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May Kwok is the epitome of a 2015 It girl. Alongside Hannah Bronfman and Harley Viera-Newton, she's part of a new group of DJs with substantial fashion-world clout, playing stylish parties while also appearing as the face of campaigns and acting as a brand consultant.
Kwok has been on the New York social scene since the tender age of 13, when she played her first gig at a dive bar (a fake ID came in handy). Since then, her career's risen substantially. She's recently spun for Dolce & Gabbana and Moschino, and DJ'd the most recent CFDA Awards, too. If you haven't personally attended any of these swank parties, you've probably noticed her on Instagram's 'Popular' page, in front row snaps, or on the runway herself (check out DKNY spring 2015).
As you can image, New York Fashion Week is an especially jam-packed time for a busy type like Kwok. We were curious to see how she manages to make it from a 7am workout to late night parties with Rihanna, so we tagged along to learn (aka steal) her secrets.
7am - The Workout
Kwok and I meet at her Greenpoint apartment on a rainy Thursday morning, the first official day of New York Fashion Week. She greets me with a cup of coffee from her go-to neighborhood cafe, Crema, and we climb two flights to her apartment door.
Her roommate's Yorkshire terrier greets us as we make our way in. "I would have to say that the best part of my day is getting up in the morning, getting coffee, and walking my dog," Kwok says we walk to her bedroom. Her own dog, Alfredo, is nowhere to be found this morning — due to her hectic Fashion Week schedule, she's taken him to the dog sitter.
"I usually work out around three to four days a week," she says, explaining that she actually ramps up her exercise routine during Fashion Week. If it's not running, it's yoga, and if it's not yoga, it's pilates, or Barry's Bootcamp. Today, it's an easy run on the track. After grabbing a reflective Nike jacket as a raincoat, we head to McCarren Park.
"I'm starting to prefer Adidas shoes over Nike," she admits, looking at her new Ultra Boosts. "It feels like you're running on air." The sun teases us with a short-lived appearance, and Kwok leans against a wall to stretch. "Better enjoy it while it lasts."
8:30am - Downtime
After the workout, but before heading off to shoot a campaign for Vince, we head back to Kwok's apartment for a moment of downtime. When it's time to get ready, she puts on The Weeknd's new album, Beauty Behind the Madness. She explains this record — as well as Travis Scott's new release, Rodeo — has been on heavy rotation as she preps for Fashion Week.
9:30am - En Route to the Vince Holiday Campaign Shoot
Kwok's Uber arrives, the driver blasting oldies. Prince's "When Doves Cry" hums from the speakers as we make our way to the Williamsburg Bridge.
This week will be a busy one: DJing Jonathan Simkhai's after-party Sunday, a Coach party Tuesday, a gig at Soho House, and a set at the grand opening of Kenneth Cole's new store on Bond Street.
Now, she's on her way to her holiday campaign shoot for Vince. "I was so stoked when they asked me," she laughs. "Their cashmeres are amazing."
"I'm comfortable in basics," she says of her self-described tomboyish style, "but sometimes, I really love a sexy dress. What girl doesn't?" For Fashion Week, Kwok likes to kick her minimal wardrobe up a notch. "I'm still going to stick to my style, but everything I have on will be designer," she says rummaging through a Givenchy clutch.
As for the essentials inside that little bag? "My phone, phone charger, and lip balm," she says. "Very minimal."
10am - Vince Shoot
The energy at Jack Studios is palpable upon arrival. We enter the well-lit studio, with breathtaking views of the Hudson River, and are greeted by the campaign's photographer, Billy Kidd. He shows us some of the work he's done with other celebrity clients. Kwok seems impressed, but whispers her nervousness to me: "I hope I'm not too goofy on camera. I can look very smiley in photos — it's either very intense or very goofy."
Before she heads in to hair and makeup, she orders a large drip coffee from the complimentary bar outside the studio — her second, and surely not her last, of the day. "Coffee over tea always during Fashion Week," she says.
The look for today is tousled hair and natural makeup with a subtle cat eye. When it's time for her to step in front of Kidd's camera, she request's Drake's "Hotline Bling." As the song plays over the loudspeakers, she mouths along, dancing and posing.
3pm - Marissa Webb
Kwok and I leave the photoshoot and walk over to Milk Studios for the Marissa Webb spring 2016 show. She passes a dog park on the way, and quickly whips out her phone. "This is so cute!" she exclaims, taking a bunch of photos.
With a little over 13.5 thousand followers on her personal account @IAMAMAYZING, Kwok's social media platform of choice is Instagram. "Instagram has to be my favorite, but I've recently really gotten into Snapchat during Fashion Week," she says as we turn the corner. "I just love how annoying you can be, because you're snapping these little moments that aren't permanent."
Marissa Webb's show is a little delayed, but worth the wait. "I loved Marissa Webb's spring 2016 show. She knows how to juxtapose girly and edgy by adding a lot of leather detailing," Kwok says.
One show down, one more to go.
4pm - TOME
We're behind schedule by almost 30 minutes at this point. And as we wait for our Uber driver to make his way through traffic, a crowd of street style photographers beeline to Kwok. "We're going to be late," she says posing for photos before finally hopping into the car.
We make it to Tome right on time, though, approaching the entrance while flocked by another set of eager photographers. "I love the Tome boys. They get better each season," she says on her way out of the show. "The detailing of this collection was so great. There was lot of inspiration from the '70s, but they kept their signature Tome style."
It's 5:15pm at this point, and Kwok's day is far from over. "I'm on my way to the Harper's Bazaar party and then the Rihanna party later on tonight, but I'm probably going to go home first," she says, sounding tired already. We part ways as she waits for her Uber driver and looks over the rest of her schedule for day one. Turns out, Fashion Week is more than snapping Instagram photos and seeing long lost friends (though that part is important, too). It’s actually a lot of work.