Tastemaker Q&A: Simon Doonan

simon doonan interview; gay men don't get fat

Simon Doonan, Barney’s Creative Ambassador, Jonathan Adler’s hubz, and enigmatic author of the uproarious new tome Gay Men Don’t Get Fat is a laugh – and a shocking revelation – a minute. Not only does Doonan dish on straight food versus gay food (and how to eat to stay slim), he also lets us in on how he became the most famous window dresser in the world, and candidly shares his foray into Holly Golightly-dom, including how much – or rather, how little – he earned for his trips to the powder room. Everybody starts somewhere!

We chat with the style icon about how not to look like a fashion victim, Marilyn Monroe’s real size (hold onto your hats!), the most glam ailment ever, how to look good in photos, and the etymology of the most important word in the history of style.

Ready? Let’s play Simon Says!


BB: Hello Simon! Air kiss, air kiss. Let’s get to the meat of the matter: style. You say that women are driving themselves cuckoo trying to keep up with the latest trends, and therefore seldom cultivate a signature style. “What do you need in life other than a good book, a few capri pants and a cotton sundress or two?” you ask. Sounds dreamy, but that’s a big statement coming from the Creative Ambassador for Barney’s New York (i.e. Fashion Mecca). You also defend (gasp!) Ed Hardy. Do you have any tips for those of us who want to look fabulous rather than fashion victumus? What should we buy and what should we skip?

SD: Every girl needs a cape. A Mexican cape or a cardinal cape or maybe even a Sherlock Holmes cape. It covers a multitude of sins.


BB: Note to self: Buy a cape! Now, onto deeper subject matters… Sequin blindness!? After your revelation about your gay bestie Biddie developing this most “nellie of aliments,” I turned to my trusted sources (Google and Wikipedia) – to see if it was indeed possible to go blind by working with too many sequins. I came up empty-handed. Zoebots of the world must know: fact or fabulously cheeky fiction?

SD: Sequin-blindness was a 70’s glam-rock thing. A long-lost illness…thank God!


BB: Whew. Now my besties Rachel Zoe and RuPaul can rest easy at night… Speaking of style icons, it was startling to hear you reveal Marilyn Monroe’s actual size. “She was sort of like Kate Moss but fleshier on top,” you say. “Conventional wisdom says that the camera adds five pounds,” you write, but after your experience working on Marilyn Monroe’s auction for Christie’s, you state, “it’s more like 500 pounds.” In our overphotographed world (everyone’s a celebrity on Facebook and Instagram!), is there any hope for us normal wacky chicks who don’t want to look like we have three chins? Should we step away from the cupcakes? 

SD: The reality is that we all look porkier in photos. The trick is to suck your cheeks in and say the word “Thursday” whenever the iPhone is pointed in your direction.


BB. I should have done that in our photo together (above). Instead, I think I was saying Holy mock-a-mole, I’m meeting Simon Doonan!  But moving on… You also reveal that Marilyn was more into books than shoes and owned, I believe the scientific term was “diddly squat.” You say, “she was not materialistic.” As much as I love shoes, I love this bookish news flash. And it seems you do, too. What’s on your bookshelf? 

SD: I watch lots of lowbrow trash TV so I try to compensate by reading highbrow tomes. Am currently struggling my way through The Idiot by Dostoyevsky. Am loving it but get the fancy Russian names mixed up.


BB: I can relate, but I blame the vodka… Now, the competition was stiffer than a planking hipster, but my favorite chapter in Gay Men Don’t Get Fat had to be “Gay Men Do Eat Crumble.” In it, you reveal how horrified your straight dining companions were after you called your darling husband, Jonathan Adler, a “fat plucking [sic] pig” for stealing the last bites of your rhubarb crumble. In turn, you were equally horrified to find out that a wife would likely burst into flames if her husband called her the same. “These poor earnest straight dudes,” you write. “I thought they ruled the world, but clearly they are little more than shock absorbers for female rage.” That really amused my bouche, and made me pity my eggshell-treading husband. Do we ladies need to learn to lighten up a bit?

SD: Straight men have a rough time: they go from mother-domination to wife-domination. When my lady friends complain that their boyfriends/husbands are not listening to them, I tell them to chillax and sparkle and think of something more interesting to say.


BB: Well, I do like to sparkle… Gay Men Don’t Get Fat is chockfull of insights! I was surprised to learn that there is a whole secret gayguage (gay + language). And even more shocked at the etymology of the most important word in the history of style: naff. But again, could it possibly be true? Fact or fiction?

SD: NAFF is the only really important word. We all need to use it. It’s the only way to distinguish between the MODERATE and the FABULOUS.


BB: Duly noted. Finally, reader and inquiring mind Chrystina Elaine (via Twitter) believes “the world needs more thin, stylish and chic peeps” and wants to know if you and your chicly attired hubz, Jonathan Adler, have any plans to expand your brood with a baby? Will you do your part for mankind (and mankind’s expanding waistline)? (Um, also, I’d like to add that I am available for adoption!)

SD: I am too old to have kids. By the time they were going to the prom (in Ed Hardy) I would be on a walker. Oy veh!


BB: Au contraire, you could both be in diapers together! But, to each his own… Thank you for chatting with us, Simon!


Darlings, you can pick up a copy of Gay Men Don’t Get Fat here! You can also follow Simon Doonan on Twitter and follow Barneys New York on Twitter while you’re at it xx!


[photos by BussBuss]


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