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, Susanne 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. In June 2019, Susanne teamed up with the CFDA to bring back Love Ball III.
Throughout the years, Susanne has continued to expand her brand.
The Museum at FIT, staged an exhibition titled “Fashion Underground: The World of Susanne Bartsch,” which showcased 128 of the iconic looks that she has worn over her 30+ year career.
In 2018 her documentary “Susanne Bartsch: On Top” premiered and is now available on Netflix and on major streaming platforms.
Susanne also entered the world of cabaret by creating Bartschland Follies, her weekly eccletic risqué show extravaganza at The McKittrick Hotel.
To this day, she continues to throw extravagant events and happenings in New York and special events around the globe, while also having branched out into live concert-focused events with musicians like Mark Ronson, Icona Pop, Allie X, and Kim Petras.
Susanne has become notorious for the beautiful, strange, and outlandishly dressed people who flock to her events. She has produced for clients such as Dewar's, Sony, & Barneys and at venues like Ian Schrager Hotels, Edition, Le Bain & The Top of The Standard. "Ms. Bartsch's name," wrote The New York Times, "is the night life equivalent of a couture label."