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Sunday, April 18, 2021

‘He is not sure how to make this work, how to do this, why he does it’

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In New York City, there is an alternative fault line to the battle between rich Democrats and poor Republicans that runs between West Siders and East Siders. These liberals are drawn to their own side of town and they are drawing breathless disdain from their neighbors.

Some, like the celebrity designer Reed Krakoff, have their own questions for their co-religionists living the life they think should be theirs. At a social event for the opulent benefit Gala in the Park last week, the designer wore a phrase from his recent brief ad campaign: “and then we were amazing.”

“I like to have fun,” he said. “That’s what New York is.”

He, like many residents of the West, have envious views of the East.

“If only I could have that place. It’s so perfect,” Mr. Krakoff said.

As he said these words, one of his guests looked out at the East Village skyline from the rooftop of the Four Seasons restaurant, where the evening’s gala had been held. Although Mr. Krakoff has a new apartment with killer views in the West Village, he has allowed himself to slip through the cracks and stroll around the East Village.

Two generations ago, his parents came to New York, built an extensive business empire, then started over again in a mecca of “full-coverage, no-cracked-windows” living. In the future, it was expected that children would have their own homes, their own businesses, their own morals.

Now, this is the school of dreams to which Mr. Krakoff and a growing number of other prominent Manhattanites are sending their children, and their fellows are feeling left out.

Last year, the cast of “The Affair” got together to create “Living in Manhattan: A Global Short Documentary,” which was narrated by Mr. Krakoff, the friend of the director Lena Dunham. Ms. Dunham’s feminist pin-up shots of lusty-looking stars were but a small part of the point of the film, which also explored what life on the West side is like for a sexual artist. The film was sponsored by the Parsons School of Design and the New York Post. It was a “look into how the A-list is getting a slice of the city’s hot real estate market,” the press release said.

“Him coming to the movie, I thought that was genius,” Ms. Dunham said. “Because he is not sure how to make this work, how to do this, why he does it, why he doesn’t do this or why he did that. There’s something admirable about somebody that cares about something that he’s unable to wrap his head around.”

And that’s a liberal view, which is unusual to hear from Ms. Dunham, given that she once called Donald Trump “a brooding, funny-looking guy.” But Ms. Dunham now lives in a lavish apartment in the West Village that she owns outright, that she has taken on as her trustee and that she believes it her responsibility to protect from developers.

And for her, preserving her home seems a noble, soul-sustaining occupation, rather than an easy moment to jet off to Hollywood for her new film. “I’ve been working on this in a really intense way for a really long time,” she said. “But I didn’t want to live anywhere else. I wanted this house to be a seat.”

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