Lady Gaga Taps Giorgio Armani to Create Crazy Costumes for Asia Tour

As the Asia leg of Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Ball officially kicks off on April 27, the fashion-obsessed pop star is looking to turn her costume game up a notch. She’s teamed up once again with legendary Italian fashion designer Giorgio Armani to produce a collection of over-the-top performance numbers that promise spikes, mirrors, and PVC.

Sketches were revealed on the Telegraph this morning, and it looks like Gaga will be channeling a dominatrix from a futuristic version of Whoville. The custom costumes feature tons of beading and strings dangling about, bound by barely-there structural corsets. Headgear is especially extraterrestrial this time around and feature shapes that would work just as well in the next Alien. The most brilliantly bizarre look by far is Armani’s Art Deco meets Picasso design, which includes a jumbled set of life-size guitars tacked onto her body. Naturally, her hat is a keyboard.

Photo via Telegraph

Giorgio Armani’s Acqua For Life Campaign Merges Fashion & Philanthropy

Italian fashion designer Giorgio Armani understands that natural clean water is a human right and not a luxury, which is why he has launched a new project called Acqua for Life.  The campaign focuses on bringing quality drinking water to developing countries where availability is scarce or nonexistent, such as Bolivia and Ghana. To support the cause through his craft and inspire others, Armani has produced a brilliant T-shirt that features "thank you" drawings from the children he’s helped in the past. 

The tee is available for both men and women and comes in crisp white, with the logo and adorable artwork in H2O blue. The initiative doesn’t stop there: 30% of all proceeds will be donated to Green Cross International to fund their Smart Water for Green Schools program—a non-profit organization. 
Pick up your Acqua for Life T-shirt for $81 when it lands in Emporio Armani stores and online at the end of this month. 

It’s All New: Balenciaga’s Store, Thom Browne’s Look, LVMH’s Fund: Today’s #StyleScoop

Catch up on the latest happenings in fashion and style:

Fledgling designers will have another shot at a helping hand thanks to LVMH’s new global fashion prize. WIth members like Karl Lagerfeld, Marc Jacobs, Phoebe Philo, Nicolas Ghesquiere and Riccardo Tisci on the board, winners will be privy to their advice along with a 300,000 euro prize. The prize aims to find the fashion designer of tomorrow – without the American/British limits the CFDA and BFC place on their funds. Kenzo/Opening Ceremony’s Humberto Leon and Carol Lim will join in on the search. The 30 semifinalists will be flown by LVMH to Paris to show their collections in March.

Alexander Wang bowed his new Balenciaga retail store in SoHo, feted last night by the likes of Julianne Moore, Joseph Altuzarra, Max Snow, Vanessa Traina, and Julia Restoin Roitfeld. What to expect? Lots of green marble.

Love Thom Browne but afraid of a highwater? Fortunately for those seeking a classic American look, Thom Browne is expanding his offerings to include a new line – andt this is a little confusing, so stay with me – called Thom Browne. What about his other Thom Browne line? It’ll be renamed Thom Brown New York. The new Thom Browne will feature his aesthetic with a more classic fitting suit.

CFDA winners Dao Yi Chow and Maxwell Osbourne of Public School are working hard on their J.Crew collaboration collection, and there’s a whisper in the air about a possible women’s line. Which is great news for women. Fingers crossed.

The fashion weeks controversy has been ongoing – scheduling is a nightmare for everyone, and it’s no secret that Milan has been the stickiest of all the cities in refusing to budge or cooperate. But this is progress – Giorgio Armani joined the National Chamber of Italian Fashion in an attempt to reinvigorate Milan Fashion Week. He still wants all Italian designers to show in Italy. But he recognizes the need for reorganization. We’re on the right track now.

On to more serious business, those working to improve safety standards in the Bangladesh factories have found some common ground and are moving toward an agreement. Good news all around.

Giorgio Armani Fragrance Lands Cate Blanchett for $10 Million (No Foolin’)

Hey, Brad Pitt: Chanel paid you $7 million for that Chanel No. 5 campaign? That’s cute. Cate Blanchett, your Benjamin Button co-star, has just scored a Giorgio Armani fragrances deal for a whopping $10 million.

The New York Post reveals that the A-lister and Armani muse "is soon to shoot a series of glossy ads for the fashion house’s fragrances. Although she already has a beauty deal as the face of skincare brand SK-II, this is, surprisingly, Blanchett’s first fragrance partnership.

When asked why Blanchett was selected for the crazy-expensive gig, Mr. Armani said that she "epitomizes the woman for whom I design." So, if you’re a very wealthy, very tall, very blonde, fashion-forward Australian actress who’s best friends with Nicole Kidman, this is for you.

The 5 Best David Beckham Underwear Spoofs

Diamond Ogilvy, an ad agency in Seoul, South Korea, has created a diaper spot that sends up David Beckham’s Giorgio Armani print campaign. Says an Ogilvy rep, “Children who are no longer using diapers can wear Good-Nites to prevent bed wetting. We show Good-Nites being worn as fashionable underwear to show children that Good-Nites aren’t diapers.” In order to get past the inherent creep-factor inherent in oiling up a baby and asking him to pose with a bondage-suggestive rope, we tried to track down other Beckham spoofs. Turns out, Ogilvy isn’t the only one to profit from Beck’s junk.

News of the World imagined what it might looked like if Victoria Beckham ever did chores. The answer: vulgar. image

The BAFTA-winning British actor went the route of Vanity Fair‘s Seth Rogen cover spoof, only without the prosthetic suit. image

Anyone know the deal with these two? They’re only referred to as “real people,” as far I can tell. Although the woman looks a little pre-White Diamonds Liz Taylor. image

You know she liked to dance. Here’s Ellen and Becks doing the horizontal shuffle. image

Swipes of Genius: Pretty Functional Packaging

Fiestas and fêtes around the city are back in full force this time of year, which means your makeup has to fit in your mini clutch, transition from day to night with ease, be slick enough to use in a stitch, and look nice when you whip it out to reapply while in a cab on the way to your next engagement. Giorgio Armani and Shu Uemura are two of my favorites, debuting lines in the coming seasons that not only have all of these party requirements covered — they’re also functioning conversation pieces. The packaging detail on the Giorgio Armani Crystal Collection is so intricate it may as well take the place of a bedazzled party bag. Even better: their Rouge d’Armani lipstick tubes are sleek and magnetized, which means you’ll no longer find a mess in your bag after you carelessly slip in an open tube after you reapply. The Shu Uemura line designed by Tsumori Chisato is incredibly cute and makes a great gift. Luckily, these collectibles are more than just a pretty face, as the products formulas are smart too.


Giorgio Armani Crystal Collection Genius Packaging: This limited-edition collection, which incorporates the exclusive and luxurious crystal embellishments, showcases an eyeshadow quad, a lipstick, and a lip shimmer. The style draws its art-deco inspiration from the use of the exquisite stones featured in Giorgio Armani’s luxurious accessories. Genius Formulas: The holiday eye shadows are enriched with light Micro-fil silk powders that melt perfectly into the skin to layer transparent and iridescent effects. The Crystal ArmaniSilk Lipstick comes in a rich ruby red shade that is perfect for any holiday fête and a shimmery bronze for a less intense lip. The Lip Shimmer comes in no. 61 with brown MicroFil mica pear — gloss and light up the lips in an elegant brown shimmer.

Giorgio Armani Rouge d’Armani Genius Packaging: The lipstick is sealed in an elegant lacquered case, with a magnetic pocketbook closing that shuts with an instant click. Genius Formulas: First off, it is the only purple lip color that I’ve ever been able to wear (#600). This must be because they’ve spent 7 years perfecting the color, comfort, and luminosity of their “Color-Fil” technology. Years of research (and patents) have resulted in (and I can attest to this) around 6 hours of perfect color and texture, and around 8 hours of a stain left behind. I ate, drank, and celebrated all night, and I still had a mouthful of perfect color.

Tsumori Chisato for Shu Uemura Genius Packaging: The famous Japanese fashion designer was inspired by the book Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, a night sky, and “manga/bohemian cuteness.” There are makeup bags, lipstick, gloss, eyeshadow palettes, and fake eyelashes that Chisato designed “for a happy and peaceful Christmas holiday season.” Genius Formulas: The eyeshadow palette has pressed and creame formulas, which works for the office and the office party. The creme shadow in black does wonders for thickening or smudging up the lash line for added drama.

Brand Names Rule Milan Fashion Week

If you’re combing the back alleys of Twitter for sentience, you may notice two things. First, you’re looking in the wrong place; and second, #MFW is now trending. And with the trending of #MFW, we can put the kibosh on London Fashion Week and vault ourselves head first into the wild, fiery throes of Milan Fashion Week. How is Milan Fashion Week different than LFW and NFW? Well, apart from being a wholly different acronym, in Milan, risotto falls from the sky like rain. In Milan, fat little children do butterfly strokes in ponds of pasta sauce. In Milan, romance sparks and dreams do come true. But more important than your dreams is Anna Wintour. She’s already started making the rounds, thereby rendering those other two metropoli — so splattered with pigeon shit, they are! — passé. And as far as designers go, some of the top contenders have already sent their latest designs down the runway. And the dapper rabble, they’re pleased.

Instead of attempting to mince fashion jargon, I’ll leave it to The Telegraph’s Hilary Alexander’s sharp prose to characterize Armani’s collection:

The designer took skirts to new heights, some so short they came with black sequin cycle shorts. … Micro puff balls, ballerina tutus, and ra-ra skirts, straight from the “Fame” wardrobe, were paired with bustiers and halter tops which were scarcely wider than a pair of braces. … The shimmering colours, iridescent beading and lush tropical florals combined to create a mysterious effect, as of dresses glimpsed in a moonlit jungle. … Jackets were sculpted close to the body with defined shoulders and curved peplums. … Shoes were flat, an ankle strap sandal or a tiny pump with a transparent slingback.

Meanwhile, D&G showed off their SS 2010 collection, which placed a cowgirlish premium on leather and denim. There’s also word of Prada’s penchant for clear chandelier shoes and glossy red lips, along with gun-metal city suits. A cursory glance across these runways and you can’t even tell that there was a tightening of the purse strings this year at MFW.

Industry Insiders: 1Oak’s Woodsmen

At the tastefully burnished 1Oak, four vastly different drivers are at the wheel. Richie Akiva, Jeffrey Jah, Ronnie Madra, and Scott Sartiano, partners in the timeless, game-changing venue. “You have a southern boy here, a bred New Yorker, a Canadian and an Indian” says Akiva, one quarter of the 1Oak braintrust. The diversity of its management has proven to be key in building 1Oak’s wide-ranging clientele. “We wanted 1Oak to bring nightlife back to what was fun about New York” he says. “An eclectic mix of people — gay, straight, artists, celebrities, yuppies, blacks, whites.” The result? A $3 million lounge filled with everyone from Jay-Z to Giorgio Armani to Union Square skateboarders, and happily turning a huge profit. “The fact is,” says Sartiano, “we’ve paid back 110% of our investments in one year.” Avowing that culture could never be wiped out by a weakened Wall Street, Akiva harkens back to the disco era: “I sometimes refer to myself as the new Steve Rubell.” Here, the gentlemen talk the talk to shed light on how they walk the walk. How did you guys all come together? Scott Sartiano: I think we all met and we all came together working at the same place — called Life — years ago. It was maybe the last great nightclub. We all just sort of kept tabs on each other for years. Then Richie decided to open up Butter, and he asked me to get involved with him. Then we asked Ronnie to get involved, and it just kind of grew from there. Richie Akiva: It was a good working relationship that we had together. I had asked him to start something on a Monday night, because that was our slow restaurant night. I told them, “I think should really start a party,” different from all of this stuff that was going on in New York City that was just like, way commercial.

What kind of stuff? RA: I’m not going to say names of places, but other people that were running their parties and running their clubs in New York were making it really overhyped. And since we started as a restaurant, I thought we could keep it more exclusive than a bar, and not whore it out as a full-on club. Eventually everybody else involved at first kind of fell off the map as we were doing this party, because I guess they just couldn’t hack it with us. And Ronnie, his relationship with us grew stronger as everyone else’s kind of disintegrated. He stuck with us for so long, and he’s a very loyal guy, and he’s very good at what he does, and he matched us and what we do, very well. Ronnie Madra: Well, we’re friends first. Do you think that has a lot to do with your business success? RA: Yes, I think our friendship is important. I think what has the most to do with our success is that we’re all really different. We have similar friends that run in the same circles, but we also have our own lives and our own friends, and our own people that support us and love us, and take care of us. So, it’s kind of like we bring all these people together, and since we’re all different, and coming from different worlds, it went well. I find, from my point of view, that there seems to be a lot of backstabbing, and just poor business ethics, in your industry. Do you think that trust is a big element of the reason why some places work out and some places don’t? Is it that working dynamic which ultimately has a lot to do with the success? SS: Well, I have to say, we come from a different school in a way of doing business in this industry. We come from a time where your word is your word, and a handshake is where the trust is. There were no contracts. I think the newer people in this business — they’re the ones that are more back-stabbing than anybody because they didn’t start where we started. This business has gone through a huge change, and before, it was more about your word and a handshake was everything, and if you didn’t trust that, it wasn’t good. Going on that, how has your point of view on basically the climate of the nightlife industry changed now, compared to when you first started? RA: First, it’s not about the quick hit, you know? I love what I do, so does he [points to Madra]. You have to love what you do, and if that’s the pattern that you put yourself into, I think it will be great. I love walking through those doors at night, knowing everything is lined up perfectly, from start to finish. SS: I think it’s gotten way more corporate. The whole business is built on relationships. If you screw somebody over at age 22, at age 32, you’re not going to be friends with them, so it’s like you lose a potential client-friend-customer, for life. And I think a lot of guys would do that — they’re usually young guys who are new to the business. We’ve been doing this for over 10 years, and we’ve built ourselves as a business. We have guys who went from being a bar back, to bartender and now he’s a manager of the club, and he is doing it well. You find people to grow with. Anytime that you screw somebody over in friendship, or business, it ruins this business. And you see a lot of people who have maybe a two-, three-year lifespan in this business, but they’re not around longer than that. RA: I think people took the handshake more seriously than they take a contract, these days. SS: And we don’t use contracts for people who work with us. And everybody else, they sign contracts. It’s like, do you want to imprison someone? Or force them to come to your place when they don’t want to be there? The whole purpose of a place being successful is to get people to want to come and have a good time. So now you’re going to pay somebody who doesn’t want to be there, you’re going to make those people sign a contract? It’s backwards. What do you guys think of the current economic times? Not business in general, but what you see as far as the clientele coming in, or the way people are approaching the idea of nightlife, spending money on alcohol and going out? RA: I can speak for myself — I kind of live in a bubble over here. I don’t really go to many places anymore that I don’t own, and the only effect I see is the corporate business tour, and the marketing dollars, and the corporate dollars, and the sponsorships. In terms of our regular day-to-day business, we haven’t really taken a hit. RM: There was times in New York when it wasn’t driven on people to present their credit cards at the door to get in. We didn’t say, “Oh, okay, we’ll just bank people at the door, and have them come in and take their money.” SS: We don’t have a bottle minimum. RA: We never said, “This is how you get in. This is buying your way into the club.” We wanted it to be back to something that was really fun about New York, you know, an eclectic mix of people — gay, straight, artists, celebrities, models, yuppies, blacks, whites — whatever it is, we wanted them all through those doors. It’s not like you’re pigeon-holing yourself into this, “Oh, that’s a yuppie club, or that’s a hip place.” People have been saying that because of the economy, we’re destined to go back to pre-Giuliani New York: people going out a lot more, and staying out until much later, and basically getting back to a certain level of debauchery. RA: I do see that, without a doubt, I see that. Like I said, I can’t say for any other place, because I don’t really go to many places, but I can see the energy is getting better. There’s a new attitude focused onto going out again. I think alcohol is up, and a lot of things are going down, so it has a lot to do with it. I think people lost a couple million dollars, or this, or that, and they don’t mind going out and spending a little money at night just to forget about the economy, and let loose a little, and let their aggression out, in terms of fun. You have all pretty much said that you don’t really go out to other places. Jeffrey, I know you are pretty vocal about never setting foot in other clubs. The question that comes to mind is how you are able to gauge the competition, or the atmosphere that other places are bringing to the table. Or, is the idea of being involved with competition just sort of stifling? Jeffrey Jah: I read a lot, but mostly I feel that I depend on Scott, Richie, and Ronnie — they go out a lot. I don’t go to other clubs, but I go to other restaurants, and other bars. To me it sends a message that if I’m at somebody else’s club, it shows that my club isn’t hot. So you’re not going to see me sitting at another club. RA: But also, like we said before, we’re very dependent on relationships we’ve built in the past. Jeffrey’s relationships go back 15, 20 years, and they still support him. And they’ve gotten bigger themselves. So, he has his ear to the street, and they tell him what’s going on. JJ: But I also rely on people that aren’t in the business. Twenty years ago and today, you still see creative people, these young artists, young designers, young photographers — those people don’t go away. The models come and go, the girls come and go, the young guys come and go, but people in the arts — they’re here for the long run. They have more of a creative run. Take a stylist. They start out as a young assistant to a stylist, and by the time they’re 25 they’re a stylist, at 30 they’re a senior stylist, at 35 they’re an editor, and by the time they’re in their 40s, they either become a fashion director, or a creative director. They’re here to stay. And they might be more interesting and they have their own context, and their own sense of style, and that is timeless clientele to you … JJ: And I think that’s what we all agree on, and we take pride in. When other people are doing things way more corporate than us, we’re doing things way more artistic. And the people who we know and who come to our place. If Richie doesn’t know one person, Scott will; if I don’t know, Ronnie will know. So, between the four of us, you’re going to find that one of us will know one of those people. And because of our ages we span different generations. RA: So, that’s and edge, you know? You have Southern boy, over there, and Canadian, and an Indian. What the fuck? How did that happen? How the fuck did four guys like us get together? I was actually talking about that the other day. You guys all bring a different perspective and point of view because of where you come from your roots. RM: Yeah, that’s part of the key, because when decisions are made here, there’s never anything done unilaterally. There’s respect enough to say, “You know what — ” SS: ‘”You know more about this than I do, so you take care of it.” RM: I’ll never say, “Richie, this is what you should do,” when he knows exactly what to do, and it’s his area of expertise. RA: If one of us is tired, than the other one is working harder; if one of us is sick, the other one is there ten times more. There is, obviously, an incredible amount of design in the space, and attention to detail. Do you guys ever think that the great attention to detail that’s gone into this place was ever lost on the clientele? JJ: Hundreds of times. RA: We’d been doing the clubs for so long, and from being at everyone else’s clubs, and working, and making other people millions of dollars over the years, we thought, “What can we take, and what can we learn, from all the mistakes they’ve made?” We decided to really pay attention to detail and say, “You know what? It’s all about the details, at this point.” It was a complete decision, from the beginning, to pay attention to detail. Some people are oblivious to the details, but the people who matter, and the people who understand design and taste, and class — they understand. SS: People go out to nightclubs all over the world. You sit in a Ford, and then you’re in a Bentley the next day — you notice the difference. Even if you’re not really looking for it, even if you aren’t an expert. We want our place to be nicer than every where else, we want it to raise the bar, we want people to come here and say, “Wow, that place is really nice.” That’s where you notice it a lot; it’s not here, it’s when you go somewhere else. RA: We never wanted it to feel like a nightclub with lights, and flashings, and strobes, and all that craziness. We wanted an older person in their 30s, 40s, 50s — 60s, even — to accept this place. I had Giorgio Armani in here not too long ago, and he stayed all night. His assistant says, “Armani’s never stayed at a club this long in his entire life. He doesn’t even stay at Armani Privéin Milan that long. He’ll come for a drink.” But here he didn’t want to sit down, he stood in front of the table all night just looking around. And he was in awe. JJ: Same with Dolce and Gabbana. RA: Yeah, and Armani had to go to the Oscars the next day in L.A., and he stayed until 4am; he stayed literally until we turned the lights on. He said everyone in New York was at 1Oak, and he said it was the best place. I mean that night was very crazy. We had Leonardo DiCaprio here. See, when you look at 1Oak, it doesn’t look like a club, it looks like someone’s home. You’re not being thrown into a nightclub atmosphere. You want to stay. What are you guys really impressed with right now, in terms of restaurants? SS: I like Waverly. RM: I like the Minetta Tavern; it’s actually very nice. JJ: But I’m really old school. I go to the same places. I go to Bar Pitti. RM: We’re creatures of habit. We’ll go to like, Blue Ribbon Brasserie. SS: I go to the Spotted Pig. RM: Lure Fishbar. I like to go where we can listen to music and just hang out. RA: We go to Butter all the time. Monkey Bar. I check out everything when they open to see if I like it. RM: Other clubs don’t impress us, really. I walk into a club, and we’ll dissect it completely. “Oh, they didn’t do this right, they didn’t do that right. How could they do that?” It’s insane, in a way. But that’s why it’s hard when we go out. So, how do you guys go out an let loose? RM: Not in New York. JJ: I leave the country. RM: We go to Europe, or somewhere else. We’re very different when we’re not in New York. RM: Here, we are in the service industry. We’re all in hospitality mode. JJ: I’m 40 years old — I wouldn’t live two minutes, after 25 years, if I didn’t love what I do. RA: You’re 40? Damn, old man. I’m right behind you.

What are some of the projects you guys can talk about now? SS: We’re trying to open more Butters, as well. We have one in North Carolina. It will probably be complete in September. What made you attracted to North Carolina? SS: I’m from there, so it’s kind of almost like a personal project with the developer. JJ: This guy’s the Mick Jagger of the Carolinas. RA: The Southern heart-throb. North and South. SS: We’re just focused on really, here, with the economy, and everything. I think we’re all really happy, and we’re fortunate with how well this place is doing, and how well our hard work is paying off. The recession is kind of filtering out the corporate backstabbers that you spoke about in the business. RA: I think that’s really what the recession has proven: All the real artistic people, all the people who are doing something cool, and fun, and new, and real — they’re going to be around for a while, and I think the people that just come in don’t really understand the business, or have just decided one day that they want to open up a club just because they had money, or just because they wanted to be cool, those are the ones that are going to fail, and I think the recession is weeding out all the bullshit. Back in the 70s, when there was disco, and Steve Rubell, and the people in that industry, today have earned themselves a certain notoriety; it’s legendary. I know it’s hard to look at the work you guys are doing, in hindsight right now, but do you think you guys aspire to that kind of iconic nightlife representation? RA: I sometimes refer to myself as the new Steve Rubell. RM: [Laughs] I’m going to start calling you Richie Rubell. RA: No, I’m serious, I am the new Rubell. SS: I think more than anything else, sometimes, it’s hard to step outside of yourself and say, “Wow, what I did is really cool,” or, “Wow, we’re living in a moment.” Sometimes, when I’m in a cab and I’m saying, “Take me to 17th and 10th Avenue,” and the cab driver says, “Oh, 1Oak.” I know it sounds stupid, but when you hear from someone that’s never really been to our place, that really knows nothing about it, to have heard about it, that kind of makes you say, “Hey, what should we do next? What are we going to call it? What’s it going to look like?” I think years from now, I will look back and say, “Wow, that was a lot bigger than anybody had ever done before.” At the same time, the one thing about us is that we’re fighters, and we want to do good things and be successful, and when you do that, you always strive to be better tomorrow than who you are today. And as great as that is, I think we all have much bigger plans than just Butter or just 1Oak. What are your aspirations? SS: We plan on doing hotels, and resorts, and luxury condominiums, and things like that. And we’ve had these ideas in the works that we’ve had for a long time. It doesn’t stop at just 1Oak, it’s going to continue to grow. Everything’s been a step further, from the day we started; we take one step back, and two steps forward. RM: But we are aware that things are working well for us, especially with everything else going on. We all wake up and say, “Wow, luckily, our place is doing really well.” There’s a lot of places that people think are doing really well that aren’t. RA: And just to add, we’re kind of like a band. We’re kind of like a U2 band, you know, like, none of those guys do the same thing — we play bass, we’re on guitar, we’re singing, we’re drums. There’s a mutual respect, and there’s a talent and there’s a team, and I think the team is what makes it stronger, because we’re not going to be this one-dimensional group of guys, all going for the same shit like it’s a competition. RA: I actually have something to say, I have something to add. We have been a little bit cocky, because we’ve done well, but the fact of the matter is that we’ve paid back 110% of our investments in one year. And that’s very hard to do, for any other place, in the worst economy. And that’s why I wanted to tell you we paid 110% back, because we’re a little bit happy, in a good place, in our minds, because everyone, since this recession started, has been cutting people, has been firing people, closing — so while everyone is like this, we’re moving up.

Photo by Scott Pasfield

Industry Insiders: Rob McKinley, Good as Gold

Rob McKinley — part of the team responsible for hotspots GoldBar, Cain Luxe, and Surf Lodge — began his design-oriented career behind the scenes at fashion house heavy-hitters Tommy Hilfiger, Donna Karan, and Giorgio Armani. After a shift into nightlife, the GoldBar concept stemmed from McKinley’s fictional idea of a European count obsessed with anything and everything gold. The golden boy met with us to discuss keeping his bar alive, the fall of the Meatpacking District, and those guys across the street at Southside.

How did GoldBar come about? My partner told me about the space, and I told him that I had a concept which would work really well. For me, creatively, the idea was to create a bar inspired by some of the grand hotels in Europe — Paris and Rome — but without the hotel. I wanted it to have the old-fashioned, traditional style of service and the formality of those bars and then almost poke fun at it and make it overly decadent. It came into being when we picked the space and we had gold leaf everything as soon as you walked through the door. The skulls were inspired by the catacombs in Paris. Little by little, it came together while working with all the different artisans, fellow workers, and artists.

Do you worry that GoldBar will lose its coolness factor? Luckily, we have a pretty cool crowd which has been mostly consistent. It has to do with the style of our service. Bottle service isn’t required. It’s all about the cocktails and the unique design. Even though the bar is over the top, it’s not just a trend, and I think it can stand on its own two feet. It’s also about the music. All the music we play has deep roots.

What do you think in terms of longevity? Even thought this is a nightclub, if people ask me what I do, I say I’m a designer, and I have a bar and a hotel. We pride ourselves on our cocktails. Those bartenders behind there are serious business. We want to be here for 10 years, for 15 years. We want it to become a good, solid place where people will always be able to have a drink and listen to good music.

How do you keep it innovative? We change the drinks every season, and we have great bartenders. They really know their game. Quality is a big part of what we do. My partners and I are all on the same page when it comes to that, and there’s a lot of attention to quality and detail. We have all fresh-squeezed juices, and the ice is all hand-cracked everyday. And yes, I oversee all the music. That’s something that we have to constantly question ourselves, but luckily all of our DJs are really brilliant, and a lot of them are musicians.

What are your busiest nights? Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. On Sunday, there is a younger, sort of rock hip-hop vibe.

What’s your relationship like with your partners Jamie Mullholland and Jayma Cardosa? I think we’re all a little bit nuts in the best way possible. We all get a kick out of each other, and we respect each other within the realm of our business. I think that’s the most important thing. We’re all very good at what we do.

Who does what? I handle all of the creative stuff, which consists of the musical direction, any invitations we need to do, and obviously the decor and lighting. Sometimes even the garnishes for the drinks. I go nuts for the small details: olives, incense. I’m a freak about the specific French incense that needs to be here all the time. I do the graphic design and the uniform design for GoldBar, Cain Luxe, and Surf Lodge. Jamie does the operational stuff, and Jayma is great at getting people here, being front of house and the host.

Any quibbles during the process? Always. If we didn’t, then something would be wrong. I probably get nagged about money the most. Jamie is always telling me to watch the money, but ‘m the designer, and I like things a particular way. They’ll ask me, “How much is the incense again?” We always manage to figure it out in the end.

Do you have any formal training in design? No, not at all. It’s just something that I love to do. I always ask my assistant (a graduate of Parson’s school of design) questions about how you’re really supposed to present and format things. Let’s just say I always find my own way to do things.

Besides your own places, where do you hang out? I’ve been going to Café Select a lot recently. I like the food, and I love the coffee. The little bar at the back is really great as well and kind of a little getaway. The music is really great. Sant Ambroeus in the West Village is one of my haunts. It’s a great café for breakfast, lunch, and dinner with excellent food, great coffee, and great desserts. There are really interesting people there all the time from all walks of life. Do the Meatpacking clubs, including Cain Luxe, have any hope of redemption from the bridge and tunnel crowds? Bridge and tunnel isn’t so bad. I’m bridge and tunnel deep down inside and always will be. When I was 16 and 17 years old, I was going to clubs in the city. It was just a different attitude then. We were going where the music was great and where the people were fun. And then it became a lot more velvet rope, and there were different requirements to get in. It still can be very good, and a lot of people will go. If it’s a good party, it’s a good party. Best GoldBar night? I remember one night we had nine different DJs in the DJ booth. We had two DJs on that night, and the rest came as guests. We all knew each other, and we were just going song for song. It was myself, DJ Kiss, Chris Liggio, DJ Cassidy, DJ Nice, DJ Ruckus, Tony Touch, MOS, and Damon DeGraff. The rule was: only one song. So, it was really tough because one song is your bridge to the next song, but we just had to keep it in that same vein all night. We also did an amazing masquerade party here with free-flowing Dom Perignon. The invites were these really beautiful boxes with hand-painted Venetian masks. How does Southside fare as competition? It’s cool. I was at Southside the other night. I think it’s like anything else. I had a good time. Music was good. We’re two different things.

Favorite celebs to step foot in GoldBar? A bunch of them, but we won’t talk about them. It was a great honor for them to be here, but what’s even more of an honor is when they come back. Ian Schrager was here a bunch of times, and that was a big deal for me — being a designer and him being the Studio 54 guy — and all. Lenny Kravitz comes a lot, and the only reason I can say this is because he wrote a song about GoldBar for his last album called “Dancin’ Til Dawn.” Giorgio Armani came one night, and that was big for me because I used to work for him.

What’s your dream venue? I want to do a resort similar to Surf Lodge but in the mountains. Snow Lodge, if you will. I would love to do a spa someday. A super-duper spa inspired by some of the natural springs and baths of Italy and Scandinavia.

Who’s your dream guest? I’d love to have any one of the Rolling Stones here. Or have Stevie Wonder put a piano smack dab in the middle of the room and play all night long.

Photo: Joe Termini