Note: The following is the output of transcribing from an audio recording. Although the transcription is largely accurate, in some cases it is incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors. It is posted as an aid to understanding the proceedings at the meeting, but should not be treated as an authoritative record.
Mindy Cohn 00:00
Hi everyone and welcome back to Monday's with Mindy. Hi Christian. I'm indeed Welcome back everybody. Today's episode features a conversation with my friend a writer, media personality a bombed Yvonne and famed window designer of Barneys New York. May it rest in peace. Simon Doonan. Oh, I'm just tickled. He said yes, Christian. Simon hails from Redding England and after completing University headed to London and dressed windows at netters of Savile Row, invited to dress the windows of the infamous Maxfield here in Los Angeles, Simon move stateside in 1978. He then joined Barneys New York staff and moved east in 1986. In addition to his remarkable work, breathtaking work at Barneys wrote a column on style for slate and also for the New York Observer. He still contributes to what he calls random scribblings for The Daily Beast, Harper's Bazaar glamour and his regular column for slate entitled notes from the fashion apocalypse Simon is one every fashion award on Earth, including the coveted and amazing CFDA award. In 2009. He was invited by President and Mrs. Obama to decorate the White House for the holidays. Simon is always writing something he is quite prolific and has authored over nine titles including why eautiful people, gay men don't get fat, etc. eccentric glamour, asylum, soccer style, the magic and madness, dread the complete story and his most recent How to Be yourself life changing advice from a reckless, contrarian, a TV comedy series based on beautiful people aired here and across the pond. Simon has also appeared on Late Night with Conan O'Brien, America's Next Top Model VH one Bravo and of course, Gossip Girl Mm hmm. He's about to start shooting season three of NBC making it where he is a judge alongside Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman Simon and his husband ceramist design and designer Jonathan Adler and the rescue dog Foxy divide their time between their fabulous homes in Manhattan and Shelter Island. I mean, can we roll out the red carpet?
Christian Brescia 02:13
We need to at the very least ladies and gentlemen. All right, so excited to welcome to the show Simon Doonan! Welcome sir!
Mindy Cohn 02:23
how are you? Thank you for having me quite well. Thank you so much sir. I get ma'am and most of the time. Especially at the airport going through security. I get ma'am all the time. I used to be Miss. And now I've got facial hair. Yes.
Simon Doonan 02:42
No, like, well, the facial hair because my dad said to me, everyone thinks you're a woman. You know, because I would get good morning Miss. Good morning, madam. And my dad actually said to me you need to grow a beard because everyone thinks you're a woman. It was the only advice he's ever given me. And I still get Good morning Madam even with well,
Mindy Cohn 02:59
because you know, newsflash, as you age as a female I have full billy goat. So not helping you, my darling. So welcome to my preciousness as we do we start each episode. Do you recognize this
Simon Doonan 03:16
little Yes, thank you for your patronage.
Mindy Cohn 03:19
You're welcome. Krishna and I came up with 20 questions we asked five randomly and then we do a deep dive into creative process. And all things religious, like that deed where you grew up, or who you grew up with, helped develop your creative aesthetic 100% like I grew up in a very chaotic, unconventional household with a lot of
interesting characters, some of whom was quite severely mentally ill like my schizophrenia grandmother and my uncle who also had issues I could go on but yes, but um, I realized in retrospect, that that's 100% why I then approach everything else in an unconventional way looking for new ways to do things, which you know, I went into retail, which is particular which is relatively conventional, but I approached everything I was doing. Like other people had tidy windows, I did messy windows. So I felt very sort of marginal but it actually had a big impact on my creativity I do you approach your work our way I'm sure
Mindy Cohn 04:28
all the time as much as I can. I mean, I'm a pretty conventional girl and yet inside lives a flaming punk rocker I mean, people people don't believe me, but really, I I am a punk with a face like a 90 year old Bobby. I don't know. What do you splurge on Simon
Simon Doonan 04:48
I splurge on Gucci Gucci.
I still have that addiction that I had in the 60s too. Gotta have something new. You know, gotta have like, um, it doesn't matter if it's cheap or whatever just I like to buy clothes. I don't buy a lot. I just buy if I see something I want and I snag it.
Mindy Cohn 05:13
Yes, I too am kind of obsessed with goods. I just like goods.
You person I knew to take the word goods and use it. Like people used to say items. He has the items to like those old fashioned advertising words, items goods. You weren't you and re popularized goods single.
Mindy Cohn 05:37
Oh my gosh, Why thank you. I hope I hope to reinvigorate pocketbook as well. trendsetters that I am, um, do you have a hidden talent that you want to share?
Let me think what are my talents? I used to sell my own clothes. I can draw fairly reasonably to communicate ideas. Um, let's see.
Mindy Cohn 06:03
I don't think I've ever seen your drawings or
nothing worth writing home about. But
I'm quite sporty. I think that would surprise. You. Really? Oh, very. I'm Trey sportif. I have a great shot. I can hit a rock with a stone from miles away. And Bravo. I love sports. I watch nonstop European soccer games. I wrote a book about soccer. So I am an enigma. I'm a city of contrasts.
Mindy Cohn 06:33
Well, I do have to say. I do have to say when you told me I thought you were joking at first. I mean, the soccer book is relatively new ish. I'm not your most recent as we'll get into, but I was shocked. I thought you were being cheeky, but you actually are a true fan.
I think I bought this jacket because Marcus rashford, who plays for men united had one and I thought, Okay, he's 19. He's six foot three. He's gorgeous. But I could still have the same jacket even though I'm Ruth Gordon. You know,
Mindy Cohn 07:06
you oh my gosh, and you just made like my reference. So this is why I'm madly in love with you. Okay, whatever. Um, what is the best advice you've been given? And who gave it? Should memory serve?
Simon Doonan 07:20
Never give or asked for advice.
I think that's pretty good advice. Um, let me think that's not very helpful. Simon.
Mindy Cohn 07:30
You don't have to be helpful. Just know.
Um, show up. 10 minutes early and leave 10 minutes late. You know, basic, nice, very useful. Oh, no, the end get your lashes on. And you'll just be a little more ahead of the game. The person rushing into the room always is the one who's just, you know, yes. sweating. Yes. Thank you.
Mindy Cohn 07:56
Yes. Last question. Um, it's if you could have dinner with anyone and sit across from them and have a conversation. who would it be? It would be you Geraldine page. Carla. Cloris Leachman and Ruth Gordon, actually, since obviously, we'd have to get in a time machine. First of all, I literally could have a little proper weed right now. This is why I have fallen head over heels in love with Simon Doonan since we've met, because he remembers everything that I say those are my three mentors. By the way. Wouldn't that be phenomenal? I have to tell you, especially in this time of being alone. During the day I have thought so much of Jerry and how she would what she would be doing during this time. How she would how she would feel her days. So she was not good at being alone. Oh, I like to have a dinner. I'd like to have a dinner. Oh my gosh, that touched my heart so much. Oh my gosh. So there we go. Oh, we know everything we have to know about you through my our fabulous question. She was I think she's
under I'm glad you sort of always carry the flag for her because she's kind of underappreciated, but so incredible interiors, can we talk?
Mindy Cohn 09:10
I mean, how many other people not just actors are sort of just like 20 or 30 decades in so forgotten. It's hard. It's heartbreaking. Yes. She is incredible. Yeah, carriers. it's maddening.
There's that one movie where she's a post office employee and they come to New York for a conference. And like fail is sweet, lovely.
title. It's very hard to remember. Dear my heart.
Mindy Cohn 09:41
Oh my gosh, I can't believe you pulled that out. I'm like what is no no, I it was
That's every poignant sophisticated movie.
Mindy Cohn 09:54
Yes. But by the way, aspirational that she didn't win her Oscars till she was in her herself. bindeez so I have time. Um, by the way, if you were to have a theme song right now, what would it be?
Mindy Cohn 10:11
Yeah, Think for a moment on that.
Something Rianna, you know, I love shut up and drive or something like that.
Mindy Cohn 10:21
That feels very apropos.
Yeah, she's, um, no, I love her toughness. And somebody said to her, you're such a role model. And she said, Oh, I'm not a role model, honey. And I think she had, you know, a blonde tone ago at the time. Yeah, geez. Um, this is a toughness that I love. And she's just incredible.
Mindy Cohn 10:41
So besides Rianna, who is inspiring you right now, who was your current obsession,
while I'm reading this book, and it's the memoirs of Jane Birkin, her journal and diary that she kept when she was married to john Barry, the composer. Yes, Goldfinger and all those songs. Oh, yes. She left him because he was kind of gnarly for Gainsbourg. So the search gains book so then while I'm reading this book, I'm listening to search on my
Mindy Cohn 11:13
oh my gosh, how dreamy?
Yes. For me right now his songs is so mental.
Mindy Cohn 11:20
Well, and her life is so inspirational.
Talk about It's crazy. Like she has the life I thought I should have like, one minute. I'm dancing at the ad lib with Roman Polanski next week. I'm lenzing with Romy Schneider and Elena law, and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, like, and then she beats Antonioni. And he puts her in a movie with David Hemmings. That was the I thought that was, you know,
Mindy Cohn 11:45
well, it's the definition of serendipitous. Truly, yeah, when it was one of those lives that you just go, you can write it truly
totals. Yeah, I heard that Bosket everywhere, you know, with stuff falling out of it. And the guy who owned our mess or her on a plane struggling with this basket. And he does when he made the Birkin bag where she says that they never gave her one which is I think, I don't know.
Mindy Cohn 12:11
Do you believe that though? I think she had one to believe. Really hard to believe. Yeah.
Yeah. They got Laurie post?
Mindy Cohn 12:20
Yes. So yeah, right. Um,
the monkey diaries. And it's so just for your listeners, monkey diaries, because she had this soft toy, like a little teddy bear thing that she called monkey, and she would talk to it and blah, blah, blah.
Mindy Cohn 12:38
Thank you for that lesson to Simon. Show Notes for all of our listeners, too. Yes, of course. Um, so you know, I I don't know if you know this. So Christian. And I kind of created this out of Miss. The only thing that was really missing for me emotionally, during these last five months was connecting with other creatives. It's how I get my juice. And so we wanted to talk to the ones that I love and adore and admire. So having said that, I know that sounds really lofty, but your creative process, as you define that, what is it? How do you get inspired? What do you do? Do you sit at your desk every day, I want from the mundane to the ridiculous of how you would define your creative process,
what my creative process is, what is very sort of programmatic because the great thing about designing Windows is that they change all the time, you have to keep coming up with ideas. And like when I started and display windows often change every week. So you really have to have your shit together. And then, you know, cause that Yeah, when I worked at maxvill, I just like hundreds and hundreds of Windows because they were changing all the time. So you had to have your ducks in a row. And the result was some of the windows that just appalling. I look at all peoples of Windows. I did and I think how did I get my green card based on this? Then then others are just really great. And you know, yeah, oh, yeah, that was directional that hit so it's very prolific. You're it's like paper towels. You're tearing them off throwing them out. So it stops you getting too constipated. You don't get too attached to anything. You don't get too anal retentive about anything. So it was a good training for you know, you sometimes Barney's we would work really hard on a particular idea huge paper marchais head of Liberace also put it in the window and you'd go outside to look and check letting people be like that was so awful. Like you get immediate brutal feedback. So yeah, become a newer to what other people think you just you focus on what you think. And so it's a very good, you know, multi decade training, doing windows to just keep it loose. Keep You keep coming up with ideas always have a folder of extra ideas. And I always did that with my writing when I segwayed into REITs. It was like 48 or something. I kept the same kind of easy breezy, try it, see how it works? If it's crappy ditches, you know, so I never got that. I'm paying that. I see some people I know who right and they get really in a cul de sac evag and everything. And I never had that. I was always well,
Mindy Cohn 15:29
you brought to the writing, it sounds like the same kind of temperament and discipline that you did with the because you are prolific. I mean, you are always writing something or researching something, I find it really admirable. I'm a little envious of it. I have to say, I just don't have the bandwidth to do that copious amount of research that you do. And then you are unceasingly you're constantly writing. Am I wrong? I'm Barbara
Mindy Cohn 15:59
fix it. Take them to my secretary. While I'm wearing an osprey feather hat. I actually do think Johnny said to me what Hang on. So you've got one coming out this October, or in January. And like Barbara car, they just Proud Mary rolling. Because I I'm there I had a corporate job for all those decades, I was used to getting up at five going to the gym being at work by 830. I did that for years and then leaving at nine because that's when the downtown store closed. So I was very used to being busy. So when I didn't have that anymore. I put all that energy into writing. So I'm always noodling around with ideas on my computer. And I do enjoy it. I don't get blogs. And my husband's a very good editor. I've had very good editors for the different books I've done. And they if they say something's like, yeah, then I don't care. I have no ego about it. So but they are your topics are
Mindy Cohn 17:01
so varied. I mean, so that's, I guess where my curiosity comes from. I mean, I just walking along and boom, I must attack soccer.
Oh, yes. Well, I think you're like that, too. You're interested in many different things. I met you in a NASCAR meet. Hello. So you and I the weirdest thing in the world.
Mindy Cohn 17:24
Picture either view at a mass but honestly, Christian, one of the best days of my life because it was so cool to talk about contrary to everything that I am or what I want to be about, hey, it was a kick in the pants. I would agree. Anyway, back to you about that, though. I mean, yes, I am like that. But I also don't have the discipline or the constitution really, to just sit there and really just the work ethic, probably where does that come from? Were you born with that kind of work ethic?
I think because I'm an immigrant. And I always thought if I don't get together and work and produce I who's going to pay my bills, nobody. So I had that working class thing. You know, when I was 16, I got a job in a bottle top factory. My mom was like, Hello, I've scored you a job at the ballpark actually, like it was at Vogue or something. You know, how kids, their parents pull some strings and get them into NBC or something. My mother posted strings and got me into the bottle top factory. So I was always like, she's, she was like, men are supposed to provide very old fashioned, so nice.
Mindy Cohn 18:33
But still, at some point, you had something in you that that I mean, you went into fashion. And you were you ended up in Seville row. I mean, that's not that's not not there. But
I was always kind of in retail, which is, you know, a great casual. I feel bad for kids now because retail used to be a great place to hang while you figured out something else. Or a great great place to work really hard and claw your way to the middle. So now I I can't make that recommendation to people because retail is sort of in a state of collapse. I think a lot
Mindy Cohn 19:11
of will with Rosen Sachs right? There is no way for a girl to have a career like that or a boy
when lt mango when she lost everything. Macy's roller skates selling roller skates and Macy's. So it was always a great safety net. Like you could look nice, it's you're busy all day if you're lucky. And it's like a reasonably bearable, tolerable place to be and then there's opportunities very hierarchical. So I started off as a trimmer then you could become a senior trimmer then you could become a manager then you know it was great. Like I think the movie industry was probably like that the grips and the yes quite high rock when you can sing
Mindy Cohn 19:52
a DS and become directors and yes, I mean it was to grow to grow in the industry that you love. Yeah, no More, or I don't even know the equivalent now of what someone would do like that.
Well, when people ask me for advice a lot, so I had to pivot when retail, you know, retail, is there a big opportunity when they're all closing? So I said to them, well, now I think there are certain aspects of your presentation that you can really control. Now you can no matter who you are, where you are, or what you, you can always be enthusiastic. It goes a long way, being just being optimistic and enthusiastic. And even if you are deeply pessimistic posts and fake it, yes, something you can fake. So was the show, honestly,
Mindy Cohn 20:43
it's a lot start truly, it's a lot start with this, just terminal honesty that everyone has about how they're feeling is just so uninteresting, you know, just put a smile on it. What Yeah, sometimes
really, people now they're entering the workplace, and they're going to be they're going to be competing for these entry level jobs. And if you're the kid who's very optimistic without seeming insane, yes, I'm very enthusiastic. I think those that can give you an edge, even if you're not, you know, as Dean ally increases, you can be optimistic and enthusiastic. And also learn about the company you're interviewing for. So instead of telling them how incredible you are, and you flew in from another planet of superiority and gorgeousness tell that why I was wanting to work at frederick's of hollywood, or whatever the company is, right? Why and I'm fascination. This is my dream. What you guys do is incredible. So those things, those are my advice. Now, I don't give the retail advice anymore because it seems a bit like a, you know, a bit tone deaf to give that advice now.
Mindy Cohn 22:00
Yes, I think it's I think it's radical at this point, truly and needed and needed. So what do you do for fun? What do you do to unplug from this schedule that you so diligently follow? Well on lockdown, yes. What have you been doing?
We're out in Shelter Island and I do some writing some work and then I go for a bike ride a paddleboard walking like we're right on Peconic Bay, so I can plop my paddleboard in and just go sailing off and look at the Ospreys hunting in the water and with the seals not on even like it's some it's like a paradise so I'm not no complaints for me about lockdown where right we're sort of sequestered in this house where we always wanted to spend more time we're always Sunday night after she left back to the city that we here since March so
Mindy Cohn 22:55
yeah, has there is there any moves to go back into the city anytime soon?
We'll see. You know,
Mindy Cohn 23:01
yes. All right. Well, I'll catch you there and you're coming through what you're coming West. I am going to work here gratefully got employed and doing a feature we start work September 17. Hello, hello. So by the time this episode launches, I will probably be finished in in New York having a visit in October and then you're coming west to do third season. No.
Apparently Yes. So very excited about that before that my book launches Should I know
Mindy Cohn 23:36
would you hold it up cuz I wanted to talk about that. I was going to wait Simon let him get the book first. Simon there's a surprise and you're walking away.
I'm so unprofessional
Mindy Cohn 23:48
no So wait, wait put down for one moment. This episode of Monday's with Mindy is sponsored by Simon dunes newest book just released How to Be yourself life changing advice from a reckless contrary and available wherever fine books are sold in person and online. disenchanted with social media distracts us from the present moment. Simon implores us to put down our phones and thoughtfully reconnect with ourselves. He walks us through every aspect of our lives from how to dress how we socialize love work, decorate our homes and interact with our family. In the words of Amy Poehler assignments book is quote, a cheeky kind and vibrant look at what it takes to shape your one beautiful and wildlife. So pick up a copy we will have links to it on Mondays with Mindy calm so you can grab a copy and read it today. Now, you wake up this morning and think you are going to be a sponsor. wake up this morning and think I'm gonna sponsor something today.
Oh my god that was like Cal Worthington and his dog spot
Mindy Cohn 24:48
by Ford Baba buck. Now hold up the book. show everybody what a beautiful book looks. Yes. It's I'm so excited to get my copy. Love it. Love it. Yeah, very excited. Yes, darling. So also by the time this episode launches, the book will be out, we will make sure of that. So we'll be all Quran. Having said that, so did you get you got a green light from NBC that you're coming west to shoot season three, they're going, whatever you're going to have to go through. Yeah, you guys are going to do it
alleged, you know, apparently October obviously these things get revised these days but it seems like we're on for October to shoot season three. So
Mindy Cohn 25:26
I think you will things have these things have ramped up and started which is very exciting. Um, we're all kind of thrilled on this coast. Yeah,
yeah, the energy is back in the department and it's about porta potties face shields. It's all happening.
Mindy Cohn 25:43
Doing your own makeup, there is no such thing as touch ups. So that was a little bit of a horror show. For me. I'm like, What? Oh my gosh, I need a professional.
Your makeup looks incredible. It looks really good. How long did it
Mindy Cohn 25:54
take? Now this is two minutes because this is actually just really good skincare and good jeans from granny rose. But thank you.
Oh, to granny rose. Cheers. Cheers. Oh my gosh,
Mindy Cohn 26:04
cheers. I'm actually gonna drink to that. So not too bit a downer on this delightful conversation. But I also think what I like to hear about is sort of inspiration, especially during this time, when I've had some blue periods, just like Picasso, give me one or two, what you would classify as a failure, or we can put in another word for that. That happened to you that actually turned out to be a good thing, or a better thing.
Um, I've had lots of those like,
Mindy Cohn 26:37
I think I may have not,
well, you really? Oh, yeah, especially window things that would just didn't work. And you have to pull them out and blah, blah, blah. And then when I did my book, beautiful people, it was a titled nasty concept was the Oh, you only remember all the really horrible things. That was my thesis at the time. Like, it's hard to remember when you're running through a field of daisies with the butterfly net, and all that white broidery on gelei, you just really don't remember that. But if you try to dog poo in new shoes, you know, yours remote, you'll never forget. So that that was the thesis. So it was cold, nasty, but it was a series of recollections that would jarring, jarring recollections. And so I was, I thought this book's quite good. And people said to me, it's really good and dirted editor, and then it just was like, it was trash. It didn't do anything. And then john Plowman who Yes, it'll Britain, AB fab. shows, he called me up and said, I just read your book. And it's so great. And I want to make a TV show out of it. So I'm amazing. Okay, and it was called beautiful people. And he changed the title and then I changed the title of the book and it got re published. But you know, what I learned from that was how, you know, I was I was crushed by being like a complete fizzle. And because it was about me, you know, so it felt very brave, like, and the Times wrote something about it being foppish superficial. So I wrote a whole column about how great it was to be foppish and superficial, like spend my whole life. Being foppish and superficial. I think I interviewed Mickey, Michael Musto, boy, George, oh, my God, I love why they love being fat fishes, I sort of turned the tables on the old green lady on that. This was obviously still making lemonade out of making lemonade out of lemons, and then the john plum and things. So even if that hadn't happened, I would still have regarded it as a learning experience. Because if you put yourself out there, you have to learn to deal with that kind of budding
Mindy Cohn 29:04
You do have the pick your help yourself up by your bootstraps mentality that is sort of never left you even with all of your success and praise and awards and all of that.
Um, yeah, I think so. I'm pretty resilient. Like, you are. Yeah, like, you know, Barney's close this year. And that was kind of painful. I've been this nature. 35 It's like, um, yeah, 35 years or something. So it was painful. But then, you know, kind of life goes on. And you I'm very glad I was there when I was there. During this sort of peak of, especially the 90s was amazing jump. Oh, yes, Elia, Yohji Yamamoto, Romeo Jie Li, la qua, sweetie la quar. You know, they might say records. So you know, I think oh, well it was amazing run and I think I'm a stay or a couple We still be in the bottleshop factory if somebody hadn't kicked me in. So, um, you know, forced me to rethink everything. And of course, I feel bad for all my colleagues who lost their jobs. And
Mindy Cohn 30:13
yes, we were talking about that, you know, it's like I think about the 55, four year old woman who's been there for 30 years as well, who's living paycheck to paycheck? Where does she go?
Mindy Cohn 30:26
kind of when it was bad enough that it goes and then into an era where retail was essentially being
Mindy Cohn 30:36
Yes. Yes. I know. And, and at the same time, this Nordstrom store opens up on the west side, Columbus Circle, it was just sort of like it's so random, and apparently it's doing I mean, it's, it's
so I mean, they plan to open it up when they did they plan it three or four years ahead of time, you know, like so. Right? These things get their own momentum, and
Mary has to just figure it out.
Mindy Cohn 31:07
Well, I have to tell you, it's been one of the delights of my life, to call you a friend. And to have you in my life for the next 50 years. We hope we think whatever. And thank you so much. I enjoy
you. You are a force for good in the world. You are a life enhancing
force to the force of fabulosity,
Mindy Cohn 31:34
bring it, sister bring it and I cannot wait to dine with you. Come West, and I will hit you up if I go east. And you are there. And I am so excited that all of our listeners and viewers who do not know Simon, which is appalling to even think about, but you now understand why this is the most delicious, breathtakingly talented person and Run, run, run and get his new book. Thank you, my darling. Yes, all my best. And I'll see you soon. Thank you so much for joining us. Thank you, Simon for your help. Once again, to our listeners, check out money money.com there'll be links to his new book there as well as all of his past books. Other evenings as you can check him out, follow up, follow this gentleman. He's got a lot of interesting things to say great stories to tell as you've heard, and we we wish you the best Simon thank you for joining us once again. Until next time, ladies and gentlemen Simon Dune.