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Simon Doonan Talks Fashion, Self-Love and The Future [Exclusive Interview]

Jan 12, 2016 05:20 PM EST
Simon Doonan
(Photo : Courtesy of Simon Doonan / Portrait by Michael Childers)

Simon Doonan, the illustrious, boldly outfitted, witty, legendary window dresser, and the brains behind the creative direction of department store Barneys New York, talked to design editor Meg Busacca.

With over 30 years of experience in the fashion industry, Doonan has established a significant career while managing to stay humorous and humble. Originally from The U.K., he worked as a window dresser for various stores, landing at Barneys New York in 1986. Today, Doonan holds the postition of Creative Ambassador-At-Large of the renowned store. 

He is the author of several critically acclaimed books; his latest is "The Asylum: True Tales of Madness From A Life In Fashion."

Scroll down for our good-humored interview with the notorious Simon Doonan. He shares tidbits of his childhood, his dream superpower and his favorite item of clothing and lots more...


(Photo : Courtesy of Simon Doonan)


MB: What is your first childhood memory?

SD: I vividly recall throwing my mum's brassieres out of the window. We lived on the top floor of a rooming house, so retrieving them was a major ordeal. Maybe I was trying to make a window display?

MB: Dream job when you were a child?

SD: Anything involving getting dressed up.

MB: Can you recall a favorite item of clothing?

SD: My first turtleneck blew my mind. I wanted to look like the Beatles. 

MB: What is your favorite item in your closet today?

SD: I love my Saint Laurent fringed jacket. #dennis hopper #calamity jane. 

MB: What is something everyone should have in his or her closet?

SD: A satin blouson. I still believe in glamrock.


(Photo : Courtesy of Simon Doonan)


MB: Trends or no trends?

SD: The latest trend I jumped on was New Romantic. I used to dress like a pirate. I am in the Bette Davis Eyes video

MB: Inspired by?

SD: I dig crafty people with extraordinary skills in their hands. Examples include Alaia and my potter husband.

MB: If you could have dinner with anyone, who would it be?

SD: I am a little bit scared of showbiz celebrities. I prefer sports stars. I would love to meet Pelé

MB: Favorite NYC restaurant?

SD: Saint Ambroeus

MB: Ideal vacation spot?

SD: Shelter Island with my hubbie. Or Capri. 

(Photo : Courtesy of Simon Doonan - Simon in Capri / Jonathan Skow)


MB: Your travel essentials include...?

SD: Huge glamour shades and a garish Truman Capote scarf.

MB: What does your perfect day look like?

SD: I love to spend the day with my colleagues at Barneys. After 30 years, they are my family.

MB: What superpower would you like to have?

SD: So many people seem dissatisfied with their hair. I would love to give everyone the hair that they desire.

MB: Something you love about yourself?

SD: I love being short. Even in "coach" I feel like I am in "first." 

MB: If you could tell your younger self something, what would you tell you?

SD: You are really cute.

MB: ______ keeps you happy.

SD: Playing with our dog Foxylady.

MB: Guilty pleasure?

SD: As a gay, I have worked hard not to feel guilt or shame.

(Photo : Courtesy of Simon Doonan/ Simon Doonan, husband Jonathan Adler and dog Foxy on the cover of ADWEEK)


MB: Book you never grow tired of reading?

SD: I like highbrow and lowbrow. I just reread "Scruples." It is something in between.

MB: Women should always...

SD: Feel happy and confident -- and avoid being self-critical.

MB: Men should never...

SD: Worry about looking too fashion-ey. Go for it!

MB: Favorite quote?

SD: "People who wear impressive clothes have better lives" - Vivienne Westwood. I love that she said "impressive" and not expensive. 

MB: Something most people don't know about you is...?

SD: I love soccer. I am a Chelsea fan.

MB: Your legacy is...

SD: Linda Fargo always tells me that I invented "the messy window." It's true. I was the first person to create chaotic, messed-up displays.

MB: There is too much...

SD: Wacky, noisy construction in NYC.

MB: The future is...

SD: Full of new buildings.

MB: In the end...

SD: There will be more new buildings.

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