Marco Ovando
Priya Rao
Sep 18, 2015 @ 7:45 am

Nightlife mainstay Susanne Bartsch, known for her legendary parties at Copacabana and Savage in the 1980s and The Top of The Standard today, likes to think of herself as a “people person.” “I like bringing people together,” she says before the opening of her new exhibition, Fashion Underground: The World of Susanne Bartsch, which opens today at New York's Fashion Institute of Technology. “I like evoking emotion in people.”

Courtesy The Museum at FIT

Some familiar with the event producer would say she’s been doing that since she landed in N.Y.C. in 1981 from London, when she opened her eponymous clothing shop that featured designers like Vivienne Westwood and Stephen Jones. “When I first came to New York it was very conventional, beautiful, Armani and Calvin Klein, but there wasn’t much color and much adventure with dressing up here,” she recalls. “I encouraged this by opening my store and bringing my London designers that I loved so much. I asked myself, ‘Why not import what I miss?’”

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Viewers of Fashion Underground will get a glimpse of those pieces, as well as about 100 more, including the famous Thierry Mugler mermaid gown that Jerry Hall wore at his 1997 couture show and Bartsch’s very own wedding look: a nude bodysuit and a 3D dome-like veil, also designed by Mugler. “I decided to get married two minutes before I married,” Bartsch recalls of her nuptials to David Barton. “Thierry was the best man along with RuPaul. It’s not like it’s a better look than all the other looks in the show, it’s more about what it represents; it was incredible.”

Courtesy The Museum at FIT

Though unconventional, Bartsch encourages that same adventure in dressing up today, and not just by Lady Gaga types. “Style is really to feel good, that will reflect in the clothes,” she says. “You shouldn’t be afraid to express yourself, enjoy who you are and have fun.” But in the process, she advises to skip the selfie. “Before the cell phone, life was much more of an adventure in my eyes. People don’t have to go anywhere anymore, you can happily get laid, you can have millions of friends, you can order food, you can live a life, but they haven’t been able to produce dancing yet. You still have to go out for that!”

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