At the recent Moth Ball this week the fabulous men-about-town Jonathan Adler and Simon Doonan were on hand to present the annual $5000 MothShop scholarship. The recipient, New York City high school student Terrence Buckner, told a wise beyond his years story on his struggles with coming out in his rough Brooklyn neighborhood. Doonan shared his own story of pretending to be straight in front of an immigration officer in the 70s, for the purposes of obtaining a work visa.
The master designer and Barneys Creative Director have been longtime supporters of the Moth, a nonprofit dedicated to the art of storytelling. We caught up with the couple at the event to find out why they love the organization so much. Read on in our exclusive interview to find out their advice for having an unforgettable holiday, just how recession-proof is Barneys, and just what they'll never be caught dead leaving home without.
Ariston Anderson: Why are you such big supporters of the Moth?
Jonathan Adler: I love, love the organization. It is so creative and fun and interesting. I go to fancy-schmancy events and sort of like they all are just boring. And the Moth is quite the opposite. It's fascinating and fun. I love them. It's the only thing on my calendar that I'm not dreading. It's the one sort of shining star on my Blackberry.
Simon Doonan: I love the Moth because I guess I'm just a Chatty Cathy and I love the idea of telling stories. It's just so well organized. It's always entertaining. Like when you go out in New York to a lot of events there's no content. But when you come to a Moth event you actually come away with a lot of thought provoking ideas and stories. And of course a lot of humor as well as serious stuff. So yeah, it puts some content into the New York scene, so I love that.
AA: How important is storytelling in design work?
JA: That's actually a great question. I am really focused on narrative in my work. Definitely in decorating I always try to start a creative narrative. The narrative usually involves trying to make my clients seem a little more eccentric, and a little more glamorous than they might actually be.
AA: Simon, have you had to alter any of window displays at Barneys because of the recession?
SD: At Barneys, I always made stuff out of found objects and I always recycle things. The windows at Barneys are always very crafty, and they were always about paper-mâché and finding things in the street. At Barneys, paradoxically, we have a very recession-proof point-of-view because it was never about sort of opulence or bling. It was always kind of subtle and sort of crafty.
AA: Last year, you were advocating the cape here. Are capes still in?
SD: Capes? Everything is in. That's the thing, nothing ever goes out of style anymore. All trends concurrently exist. In this room somebody is probably rocking every trend known to mankind.
AA: What tips do you have for having a fabulous holiday party this season?
SD: For an amazing holiday party, I think there's no such thing as being overdressed. You know, if you feel like wearing a full-length ballgown, just wear it. People worry too much about being event-appropriate. It's much better to be overdressed. As Andy Warhol said, it's much better to be the right thing in the wrong place. You always have fun if you do the right thing in the wrong place.
JA: I think that everyone should have Lee Press On Nails for every guest. It could turn a business meeting into a party.
AA: Have you ever worn them yourself?
JA: I have. (Laughs) But only in the context of a party. It's not an everyday thing.
SD: I think if you want to have a fabulous holiday this season, buy a feather boa. Nothing makes you feel bubbly and vivacious like a feather boa. It's very glam rock.
AA: What are some luxuries you can't live without?
SD: Well Johnny and I have a condo, down in Palm Beach. So we love to go down there and run on the beach and frolic during cold winter weekends. So that's a real self-indulgent luxury. Other than that, no drugs. You know, I'm on a natural high. I don't have an expensive drug habit. And I'm so small I would love to buy clothes all the time, but I can't find things that fit me because I'm a midget.
JA: You know what I can't live without is my pill keychain. My enamel pill keychain. It's in the shape of a pill, and it also functions as a little pillbox. So it holds three pills, just an emergency supply, so that's my most essential item.
AA: What's in your pillbox?
JA: Xanax, xanax, and xanax.
AA: Are there any designers that really tailor to small sizes?
SD: Yes. I can always find something at Thom Browne or Band of Outsiders. They cater to people on the more petit side.
JA: I really, this is going to sound jappy, but I do not think I could live without a housekeeper. My mom once said everyone should have a wife. I certainly don't have a wife, so my housekeeper will have to do.
AA: It's certainly good for relationships.
JA: It's like the only thing for relationships. I think another luxury, I guess I can't say my husband or a dog. A living room large enough to have a ping pong table. I find that playing ping pong at the end of the day with my better half is the best way to unwind. And my final luxury, probably not being on Facebook. That's like the most luxurious thing. I'm lucky enough to be at an age and point in my career where I don't have to do all of the technology stuff.
AA: Who's better at ping pong?
JA: Me. I kick his ass. He'll tell you a different story, but it's 100% true.
AA: What is your most luxurious piece that is something everyone should own?
JA: Oh from my collection? Probably my giant dora maar vase with all of the faces going around it in porcelain. It's luxurious. My dream is that lots of peoples' heirs will be lawyered up fighting over that in the future. That's my goal.
AA: Any must have products this season?
SD: You have to get yourself a pair of Albert Maysles' glasses. We're selling those at Barneys. Albert Maysles is the amazing documentary filmmaker. Get yourself some Albert Maysles' glasses and you'll have a fabulous holiday.
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