SIMON THE MAGNIFICENT
So, let’s pretend that I’m not happily married and our Ambassador of Style and Humor isn’t deliriously happily married and gay, what are the chances I could convince the amazing Simon Doonan that we were meant for each other?
Meanwhile back on Mister Toads Wild Ride, it’s a fantasyland after all. But, I do have the total straight girl gay boy crush on Simon Doonan.
I’ve always been an admirer of the witty, pithy, uber-talented Master Doonan. I’ve loved his windows, his writing and his Liberty Print clad, joie de vivre.
And then he did the nicest thing. He started getting my blog, which I think had to do with his being on a list for a party at Glenn’s and it ended up in Glenn’s email addresses. So when it went wide it got sent to Simon. And being the kind, plus amusant man he his he never unsubscribed.
So when I finally had the good fortune of meeting him face to face at Reed Krakoff’s runway show; I went up to him and thanked him for this. I then asked him if I could come over and do a 50@50 of him. Look, my policy is if you don’t ask the answer is always no.
He said yes.
I emailed him the next day sort of expecting him not to get back to me and that his enthusiasm at the show was just some extra exuberance wafting over from Anna Della Russo’s outfit. But within twenty-four hours I got an email giving me a day and a time to come by the house. Thrilled was my middle name all that week.
So on the appointed day I made my way to the Doonan/Adlerian lair he shares with his husband, designer Jonathan Adler, the man who gives us chic, affordable sofas and all things house as well as hashish scented candles. I wasn’t sure what to expect. Would he be snotty and snitty and look down on my orange J.Crew Café Capris? Would he notice my Tom Binns earrings and realize I was mixing it up? Would he think we were made for each other as I too carry a Goyard tote? What would he really be like?
Simon Doonan with all his accomplishments – twenty years as not only window dresser at Barneys, but he was Creative Director as well, author of five books, Christmas decorator for the Obama White House, CFDA winner, now writer at Slate, the list goes on and on, is what they would call where he comes from, a regular bloke.
Yes, he lives in a fab crib. OK, his dog is called Liberace. No question, in certain households he is a household name, but with all of that he’s kind of a normal guy.
He answered the door himself, no assistant to let me into a separate room so he could make a grand Eltonian entrance. He made me a cup of tea himself, in true Brit fashion using an electric kettle and a tea bag.
And then we sat down for a chat like we’d known each other for years and I filmed him for 50@50.
What I found the most surprising is how really honest and simple he is. I don’t mean simpleton, far from that, he’s exceedingly bright, yet he is not all complicated, ego driven and maniacal, he sees life for what it is, takes nothing very seriously and tries to make it all little more visually palatable for the rest of us.
I think the real Simon Doonan stands up in his new book Gay Men Don’t Get Fat.
It’s Christopher Kane day-glo colored jean splittingly funny. And if you don’t get the reference you can still read the book.
It’s actually a very practical text. Simon has a very down to earth take on life, style, youth and holding on to it. He’s glam, funny, real and irreverent all at the same time. I think if Kate Moss and Ricky Gervais had a baby it would be Simon Doonan.
From the hysterical, yet wrenching experiences of his youth a strong character was formed. A character that mixed with his ambidexterity with a glue gun and sequins, his open mind and heart, his biting, spot on satire, and his innate ability to trend-spot has made him a real American treasure. Though he still uses an electric kettle to make his cuppa, he is an American citizen; who married a nice Jewish boy who knows four thousand ways to use a throw pillow.
The book is a must read for every woman and gay man. I would also add straight men who are boring and need to broaden their horizons, and straight men who would like to understand women and gay men and maybe get a glimpse into their hidden feminine selves. Homophobs and totally humorless need not apply.
I sent a copy to my friend Robert Walker, one of the brightest, most well read people I know. I got an email from him yesterday thanking me and cursing me saying he had a ton of work to do but could not put the book down he was laughing so hard.
I eventually had to leave Simon’s apartment since we weren’t going to date and he’s too close to my age to adopt me.
When I got home I emailed him two questions I had forgotten to ask.
What is the number one reason gay men don’t get fat?
“Gay men DO get fat, especially if they eat too many Laduree macaroons. Burly gay men are called BEARS. Hello! But I liked the title anyway because I love sweeping generalizations and glaring inconsistencies.”
If gay men don’t get fat and French women don’t get fat, what is the story with gay French men?
“Gay French men are so thin that they often get mistaken for Giacometti sculptures. They wear stripy mate lot shirts with horizontal stripes in a desperate attempt to look chunky.”
The book is not just about gay men and weight, it’s about life and the differences between people. It’s about style and being true to yourself in all ways. It’ s how one man against many odds pulled himself up by his bootstraps and carved out the special place in the world that he was meant to inhabit and in the process made countless people happy through his unique vision and humor.
And my guess is after reading it many of you will end up with crushes on him too.
These are my own words, this blog was not paid for by the Doonan for Reelection Campaign Committee