Backbeat: Karen Elson Brings Country to Fashion Week at Posh NYC Showcase
Backbeat: Karen Elson Brings Country to Fashion Week at Posh NYC Showcase

Karen Elson
Karen Elson performs at Beauty and Essex in New York Tuesday night (Photo: Clint Spaulding - PMC)

Nearly all of Karen Elson's worlds collided on New York's Lower East Side on Tuesday night, when the model/singer/songwriter/designer/mother/ex-wife of Jack White performed a sterling, country-tinged acoustic set during a swank launch party for her Karen Elson for Nine West Vintage America Collection, which includes footwear, handbags and jewelry. Nine West and Paper magazine hosted the party, which was held at the opulent Beauty & Essex.

"Never more so than this week have my worlds been intertwined," Elson told Billboard.biz before her performance. "Because I've made the [collection], and all of my fashion friends are coming and I'm gonna sing an acoustic set.

"Today I got [a bit nervous]," she continued. "It's a grand experiment! I hope it comes across -- I mean, I hope people will get it because they are two vastly different worlds. [One is about appearance] and the other is about emotion and creativity what's coming from in here," she said, gesturing to her stomach. "I think if I can champion this night I'll feel good about what I'm doing with my life in general."

(As for her other world - motherhood - Elson said her two children were in Nashville with Jack, who is currently rehearsing with his Raconteurs. She added that she recently recorded some songs for her next LP in Jack's studio - she described the songs as "very dark" - but said she'll probably work with a different producer than her ex-husband, who produced her debut.)

Intertwined her worlds may have been, but there's no question which one was dominant at this event: This was clearly a Fashion Week Place To Be. Both floors of the elegant, dimly lit boite were festooned with Nine West and Paper magazine signage, free booze was flowing, nattily attired waiters served finger food and small burgers, and the room was packed with Fashion Week fabulosity, with actresses Mischa Barton and even Lindsay Lohan in attendance, along with Fashion Week luminaries like reporter Lynn Yaeger, stylist June Ambrose, actress/stylist Becka Diamond, actress/photographer Gia Coppola, filmmaker/trapeze artist Sarah Sophie Flicker (who introduced Elson) and Paper's Mickey Boardman.

Even the music-business contingent was fashion-centric: Jared Followill of Kings of Leon, rapper Theophilus London, hip-hop entrepreneur Dame Dash and Josh Madden (DJ brother of Good Charlotte twins Benjy and Joel).

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All guests had the opportunity to purchase the limited-edition collection on site. Proceeds from the evening's sales will be donated to Soles4Souls, a non-profit charity organization focused on providing shoes to needy children and families worldwide.

During Elson's set, we hunkered down with some of the devils we know (specifically Press Here's Chloe Walsh and Jen Appel, Matt Pollack from Monotone, which manages Elson). Chloe told us that Elson had assembled the setlist and backing group - three members of the Citizen Band alternating on guitars, accordion, violin, banjo, mandolin and backing vocals - specifically for this performance, which was more country-flavored than her usual sets. And what a performance it was: Elson's voice comes across much stronger in a live setting than it does on disc, and in addition to songs from her Third Man debut "Ghost Who Walks" LP, she worked a couple of new tracks into her 45-minute set, closing with a version of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" - a song that takes some nerve to cover, given the multitude of versions since Jeff Buckley revived it in 1995, but Elson pulled it off with aplomb, nailing every note and putting her own stamp on it.

And while the chattier elements of the crowd had retreated toward the front of the club, the backroom where Elson performed remained packed for her performance. She was all smiles ...

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Lindsay Lohan
Lindsay Lohan (Photo: Clint Spaulding - PMC)
Lindsay Lohan
Lynn Yaeger inspects Elson's collection (Photo: Clint Spaulding - PMC)
Theophilus London
Theophilus London (Photo: Clint Spaulding - PMC)
Mischa Barton
Mischa Barton (Photo: Clint Spaulding - PMC)
Karen Elson
Karen Elson (Photo: Clint Spaulding - PMC)

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