The first day of New York Fashion Week invariably feels like the first day of school. There are friends to catch up with, stories of summer vacations to share, and classes to attend (read: runway shows). And there is perhaps no better way to kick it off than with an intimate lunch over dishes of burrata and goblet-size glasses of rosé (hey, it’s back-to-school for adults), as was the case at *W’*s annual It Girl Luncheon, held on Thursday at the newly opened Mr. C’s, in the South Street Seaport.
The lunch, hosted by W’s editor at large, Lynn Hirshberg, in partnership with Botkier New York, which is currently celebrating 15 years of dressing many, many It girls, brought out this year’s class of the most talented women making a name for themselves in film, television, music, fashion, and more, including Emily Ratajkowski, Katherine Langford, Elizabeth Debicki, Hayley Kiyoko, Poppy, Nina Agdal, Cynthia Erivo, Bel Powley, Dree Hemingway, and Debby Ryan. But despite their immense fame—and follower counts—the lunch conversation was just what you’d expect from any group of girls catching up after a long summer away.
For some, it had been a chance to explore a brand new city for an extended period of time. “I spent the summer in New York just writing music,” said Langford, the star of Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why and an Australian native. “I think my best part was just being 22 and experiencing a summer in New York. I got to go to different bars and different shows and write music. In writing music, there is a really amazing kind of energy that runs through New York, particularly creatives and artists, and I found an open mic night. I was dying just to practice something on an audience, and when people get to know who you are, it gets harder just to show someone work and be judged on the work. So I dressed up in a wig and I went to the East Village and performed at my very first open mic. I completely bombed, but it was the best experience.”
Rainey Qualley had also been working on music, having just flown in from performing a concert in Los Angeles under her musical moniker, Rainsford, the night before. “It was pretty nuts. I finished my show at midnight, slept for a couple of hours, and then I had to wake up at 4:30 to fly here,” she said. “I finished up a tour with Aly + AJ two months ago, and since then I’ve been writing a lot and realizing how I want the music to be going forward.” Nearby, Kiyoko, another musician—and recent VMA winner—took in the scene at her first ever Fashion Week event. “I’m still on a high,” she said of her newly acquired Moon Person. “Just the fact that my fans voted for me and were so engaged and supportive.” Having just wrapped a tour with Panic at the Disco, she was also gearing up for her own headlining tour next month. “It sold out, and it’s my first European tour. I’m feeling great,” she said. Of her preparation for the big gig? “Sleep—after Fashion Week, of course.”
Should she need any Fashion Week advice, Ratajkowski, who has seen quite a few fashion shows in her day, was around to dole out tips. Chief among them: Take it easy. “[My Fashion Week] is mellow. Very mellow,” she said. “I’m doing a lot in Europe, so I felt like, Let’s ease on into this crazy month. I like that it’s cooling down but it’s still summery. February is always really hard for me. It’s hard to feel chic in super-cold weather. But yesterday was too hot, I will say that.”
It was still 92 degrees outside, so guests took refuge in the air conditioning and free-flowing Bellinis—that is, with the exception of one guest in particular, who became the center of attention as soon as she walked in the door: 8-year-old Brooklynn Prince, the star of last year’s The Florida Project, and now everybody’s best friend. The tiny star, dressed in a Stella McCartney Kids suit, became quick friends with Debicki—the tallest woman in the group, making for a striking pair, indeed—and bounced around the room, offering selfies to her many adoring fans. It might not have been the most traditional day of school for her, but she certainly is already in the running for this year’s Most Popular superlative in the yearbook.