Fashion and Style

FranCon Celebrates Fran Lebowitz at New York City Bar

At a party on Thursday night in an East Village bar, Jane Ashe, 71, paired denim pants with a white collared shirt and a blazer. “It’s one party I knew what to wear,” Ms. Ashe said. Heather Frankel, 51, followed a similar formula, but added sunglasses and a top she bought from a thrift store specifically for the event.

They were among the more than 60 people at the Holiday Cocktail Lounge for FranCon, a free event where people dress up in an outfit (denim pants, a blazer and a button-up shirt) that has become synonymous with the writer and humorist Fran Lebowitz.

“If you’re a good New Yorker or if you’re a working New Yorker, you have a button-up shirt, you have a blazer, and you have a pair of jeans,” said Jane August, 25, who created FranCon after reading “The Fran Lebowitz Reader” for a book club in 2021.

For this year’s event, FranCon moved to Manhattan after two years at Blinky’s Bar in Brooklyn. Past FranCons were held on Oct. 27, Ms. Lebowitz’s birthday. This year, the organizers moved it a day earlier to avoid the fuss of Halloween weekend.

“Fran, as a vehicle, brings together a certain group of people that we want to party with,” she said. “It’s been a queer group. It’s been a really intellectual group. I’m hoping to see people of all different ages today and from all different parts of the city.”

In the darkness of the bar, as “Heroes” by David Bowie blasted through the speakers, clusters of people congregated around each other with drinks from the FranCon menu. Some had names like “Metropolitan Life,” a reference to the writer’s 1978 book, and others were plays on words, like the “Franhattan” and “Lebospritz.”

While some guests chewed on the candy cigarettes, puffs of actual cigarette smoke rose outside the bar. Each person who entered with a blazer was welcomed with a jubilant “Hi, Fran!”

“Immediately, I’m a part of something,” said Ms. Ashe, a retired hospice nurse who has lived in the East Village for more than three decades. “You can just talk to people without feeling like you’re intruding.”

Danny Bellini, 35, who came with his fiancé, Bruxhilda Lumajs, 33, said there were similarities between New York Comic Con and FranCon: how strangers established a sense of camaraderie by way of their outfits.

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