For most New Yorkers, a night of charity entails doling out a small fortune to sit at a large round table with stiff Uptown Wasps. Not last night. At the Rose Charities Be Bare event at Milk Studios, in the Meatpacking District, models auctioned clothes rights off their backs.
Women worked the runway, an auctioneer shouted out prices, and upscale hipsters sporting manicured three-day stubble raised their paddles in delight. When a designer garment was sold—the likes of Vivienne Westwood, Zac Posen Alexander Wang, Marchesa, and Sue Stemp—the model would tear it off and return down the catwalk, stripping down to nothing but Ki Ki De Montparnasse lingerie. The bankers in the crowd, relieved that the only thing dropping was designer dresses and not the Dow, looked on gleefully, but it was clear that some people in the audience were shocked that a benign benefit could so closely resemble a night at Scores.
The event raised money for impoverished populations. “The beauty of [Rose Charities] is that it’s small and run by volunteers. We support projects in Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Nepal, Madagascar, and Kenya,” the Canadian director of Rose Charities, Josephine DeFreitas said. “It’s very much people helping people without the big infrastructure. We support local people who do their own charity, and they achieve way more than we possibly could.” When I asked DeFreitas about the organization's recent benefit in Nashville, she joked, “The Bible belt had a really hard time.”
The event space was festooned with Hunter Barnes’s photographs—black and white images of the Ni Mii Puu Tribe, which hadn’t been photographed in a century. As I was leaving, I asked Barnes about his next project. “It’s top secret. I always keep it top secret. It’ll blow your fucking mind.”
On that note, I headed out the door with a stream of Meatpacking District Partygoers. Some looked like they had just auctioned off a few clothing items themselves.