Barneys New York Creative Director Simon Doonan was first contacted last spring to decorate the White House for Christmas, as legend (or his New York Observer article) goes. For some seasonal inspiration, he visited a magical warehouse 20 minutes from the White House, that holds all of the previous administrations' holiday decorations:
To poke through this twinkly archive is to examine U.S. history. Here lie giant spools of Nancy Reagan's favorite red ribbon, as lush and thick as the shoulder pads on an Adolfo socialite suit. What's on that crate? Oh look, it's Pat Nixon's beautiful balls, beaded and stitched with Faberge-esque anal-retention. Not everything in the warehouse is labeled. It's fun to rummage and play guess-the-first-lady. From chic hand-painted Venetian baubles (Jackie Kennedy?) to glitter-encrusted disco twigs (Betty Ford?), the range of Yuletide adornments is both staggering and fascinating.
It was there that Doonan came up with the idea to send old ornaments out to groups across the country, have citizens decoupage their own designs and return them to the Blue Room in time for Christmas. And he was overjoyed with the results:
The citizens of the United States of America have done a bang-up job. The balls are the perfect mixture of wholesome holiday cheer, patriotism, creative expression and fun. While there is no shortage of Mount Rushmores, Niagara Falls and Grand Canyons, most of the creators took a more small-town route, commemorating local landmarks and institutions.
However, one blogger just couldn't get into the Christmas spirit. A post entitled "Transvestites, Mao And Obama Ornaments Decorate White House Christmas Tree" on Andrew Breitbart's Big Government website, slammed Doonan's efforts as targeting a specific agenda. So how did Doonan respond to 'Tinselgate?' Some poetry from Doonan to Andrew Breitbart:
Thanks to you, I see now that there are two kinds of people in the world: In the first group, we have those who "do," and in the second group, we have those who sit at their computers on their ever-widening asses blogging, platforming and commenting on the not-always-perfect efforts of the first group. Tinselgate has renewed my commitment to keep my tight ass fairly and squarely plonked in that first group.