Making an Epic Odyssey to the Park Avenue Armory

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Ready yourself  for the most imaginative, immersive soirée into the world of art and performance. On Wednesday, October 25th, Park Avenue Armory will stage a monumental experience in its vaulted confines.

The Armory’s 55,000-square-foot Wade Thompson Drill Hall is known for being one of the largest unobstructed spaces in the city.  Odyssey’s illustrious Co Chairs Abigail Baratta, Helene Comfort and Christine Mack will present an evening dedicated to the boundless creativity of the organization’s programming and commitment to the arts.

From its creation as home to the Seventh Regiment of the National Guard, the first volunteer militia to answer President Lincoln’s rally for troops in 1861, to its current use as a center of cutting edge arts and culture — Park Avenue Armory has held a place of distinction in the life of the city.

The recently restored Park Avenue facade by James Ewing.

The city’s most celebrated families of the Gilded Age — Vanderbilts, Van Rensselaers, Roosevelts, Stewarts, Livingstons, and Harrimans made up the“Silk Stocking” Regiment that trained here.

Prominent designers of the time such as the Herter Brothers, Stanford White, Louis Comfort Tiffany, and Pottier & Stymus lent their expertise in creating the incredibly beautiful and historic reception and conference rooms.

The craftsmanship and details are extraordinary.

Visitors are welcome to take a guided tour of the Armory with a staff member, covering the first floor period rooms and some of the second floor, not usually open to the public.  This is a visual treat and not to be missed — be a “tourist in your own town.”

You can expect the unexpected at this exotic Odyssey where the suggested dress is “Something Epic.” For inspiration we referenced mythology to assemble a collection worthy of a Grecian Goddess.  The drape of this muted gold collection is both festive and flattering, for fall and so perfect for the holiday season.  For more epic attire, we added a flair of headdresses — from Aphrodite to Medusa. You decide. And what nymph could resist the fleet-of-foot stilettos from Sophie Webster.

Dresses:  Tanya Taylor Meredith Metallic Silk-Blend Midi-Dress $645 Ricky Freeman Metallic Jacquard Midi Dress $710  /  Bronx and Banco Zoe Metallic Gown  $550   /  A.L.C. Renzo II Sparkly A-Line Midi Dress $495, Tadashi Shoji Metallic Plisse Jersey Minidress $378  / Shoes:  Aquazzura Bow Tie Cutout Suede Pumps $850, Sophia Webster  Metallic Leather & Suede High-Heel Sandals $750  Headdresses:  Medusa Headdress  $28COSUCOS Gold Leaves Halo Crown Headpiece $25

Hilary’s choices are indeed fashionably epic. “I was drawn to the sparkle and drama for my looks. A short or long hem, feathers and glam high heels are sure to turn heads. Plus sequins, a personal favorite, what a perfect night to shine bright at the Armory in fashionable red or black.”

Dresses: The Vampire’s Wife  velvet mini dress $768,/  Nicolas Strapless fluted satin gown $298Rebecca Vallance  sequined tulle mini dress $311  / Rebecca  Vallance  cutout sequined tulle gown $525  /   Badgley Mischka feather-embellished sequined tulle dress $348  /   Shoes: Alexander  Birman  crystal-embellished faille platform sandals $398Gianvito  Rossi bow-embellished color-block silk-satin sandals $463 / Bags: Sara Battaglia  faux fur clutch $581  /  Valentino  GaravaniI spike leather clutch $1485

This landmark institution, once crumbling, has become one of the most popular venues for performance, music and art projects. Since 2007, The Armory has undertaken a $215 million restoration project, spearheaded by Architects Herzog & De Meuron, which has restored and reimagined the already spectacular period rooms hosting artists from all backgrounds and mediums.

Now in its 35th year, Park Avenue Armory has hosted The Art Show with its opening night preview benefitting Henry Street Settlement’s employment, education, shelter, health and wellness, and arts programs.

The Art Show 2022 at the Park Avenue Armory. Photo: Scott Rudd Productions.

At the same time as the renovation, The Armory’s Art Production program began establishing the venue as an emerging cultural institution. The program’s first contemporary art exhibit, titled “Greeting Card,” featured artist Aaron Young who filled the massive Drill Hall with Motorcycles spinning and creating columns of thick black smoke, which thrilled onlookers from the balconies above.

In years since, the Armory has upheld their reputation of creating space for non-traditional arts and performances, allowing those who enter the space to create and imagine in entirely new ways.

This mission also includes the Armory’s Arts Education Initiative which offers programs at no cost to students or families in underserved NYC public schools. The program enforces the need for arts education in children’s lives, and engages them in the process with pre- and post-visit workshops with teaching artists.

Thanks to today’s “Silk Stocking” benefactors and enlightened enthusiasts, this beloved landmark, steeped in New York City history, continues to instruct and inspire for a new generation.

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