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Interview: Simon Doonan Does San Francisco

Author and Barneys New York Creative Ambassador, Simon Doonan

Fashion legend, author and Barneys New York Creative Ambassador, Simon Doonan swooshed into the Bay for a signing of his new book, The Asylum. 7x7 sat down with him for an exclusive chat about fashion as refuge for the insane and the sparkling technology at the de Young's Bulgari exhibit.<--break->

Will you tell us how you came to write this book?

I am so ancient that I thought it was time to start scribbling down my fashion memories before I start heading for Geritol village, if you know what I'm sayin'.

Also, I have been involved in fashion for almost four decades. It has now become this hilarious global spectator sport, and I have seen so many hilarious things and met so many precious and fabulous fashion people
that I felt compelled to share.

What are some of your favorite anecdotes from the book?

Tom Ford gave me a wedgie. Not many people can make that claim.
I also have a brutal cruel story about auditioning for The Devil Wears Prada which I needed to broadcast to the world. As you are aware, I did not get the part.


Did you ever think you would have this whole other career as an author?

When I was eleven years old I failed the test to get into the
grammar school I assumed I would end up working as a fluffer in a strip club. Nobody was more surprised than me when my writing career took off.

What are you doing while in SF?

I zipped off to the de Young to see the Bulgari exhibit. Highly recommended. The special effects are very trippy. I always love to check out the amazing 70's Hyatt Regency. This is a phenomenal piece of brutalist architecture. I wish Andre Balazs or Ian Schrager would take It over and make it groovy. No offence to the current owner!

Where are you staying?

Jonny (husband Jonathan Adler) have a fab corner room at the Vitale with an insane view of the Bay Bridge. I am mesmerized by the groovy light show at night.

Where are you eating?

I love to eat at Boulette's Larder. The proprietresses, Lori and Amaryll, are friends of mine and Jonny's. They just opened up a groovy joint next door called Boulibar. J'adore the pizza with figs. It's important to eat figs while travelling.

It's fashion month, are there any shows you have your eagle eye on?

Alexander Wang is a genius. We share a passion for Bon Qui Qui. He
is doing a splendid job at Balenciaga.

In your decades of experience in fashion and retails, what is the
true measure of fashion talent? 

In my new role as Creative Ambassador, I regularly host events in the stores. I love to see what happens when customers finally get to interact with the clothing. That's when you find out who is really a genius. Years ago we did a Lanvin show in LA with Alber Elbaz. We used local models...eek! ...but Alber's amazing clothes transformed every gal into a left bank fashion sophisticate. Transformation! That's what great fashion is all about.