Breakfast at Barneys New York with the effervescent Simon Doonan is the only way I prefer to begin a week of fashion. A precedent for good company, creative banter and the embodiment of fun chaos has been set. As Christopher Muther of The Boston Globe said, “Doonan is the David Sedaris of the style universe.” I couldn’t agree more and I can’t get enough.
The author of several books, contributor to Slate.com and Creative Ambassador for Barneys New York, Doonan is hysterical, charming and honest. Over green juice and parfait, the scribe shared some fashion lullabies from his new book, The Asylum: A Collage of Couture Reminiscences…And Hysteria, to a room full of fashion editors and bloggers. All of us had a crack at him with questions. A handful of insights follow below, and of course, I asked my favorite JBD question:
What will never go out of style?
Simon said: The weird thing is nothing ever seems to go out of style any more. Everything is concurrently available: western, hippie chic, uptown glam, sexy secretary…this is not a bad thing. It means that each fashion consumer can create her own style, she can do an 80’s retro feel, a vampy tramp or whatever…it’s a great time for personal expression. I should emphasize that you will not find it all at Barneys. At Barneys, we focus on chic and luxury and glamour. We are very proud of our exquisite edit. But if you are talking about the entire fashion landscape then, yes, stuff no longer goes out of fashion. Trends arrive, and then they never leave. Examples? Here’s two: ripped jeans and leopard print.
On beginning a writing career at age 46: I don’t have a problem motivating myself to write. It’s a function of having a second career. I think: I have to get going here. If I had taken up tap dancing, I would be performing wildly every day.
On writing this book and his Dad: He had a great sense of humor, but wasn’t into fashion. And, I thought: what would be amusing to him?
On people from “nowhere” making it in fashion: The scrappy outsiders with fire in their loins, they have always made it into fashion. Balenciaga, the original guy, was from a fishing town in the Basque Country. It’s the outliers…their creativity and vision is enough to drive them into fashion.
On becoming part of the fashion community: The idea of transformation is what excited me at an early age. My mom was born in rural Ireland and left school to be a pork butcher…then transformed herself into a 1940’s glamour-puss. I thought it was so great, this idea of repackaging yourself to feel good.
Image Credit: Skip Bolen for WireImage via The New York Times