With shows set in cavernous West Side Highway piers and parties held in obscure Financial District banks, New York Fashion Week is as much a test of one's transportation prowess as it is your sartorial acumen. So on a bright, crisp Tuesday morning, I was given the absurdly luxurious opportunity to take a break from my public transportation rounds when a silver Mulsanne Bentley showed up at my door, complete with a lovely driver, Tony, to chauffeur me to and from shows for the day.
As we headed off to Tory Burch's 9 a.m. show at Avery Fisher Hall, Tony introduced me to some of the many features in this model sporting a new, unreleased Executive Interior. Translation? Well, for starters, two automated veneered picnic tables unfold from the back of the front seats with the push of a silver button. One more button later and two iPad screens pop up, revealing a perfectly level keyboard. The car has its own Wi-Fi, so that party copy due from the night before? A cinch to send. Oh no, my iPhone and Blackberry (Yes, I carry both. No, this is not an ideal technological lifestyle choice) were running low on juice. Guess what? Two chargers for both are built into a compartment that folds down between the back seats. This car was turning out to be the most work-friendly, productive piece of machinery ever. Though there was also a champagne console. Perhaps less conducive to story writing, but an equally nice touch.
It was simply a beauty, and I'm not even a car aficionado. The dashboard, made of handcrafted wood veneers, glowed with more controls than a Batmobile. The cream leather seats were achingly comfortable (apparently, unlike with other companies, Bentley tests out the hide's durability more than 20,000 times using actual people of diverse heights and weights instead of robots). And there were so many gleaming, thoughtful touches like illuminated, fold-down vanity mirrors for the back seats, a chrome ashtray, and deep-pile carpet mats at your feet.
It was no wonder then, that everywhere I went the car got full-out stares. "Woohoo," yelled one construction worker on the Upper West Side as we passed by. "That model was just staring at the car," Tony informed me outside the Marc by Marc Jacobs show. Each time I exited the car, people would wait expectantly, hoping for a celebrity sighting. I've never felt like such a disappointment. And apparently while he lingered outside our office building, one of the security guards there inquired as to whom he was picking up. (Ever discreet, Tony refused to disclose any names.)
He also proved a consummate protector. When I walked out of one show, apparently with a look of frustration on my face, he gave me a concerned glance. "You okay? You look like someone gave you a hard time," he inquired. "And I was going to punch them for you. That comes with the Bentley, too." (It must be said, that despite being a former Deputy Sheriff for over a decade in Georgia, Tony was entirely joking.)
What else can come with the Mulsanne Bentley, which retails for approximately $345,000? Well, if you're the famous type, you can order it fully bullet-proofed, for an extra $60,000-80,000. Want a drink? Built in wine coolers and mini bars can be added, too. Bentley will do practically anything you want (one man requested a dashboard crafted entirely out of South Pacific teak), so long as it's in keeping with their high-end, luxury aesthetic (no neon orange exteriors, please).
By sunset, I felt so productive and comfortable, I never wanted the day to end. But alas, Tony dropped me off back home after my evening shows as I gave him a sad handshake. Two mornings later, on my way to my normal subway commute my doorman Felix stopped me, still mesmerized by the car.
"That was some ride the other day!" he said, beaming.
It sure was.