Partners & Spade is the latest venture from New York’s unlikeliest fashion-lifestyle-design impresario: married to a handbag institution, brother to Dickie Roberts, Former Child Star, Andy Spade has put some of the proceeds from the sale of wife Kate’s eponymous line of apparel towards opening his new brand-consultancy studio and storefront on Great Jones Street in NoHo with partner Anthony Sperduti. Open weekends only (weekdays by appointment), Partners & Spade is a rumpus room for Spade’s select band of merry consumerist pranksters; last month, artist Mike Mills stuffed the place with an entire collection devoted to the year 1971, while Maira Kalman assembled a saleable shrine of items made by her late husband, graphic designer Tibor Kalman. Now the circle of fun has widened, with the opening last week of a show curated by Paper editrix and cultural switchboard Kim Hastreiter.
My Amazing Friends showcases some 24 of Hastreiter’s favorite people, and as a longtime champion of downtown culture, the she sure knows how to pick ’em; participating pals that milled around the room during the June 3rd opening included sister act Andrew Andrew, Ange Donhauser and Gabi Asfour (two thirds of fashion collective threeASFOUR), and freaky cartoonist Kenny Scharf, who knocked back tumblers of Glenfiddich and quarter-pints of Ben & Jerry’s while perusing the shelves, vitrines and cabinets holding the works for sale.
Among them, playfully chic lamps by Ingo Maurer ($1,270), scarves by Jeremy Scott made to look like giant dollar bills (costing somewhat more, $499), and mini-dresses ($400-$500) and decorative tiles ($225) from Isabel and Ruben Toledo, respectively. Mr. and Mr. Andrew presented cookies with nutritional information emblazoned in the frosting; Scharf delivered a set of bongs as innocent and loopy as summer camp arts and crafts. It’s a family show, generous, sans façon, exhibiting the same comfortable bohemianism that Hastreiter has favored in the pages of Paper and that’s become a hallmark of Spade’s other specialty retailer, Jack Spade.
Indeed it’s a production so altogether charming and seductive — as evidenced by the steady brrr and ring of the register on Friday night — that you might almost stop wondering just what the hell is going on here. Hastreiter has long operated in an ineluctably weird, liminal zone between art and commerce. Her taste in design is unaffected, physical, a product of breeding: she knows who she likes, and she has them over for dinner. (As the infamous magazine Art Director George Lois has said, “Kim finds these people, and she collects them like butterflies… I’m sure she could pull out a giant drawer and we’re all there.”) Art is so much a part of her life that the show is, to her at least, little more than a tent at the local swap meet.
But for the rest of us, it’s an exhibit at an upscale design store, and that stands in strange contrast to the down-home, DIY ethic of much of the work on display. At Moss or Droog, you’re paying for craftsmanship, for brand and high finish; at Partners & Spade, you’re paying for — amazing friends. It’s an unusual proposition, and one you could only get from the combination of the protean Kim Hastreiter and a cultural entrepreneur as energetic and confounding as Andy Spade.