Susanne Bartsch is New York City’s patron saint of transformation and inclusion. The parties she’s thrown for three decades—from Paris to Tokyo—have provided a venue for countless creative souls and “creatures” to express themselves, come together and forget the hum-drum of the everyday. As Michael Schulman wrote in his 2013 New York Times profile, Susanne’s “empire” continues to flourish “particularly among scene seekers too green to know her history. Wherever Ms. Bartsch goes, the demimonde seems to follow, as if summoned by the bat of her curlicued fake eyelashes.” Fashion mogul John Badum once referred to Susanne as “Mother Teresa in a glitter G-string.”
Born in Switzerland, Susanne escaped the conformist haus-frau life and moved to London at 17. While there, she sold antiques and clothing at Chelsea Market, and befriended the rock royalty and underground fashionistas of the time. She moved to New York in 1981 and opened an eponymous store in SoHo where she imported all of her favorite British designers, many of whom were still in school. The London avant-garde fashions were a hit and the shop became a center of the downtown fashion scene.
In 1986, Susanne threw her first party at Savage, a club below the Chelsea Hotel, on a lark. The weekly parties became the place to see and be seen for a trendsetting group of New Yorkers and ushered in a new era in nightlife, one that mixed uptown and downtown, gay and straight, chic and street.
In 1989, devastated by the many friends she lost to AIDS, Bartsch created The Love Ball, an event that rallied the fashion community to raise awareness and raise funds that went directly to those affected by AIDS and hands-on organizations. The Love Ball was followed by Love Ball II: The Crowning Glory, The Hoppening at the Playboy Mansion in LA and Balade de L'Amour at the Folies Bergeres in Paris – ultimately raising over 2.5 million dollars.
Susanne has become notorious for the beautiful, strange, and outlandishly dressed people who flock to her events, for clients such as Dewar's, Sony & Barneys and at venues like The Soho Grand Hotel, Le Bain & The Top of The Standard. "Ms. Bartsch's name," wrote The New York Times, "is the equivalent of a couture label." The colorful crowd has followed her for 3 decades and still gather at her current weekly bashes in New York and special events around the world.