly single “Fuck Him All Night” as many in the crowd sang along to every word. Flashes go off intermittently, with the entirety of her performance found in successive Instagram stories the next day.

Jeremy O. Harris jumps up on a couch behind me to get a better look as Banks, who is donning a green suit and bobbing hair. She wordlessly transitions from one song to another, with her surprise appearance actually amounting to a 40 minute-long set. 

Just as randomly as when she first hoisted herself up on the bar, as her final song ends Banks is done, thanks very much. She hops off, disappearing into the crowd. It’s now 3AM and much of the crowd does the same, departing into the cold New York night. Some of them will be back in short order at the Boom Boom Room, a name I know now to be taken literally. It’s only Friday, after all, and there’s a party for Heron Preston here tomorrow.

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Dion Lee, NYFW, Azealia Banks, Rob LeDonne