In the fashion industry Simon Doonan, creative ambassador for Barneys New York, tells it as it is. Prolific and brilliant writer, author of several books and former columnist for the New York Observer, Simon Doonan never runs out of fun, informative and hilarious tales; giving us a glimpse into his colorful life in fashion and retail with his real-life stories of “glamorous madness and stylish insanity.”
Luckily Simon hasn’t put the pen down yet. His romantic comedy memoir, The Asylum, will be on sale from next Tuesday. The book is not only a celebrate of the quirks of the fashion business, but also almost a love letter to the industry.
A few days ago Amy Wicks from Glamour spoke to Simon on a wide-range of fashion-related topics, from what he really thinks about fashion trends to his love of street style and his advice on how to get a career in fashion. Here is what Simon says…
On Trends: I would tell shoppers not to worry about the zeitgeist. For example, 10 years ago leopard print was actually a trend. It was seen on the runway from designers such as Lanvin. Since then, it has just stayed around. I wouldn’t say it’s a trend again today. I would say the emphasis has shifted to the individual and it isn’t so much about following trends. It’s a great time for self expression.
On the Current State of Fashion: The fashion world has become this big soup of things that go into it but things don’t really go out. Just find a look you love and go with it. Maybe it’s Western, or a sexy secretary or goth. The great thing is, stores have all of this.
On Street Style: I love street style. Clothes at shows have become somewhat repetitive and there aren’t bursts of change. So, it’s kind of fun to have a Mardi Gras scene outside the shows. It’s a welcome bit of entertainment! I’m hugely grateful for it.
On Working For the Legendary Diana Vreeland: She was a very validating person. You would think she was conventional, working at such large magazines, but she was the opposite. She was the patron saint of creativity and taught me that it’s absolutely necessary to be unconventional. It’s the foundation of fashion for me.
On How to Break Into The Fashion Biz: My advice is to get a job in retail. Some people think you have to work for a major magazine or big designer like Alber Elbaz [at Lanvin] but there are a million ways to get involved in fashion. I started at a local department store in a rinky dink town outside London. I started on the sales floor, and then got into display. Later, advertising and marketing and special events. Retail can give you an incredible career. There’s nothing wrong with starting as a shop girl.