Diane von Fürstenberg
"Simon Doonan is a modern Noel Coward with a dash of Auntie Mame and Liberace thrown in for good measure!"
Michael Kors, Project Runway
Glamorous eccentrics are irresistible people. They are irreverent, occasionally impertinent, a tad mysterious, charming, often self-invented, good at applying eyeliner, and above all nonconformist. They are a fabulous confection of style, self-empowerment, and black patent sling backs. Everyone wants to be one, but how? Ubiquitous style guru Simon Doonan has the… See more details below
Glamorous eccentrics are irresistible people. They are irreverent, occasionally impertinent, a tad mysterious, charming, often self-invented, good at applying eyeliner, and above all nonconformist. They are a fabulous confection of style, self-empowerment, and black patent sling backs. Everyone wants to be one, but how? Ubiquitous style guru Simon Doonan has the answer.
By no means a typical how-to manual, Eccentric Glamour is a mixture of cultural commentary and personal disclosure, generously seasoned with gushings of wildly dictatorial, provocative, and reckless style advice. Through cautionary tales and inspirational examples, Doonan shows how to develop your own brand of eccentric glamour by magnifying everything that is already unique and idiosyncratic about you.
In these comic essays, interspersed with one-on-one interviews with some of the world's most glamorous eccentrics (including Iman, Lucy Liu, Tilda Swinton, Malcolm Gladwell, and many more), Simon Doonan offers the women of America an alternative to the cheapness and tackiness that currently pass for personal style. Eccentric Glamour is intended as an antidote to the epidemic of slutty dressing and porno-chic that has taken over since the arrival of Paris Hilton and Anna Nicole Smith (may she rest in peace). While the typical TV boobs 'n' Botox makeovers force every woman to look the same, the transformations this book strives to inspire are the very opposite. Dressing like a ho is not just bad taste but boring! In Simon Doonan's book, conformity is the only crime and dressing down the only faux pas.
Eccentric Glamour is every woman's birthright. SO SAY NO TO HO!...and yes to ECCENTRIC GLAMOUR!
Diane von Fürstenberg
"Simon Doonan is a modern Noel Coward with a dash of Auntie Mame and Liberace thrown in for good measure!"
Michael Kors, Project Runway
Why the hell wouldn't you want to be one of the fabulous people, the life enhancers, the people who look interesting and smell luscious and who dare to be gorgeously more fascinating than their neighbors?
I recently left my apartment dressed as Queen Elizabeth II. Not queen as in corgis and tweed skirts, but queen as in decked out like a giant flashing Christmas tree on the occasion of some totally major state dinner. Accessories? Just a few: long white gloves, two rhinestone necklaces, eleven bracelets, three brooches, six rings, a sash, two dangly earrings, three medals, a hubcap-sized tiara, and a giant pair of bifocals.
As I rode down in the elevator on that sunny spring Saturday afternoon, I braced myself for the inevitable catcalls and vulgar badinage that common sense told me would erupt as soon as I appeared in the busy lobby of my Greenwich Village apartment building. Hopefully I would be able to hail a cab and flee before some random passerby elected to throw a half-eaten Big Mac at Her Majesty.
Why, you may well ask, had I made myself vulnerable to public humiliation in such a specific manner? All such questions will be answered when you read Chapter 12 of the style manifesto which you are holding in your hot little hands. For the moment, I would like to stay focused on the specific sequence of events that was about to occur.
Ping. The doors opened. I began to traverse the carpeted lobby deploying the measured, flat-footed gate of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, which is very easy to imitate but nonetheless won Helen Mirren an Oscar, and might have done the same for me had I been given a crack at the role.
My doorman approached. I dropped my front door key into my white purse, clicked it shut and tried to look regal. I waved. He did not wave back.
He came out from behind his little desk and blocked my path.
I looked at him. He looked at my tits. I looked at his eyes looking at my tits. My tiara flashed in the afternoon sunlight, causing him to wince.
I stood my ground and returned his stare.
It was hard to get a read on his expression. Was he about to call the co-op board? Had he already pressed a concealed button summoning men in white coats from Bellevue?
Finally he spoke. "Do you want your mail now," he asked, "or when you come back?"
(Abrupt cessation of crickets.)
I was too stunned to respond.
I was completely overcome by the profound, global, philosophical, and far-reaching signficance of this surreal little moment and the thunderbolt of immediate but deep understanding it had afforded me.
In an instant I understood the utter pointlessness of ever being self-conscious, the utter pointlessness of restraint or "good taste," the utter pointlessness of not having fun with one's personal style. I had left my apartment dressed as the reigning monarch of my birthplace, and my doorman seemed not even to have noticed. I now understood the futility of a life spent asking, "Does my bum look big in this?" Clearer than ever, I saw the pointlessness of a life lived without a dab of daring panache. I understood the role of eccentric glamour.
Create it. Grab it. Feel it. Be it, and do so knowing that, even if you walk down the street wearing a gold leotard with your lesbian aunt Sylvia's mauve nylon fanny pack cinching your midriff, nobody is judging you. Some people may not even notice you. Most people will be enjoying you.
Eccentric glamour is your birthright and that of every woman and a man or two. Claim it! Own it! As a glamorous eccentric you have carte blanche to do whatever the hell you want. Experiment! If I can leave my apartment in full queen drag and barely raise an eyebrow, then surely you are free to make a complete spectacle of yourself in any manner you see fit.
What is eccentric glamour?
Let me answer that question with another question: What is glamour?
Glamour is that mysterious, shimmering you-know-it-when-you-see-it quality that surrounds those who stand out from the crowd. A wicked combo of cheeky attitude and stylistic innovation, real glamour is always exhilarating and never pedestrian.
One way to get to the heart of the matter is to dissect four contemporary pairings: Mr. and Mrs. Clinton, Paris and Nicole, Posh and Becks, and Miss Piggy and Kermit.
Has gobs of glamour: Bill Clinton, Nicole Ritchie, David Beckham and Miss Piggy.
Has less glamour than partner: Hillary Clinton, Paris Hilton, Victoria Beckham, and Kermit.
As is immediately apparent from my analysis, glamour is inextricably bound up with intelligence, humor, and/or accomplishment. Bill and Nicole win out over Hillary and Paris because they are smarter and more fun. David Beckham radiates more glamour than his missus because of his godlike athletic prowess. Miss Piggy and Kermit? Sometimes all you need is a few French phrases and an unassailable belief in your own innate fabulousness.
And what about eccentric glamour?
Eccentric glamour Miss Piggy is, by the way, the overall winner in this category is an invigorating mixture of the expected and the unexpected, the habitual with the kooky, the constant and the kapow!
The basic elements of your personal style are important. Let's call them your style constants. Whether it's a glossy jet-black ponytail, a saucy beauty mark, a nuclear explosion of natural red curls, or a penchant for livid green tango shoes, every gal needs a repertoire of well-chosen style constants. Simultaneously communicating and defining your unique identity, these signature flourishes are your own personal station identification. Unaffected by fleeting trends or the whims of fashion, your style constants are the glamorous foundations that will remain with you through thick and thin (literally and figuratively).
So where does the eccentricity come in?
Now take your style constants those unique gestures which your fans and friends have come to associate so strongly with you and punctuate them with a spontaneous gesture, a jolt of the unexpected, a rhinestone bucket bag, a pair of mariachi slacks, a vintage Pucci poncho. Et voilà! Eccentric glamour is the happy result.
Do today's celebs possess eccentric glamour? The answer is, for the most part, a giant, resounding no! Red-carpet glamour is, as I will prove to you repeatedly in the upcoming pages, the antithesis of eccentric glamour. Hiring a stylist who scrounges free frocks on your behalf from top designers does not really qualify as "creative expression." And today's celebs are, for the most part, much too chicken, too risk averse, too scared of that what-were-they-thinking page in Star magazine to indulge in eccentric glamour. Naughty, boring, conformist celebs!
As must already be apparent, the book you are clutching is by no means a typical style advice book. There are no before-and-afterpictures or snappy lists or kicky bullet points. My methods are circumlocutive, to say the least.
On the following pages you will find a mixture of cultural commentary and personal disclosure, generously seasoned with gushings of wildly dictatorial and reckless style advice. Caution: These provocative tips should not be followed like a recipe. Developing a sense of eccentric glamour means taking your own path. My role is to mix up the signposts and start you on your journey.
Not sure which direction to take? No problem. As you will see in Chapter 1, I have invented a whole new system to guide your through the labyrinth of stylistic self-discovery. According to my theory, there are three types of glamorous eccentric: the Socialite, the Existentialist, and the Gypsy. In these three broad and inclusive categories you will find your eccentrically more glamorous self, you will find the means for self-reinvention, you will find the wherewithal to say no to ho! and resist the tidal wave of porno chic that threatens to engulf Western civilization.
In addition, these pages are liberally, randomly, and spontaneously larded with autobiographical humiliations and obsessions, including, but not limited to, my obsession with jazzercize and my forays into celebrity impersonation. It is my sincere wish that these tales from my own grody-to-szhooshy odyssey will entertain you as you undertake yours. For additional inspiration, my scribblings are evenly sprinkled with one-on-oneinterviews with some the world's most glamorous eccentrics, not including Isabella Blow. This legendary, deceased fashion muse is honored in a postscript musing.
Those of you who have enjoyed stories about my early years in my New York Observer columns and previous books will be happy to know that the dramatis personae of my wacky childhood key figures in the evolution of my beliefs regarding eccentric glamour are omnipresent.
"A life of eccentric glamour seems like a lot of hard work," I already hear you kvetch. Good point. Why not wear a muumuu and flip-flops, grab a bag of Doritos, and watch the parade from the sidelines?
First, evolving your own brand of eccentric glamour is good for your psyche. Knowing who you really are and dressing the part with an air of amused recklessness is life affirming for you and life enhancing for other people. When the eccentrically glamorous you walks down the street, whether you are a wiry Italian greyhound or a lovable lumbering labradoodle, you will feel gorgeously empowered and you will fill your neighborhood and workplace with positive vibrations. Think of it as a civic duty of sorts.
Second, it's creatively fulfilling. Constructing and designing a glamorously eccentric you means understanding and magnifying the core of your individuality. Your clothing represents a challenging and groovy canvas for self-expression. While the typical TV boobs 'n' Botox 'n' bleach makeovers force every woman to look the same see The Real Housewives of Orange County the transformations I strive to provoke in this book are the very opposite. Honing your style constants, developing a glamorously eccentric look is a creatively and psychologically satisfying process because it involves revealing and magnifying everything that is unique and idiosyncratic about you. Follow my dictates and you will end up looking like nobody else on the planet, give or take a tiara or two.
Third, why the hell wouldn't you want to be one of the fabulous people, the life enhancers, the people who look interesting and smell luscious and dare to be gorgeously more fascinating than their neighbors?
Now grab my hand. Let us walk together into this brave new world of eccentric glamour where conformity is the only crime and dressing down is the only faux pas.
Copyright © 2008 by Simon Doonan
Simone de Beauvoir Was Totally Hot
Say no to ho and yes to eccentric glamour
You run into an old acquaintance. You are unable to recall her name. It might be Eva, or maybe Yvonne. You're not quite sure.
You take a closer look. Yes, it's definitely Eva, but she is barely recognizable. Eva has undergone some kind of grotesque transformation. She used to look a bit like Melanie Griffith in Working Girl. Now, thanks to her fake hair extensions, fake nails, fake spray tan, fake collagen lips, and fake boobs, she looks like a cross between Britney Spears, Mrs. Gastineau (the mother), and a blow-up doll.
Somehow you manage to refrain from asking her why she no longer looks like a librarian and is now dressing like a porno star, and you say, "Goodness me! Don't you look...stunning! No, I mean it...I'm totally stunned."
Delicately inserting a fake nail into the corner of her fake mouth to extract a couple of errant strands of fake hair hair that was previously dark brown and, until recently, belonged to a disadvantaged miss on a faraway continent Eva tells you she's decided to "go for the natural look."
Yes, you heard right. She said "the natural look."
Sheesh! Times have changed.
Once upon a time, the natural look meant Joan Baez or Ali MacGraw or the thin, pretty one from The Mamas and the Papas, or, for that matter, dear old Mama Cass herself. Bohemian, groovy, and eccentric, a natural gal was a love child, a hippie, a free spirit whose idea of dressing up for a big night out in Haight-Ashbury was to shove a daisy in her hair and dab a bit of patchouli on one of her salient features.
Now, apparently, it means looking about as natural as The Lady Bunny.
As shocking as Eva's transformation is, you cannot shake the feeling that she looks hauntingly familiar.
Yes! Open the window and stick your head out. Heavens to Betsy! There are identical Eva clones strutting through every shopping mall. Embracing "the natural look" has, in fact, become something of an epidemic.
Many of your peers have opted with the help of liposuction, collagen, and a great deal of sass for the Eva route. They have said yes to ho, and as a result they now resemble a bunch of aging Bratz dolls. That boobs 'n' bleach 'n' Botox makeover is standard for any woman seeking to reinvent herself. This look is part of the I-don't-want-to-look-like-a-grown-up-anymore-but-I-do-want-to-look-like-my-daughter-who-just-happens-to-dress-like-a-hoochie-dancer movement.
"What's so wrong with dressing supersexy?" I hear you ask.
"Are you some freaky middle-aged prude?" I also hear you ask.
Call me crazy, but I believe that there might just be more to being a woman than prancing around dressed up like a Stepford blow-up doll. Non? In my experience you gals are highly idiosyncratic creatures whose true essence is riddled with subtlety and nuance. Your sizzling sexuality is only one aspect of a complex and intriguing picture.
Let me digress briefly to clarify my position on the subject of vulgarity. Simply put, I adore it! A dash of bad taste is a vital component of eccentric glamour. I realize this may sound a little contradictory: On the one hand I am inveighing against an overtly whorish look that has regrettably become the chosen makeover option for so many women; on the other hand I am extolling the virtues of vulgarity. What gives? Yes, ho style is vulgar, but it is not the vulgarity per se against which I inveigh. It is the conformity. It is the Stepford factor. It is the lack of personal expression. It is the fact that this hideous epidemic of blow-up dolls is compromising the ability of American women to develop an eccentrically glamorous individual style.
There is nothing wrong, I hasten to add, with maximizing one's physical appeal, but there is a difference vive la différence! between being alluring and dressing like a ho. Or, as Oscar Wilde might have put it were he alive today, "To expose one cleavage seems unfortunate. To expose both cleavages seems like carelessness."
Eccentric glamour something Mr. Wilde, with his velvet knickers and floppy foulards, had in spades is your only defense against the tidal wave of dangling pasties, lady lumps, hoochie hot pants, and skanky halter tops. With a missionary zeal, I implore you gals to seek out eccentrically glamorous alternatives to the ubiquitous cheapness and tackiness that currently pass for personal style. Remember that porno chic is an evil conformist trend that has the potential, if allowed to burgeon unchecked, to eclipse individuality and personal eccentricity.
So banish the badonkadonkdonk!
Say no to ho!
Let's go grab Eva right now, shake some sense into her, and put her on the righteous path to eccentric glamour.
Oh! Too late!
We missed our opportunity. She's jumped up on a table out of earshot, and she's doing the watusi. She jiggles. She wiggles. She giggles.
As you observe your old pal, you start to feel a bit left out. There she is clutching a large blue umbrella drink and getting her ass pinched, and she was always the designated driver, the sensible one who stood on the sidelines at the office party! There's no denying she looks like a big whore, but she's just having so much fun that it's hard not to feel a teensy bit envious. And that butt-crack tattoo apparently she had it done down in Miami when she was rat-faced drunk is certainly getting her lots of attention, despite the adjacent lipo scars.
Being in Eva's orbit is having an odd effect on you. As much as you might be completely dumbfounded by her unquestioning embrace of porno-chic, this encounter with your old pal is making you feel frumpy and frowzy and uninteresting. She may be one of the hos, but you are one of the schlumps, which is infinitely more depressing. You are suddenly seized with the desire to deschlump and reinvent yourself. Tired of playing Agnes Gooch, you decide you want a slice of the action. And why not? Everybody else is doing it, why not you?
We are living in an age where makeovers and boob jobs are as common as cheeseburgers. "Beauty" is no longer just for celebs; it's now a commodity that can be bought at the mall or the dermatologist with a flick of your credit card. Transformation is the mot du jour. You can't turn on the telly without confronting images of blubbering former "ugly ducklings" reunited with their disbelieving families.
So why not you?
A large question mark or two appears over your head.
Do you have what it takes to reinvent yourself?
The answer, of course, is a resounding YES!
But do you have what it takes to reinvent yourself without following in Eva's footsteps? Do you have what it takes to resist the pressures to conform to the new slutty norm?
Can you figure out how to unearth and release the self-invented, nonconformist, taboo-busting individual who lurks inside you and inside every woman, and certain types of men and dive into a sparkling lagoon of style and fashion without ending up looking like a tramp?
The answer to all your questions is resting in your hot little hands.
Before you commission that boob lift and reach for the bleach, you must read this chapter and read it good. I wrote it with the sole purpose of stemming the tidal wave of Evas. My goal is to show the women of America that there is another way!
Gypsies, Existentialists, and Socialites The Three Roads to Eccentric Glamour
In order to reinvent herself, a gal needs a concept.
If you are looking to reimagine your personal style, you cannot simply head for the local mall and start shopping your brains out. You need a good, strong, viable idea. A framework. Without it you will flounder about and, because it is the prevailing style, you will end up adopting Eva's trampy look.
Embracing the life of a glamorous eccentric is easier than you would imagine. The choices are not infinite. When the chips are down, there are, you will be delighted to learn, only three roads that lead to the kingdom of eccentric glamour: Gypsy, Existentialist, and Socialite.
At first this might sound utterly demented and insanely limited. It's not. It is, as you will see, merely a fact of life.
The Gypsy is the ethereal, poetic, crafty, artsy, bohemian face of eccentric glamour. Though stylish, she privileges sensuality, freedom, and comfort over fashion. Think Julia Roberts in her current mom-living-at-the-beach mode.
The Existentialist is infinitely more severe, dramatic, graphic and intellectual than her wayward Gypsy sister. While the Gypsy is all about the flesh, the Existentialist is all about the mind. Think edgy. Think beatnik. Think Annie Lennox or Chrissie Hynde.
The Socialite is heavy on the gloss, light on the eccentricity. She radiates old-school glamour. She's lacquered, designer clad, high heel addicted, manicured, elegant, and slightly bitchy. Though more "normal" in her appearance than both the Gypsy or the Existentialist, the Socialite compensates with an irreverent and sparkling wit. She is, in many ways, the conventional center of the spectrum, flanked on either side by the Gypsy and the Existentialist. Think Anna Wintour. Think Jackie O.
A Gypsy, an Existentialist, or a Socialite? Take your pick.
There is no need to feel pigeonholed or confined by these three categories. Within each group there are, as you will see, endless nuances and permutations that allow for unlimited personal expression.
Some of you will find that you are a combo platter the Socialite/Existentialist is, for example, an unexpected and growing phenomenon and a small number of you will bounce around effortlessly among all three. Such people are rare and often unusually creative: interior designers Celerie Kemble and Kelly Wearstler spring easily to mind. The world's best-known Gypsy/Existentialist/Socialite amalgam is, however, a fashion model. Two words: Kate Moss.
Eight a.m.: Kate skips through British customs after a sun-drenched Saint Barth's photo shoot, looking every inch the bedraggled, bohemian Gypsy in denim hot pants, minicaftan, and embroidered pashmina.
Lunchtime: there's Kate in a quirky black Marc Jacobs or Balenciaga ensemble knee-high black boots, opaque black tights, minikilt, military-style fitted jacket having an Existentialist chat and a pint of beer with an enigmatic musician friend in an Islington pub.
As the sun sets, La Moss is snapped vamping off to some fancy opening on the arm of Karl Lagerfeld in vintage bijoux and a Chanel gown looking every inch the groovy Socialite.
Miss Moss is unusual. You may eventually skip around like the stylishly louche Kate, but for now let us concentrate on finding your home base, your style identity. Let's find the best fit for your personality.
And, if you really are a total tramp whose main ambition in life is to lap-dance every bloke within screeching distance, then feel free to embrace porno-chic and continue dressing the part. Best of luck! May God go with you. Those of you who are looking to express the full majesty of your essence via your personal style, please read on.
Are you a hazy, lazy, rustic, poetic, ethereal free spirit? Or maybe you always wanted to be but were too scared to let loose in case you ended up going berserk on LSD and jumping out of a window. Have you always wondered what a hash brownie tastes like but never dared to look up a recipe online in case you end up on some kind of FBI list?
If you always fancied yourself as a bit of a hippie but were terrified to go for it, you may be a repressed Gypsy, a Gypsy manqué.
Now is the time to find your inner Janice and let her rip.
There is much to recommend the Gypsy lifestyle.
First, it's incredibly romantic. Imagine yourself living in a yurt or, better yet, a bedouin tent. Imagine calling your children in to dinner by banging a beribboned tambourine on your hip.
Gypsy style affords carte blanche not found in the structured, uptight world of the Socialite. You can be wild. You can be Carmen. You can be tempestuous. While Existentialist chicks feel obliged to imbue everything with solemnity and meaning, you Gypsies can shriek and bite the air raaar! just because you feel like it. You can be uninhibited. Imagine yourself whirling around a campfire in a flounced cheesecloth skirt, flashing your eyes, not to mention those vintage embroidered Victorian bloomers you found at the flea market, at a group of swarthy adoring monosyllabic blokes with gold teeth. What could be more dreamy?
Having generalized and hyperbolized about the Gypsy, let me try to be a little more helpful. Though freedom, comfort, and sensation are key components, the Gypsy lifestyle is more than just a rehash of groovy '60s counterculture ideas. Within this group there are endless variations and genres. Here are four of my personal favorites:
The Euro-glam Gypsy
A throwback to the YSL rich hippies of the early 1970s think Marisa Berenson or Talitha Getty the Euro-glam Gypsy is a show-off who loves ethnic fabrics, finger cymbals, appliqués, rickrack, and fringe. Her idea of heaven is to be shot for Vogue while getting her hands hennaed by a leathery-faced crone in some far-flung, hectic marketplace.
A celebrity example? Jade Jagger is the contemporary queen of the Euro-glam Gypsies. The daughter of Mick and Bianca has built a whole brand identity simply by floating about her house in Ibiza rimming her eyes with kohl and festooning her walls with sari fabrics.
While the Euro-glam Gypsy is at great pains not to appear wealthy or bourgeois in sharp contrast to the Socialite who, as you will see, often does the complete opposite she usually has a bit of money tucked away. Fashion models often become Euro-glam Gypsies when they pass their sell-by date: '90s glamazons Marpessa and Helena Christensen are good examples. These gals have accumulated the kind of shekels needed to bankroll the indolent Euro-glam Gypsy lifestyle.
What does she wear? At the time of writing, Matthew Williamson and Duro Olowu are the Euro-glam Gypsy's favorite designers. A major flea market hag, she is always scouring the stalls for a vintage Ossie Clarke or Thea Porter or Zandra Rhodes.
Is she loyal to this style?
Yes, emphatically, yes! Once a Euro-glam Gypsy, always a Euro-glam Gypsy. These gals are lifers. Though she may tidy herself up for funerals and court appearances, it is almost unheard-of for a Euro-glam to become a Socialite. This would involve having her tattoos removed and bidding adieu to all her friends, freaks, and acquaintances.
The Isadora Gypsy
The Isadora Gypsy is named after Isadora Duncan, that fabulously crazy chick who, at the beginning of the last century, leaped around barefoot in the dirt waving a piece of chiffon and, as a result, invented the concept of modern dance.
Like her namesake, the Isadora Gypsy has a strong theatrical sense and loves dressing up: She wears panne velvet and vintage lace and medievalish robes and turbans a la Edith Sitwell. She adores massive rings, beading, and dévorée velvet. Her dream is to find a vintage Fortuny frock at Goodwill. The fact that this will never happen feeds her overall sense of romantic disappointment.
Regarding her psyche: The Isadora Gypsy is more cultured, better educated, and less trendy than her Euro-glam sister. Virginia Woolf is her favorite writer, olive green is her preferred hue. As a result, she is prone to bouts of melancholy. She does not have the reservoirs of happy superficiality that keep the Euro-glam Gypsy shrieking with laughter 24/7. While the Euro-glam is knocking back champagne at Art Basel in Miami, the Isadora Gypsy is far more likely to be found contemplating the translucency of an art nouveau vase on the Portobello Road or weeping quietly in the corner of Vita Sackville-West's all-white garden in Sussex, England.
(If you decide, upon reading this, that this is who you really are, you may want to leaven the steady diet of Virginia Woolf with a little distracting Candace Bushnell, just to mix things up a little and keep the blues at bay.)
Contemporary celebrity example? The majority of Hollywood actresses stick with a Socialite wardrobe. If they ever dare dabble in Existentialist or Gypsy style, they are massacred by the tabloids and hurled onto the what-was-she-thinking page. (See Björk the Existentialist.) There are a couple of exceptions: ate Blanchett and Tilda Swinton have an Isadora/Existentialist thing going on, which makes them the darlings of the high-fashion monde.
Caution: The Isadora Gypsy is accident prone. She is quite likely to drown while having an Ophelia moment in a fast-running stream, or, lke the original Isadora, get throttled when her trailing scarf gets caught in the wheels of her sports car. Her death, though often unexpected, is never mundane.
The Green Gypsy
If sustainability and fair trade are more important to you than Gypsy glamour i.e., you prefer hemp flip-flops over towering espadrilles by Christian Louboutin you may well be a Green Gypsy.
Formerly known as the Birkenstock Gypsy, the Green Gypsy is a fast-growing category in Hollywood. Inspired by Green celebs like Leo and Brad, more and more young lasses think Kate Hudson, think Liv Tyler are looking for environmentally responsible, organic garments. Especially if they are knocked up or just hanging out at their ten-million-dollar Malibu beach shacks.
Warning: Just because a garment is made of organic cotton does not mean it has the allure and the sizzle that are part and parcel of the eccentric glamour lifestyle. Try to be ruthlessly objective when buying and accessorizing green garments. Do not sacrifice style for sustainability. At the end of the day, a burlap tabard is just...a burlap tabard. Unless you team your tabard with a pair of cruelty-free Stella McCartney black patent spikes, you run the risk of looking as if you are an extra in a suburban dinner theater production of The Canterbury Tales.
Psych alert: While the Euro-glam Gypsy tends toward superficiality, the Green Gypsy, with her solar panels, her malfunctioning compost toilet, and her constant anxieties about the size of her carbon footprint, is crucifyingly earnest. If you enter this category, please try not to become a dogmatic bore. The patron saint of Hollywood Gypsies is Ali MacGraw. You thought I was going to say Stevie Nicks, didn't you? Miss Nicks, thanks to her love of floaty chiffon and unstructured choreography, is really more of an Isadora Gypsy.
The Hollywood Gypsy, as personified by Miss MacGraw, is the well-scrubbed Malibu version of Gypsy style. In her crisp white caftans and discreet jewelry, yoga-loving Ali is the acceptable face of hippie, a woman with alternative ideals, a sizable bank account, and no body odor or armpit hair.
As they age, these Hollywood Gypsies can sometimes become Socialites. This can elicit accusations of betrayal by the Green Gypsies who often work at the health food stores or yoga centers patronized by the Hollywood Gypsies.
Let's recap: Gypsy style is, as you can see, a colorful and seductive category. I predict that, after reading this chapter, a significant number of you readers will emerge as committed tambourine-banging glamorously eccentric Gypsies.
The biggest plus for Gypsies of all stripes? Gypsy style, in all its various manifestations, is a great look for larger girls.
Off-the-shoulder Carmen blouses, embroidered taffeta skirts, Victorian piano shawls, and espadrilles, while great on a skinny gal, also work wonders for the chunky glamorous eccentric. Gypsy clothing is not so much slimming as gorgeously distracting. Let me put it to you this way: When your clothing says, "I'm a flamboyant, vivacious, interesting person!" as opposed to the less appealing, "I'm a chubby person in dreary tentlike self-effacing clothes!" your universe can only change for the better.
Gypsy décor is similarly forgiving: It is by far the quickest and easiest to execute. Creating a gypsy lair is a total no-brainer.
Any idiot can take a bunch of saris and staple them around a room. Any nitwit can make a room look fabulous by adding a couple of camel saddles. How much brainpower does it take to dangle a few dream catchers and sling a hammock or two across your living room? (Is this why so many fashion models favor this style chez eux?)
The biggest advantage of Gypsy décor is that there is no upkeep. It's a very unchallenging style, and once installed, the Gypsy abode requires no maintenance or cleaning whatsoever. While the Existentialist is constantly retouching that white floor, and the Socialite is flagellating herself with those what-would-Jackie-do comparisons, the Gypsy is gainfully occupied casting runes, playing her dulcimer, or generally flitting about.
And it's quick: While Socialite décor is all about painstakingly prissy precision and anal-retentive immaculate surfaces, Gypsy décor can be achieved in a matter of minutes just by hurling a few Himalayan rugs, alpaca throws, and exotically scented candles into a room.
The drawbacks: Gypsies are far more likely to have radon gas in their homes. This is simply because it would never occur to a Gypsy actually to test for radon.
Gypsies are tchotchkaholics. They tend to create an environment that looks like a Moroccan souk. As a result, visitors to a Gypsy cave are constantly picking things up and saying, "How much is this?" Entrepreneurial Gypsies are quite likely to start selling things. Others will find this mildly irritating.
Last but not least, because of the cluttered nature of their pads, Gypsies often find that people have been living with them for months and they never knew. For this reason, Gypsies are statistically much more likely to harbor felons, albeit unwittingly, than Socialites or Existentialists.
While it is undeniably true that Jackie Kennedy Onassis, Babe Paley, and CZ Guest are the primordial slime from which all subsequent Socialites emerged, today's Socialite is any gal a manicurist, a celeb, a dog groomer, a bank manager, an anchor lady who loves a well-cut skirt, a Chanel watch (real or fake), and a crucifyingly high heel. Today's Socialite can be highborn or common as muck.
This is good news for you, the ordinary woman on the street. You do not need money, power, or an obscenely rich husband in order to embrace the spiffy, manicured glam of Socialite style. Anyone can be a Socialite, even you, because Socialite is a state of mind.
Of all the three styles, the Socialite has the least amount of eccentricity. Her style, though culled from the latest fashion collections, has a classic panache. She herself is not particularly creative. She leaves that to the Puccis, Valentinos, Oscar de la Rentas, and Karl Lagerfelds of the world, or the knocker-offers thereof. She's a follower, not a leader.
But let's not be too hard on her: The Socialite is invariably a scintillating and idiosyncratic conversationalist. While she may lack daring in her wardrobe choices, the glamorously eccentric Socialite has a wicked wit. The humor, poise, and sizzling repartee of the practiced Socialite more than compensate for her low eccentricity score.
And here's the best thing about her, the Socialite is the world's leading patroness of la mode. Whether shopping at Strawberry or Chanel, she supports fashion designers by spending an enormous amount of money on clothing. And, as a bonus, she abhors the slutty ho trend. The Socialite attracts men by cultivating her allure, not by flashing her breasts or jumping in and out of chauffeured vehicles sans panties.
Despite the commitment to that old-school Jackie Kennedy manicured glamour, it would be a gigantic mistake to assume that white chicks have some kind of monopoly on Socialite style. The fact is that ladies of color constitute a huge chunk of the Socialite demographic. Please recall, dear reader, the incident where a certain black billionaire megastar/entrepreneur was banging on the door of the Hermès store in Paris at closing time.
It's not just Oprah. A vaste number of African Americanas are motivated by the Socialite desire to look spiffy and nifty and swanky and turned out. The black Socialite wants to wear a Dolce & Gabbana suit with a white fox fur and a giant pair of Dior glasses, and who can really blame her? Socialite style, with its emphasis on polished designer glamour, makes perfect sense for an African-American chick from a hardscrabble background. Not every stylish black woman is a ghetto escapee, but the gal who is will always tend to recoil from the raggedy-ass hippie style of the Gypsy. Having seen more than her share of grunge, she finds it alien and annoying.
The Existentialist approach, as you will see, is just as irrelevant to the black Socialite as Gypsy style: Even though she might buy freaky artwork from an Existentialist artist, the black Socialite has zero interest in looking kooky or conceptual herself.
Celebrity examples? Mary J. Blige is a label-lovin' Socialite. So is Foxy Brown. So when she's wearing her ladylike Marc Jacobs outfits is Lil' Kim. Yes, ladies of color have the Socialite's unapologetic stop-at-nothing passion for designer clothing.
If I were a chick, I would probably dress Socialite, with a top note of Existentialist. Having been born into postwar austerity I spent my early years in a two-room walk-up with no kitchen or bathroom I share the Socialite's antipathy toward any style that disingenuously attempts to riff on downward mobility. Why dress poor if you are not? Why dress down when you can dress up?
Performing a colonoscopy? What to wear?
Skin tone aside, Socialite style is ultimately about confidence. Unlike the Existentialist or the Gypsy, the Socialite dresses to communicate power and competence and order. Socialite style is, therefore, the best style for professional women.
Let me rephrase that: Socialite style, with its carefully crafted cocktail of minimal eccentricity and designer fashion, is the only style for professional women.
Dressing for work has always been a minefield of complexity and symbolism. There is a codified language that changes from milieu to milieu. Fashion, your personal style, can either blast you through the glass ceiling or hurl you on the unemployment heap. Certain styles can annihilate credibility in some professional situations and enhance it in others.
For example: When a lady doctor is advancing upon you with a needle or a probe of any kind, you expect that person to be wearing clean, well-cut garments from the conservative end of the Socialite spectrum such as those designed by Ralph Lauren or Ann Taylor. A medical professional can destroy every ounce of confidence you have in her simply by wearing the wrong blouse or shoes. Nobody, and I really do mean nobody, wants a colonoscopy performed by an Existentialist lady in an avant-garde Comme des Garçons humpback dress. No gal in her right mind wants corrective eye surgery performed by a dirndl-wearing refugee from Haight-Ashbury. Gypsy and Existentialist are no-nos for health-care professionals.
The profession of law has similar constraints: Nobody wants his or her will drawn up by a Gypsy wearing armfuls of Morrocan bracelets and a plunging Roberto Cavalli leopard-print, silk-chiffon minicaftan.
The bottom line? Eccentricity must be kept at a minimum, or credibility will suffer. If your profession entails an iota of responsibility for the health or finances of others, you must minimize your visual quirks. You can freak out on your own time, but when you are at work you must adopt the Socialite style or die.
Dermatologists, it should be noted, have a little more carte blanche than other medics. The new emphasis on Botox and other cosmetic beauty procedures has dragged these gals out of the mundane world of ingrown hairs and pus-filled abscesses and into the stylish world of Lanvin and Prada.
Though still confined to the Socialite category, dermatologists can be a little more flamboyant and fashion forward than other professional chicks, without the loss of any credibility. A designer-clad derm in this season's Vionnet or Ricci is assumed to be a wealthy and therefore successful and therefore accomplished person. As a result, the top skin peelers in America Dr. Pat Wexler, Dr. Lisa Airan et al. frequently appear on the best-dressed lists alongside hard-core label-addicted Socialites like Marina Rust and Victoria Traina.
Yes, I said addicts.
Of the three groups Existentialists, Gypsies, and Socialites the Socialite is the most likely to develop a severe fashion addiction. (Gypsies, as you can well imagine, are associated with other types of addictions.)
Though crisp, clean, and unimpeachably chic, the Socialite cannot go for twenty-four hours without buying herself a new frock/bag/blouse/stiletto. She is an unapologetic label queen. If fashion was glue, every Socialite would be lying in the gutter like Laura Dern in that movie Citizen Ruth, desperately huffing her brains out. The Socialite is perpetually high on designer crack.
The level of fashion addiction may vary in degree, but there are a number of behavioral traits that are consistently found in all Socialites.
Ixnay on the Gypsies
Though socially adept, Socialites are not particularly comfortable around Gypsies. The worst thing that could happen to a Socialite is to be forced to live with a Gypsy. This would be the equivalent of asking Anna Wintour to live with Stevie Nicks. The smell of sage and the general sloppy unpredictability of her roommate would drive the Vogue editor in chief totally bonkers.
Socialites fare little better alongside Existentialists. Because they are disinterested in avant-garde fashion, Socialites find Existentialists bewildering and annoying. The Socialite is a Dior, Tuleh, Prada, Pucci, Chanel, Tory Burch, Blahnik, Ralph Lauren, Louboutin, Lilly Pulitzer kind of a gal. While Socialites believe that Paris is the fashion capital of the world, Existentialists are exclusively focused on Belgium, and occasionally England.
The fact that Brit designer Hussein Chalayan once buried his collection in his backyard for a few weeks, prior to showing it to the press, while delightful to the Existentialist, is appalling and horrible to the Socialite.
Perpetually terrified that people will think she's an uptight bitch, the Socialite overcompensates wildly. Not only is she charming and funny, she is also surprisingly and effusively polite. Like the late neat freak Joan Crawford, she compulsively sends flowers and is quite capable of penning a thank-you note for a thank-you note.
Socialites, it must be acknowledged, are invariably quite prissy. No Socialite would ever allow herself to have a cruddy bathroom. Furry toilets and moldy backsplashes, though part and parcel of the Gypsy lifestyle, are profoundly unacceptable to the Socialite.
Even the most quotidienne Socialite prefers to touch as few things as possible with her bare hands. This is why she puts Lucite wands on her drapes. God forbid she should have to touch anything as unworthy and lowly and disgusting as curtain fabric!
Allied to the wand, but no less important to the Socialite, is the extension. I refer to the telescopic doodad that adds several feet, and a great deal of savoir faire, to your cobweb remover or feather duster. Highly recommended for dwarf Socialites.
She can kick your ass
Don't let the old-fashioned politesse deceive you: The Socialite is tougher than you think. If an Existentialist PETA supporter hurls a soy-cream pie at her because she is wearing a chinchilla shrug, the Socialite is quite capable of slapping her attacker upside the head with her studded Fendi baguette.
Existentialism, for the ignorant reader, was a philosophy developed by Jean-Paul Sartre in midcentury Paris. The basic idea was that life did not make any sense at all and that everything was chaotic and contingent. Insights into the utter meaninglessness of it all came in bursts of what Monsieur Sartre called nausea. Like most French people, Jean-Paul was something of a misanthrope, declaring famously that "hell is other people."
The Sartres, with their angrily belted outerwear and grumpy expressions, were not the most fun people on earth. They did, however, give birth to the beatniks, who begat all subsequent supercool, edgy style movements: punk, grunge, downtown chic, etc., etc. Even the black-clad fashionistas of the '90s owe their look to Jean-Paul and Simone. Merci beaucoup! This is the edgy, belligerent, provocative, creative, innovative face of eccentric glamour.
"What's so glamorous about smelly beatniks or menacing punk rockers?" I hear those readers of a more conventional Socialite orientation ask, to which I reply, "As per my introduction, any useful definition of the word 'glamour' now goes way beyond that boring gold standard of manicured beauty laid down by the original Hollywood studio dream factory during the last century. Yes, back in the day, Marilyn and Liz had glamour, but so did Gertrude Stein and JFK and Ernest Hemingway and Giacometti and Dorothy Parker."
Still not getting it? Don't reproach yourself. A large part of the glamour of glamour comes from its extreme elusiveness.
Now let's get back to those glamorous Existentialists.
Though the smallest group, the Existentialists are the most creative and eccentrically glamorous of the three categories. While the Socialite rarely instigates trends, the Existentialist does little else. She radiates edginess. While the Evas of this world adorn themselves for the delectation of the opposite sex, the Existentialist dresses for one person and one person only: herself.
Prominent Existentialists include Carine Roitfeld (editor in chief of French Vogue), Chrissie Hynde, and British art provocateur Tracey Emin.
There are no A-list celeb Existentialists. Jennifer Connolly and Charlotte Gainsbourg are about as close as it gets. Vanessa Paradis (Johnny Depp's crumpet)? She vacillates between Existentialist and Euro-glam Gypsy. The contemporary Hollywood red-carpet look is dominated by Socialite style the antithesis of everything the Existentialist stands for.
She's an angry rebel who eschews the superficiality of contemporary culture. If she is unfortunate enough to catch any of the frothy fashion Oscar coverage on TV, the typical Existentialist experiences a strong desire to join the Taliban. If she were ever, by some bizarre serendipity, to find herself on the red carpet, and Joan Rivers asked her, "Who made your dress?" the Existentialist would either go into a tortured explanation of the designer's concept or shout, "Some poofter!" and keep walking.
Yes, Existentialists are a tad scary.
Gypsies are often frightened by them, and with good reason. While the good-humored Gypsy loves to run through the woods barefoot and sell toe rings to passing hikers, the Existentialist is busy on the shady side of the forest gathering poisonous mushrooms while plotting the overthrow of the government.
The Existentialist is very creative. Whether managing an art gallery or designing unbuildable buildings à la Zaha Hadid (a major Iraqi Existentialist), she is intent on using her provocative sensibility to change the world. While the Gypsy is sensual and organic and quite ditsy, the Existentialist is more rigid, intellectual, and Ayn Randian.
Don't worry, you don't have to be a rocket scientist to embrace your inner Existentialist. And you don't have to wear a monocle or become a German Expressionist-collecting lesbian. (But don't rule it out.)
Agonizing about whether or not you are an Existentialist is a bit of a waste of time. The truth of the matter is that you either are or you aren't. It is highly unlikely that you are a simmering Existentialist trapped in a Laura Ashley flounced frock.
This does not mean that there is no volatility in this group. Some Existentialists transition out of this group as middle age looms: Courtney Love has made the switch from Existential style (wacky baby dolls and tiaras) to Socialite style (sleek designer gowns). Angelina Jolie is another example: She has relinquished her Goth garments and sadomasochistic styling in order at the time of writing to shill for the Socialite house of St. John knits!
Though society might discourage women from adopting the independent non-male-appeasing stance of the Existentialist, I do not. I positively insist on it. Even if you decide that you are a card-carrying Socialite, the unpredictability that is integral to the development of eccentric glamour definitely requires a soupçon of Existentialist style. Example: New York style icon Anne Slater a beacon of Socialite style in her vintage Geoffrey Beenes and couture Ruccis never leaves the house without her bizarre giant blue-tinted spectacles and massive Kazuko crystal bracelets.
Though it is a much more homogenous group than the Gypsies, Existentialist style can still be subdivided into four categories: Gamine, Gauche, Garçon, and Ghoul.
The Existentialist Gamine
This is the sweet face of Existentialism. She is Audrey Hepburn at the beginning of Funny Face, a bookworm in black ballet slippers, black turtleneck the Existentialist style constant and black toreador pants.
As with the other genres of Existentialist style, the Existentialist Gamine exudes intelligence. Her severe appearance suggests that she is interested in the world of philosophy and ideas while simultaneously challenging the self-indulgent glamour of Socialite style.
Note that I said "suggests." Herein lies the magic of the Existentialist style. It's the perfect combination of mystery and implied intellect. In other words: There's nothing quite like a black turtleneck to suggest an inner life, even where there may be none. The Existentialist Gamine is, therefore, a great look for gals like Paris Hilton who are perpetually accused of being dumb as planks and need to add a dash of gravitas to their image. Paris, if you are reading this, please stop dressing like an '80s bunny girl and give existential style a whirl.
The Rive Gauche Existentialist
The elder sister of the Gamine Existentialist, this is a great look for gals whose ripening figures no longer fit into those toreador pants.
Like Simone de Beauvoir and Simone Signoret, the Rive Gauche Existentialist is often named Simone, or maybe she has a weird spelling to her name. Cathy Horyn (note the spelling) of the New York Times is a great example of Rive Gauche Existentialist style. A beatnik and a thinker, she's severe, intimidating, and quite mysterious. In her black Lanvin trench coat and her Alaia leather kilt, she always manages to look like a member of the French Resistance.
While the Rive Gauche Existentialist's clothing is basic and simple, her hair is more complex: Cut à la Bettie Page, it features short, rounded bangs and shoulder-length side tresses. When she gets older she may go whole hog and wear it in a braid crown, a la Simone de Beauvoir, aka Mrs. Jean-Paul Sartre.
The Existentialist Garçonne
Courageous, self-invented women have always done it. Garbo did it in the '30s. So did Marlene. Punk girls did it in the 1970s. Pat Benatar did it in the 1980s. Madonna did it in the 1990s. I'm talking about boy chic. Butching it up. Dressing in drag. Suiting yourself.
F-to-M cross-dressing is strange and mysterious. The effect is not quite what you might expect. It would be logical to assume that the wearing of men's clothing might well detract from a gal's femininity. This is not always the case. It can often be the opposite. Elegant man drag, as worn by the ladies mentioned above, enhances rather than detracts from the femininity of the wearer.
For reasons too obvious to state, this Existentialist Garçonne look is big with certain gay women: Ellen is the big celebrity proponent of this style. Paradoxically, she looks much more girly in those nifty Sammy Davis Jr. suits of hers than she would if dressed in a ruched crepe de chine prom frock.
A tip for butch lesbians: Why do so many of you ladies, when faced with the compulsion to express your masculinity, opt for redneck/lumberjack style?
Girls! Instead of going whole hog and transforming yourself into an überbutch construction worker, why not play the Existentialist Garçonne? I for one would love to see more gay gals opting for Ellen's nifty tailored look. If I were a lesbian and I felt the inclination to butch it up a bit, I would like to think that I would adopt a dandified version of masculinity. Proustian fop, anyone?
Looking for a nonlesbian example of the Existentialist Garconne? Diane Keaton is single-handedly carrying the flag for this look among straight celebrity women. Her tailored English public school chic more Waugh than Rat-Pack is so at odds with the prevailing West Coast blow-up doll aesthetic that fashion pundits think she is insane and put her on those what-was-she-thinking? pages of the tabloids. Fortunately, she does not seem to care and continues to groove on her inner garçonne.
Vive La Keaton, the eccentrically glamorous Existentialist fashion rebel!
The Existentialist Ghoul
Paging Nina Hagen, Lene Lovich, and Siouxsie Sioux! Exene Cervenka! Ariella Up! Diamanda Galás! This is the most extreme genre of Existentialist. These are the kind of women who, in previous centuries, were burned at the stake.
Adopting this kind of scary look Gothic maquillage, electrocution hair in vivid colors, historicist costume with sadomasochistic accessories really limits your social interaction to those who are dressed exactly as you are and is therefore recommended only for the very young.
Existentialist Ghouls have become quite rare. At the time of writing, Amy Winehouse is the only contemporary example I am able to conjure. Only a genuinely unconventional gal can pull it off, and these are increasingly thin on the ground. I had high hopes for both Avril Lavigne and Ashlee Simpson. After a ballsy finger-throwing start to their careers, they both had Hollywood makeovers, revealing their innate conventionality in the process. It is my sincere hope that, with the writing of this book, I may prompt a few young ladies to follow La Winehouse we're talking style, not self-destructive behavior and take this courageous route.
Go Forth and Shop
Once you have designated yourself Socialite, Existentialist, or Gypsy all aspects of your life will become simpler. You will know not just which frocks to buy but also which scented candle or panty is the right one for you.
The whole process of shopping now becomes amusing and positively cinematic. In fact, you would do well to think of it as a movie production wherein you have two star credits: female lead and costume designer. You are Edith Head and Gloria Swanson. Having abandoned the role of insecure, nervous, sweaty ingénue, you are dressing an important star who has her own iconic look. Yourself!
You will be selecting garments that match your new sense of self. Your shopping trips will lose that dreadful disheartening random feeling. You will no longer be frantically chasing trends. You will no longer be making desperate attempts to understand the current fashion scene and see where you fit in. Instead you will be cherry-picking from the racks with a very specific mandate. And you will always find what you are looking for. The Gypsy/Existentialist/Socialite system of eccentric glamour is eternal. It's classic. While the fashion scene will always quiver, shift, and evolve, you will remain a constant: There will always be plenty of clothes for you.
Don't forget the constant and the kapow! As well as looking for new and innovative items those unexpected jolts of style I spoke about in my intro be sure to stock up on those style constants that form the basis of your look.
Hey, Gypsy! When that appliquéd vintage dirndl skirt is too grody and stained to wear anymore, hit the flea market and find another. Or open your handbag and buy a new one from Miu Miu or Dries Van Noten. Your rottweiler ate your Peruvian poncho? No sweat. There're plenty more where that came from.
Hey, Socialite! Has your lavender shantung Prada brunch coat lost its je ne sais quoi? Replenish! Replenish! Replenish! Maybe a chartreuse Dior one this time?
Hey, Existentialist! Your black cashmere turtleneck has gone all nubby under the armpits. Guess what? They just got a new delivery at Uniqlo! Buy three and rotate them.
The best part about my method is that it gives you self-reliance. Once you have your category, you are set for life. No stylists or sycophantic designers for you! Even if you had the wherewithal to hire Rachel Zoe or L'Wren Scott, outsourcing the reinvention of your personal style is out of the question. A life of eccentric glamour means you expressing yourself, as opposed to you slavishly following the dictates of another human being.
This is not a burden. Au contraire! Eccentric glamour is a huge opportunity for creativity.
But be patient. Regardless of which style you adopt Socialite, Existentialist, or Gypsy it may take a while to hit your stride. Enjoy the ride. There is no rush. You are a work in progress.
Don't allow yourself to get disheartened. And above all, do not, as so many women today are doing, start gratuitously flaunting both your cleavages.
Say no to ho! Say yes to eccentric glamour!
Copyright © 2008 by Simon Doonan
Simon Doonan is the bestselling author of Wacky Chicks and Confessions of a Window Dresser. In addition to his role as creative director of Barneys New York, Simon writes the "Simon Says" column for The New York Observer. He frequently contributes observations and opinions to myriad other publications and television shows. He is a regular commentator on VH1, the Trio network, and Full Frontal Fashion. He lives in New York City with his partner, Jonathan Adler, and his Norwich terrier, Liberace.
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