“Masks on in the gallery, please,” said a security guard at the Brooklyn Museum.
It was last Wednesday night and the museum was celebrating the return of New York Fashion Week with the opening party for “Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams,” a retrospective of the French luxury house.
Maria Grazia Chiuri, Dior’s artistic director, stood inside wearing a black mask, which she occasionally removed to be photographed with V.I.P.s like the singer Lorde (dressed in head-to-toe Dior).
When big parties returned to New York City three months ago, it seemed to be enough when organizers required proof of vaccination at the door. The Delta variant and breakthrough infections threw all that for a loop.
Would guests last week feel comfortable socializing indoors without a mask? Would vaccination cards be scrutinized more carefully? Or would the partygoers — many of them aspiring fashionistas who treat dressing up to go out as a profession unto itself — behave as if the pandemic was yet another trend, now over?
Like the fashion shows themselves, reviews were mixed. Vaccinations cards (or proof of negative Covid-19 tests) were usually checked and sometimes crosschecked with a government-issued ID. They were rarely, if ever, scanned to determine if they were fakes or duplicates. Choice people often whisked through without showing them at all.
Masks largely came off once inside.
The music was loud, dance floors were packed, and the jewelry was big and bright (frosted gold watches from Audemars Piguet! Headpieces bedazzled with diamonds!). So much for a more inclusive, egalitarian post-pandemic New York.
Even at the orderly and understated Brooklyn Museum event, security guards who ordered nonfamous guests to put their masks back on were likely to give celebrities a free pass.
This included Prince Nasir Dean, the 20-year-old model, actor and son of the music producer Swizz Beatz. Mr. Dean did not wear a mask during a gallery tour led by Anne Pasternak, the museum’s director. “Congratulations,” Ms. Pasternak said to him, as his transgression was noted by a reporter.
Other guests, including Kacey Musgraves, Yara Shahidi and Maye Musk, were more compliant.
Later than night, partygoers converged on the Boom Boom Room atop the Standard, High Line hotel, where Bulgari celebrated its new B.Zero1 jewelry collection. Although vaccination cards were being checked by people with clipboards, this reporter slipped through without being asked to present one.
Upstairs, a “pandemic, what pandemic?” vibe prevailed.
“Who are these people,” said James Reginato, the Vanity Fair writer, standing in a booth near the dance floor, which was packed with willowy and maskless fashion models including Shanina Shaik, Lily Aldridge and Kylie Vonnahme.
At the bar, Dove Cameron, a former Disney star and actress, wore a bright pink Alex Perry dress and hung out with a group of friends. “I shot a full TV show, a pilot and a movie,” she said, when asked how she coped with the pandemic.
Nearby, the R&B sister duo Chloe x Halle were getting ready to perform. They wore slip dresses by Peter Do, accessorized with bedazzled Bulgari headwear. They weren’t sure if they would get to keep the jewelry.
Vaccination cards were more closely checked the following night at Saks Fifth Avenue, which held a party at L’Avenue, its ninth floor restaurant. Paris Hilton arrived in a dark Escalade around 10 p.m. and was whisked upstairs.
The dance floor was packed, few had on masks, and one of the most recognizable people in the room, aside from the actress Sarah Paulson, was a mainstay on “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” whose very name is a source of confusion.
It used to be Jonathan Cheban, but now he goes by Foodgod. “I had it changed legally,” he said, decked out in a vintage Aerosmith T-shirt and a large sparkly necklace that read, “Foodgod.”
“Kanye designed it for me,” added Foodgod, who arrived from Nobu 57, where he had been treated to a series of caviar-drenched dishes. “It was awesome!” he said, as a sea of people behind him raised their phones to record Ms. Hilton D.J.
The anthem of the evening, played shortly before performances by Kim Petras and G-Eazy, was “I Love It,” a pop song about unabashed hedonism. (Sample lyrics: “I crashed my car into the bridge, I watched, I let it burn. I don’t care. I love it.”)
Partygoers sometimes questioned their own judgment. Yes, they were vaccinated, but what about breakthrough infections? Should I wear my mask in the elevator, but take it off at the crowded bar? Should I report someone for using a fake vaccine card?
At a party for CR Fashion Book on Friday, the celebrity hairstylist Sally Hershberger said she held her breath when she walked through a crowd. George Cortina, a fashion consultant and creative director, said he was trying not to hug or kiss people. (Neither of these measures will prevent you from being infected.)
But most attendees were happy to explore Casa Cipriani, a new event space at the historic Battery Maritime Building at the southern tip of Manhattan. There were terraces overlooking the Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty. Bars overflowed with Grey Goose vodka.
Talk turned to the Met Gala and what people were planning to wear.
“I wasn’t invited,” said Carine Roitfeld, the party’s host and former French Vogue editor whose icy relationship with Anna Wintour was barely fictionalized in “The Devil Wears Prada.” It didn’t matter that for 26 years, Ms. Roitfeld has been the principal creative partner of Tom Ford, who made a brief appearance at the party and was a co-host of this year’s Met Gala.
“It’s OK,” said Ms. Roitfeld, who wore a zippered black leather ensemble comprising pieces by Alexander McQueen, Azzedine Alaïa and Rick Owens, and was on the terrace, smoking a Dunhill cigarette. “I’m going back to Paris on Monday.”