Navigating the Fashion World With Simon Doonan
We already know that it's physically impossible for French women to gain weight. And according to Simon Doonan, gay men don't have such an easy time of it either. Not that they want to! In defense of this theory, among other things, his latest book, Gay Men Don't Get Fat, has the likes of Joan Rivers laughing so hard that she "split her Spanx."
Over a VERY light breakfast at Barney's this morning, Simon told us about a lunch he had with the Lanvin buyers. They all had the steak frites, while the one American girl at the table sipped on a cleansing, green vegetable juice throughout. Simons says that even if you’re a straight American girl like myself, you needn’t grab your detox juice and cry on the treadmill tonight. This book is not just about French fries vs. green bile juice or gay vs. straight—we can all learn some very fashionable life lessons from this guy.
Simon, who I've deciced is the Mr. Nice guy of the gay fashion community, explains exactly why, when it comes to style and fashion (which he pointed out are not the same thing), you shouldn’t knock it even if you never intend to try it.
“If it didn’t exist people would have to invent it," he said. "Fashion is like a jigsaw puzzle. You need the tacky over-the-top stuff or you can’t have a Martin Margiela. It doesn’t mean anything. It’s all about juxtapositions. I’m always amused when fashion people are very disdainful about something like Ed Hardy. It’s almost like they need something to be snooty about. Alaia gets to do his thing because Armani gets to do his thing. And they try not to overlap.”
And even though Joan loved his book, she's not inviting him back as a guest on her show Fashion Police any time soon. “I was once on that show fashion police and they never invited me back. I know it’s because I don’t have the ability to say, she looks terrible. It’s all subjective. I don’t understand that need to kick people to the curb because you're objectively saying they don’t look right. Don’t you hate Ugg boots? Not really. I think they’re funny and they’re obviously very comfortable. I see it all as a landscape. It’s not really about you or pointing at things and saying that you like them. The idea of people saying 'oh she really rocked it here but not so much there.' Really? Based on what? Self-expression is the key to everything. Even if it’s a mullet and Ed Hardy. At least you look like yourself if that’s who you are. Good. Buy two mullets." I don't know what you'd do with the second one, but this is the only good argument I've ever heard on behalf of the mullet.
And you are interested in the book for purely health reasons, there’s a very funny chapter devoted to that, too. “I’ve always been sporty spice. I lived in LA in the ’70s and ’80s and was really into the aerobic movement. With pink leg warmers and everything. Weird things happen to people when they move to LA. Suddenly you find yourself doing the pole dance at the Sports Connection. I think child pageants are another great way to burn calories. I’m very sad that I didn’t compete as a child. If I had the opportunity to tap dance and throw a glittery baton I would have been so happy to be one of those contestants on Toddlers and Tiaras. It’s great for burning calories. It’s the moms that need to get up and jiggle about a little bit. The kids are in fantastic shape, as you would be from tap dancing all the time and twirling a baton. My defense of child pageants I admit is a little controversial.”
Aside from promoting pageantry, Simon has a lot of other—perhaps more sound—advice to offer his readers. He hopes that if nothing else his novel will inspire people to stop being self-conscious. “I’m not going to be self-critical. I’m not going to care what people think," he said. "That’s always my goal. No matter what size you are, is to make people feel less self-critical. People feel so self-conscious because it’s such a lookist culture.”
And there you have it. He’s as fashionable and funny as he is kind-hearted. And unfortunately, that is all too rare in this biz.