The New Potato

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Simon Doonan

Creative Ambassador to Barneys New York, Part 1

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It’s hard to imagine waking up in the morning at your absolute favorite store in the world. For Simon Doonan, Creative Ambassador to Barneys New York, that fantasy can be a reality. We here at The New Potato insisted on being locked in Barneys with Doonan for the day, because is there really a better way to kick off New York Fashion week? Today also marks the release of Doonan’s new book, The Asylum, a collection of essays reminiscing on his adventures in couture. It’s really not a question whether or not the delightfully light, quick-witted and style-saavy Doonan was made for the fashion industry. During our Barneys lockdown, whether he was waking up with Assouline’s latest coffee table book in the home section, pillaging every possible bag and pair of sunglasses on the first floor, sneaking in a quick nap under a Burberry raincoat, or grabbing a quick breakfast at Fred’s, Doonan seemed born-to-be-living-at-Barneys (can we make that a bumper sticker?). Enjoy the first half of our day – and our interview with Doonan – and stay tuned for the second half tomorrow…

From start to finish, what would be your ideal food day?

I am old-school health food nut. For breakfast I eat like a rabbit – lots of grain and fruit. Lunch at Fred’s; the seasonal salad is always scrumptious. In the evening my husband Jonathan Adler and I often zip round the corner to Il Cantinori on tenth street for a little salad and a little fish. Sometimes we freak out and go to Amarino, the gelato shop on our block and pretend we are in Italy.

How would you describe your personal style?

I would describe it as “neo-mod eccentric”.  I am like a preppier version of Austin Powers – lots of color. Think London in the mid 1960’s.

Where do you draw inspiration from?

I like good taste, bad taste and high and low. Sometimes ugly is the new pretty. The best style ideas are seen waiting for the A train in New York City.

Where do you travel for inspiration? 

I get creative inspiration just walking my dog. Inspiration can come unexpectedly. I just went to Scottsdale and visited the Paolo Soleri bell-making foundry. He used to work with Frank Lloyd Wright. It was an old-school hippie counter-culture vibe. Very inspiring.

What won’t you travel without?

I prefer to travel with Jonathan Adler and my Goyard manbag.

How have the fashion and design industries changed since you first started?

Fashion used to be a tiny universe of teensy shows and few people. Now it has become a global spectator sport. It is like a huge Mardi Gras which never seems to end. I love it.

If you were to sum up the Barneys brand in just a few words, what would you say? 

Barneys is about taste, surprise, luxury and wit. It is not conventional. There is always a creative twist.

You worked with Diana Vreeland at The Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. How did she change the MET’s approach to fashion? Are they continuing what she built today? 

Diana Vreeland made the MET less dry and academic. She got people excited about history and style. I feel that Andrew [Bolton] and Harold [Koda] are continuing the tradition.

What was your most memorable experience with her? 

She was always so beautifully dressed. And yes, she always had rouge on her ears, and big rosette ribbons on her shoes. A real eccentric.

Do you remember any favorite foods of hers?

She liked to eat very basic unpretentious food. Nothing contrived. Swedish meatballs were high up on her list.

*For Part 2 of Simon’s Story, Click Here

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Fornasetti Pillow, Kate: The Kate Moss Book, Lichtenstein Beach Towel

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Oliver Peoples Sunglasses

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Paul Smith Shirt, Prada Tie [In Store Only], Prada Belt [In Store Only], Naked and Famous Jeans, Adidas Sneakers

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Goyard Luggage [In Store Only]

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Tom Ford Sunglasses (top), Bottega Veneta Sunglasses

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From left: Marni Shopping Bag, Proenza Schouler PS1 Pouch, Balenciaga Bag, Delvaux Bag, Proenza Schouler P.S1 Bag

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Assorted Ties

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Ermenegildo Zegna Large Medallion Tie

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Prada T-Strap Sandals, Christian Louboutin Loafers, Chanel Flats [In Store Only], Gianvito Rossi Black and White Pump, Christian Louboutin Booties, Balenciaga Ankle Boot, Yves Saint Laurent Sandals

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Giuseppe Zanotti Suede Sneakers, Giuseppe Zanotti Black Sneakers

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Rimowa Luggage

*For Part 2 of Simon’s Story, Click Here

*SHOP THIS STORY NOW

*Simon Doonan, photographed in Barneys New York by Danielle Kosann

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