News & Runway

Simon Doonan Celebrates His New Book Over Skinny Gay Scones

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When I approached Barneys New York creative ambassador-at-large Simon Doonan at a press breakfast for his latest book, The Asylum: A Collage Of Couture Reminiscences…And Hysteria, he gave me a fist pump. "Fist pumping makes it less likely I'll get a wart," he said. "But don't sue me if you get one; it's an easy procedure to get rid of it." One thing's for sure, Doonan has enough material in him for countless books. Here's a look at some other gems from our conversation and from a reading he held at Barneys.

  • Skinny Scones: Since Doonan's last book was titled Gay Men Don't Get Fat, I asked him about the basket of pastries laid out for his event. "They're skinny little gay scones," he said. Touché.

  • NYFW: Doonan told me that he plans to take it easy this NYFW, singling out Proenza Schouler and Alexander Wang as two of the ten shows he will attend. "I'm not buying for the store so I only go to a few favorites."

  • Las Vegas: "You know what's exciting? Magic [a trade show] in Vegas. I love flash."

  • Old Fashion Shows: Doonan loves watching videos on YouTube of fashion shows from the 80s and 90s. He's especially fond of Jean Paul Gaultier's Hasidic-inspired collection.

  • Bodysuit: When we were discussing Hedi Slimane's move to L.A., I mentioned that I saw a Saint Laurent rhinestone bodysuit on Net-a-Porter. Doonan's reaction? "Don't you want to track down who bought that? Imagine their confidence!"

  • Kardashians: Doonan thinks the Kardashians are one of the most influential figures in fashion right now and that they've helped bring Alaia to the mainstream. Does he think Alaia minds, I wondered? Alaia couldn't care less…

  • Jewish: While he may not be Jewish, Doonan is spending the holidays with his in-laws and husband Jonathan Adler on the Upper West Side.

  • Punk Exhibit: Over 20 years ago when Doonan was working at The Met he donated some punk pieces. When he went to see their recent exhibit he spotted some of those pieces.

  • Making a Living in Fashion: Is it enough to sell at Barneys to make a living? "If you keep your expenses down and don't put on elaborate runway shows…"

  • Gareth Pugh: I mentioned I was happy that he was becoming more wearable, which seems necessary for his financial stability, but Doonan disagreed. "Rick Owens hasn't changed and it's worked for him."

  • Vionnet vs. Poiret: If he could have dinner with any past designer, it would be Madeleine Vionnet, or maybe Poiret. "I've heard Vionnet was grumpy, so that could be stressful […] Poiret might be more relaxed."

  • New Book: He considers his new book a love letter to the fashion world. "I grew up in a grim town with no money," he says. "I'm a lucky bitch to get to have the creative expression I have now."

  • Motivation to Write: "I started my writing career at 46 so it's not hard for me to motivate because I feel like I need to play catch-up."

  • Diana Vreeland's Funeral: Doonan remembers seeing Jackie O crying the whole time. "At the end of the funereal, Pat Buckley gets up and I hear her say 'Jackie always cries at other people's funerals because she wasn't allowed to cry at Jack's.'"