Simon Doonan


“So what was so cool about Marc Bolan?
He was cool because he defied the butch oppression of London’s East End by wearing fluffy sweaters and paillettes. He and his co-conspirator David Bowie developed their unique style while rummaging together through the trash cans of discards on Carnaby Street. (FYI, that’s Marc playing guitar on The Prettiest Star and yodeling back-up on “Heroes.)
Marc was cool because his poetic lyrics were insane and wildly imaginative:
I got a powder keg leg
And my wig’s all pooped… for you.
With my hat in my hand
I’m a hungry man… for you
I got stars in my beard
And I feel real weird…. for you. - Mambo Sun

He was cool because he never straightened his hair. His iconic look—corkscrew curls, top hat, boa, and glittery cheeks—continues to inspire generations of performers, from Slash to Stevie Nicks, from Cher to Twisted Sister, and now Ke$ha.” - Simon Doonan

Marilyn Monroe’s Two Secrets- What I learned about the icon by folding her capri pants.

“Upon her death, Marilyn’s personal effects had been boxed up and placed in storage, and there they had remained for 37 years. I was present in the Christie’s offices the day they were unpacked.

Paging Tutankhamen!

Unpacking Marilyn’s possessions was a surreal and extraordinary experience. I touched her Pucci blouses. I folded her black capri pants. I found myself holding crackly, dried-up old shopping bags—JAX of Beverly Hills—filled with stockings, slips, and brassieres. I touched hairbrushes with blonde hairs in them. I sniffed the Mexican wrap sweater she wore in the famous beach photo shoot, and detected a whiff of perfume.

The process of cataloguing and displaying Marilyn’s bits took months. During this time I learned some crazily illuminating stuff about the breathy blond bombshell. Brace yourself for some next-level revelations.

Right away, I discovered that Marilyn was shockingly and unimaginably slender. She was sort of like Kate Moss but fleshier on top. Didn’t see that coming, did you?

When it came to finding mannequins to fit her dresses, I simply couldn’t. M.M.’s drag was too small for the average window dummy. Smaller “petite” mannequins existed, but I could not bring myself to place Marilyn’s iconic garments on these perky fiberglass dollies. The frocks seemed too important and historic. For the public installation I decided to give them the Shroud of Turin treatment.

I laid the dresses in rows on top of angled panels—sort of like bodies after a plane crash—and accompanied them with a photo of M.M. herself in each frock. It worked. There was the black strappy gown she wore in Korea. And there, in the adjacent photo, was M.M. strutting about in front of the troops.

The only exception was the sparkly Jean Louis number Marilyn wore for the Kennedy happy-birthday chanson. For this dress, a custom Lucite mannequin was made.”

“And for my second Marilyn bet-you-didn’t-see-that-coming revelation …

Marilyn Monroe was a huge movie star, but she owned diddly-squat. She was not materialistic!

Marilyn’s estate was a bunch of poignant schlock. The auction raised more than $13 million, but not because of any intrinsic value in the numbered lots. There were no Renoirs or Picassos. Her knickknacks were pedestrian. Her cookware was greasy. Her spatulas were bent. Even her Golden Globe was broken.

The majority of her clothing showed surprising wear and tear. She had worn it all repeatedly and there just wasn’t that much of it.

Her jewelry? With the exception of her DiMaggio wedding ring it was a bunch of paste danglers and costume crap.

Shoes? Yes, there were several pairs of black suede Ferragamo stilettos with worn heels. But Marilyn—brace yourself for another shocker—was more into books than shoes. Her poignant desire to cultivate her mind and give herself an education resulted in an extensive library of first editions. Take that, Carrie Bradshaw!

This stunning lack of materialism made me love and respect her more. What do you need in life other than a good book, a few capri pants, and a cotton sundress or two?

Yes, there were a few fur coats. But compared to the gimme-gimme-gimme stars of today whose hangar-size closets are bursting with freebies, she was a total bread-and-water-eating, hair-shirt-wearing, self-denying nun.”

-Simon Doonan



This is my favorite part!! <3 <3 <3 Come on, who doesn’t want to spontaneously burst into song and dance on their street!

Lovely industry insight into the wonderful world of my friend Jean Paul Gaultier in The New York Times. His final Ready-To-Wear show is truly the end of an era! Xx

Jean Paul Gaultier’s Shows, the Clothes, the Man and His Heritage

The news that JPG was shutting down his ready-to-wear business, with his last collection scheduled to be shown on Saturday in Paris, prompted recollections from industry notables who have long considered Mr. Gaultier one of the most original people in fashion — both on and off the runway.

The Shows

Thierry-Maxime Loriot, curator, “The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk”: “He pushed barriers of fashion and society and showed an open vision of society. Everybody was always welcome on his catwalk — whatever age, body shape, skin color, gender … there’s something very humanist in his approach to fashion. For me, that’s the most important thing.”

Franca Sozzani, editor of Italian Vogue: “The ’80s and the ’90s were really his years. When we were going to Paris, Jean Paul Gaultier was the one you go to see.”

Tim Blanks, editor at large, “He was absolutely peerless for the longest time in the late ’80s and early ’90s. Each show was an absolutely remarkable hybrid of fashion and social comment. The sense of event that surrounded fashion was very different from the sense of event that surrounds it now. It was much more like a cult band inspiring this incredible devotion. The crowd would be full of drag queens and cult rock stars and things.”

Marian McEvoy, European fashion editor at Women’s Wear Daily, 1975-90: “When he first began, like so many designers, he wasn’t rolling in the big bucks, so he would give out favors. His Christmas presents were really unusual. One of his first collections, he gave all the people in the audience very large, metallic bracelets that were actually tin cans. It was so funny. We were all wearing this tin can for about a week.”

Ken Downing, fashion director of Neiman Marcus: “The theater and the drama always made those Gaultier shows. I liked the show where there were bales of hay everywhere. And the models came out with hay in their hair. And as they were traversing through all of it, the dust from the hay was kicking up and we were all getting a little weepy and not because the fashion was so moving but because our eyes were filling with dust from the straw. It was one of those moments.”

Simon Doonan, creative ambassador, Barneys New York: “If you look at his old shows, they were often about 45 minutes long, which today is unthinkable. You have eight minutes of choreographed efficiency today. People would be terrified to have a show run for that length. I can still remember going to Gaultier shows, with incense and clanging bells and people laughing. It was a completely different atmosphere to the shows today, which are very militaristic.”

Michelle Stein, president, Aeffe USA (Aeffe held the Jean Paul Gaultier license from 1994 to 2012): “I was always just breathless at the end of every show and hoping that everyone in the audience was as excited as I was, which was not always the case. When People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) stormed the runway [at the fall 2003 show], the people at Gaultier were prepared! The security was out with these massive fur coats, and they jumped up on the runway and wrapped these people in the fur coats and off the runway! Oh my god, it was crazy.”

The Clothes

Thierry-Maxime Loriot: “When you see Gaultier clothes, you don’t even need to look at the label. You just recognize it immediately.”

Marian McEvoy: “There was a real rapport with the streets, right from the very beginning. I think that’s where he gleaned a lot of his ideas, straight from the street, not an idea or a travelogue.”

Simon Doonan: “Years ago, Madonna loaned us at Barneys the pointy-bra, gold ‘Blonde Ambition’ corset. It was the most beautifully made thing I’ve ever seen in my life. It took us hours to unlace it and get it onto a mannequin. It was a piece of exquisite craftsmanship.”

Linda Fargo, senior vice president, Bergdorf Goodman: “That cone bra? That’s something he started as a boy. There was a teddy bear that he had and he actually made, out of paper or something, on his teddy bear. What was he, 5 or 6? And he was already dreaming about a cone bra on a bear.”

The Man

Marian McEvoy: “He had a wonderful sense of playfulness, humor was a big part of his look and his style. But he was clearly a very solid fashion designer. It was highly unusual. I guess if you think that his contemporaries at that moment were people like Thierry Mugler and Claude Montana — let’s just say they took themselves much more seriously.”

Coco Rocha, model: “He was one who treated models like human beings. I know that sounds ridiculous, but sometimes you go to castings and they don’t know your name, you’re just there to wear the clothes. Gaultier, you will go to his atelier and he has food and he wants to sit down with you. He even took me out to his rooftop to watch the sunset. He takes time with his models and let’s them know what the whole show is about. We feel more creative. You want to do good for him. You don’t want to just walk down the runway.”

The Provocateur

Hamish Bowles, Vogue’s international editor at large, who as the 25-year-old fashion director of Harpers & Queen, walked the runway in Mr. Gaultier’s fall 1989 show, after a chance encounter a few months earlier in Riccione, Italy, where the collection was being produced: “Jean Paul had a party bus for his team and one night we went from mega disco to mega disco, which was cheesy fun. Very late, that tipsy night, his general factotum and press guy Lionel Vermeil said to me, ‘Jean Paul has been thinking that he’d really like you to be in his next women’s show … would you consider it?’ Naturally, I was thrilled beyond and immediately said, ‘Yes, yes, yes,’ at which point Lionel added, ‘The show is inspired by ’20s Weimar lesbians.’

“I hadn’t told a soul and there was only a very slow realization in the audience that it was me — largely I think because on my first exit I really camped it up doing exaggerated ‘Paris is Burning’ runway moves (which happily have been eviscerated from the only YouTube video I could find), whilst everyone else had got the dour Weimar brief and came stomping out looking surly. So there was no mistaking me. Before I went out a second time, Jean Paul instructed me to tone down the moves, which was just as well as the pants under my kilt had been taken out too much after the fitting and started sliding down my then snake-like hips in mid shimmy — so my statelier gait helped avoid an international incident as one hand on hip was effectively keeping the pants up. I don’t think anyone could believe that I’d actually done it but it was all part of JPG’s revolutionary gender-bender antics.”

His Legacy

Michelle Stein: “The whole industry has changed so much since Jean Paul began, but he’s just one of the best designers who have ever lived. It’s so sad to think that the general public will no longer have the opportunity to see the ready to wear, nor to wear it. I still go into my closet and my favorite pieces in my wardrobe are Jean Paul Gaultier.”

Thierry-Maxime Loriot: “When you see who was assisting him, from Martin Margiela to Nicolas Ghesquière to Peter Dundas, who have all been Gaultier’s assistants, you really see in their work how they’ve been influenced by him. He left a big print in the fashion industry.”

Linda Fargo: “For me, Jean Paul Gaultier was part of my awakening in fashion. There’s a handful of designers that did that for me.”

Coco Rocha: Gaultier, along with Steven Meisel, made my career. Meisel was the one who found me, scouted me, made me. Gaultier? He made me Irish dance down the runway in 2007. Every day I’m reminded by someone who says, ‘You were the girl that Irish-danced down Gaultier’s runway.’ People remember that.”

Simon Doonan: “Often fashion today feels a little bit abstract. You look at these very expensive, complicated collections that are shown by high-level designers and you think, ‘I wonder who’s going to wear that.’ With Gaultier, the models were wearing it, the editors were wearing it, and the general public was wearing it — or wearing some version of it that was mass-produced.”

Tim Blanks: “I think there was a sense for a very long time that JPG would be the heir to Yves Saint Laurent, that he was the standard-bearer for French fashion at its purest. It was so obvious that Gaultier should be the designer at Dior. Galliano got the job and I remember people were quite surprised by that.”

Stefano Tonchi, editor of W magazine: “I think he invented streetwear in prêt-à-porter. He brought it there. Now, really, it doesn’t quite exist anymore. Prêt-à-porter is couture. The prices, the look, the things that you see at prêt-à-porter collections are really couture. It’s like beautiful couture pieces made in multiples.”

Anna Wintour, editor in chief of American Vogue and artistic director of Condé Nast: “He’s always been a showman. I do think that recently his whole emphasis has been much more on the couture and having fun with the couture. I don’t think we’re going to lose that Gaultier moment.”


Todd Oldham & Simon Doonan on Mutual Design Hero Alexander Girard

Alexander Girard was something of a Renaissance man in the world of mid-century modernism—his oeuvre spans everything from textiles to architecture to typography to interior design to the iconic rebranding of Braniff Airlines. In fact, the sheer volume of his output has so far precluded any one book from covering the entire breadth of his talents—until now. It took 15 pounds, 672 pages and one very talented bookbinder, but Todd Oldham has managed to put together the definitive monograph on the epically prolific designer.

This bathroom is home to none other that the amazingly stylish pair of Simon Doonan and Jonathan Adler.

Who else would have an Hermès orange bathroom with a vintage Hermès gold sign above the toilet?

Plus the gold valet in the shower is an inspired idea for any man with a large bathroom.

This look is easily attainable.  A neutral colored bathroom all around (tile, floor, walls, shower) is acted with one color (orange) and gold accents on all the plumbing.  Who would have thought that exposed pipes (check the top of the walls) would be so chic?

The black painted ceiling is the perfect topper.

And having a shelf in the bathroom is great for reading materials and other beautiful objects.