Everyone knows that tennis is Anna Wintour’s uncontested sport of choice, luring her away from Fashion Week each September (to Queens, no less) to watch Roger Federer play in the U.S. Open. But on Fashion’s Night Out, another match is making a play for the fashion set’s affections: the perennially underappreciated game (sport?) of Ping-Pong.
The designers of rag & bone, Burkman Bros., Shipley & Halmos, and Rogan are facing off at Barneys men’s Co-op in a doubles contest of agility and athleticism. We interrupted their training regimens a week before the big match to see how they think they’ll fare against the competition.
Sam Shipley and Jeff Halmos are the early favorites: Halmos grew up with a Ping-Pong table in his house, and Shipley has been playing since childhood. They’re confident in their ability to take down their opponents: “Jeff’s wingspan is that of a California condor, but greater,” they told us via e-mail. “Sam’s speed is like a cheetah, but faster. Together, we are unstoppable.” With such innate gifts, they claim they haven’t felt the need to practice. The pair is also prepared to challenge any men’s Co-op customers bold enough to battle them: “Will we let them win in order to gain loyalty to our brand?” they asked. “NEVER.”
Shipley & Halmos may have been perfecting their serves since childhood, but Ben and Doug Burkman of Burkman Bros. claim to have been playing even longer. “Our mom arranged for in-vitro classes,” they insisted. The brothers ordered a pair of vintage paddles for practicing, which they claim involves “daily sessions with the Chinese Olympic Ping-Pong team.” Their main strengths? “Doug has a mean backhand, while Ben slices with extra spin.” (They’re also not opposed to playing dirty.)
David Neville and Marcus Wainwright are the dark-horse pick, having never stepped up to a Ping-Pong table before. The pair did invest in sweatbands, which they hope will earn them style points (if not actual wins). Their main strategy is “smashing it,” according to Neville. Still, they’re convinced they’ll trump their opponents next Friday. Why? “Because we rule.”
Rogan Gregory and Scott Hahn of Rogan took a brief break in their Ping-Pong drills to e-mail us. “We’ve been practicing rigorously since last night,” they wrote. “It’s consumed our lives.” In preparation for Fashion’s Night Out, they’ve been engaging in “blood-doping and carb-bloating” (the tournament will be unregulated on both accounts). As far as the competition goes, they’re relying on their own “flexibility and the ability to play under the influence of other fashion designers.” No word yet whether Anna Wintour or André Leon Talley will be tableside. For once, Fashion Week’s winners and losers won’t be dictated by Cathy Horyn.
Barneys Men’s Co-op, fifth fl.; 7–9:30 p.m.
See more from our Fashion’s Night Out preview:
• The Ultimate Guide to Fashion’s Night Out
• Slideshow: 40 Things to Buy on Fashion’s Night Out
• Exclusive Slideshow: Cindy Sherman for Balenciaga at Fashion’s Night Out