Refinery29's 29Rooms Brought Fashion Week To The People

by Stephanie Maida · September 13, 2016

Wandering around an 80,000-square-foot warehouse in Bushwick certainly doesn't sound like the official start of New York Fashion Week, but these days, the style set do things a little differently. On Thursday night, Refinery29 launched their 2nd annual 29Rooms installation, an interactive playground-slash-party that brought together innovators in the fields of fashion, art, and technology in order to create a funhouse with purpose - not to mention infinite moments for the 'gram. This year's theme, “Powered by People,” seemed more relevant than ever in the current landscape of not just fashion, but society as a whole. As more and more designers adopt a more buyer-friendly approach to Fashion Week presentations (think the see now, buy now moments at Tom Ford, Alexander Wang, and Tommy Hilfiger this season), the typically exclusionary club that is NYFW is becoming more accessible. The fact that 29Rooms was free and open to the public all weekend just proved to solidify this movement. 

Refinery29's colorful Creative Director, Piera Gelardi, explained, "power has been a big theme for us this year. We’ve been thinking about going beyond empowerment. Empowerment is something so important but still kind of commodified in advertising. We also feel like it’s not just about empowering, it’s about helping people to see their own power and giving them the tools and the inspiration to do that." With rooms encouraging everything from self-love and self-expression to voting and saving the environment, the project certainly approached empowerment from all angles. "We thought about themes that would help people to feel like they could make changes, big or small in their life, whether that’s sparking an act of kindness or thinking about the energy that they bring to the dance floor," Gelardi continued. "But really at the end of the day, each person finds it in themselves than someplace else."

A-list attendees of the opening night, including Jessica Alba, Mia Moretti, Cleo Wade, and Kate Mara definitely appeared to find something in the space. A cloud of telephones whispered poetry, a room of wigs woke up our inner RuPaul. Victoria Justice for one, couldn't get enough of the Baron Von Fancy mural wall, while Orange is the New Black star Jackie Cruz clearly preferred jumping into a ball pit. Speaking of empowerment, Cruz shared one her most memorable "power" moments with us before heading into the space. "Right after I had my car accident there was this little girl, who actually is quadriplegic, and she looked at me with a shaved head and told me that I was pretty and that changed my life right there." No, we're not tearing up or anything.

Click through for snaps of the VIP bash as well as some of our favorite Instagrams from visitors over the weekend. Let's just say a warehouse party has never been this fun...or inspiring.

[Mia Moretti by Joe Schildhorn /]