Shopping, Sights & Activities

Going gaga over fashion and more in the Meatpacking District in New York City

March 4, 2013

Photo courtesy of kevincoffey on Flickr

NEW YORK CITY, USA – When you think about the collision of meat and fashion, the first thing that might spring to mind is Lady Gaga’s infamous meat dress. The raw-flank-steak get-up was certainly one of Gaga’s most outrageous fashion statements, but the singer is no stranger to the stylish inspiration of another meat-and-fashion mash-up: New York‘s Meatpacking District.

OK, so there’s not literally raw meat involved. At least not anymore. But back in the 19th century, this is where the city’s gristly butchering and meatpacking got done (thus the name). Its already bloodied reputation darkened further during the 20th century with the arrival of drugs, prostitution, and dereliction. Then along came the 1990s, when the cool crowd cottoned on to the allure of its cheap rents and started converting the former warehouses into hot nightclubs. It wasn’t long before the trendy hotels, nifty eateries, edgy-posh boutiques, and big-name fashion (Stella McCartney, Diane von Furstenberg, Christian Louboutin, et al) followed.

And ultimately, so did Gaga (she’s been spotted traipsing through the neighborhood many a time). These days, the Meatpacking District’s reputation remains on the up-and-up among the stylish set–it’s an ideal spot to source cutting-edge fashions or ingratiate yourself with the in-crowd through a night of hip club-hopping.

Hotel Gansevoort is ground zero for all of this gallivanting–it was one of the first hip hotels to open in the district and has retained its trendsetter cred with Plunge Bar & Lounge, a rooftop hotspot where throngs of fashionably fierce scenesters gather for breathtaking panoramas of Midtown’s skyscrapers and the Hudson River. For post-party pampering, the full-service spa and rooftop pool (complete with underwater sound system) are sure to please. Stealing a bit of Gansevoort’s thunder, though, is The Standard, High Line NYC, a hipper-than-thou property with quirky retro minimalist décor, exclusive top-floor nightlife, and low-key cool at its casual Biergarten at The Standard (yep, a beer garden).

While hotels here tend to double as nightlife spots, the district is also loaded with high-octane clubs that are worlds unto themselves. Head underground for one of New York’s hottest party scenes at Tenjune, where big-name celebs from Diddy to LiLo have been known to give the turntables a spin. A more mature but equally chic crowd descends at Cielo, the spot for catching top international DJs.

Photo of The Standard, High Line NYC by The Purple Passport

Pre- and post-clubbers keep the neighborhood’s restaurants bustling–eateries are often just as studded with celebs as the clubs. Beyoncé and Jay Z, among other A-listers, have been known to pop into Pastis, a 1930s Parisian-inspired brasserie where you can sup on steak frites. (Pastis also has a hopping bistro bar where late-night revelers swill wine and Sazerac cocktails.) A sexy power crowd also descends on Spice Market, where chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten has elevated Southeast Asian street food to gourmet fare.

Need a with-it outfit for the night? No problem whatsoever. Some of fashion’s biggest names have set up shop in the Meatpacking District. Smaller boutiques here are equally alluring, like Jeffrey with its meticulously curated runway designs.

Just as fashion and culture have reclaimed this former industrial zone, so too has nature. A series of converted piers has become the Hudson River Park, a five-mile waterside greenbelt with all manner of athletic and recreational opportunities. And nature has triumphed along The High Line, an abandoned section of elevated train track converted to lush urban garden. The Standard’s mod glass tower, in fact, straddles The High Line–good to know if you need a breath of fresh air from all the trendiness.

No matter how trendy the district gets, though, there’s an edginess rooted in its blood-splattered past that refuses to fade. It’s the kind of place where Gaga thinks nothing of breezing through in a totally see-through dress, and where a local steakhouse made a copycat Gaga gown out of 12 pounds of quality ribeye and porterhouse. Now that’s fashion on a knife’s edge!

Read more about the Meatpacking District in our New York Guide.

Meatpacking District
New York, NY

Click here for our full-form mobile travel guide, The Purple Passport to New York City.

Rachel Levin contributed to this post.
Biergarten at the Standard Hotel on Urbanspoon
Pastis on Urbanspoon

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