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New York’s Fashion Crowd Works Sold-Out ’Design on a Dime’ Benefit

by Mark Thompson
EDGE Style & Travel Editor
Saturday May 7, 2011

Staring at her red stiletto soles, marveling at her balance and stride, we followed an extremely chic woman down Seventh Avenue - and onto 18th Street. Oh, this woman worked those Christian Louboutins - and her Blackberry - and we knew she was headed for the same destination as were we. Looking like that, where else could she be headed on this splendid New York spring evening but Design on a Dime?

New York's most popular interior design benefit event opened on Thursday evening with a sold-out VIP reception and opening night soiree that had Housing Works' patrons lined up outside Metropolitan Pavilion. Had you passed by in a car or a cab, you might have imagined this fashionable crowd was awaiting the opening of a new club or the latest theatrical sensation - but no, that sartorially astute and fashion-forward crowd was awaiting the opening bell of Housing Works' annual three-day charitable design event.

Inside Metropolitan Pavilion, more than 50 of the world's top interior designers had created stunning rooms with brand-new designer merchandise, all of which had been donated - and was now about to be sold for 50 to 70 percent off.

If you’ve ever wandered imaginatively through a shelter magazine - and yearned for your own abode to look like those glossy photographs, well then, this was your opportunity to score those looks - on your budget.

Everyone was dressed to the nines - as if they were going to the tents at Lincoln Center for the spring collections. But then, design and fashion have always walked hand in hand - as evidenced by the guest list for Design on a Dime. Reed Krakoff was there, for example, as well as Robert Verdi and Iman - and there was also John Bartlett and Andy Cohen and Nate Berkus. A surfeit of sartorially astute and fashion savvy gentlemen who know how to work a suit - without looking stiff.

But on this evening, it was the youngest generation who turned it out with a sense of style that was as carefree as it was nonconformist and yet still elegantly urbane. Oh, those boys, those girls - and their rooms! These days, it’s not enough to look good - but your rooms have to look as good as your reflection. And the rooms that these designers created were just waiting for their close-up in "Architectural Digest."

The crowd surged through Metropolitan Pavilion as if it were Black Thursday at the A&D Building. One editor of a national shelter magazine accumulated enough sales tags that her final tally was $15,000 - for nearly $50,000 worth of merchandise. The rooms were as intoxicating as the Chopin vodka drinks (mixed with blood orange) - and it was tempting to purchase nearly everything upon which your eyes fell.

And why not? Because the best thing about Design on a Dime is that it’s all for good. Everything - all proceeds from Design on a Dime - goes to help Housing Works’ ’Get a Room’ program, which is for homeless and low-income New Yorkers living with and affected by HIV/AIDS. Now, come on, when has it ever been more right to spend money on furnishings?

One of the joys - and ironies - of a night like the opening night of Design on a Dime, is knowing that your own purchases that evening, and the two days subsequent, are enabling other New Yorkers to sleep under a roof. A roof above their heads. It’s something that most of us take for granted - but Housing Works’ is there to remind us that it’s not always that easy for some of us.

This year’s Design on a Dime benefits Housing Works’ 874 Jefferson Avenue Residence Project, a new housing development consisting of 12 permanent units of supportive housing for single, formerly homeless adults living with HIV/AIDS.

So, go - what are you waiting for? Get thee to Metropolitan Pavilion before the end of business on the 7th and spend some money on shelter - to help shelter your fellow New Yorkers.

Nothing makes you look so good as doing good.



WHAT: Design on a Dime is New York City’s most popular interior design benefit event. The three-day charitable design event, art and travel auction features over 50 of the world’s top interior designers, who create unforgettable room vignettes with new merchandise, which is donated and then sold for 50 to 70 percent off retail pricing. Shopping continues with the Free Public Sale, May 6-7.

Housing Works Thrift Shops’ Seventh Annual Design on a Dime sale is free and open to the public on both Friday, May 6th (10AM to 6PM) and Saturday, May 7th (10AM to 6PM).

WHERE: Metropolitan Pavilion 125 West 18th Street, New York City

LINK: Housing Works’ Design on a Dime


PHOTOS FROM OPENING NIGHT AT DESIGN ON A DIME: Housing Works’ ’Design on a Dime’ Benefit Photo Album

A long-term New Yorker and a member of New York Travel Writers Association, Mark Thompson has also lived in San Francisco, Boston, Provincetown, D.C., Miami Beach and the south of France. The author of the novels WOLFCHILD and MY HAWAIIAN PENTHOUSE, he has a PhD in American Studies and is the recipient of fellowships at MacDowell, Yaddo, and Blue Mountain Center. His work has appeared in numerous publications.


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