The Misshapes Look Back at Their Era-Defining Parties


Every Saturday night for five years in the mid-2000s, New York’s coolest kids descended on the Misshapes, a weekly downtown dance party. Come Monday morning, the rest of the world would log on to their desktops to find out who showed up and what they wore. The Misshapes was ground zero for what the Internet now calls “indie sleaze”—a communion of in-the-know editors, models, and anyone who looked good in skinny jeans, thrift store finds, and lots and lots of American Apparel. At the center of it all were the DJs Leigh Lezark, Geordon Nicol, and Greg Krelenstein, the titular hosts, who spun a mix of indie, dance, electro, and pop. As the party’s profile grew, so did theirs. Soon the Misshapes were being flown to perform at Versace parties. Karl Lagerfeld made Lezark a Chanel muse and cast her as Coco herself in a short film. Fashion collaborations, one-off events, and a book followed. But the weekly event remains at the core of their myth. “You knew something was going to happen every time,” Nicol recalls. “You just didn’t know what it was going to be. If you didn’t come that week, what did you miss?”

Krelenstein, Nicol, and Lezark became friends after seeing one another out at the same clubs. “There wasn’t anything that was satisfying what we wanted to see in nightlife,” says Nicol. Eventually, they moved in together and threw a New Year’s Eve house party, which became the precursor to the first official Misshapes a few weeks later, in early 2004. “It wasn’t a gay party; it was mixed,” says Krelenstein. “People felt open to express themselves, and they felt welcome in that space.”

Lezark and Nicol in 2004.

Courtesy of Geordon Nicol.

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The Misshapes took over a shuttered bar in the West Village, and word spread quickly. DJs at the time were still typically vinyl purists, but the Misshapes let friends spin music off CDs. “We were inviting people to DJ who weren’t traditional DJs. We were asking singers of bands or models,” says Nicol. “It was more about who you were and if you had great taste in music.”

Lezark and Nicol in Hong Kong, circa 2005.

Courtesy of Geordon Nicol.

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The fashion world quickly caught on, and the trio found themselves being flown around the globe to DJ. Calvin Klein invited the Misshapes to play gigs in Milan and Hong Kong.

Sophia Lamar, a party guest, Dev Hynes, Madonna, Michael Stipe, Beth Ditto, Hedi Slimane, Telfar Clemens, and a dressed-to-the-nines drag queen.

Courtesy of Geordon Nicol.

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“You know how New York is: It’s such a melting pot of people from all these different creative worlds coming together and looking for a good night out,” says Nicol. Inspired by a coffee table book about Fruits magazine, a house photographer snapped photos of partygoers. The group posted the photos online, hoping that attendees would use them in their Myspace profiles, but kids across the globe soon started poring over the galleries for style inspiration. Blogs like Gawker also regularly trolled the photos, which were eventually compiled in the 2007 book Misshapes. “It was the best press ever; that’s how we always viewed things,” says Lezark. “Let them talk about us, let them keep saying our name.”

Slimane and Ono at Misshapes in 2004.

Courtesy of Geordon Nicol.

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The designer Hedi Slimane was something of a Misshapes regular. “He DJ’ed quite frequently, and one night he said that his friend was going to come DJ with him,” says Nicol. “Yeah, his friend was Yoko Ono,” adds Lezark. “That’s the kind of surprise that you’d expect there,” says Nicol.

Rabbani and Solimene Photography/WireImage.

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Nicol says attending the CFDA Fashion Awards in 2006 was a “made it” moment. “We met Anna Wintour, and it felt very like, ‘Oh, we’re crossing over in some way,’ ” he says. As for why the Internet still seems riveted by the “indie sleaze” moment, Krelenstein hazards a guess: “It really was extremely authentic—the way that we dressed, the way that we partied, the way that we went out. I think there’s obviously a little bit of a nostalgia for that.”

Patrick Mcmullan/PMC © Patrick McMullan.

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“We’ve all had different jobs over the years,” says Nicol. “But we’d always had this understanding that it’s always the three of us, no matter what.” Here, the trio poses with (from left) Kevin Tekinel, who is now W’s creative director at large; singer Sky Ferreira; and designer Olivier Theyskens after DJing a benefit at photographer Steven Klein’s home, in Bridgehampton, in 2011.

Courtesy of Geordon Nicol.

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Eventually, the group found themselves not just DJing the afterparties but also being escorted into VIP sections and sitting front row at shows. “The way that we were living, it didn’t seem out of the ordinary at that time,” says Lezark, seen here in 2014 with Rihanna at a Balmain party in Paris.

Victor Boyko/Getty Images.

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Karl Lagerfeld, a music fanatic and keen observer of youth culture, enlisted Lezark as an official Chanel ambassador. “He had hundreds of iPods filled with unreleased music you could only find on Myspace. He wanted to know what was going on and had this amazing ability to make you feel like the most important person in the room,” Lezark says. “He was the kind of mentor I never knew that I needed, and he was always very, very supportive of all of us. Some of my best memories in fashion are with him.”

Lezark as Lucy Westenra, Krelenstein as a ’90s raver, and Nicol as Darth Maul.

Courtesy of Geordon Nicol.

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After the original Misshapes party came to an end, in 2008, the gang still put on occasional events. “All of these things come down to the question ‘Is it going to be fun for us?’ And Halloween is always fun. It’s sort of become a tradition for us,” says Nicol. Over the years, their Halloween bashes have featured a performance by Azealia Banks, during which model Cara Delevingne joined her onstage; drag stars such as Violet Chachki and Gottmik; and a cameo by The Real Housewives of New York City’s Ramona Singer.

Courtesy of Geordon Nicol.

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“That was Tom Ford,” says Lezark of the dress she wore to the CR Fashion Book Gala in 2014. “They sent it overnight from London in a box that was bigger than me. It got lost in the Parisian mailing system for half a day.”

Courtesy of Geordon Nicol.

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While in Paris for Fashion Week in 2010, the group got invited to a masquerade ball thrown by French Vogue but didn’t have any masks to wear. Zac Posen came through at the last moment. “I think his sister made my mask,” says Lezark, pictured at the event with designer Jeremy Scott.

Ricardo Gomes, Courtesy of Geordon Nicol.
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Madonna famously made a surprise appearance during a Misshapes party back in 2005, and she performed in 2021 when Nicol, Lezark, and Krelenstein threw a Pride bash that also served as the post-lockdown reopening of Boom, the club atop the West Village Standard High Line hotel. “No one feels more like New York than Madonna,” says Nicol. “We just pitched it to her, and she loved the feeling of being able to reopen the city and to say, ‘Hey, we’re back from this miserable place!’ ”

DJ Honey Dijon and Greg Krelenstein.

Ricardo Gomes, Courtesy of Geordon Nicol.

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Ricardo Gomes, Courtesy of Geordon Nicol.

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Madonna performs at Boom at the Standard High Line hotel in 2021.

Ricardo Gomes, Courtesy of Geordon Nicol.

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Filmmaker Gordon von Steiner and designers Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez, all at the Pride event at Boom.

Courtesy of Geordon Nicol.

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The trio still throws an annual Pride benefit. The 2019 event featured RuPaul’s Drag Race queens and the cast of Pose. “It’s a good excuse to get everybody together,” says Nicol. “We know that our friends will be in the city during those times.”

Courtesy of Geordon Nicol.

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Though the group has never revived the original Misshapes party, in the summer of 2017 they began hosting Linda at the Public Hotel. “The concept was very different,” says Nicol. “It was very much just a summer party rooftop kind of disco house pop.” Will they ever return to a weekly schedule? “You never know what’s going to happen,” says Lezark.



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