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Desi Santiago’s Sure Thing

Just as New York votes in favor of Vegas-style casinos upstate, the lauded designer launches a pop-up casino at The W New York

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Talk about hitting the jackpot: Just last week New Yorkers voted to legalize casinos in their state and already high-rollers in Manhattan have a place to toss their dice. Well, kind of.

From November 15 through 17, the W New York will be hosting Casino Diabolique, a pop-up lounge and casino experience designed by Desi Santiago, whose work you might know from Madonna’s MDNA tour, Marc Jacobs’ fashion shows and The Metropolitan Museum’s blockbuster McQueen exhibit. For Santiago, the project was anything but a gamble.

“The W approached me, offering me a space really to create anything I wanted,” he tells DuJour. “Last year I transformed an entire building in Miami into this fortune-telling, interactive sort of piece that was open to the public. When I was working on that, the first thought of a casino of entered my mind. It was about expanding on the idea of an interactive, multimedia, multi-sensory experience and inviting in the public.”

The public will be allowed to join hotel guests in the fun—with reservations, of course. Casino Diabolique has card games, mentalists, prizes and more than a pinch of the theatrical.

“I’m really bringing the dark side of casinos in and combining it with the glamorous side,” Santiago says. “It’s about taking all of the elements of the casino and throwing them together: the culture, the fashion, the music, everything.”

Indeed, the casino’s music has been curated by Azari & III and costumes for the staff were created by Hood By Air. With his vision realized, Santiago seems willing to bet Casino Diabolique will be a can’t-miss experience.

“I don’t gamble money,” he says, “but I’ve taken the nature of the gamble within my own life using instinct and following signs. I come up with these insane ideas and put them out in the world and see what happens. I wait to see where everything lands.”

 

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