Forest Hills: Films, TV, Sports & Now Fashion?
by Michael Perlman
Dec 19, 2012 | 6937 views | 0 0 comments | 39 39 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Forest Hills has long been regarded as a rich haven for the arts, entertainment, and sports, but in recent decades, residents and visitors have witnessed the loss of what established it as fashionable. Some creative characteristics are gradually making a comeback, but our neighborhood still bears potential for artistic growth.

On November 16, I attended NYC Fashion Runway at the Empire State Building’s Empire Room and the Stage Fashion Show at the Empire Hotel Rooftop. As the founder and managing director of NYC Fashion Runway, Davina Reichman Schuck has achieved great success in producing monthly shows at premier Manhattan spots such as The Waldorf, Times Square Terrace, and the Empire State Building.

Thanks to her creative expertise, she is now eyeing Forest Hills as a stage for fashion shows. Challenges include securing a venue large enough to accommodate a runway with VIP’s, guests, and the media, or hosting an outdoor fashion show where the pavement would undergo a transformation into a runway.

The Forest Hills Chamber coordinates bi-annual street fairs in the heart of Forest Hills, where 70th Road between Queens Boulevard and Austin Street, also known as “Restaurant Row,” becomes an outdoor entertainment venue with a stage, seats, and dancing.

Throughout August that same thoroughfare hosts Jazz Thursdays Concerts, also sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce. Schuck envisions her show at that spot, which would be the first of its kind.

A Forest Hills event would carry a sense of intimacy, as captured at the Empire Room on November 16. The Jazz Age style venue with a contemporary spin was selected due to its stature, sheer decadence, and close-knit feel among guests, buyers, industry professionals, and the media.

“The models walked up to the guests, so you could feel the swish of the fabric on the models’ turn,” said Schuck.

Schuck’s interest in fashion originated with producing shows for designers including Calvin Klein, Anna Sui, Donna Karan, Michael Kors, Akira Isogawa, and Nicola Finetti.

“The real challenge is to get publicity and buyers for emerging and lesser-known designers, so I decided to take that on,” she said. “I want to assist designers in being the gifted creators they are, and bring them into the spotlight.”

Three international designers captured exquisite raw expression from around the globe, according to Schuck. Supported by DEG Production, NYC Fashion Runway featured models exhibiting the collections of Boho Designs from Baltimore, Maria de Guzman from Australia, and Gigi Carnett from Brazil.

Sharon Neal and Davis Lawrence of Boho Designs have a new jewelry collection known as “Elizabeth Lawrence,” which was inspired by Victorian paintings, Gothic architecture, and family photos as evidenced by the collection’s rich color and texture.

Maria de Guzman seeks to embrace the female figure, as evident by her flirtatious dresses designed in various shapes from ruffles to strapless and halters, and with frills, lace, chiffon, and satin.

Gigi Carnett, under her GG Glam Design label, was that evening’s glamorous bikini and lingerie designer.

Miylah Miriam Kim of Forest Hills has modeled for Dean John, Cecil from Prague, and Swagstar Nation. She envisions participating in shows in Forest Hills and other Queens venues.

“My idea is to have a show within a museum, since I love artifacts mixing with wearable art,” she said.

Model Margarita Vidal performed at the Empire Hotel Rooftop for designer and producer Natasha Berezhnaya.

“Modeling and acting is an exciting life, where you can meet famous people like rapper A.I.G,” she said. “When you love what you’re doing and don’t view it as a job, it will keep you going.”

To expand her horizons, she agreed that modeling in Forest Hills would be a great experience.

Forest Hills traditionally played a role in the spotlight dating back to the 1921 silent film, “Sentimental Tommy,” which was shot at 66th Road and 102nd Street; the ideal site for a European village set with the Forest Hills Inn as the backdrop.

Alfred Hitchcock’s 1951 film, “Strangers On A Train” featured the classic scene of Davis Cup matches between Australia and the U.S. at the Forest Hills Tennis Stadium.

The 2001 film “The Royal Tenenbaums” also filmed at the stadium, and Eddie’s Sweet Shop has been featured in commercials, the 1986 film “Brighton Beach Memoirs,” and the 2007 film “The Ex.”

Since April 2012, approximately 15 productions received permits from the Mayor’s Office of Film, Theater, & Broadcasting to film locally. TV shows include “Blue Bloods” with footage along Ascan Avenue, “Boardwalk Empire” on Metropolitan Avenue, and “Elementary” on Austin Street.

The 2011 HBO series “Mildred Pierce” had a scene in the picturesque Forest Hills Gardens due to a street’s reminiscent nature of 1930s Beverly Hills. Also that year, the movie “Detachment” offered a glimpse of Queens Boulevard high-rises from the Q60 bus.

The 2012 film “Black Dog, Red Dog” was shot at Russell Place in Forest Hills Gardens. In September, Station Square was transformed into early 20th century Germany for an upcoming ABC show called “Zero Hour.” Forest Park is another popular filming site.

Forest Hills was home to the U.S. Open and a plethora of tennis legends, including Don Budge, Bill Tilden, Billie Jean King, Arthur Ashe, and Althea Gibson. Forest Hills Music Festivals took over West Side Stadium from the 1950s to the 1990s, and featured The Beatles, Frank Sinatra, Bob Dylan, Ella Fitzgerald, Diana Ross, The Monkees, Barbra Streisand, and Simon & Garfunkel, to name a few.

Forest Hills offered quite a social life, too. Throughout the 1940s and 1950s, Rego Park, which was occasionally referred to as Forest Hills West, had Boulevard Tavern, an iconic venue at 94-05 Queens Boulevard that hosted luncheons, dinners, wedding receptions, banquets, famous bandleaders, and singers such as Patti Page.

On opposite corners in Forest Hills, patrons made memories at two famous venues, which were the Stratton Restaurant & Bar at 108-36 Queens Boulevard (circa 1949 through 1986) and the Carlton Terrace at 108-29 Queens Boulevard (circa 1940 through circa early 1970s). They hosted some famous bands, banquets, weddings, dining, dancing, and cocktail lounges.

Heskel’s Restaurant, a hotspot at 70-28 Austin Street in the late 1970s and 1980s, featured performers such as Madonna, LaToya Jackson, and The Weather Girls, as well as celebrity patrons including Danny Aiello, Nicholas Cage, Mary Tyler Moore, and Sharon Stone.

These days, much social life comes alive at restaurants such as La Boulangerie, Martha’s Country Bakery, Nick’s Pizza, Ripe, Exo Café, Aged, and the Irish Cottage, in addition to the legendary Midway Theatre.

Austin Street has a few remnants of mom-and-pop dress shops, as well as upscale chains, so pair these characteristics with a walk on the runway, and the neighborhood is bound to get a whole lot trendier.

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