The Real Housewives of New York City
It finally happened. No, the gaping maw of hell did not open up and swallow all these women, welcoming them back to the fiery climes from which they came. It was something close. Aspiring white woman of leisure Sonja Tremont Morgan of the Maxxinista Morgans finally debuted her local global fashion casual luxury womenswear lifestyle ready-to-wear brand collection assortment sampler. She did this during New York Fashion Week.
Now, notice that I did not say she did this at New York Fashion Week. As Kristen pointed out, Sonja Morgan was not in the tents at Lincoln Center where the most commercial brands engage in the official event known as New York Fashion Week. All of the other shows that happen at the same time happen during New York Fashion Week, as in concurrent to the shows that are a part of the official event. This does not mean that Sonja’s event is any less special. Marc Jacobs doesn’t show in the tents, and neither does Alexander Wang or Joseph Altuzarra or Thom Browne. Actually, it’s kind of not cool to be in Lincoln Center. It’s full of brands that they carry at, you know, Macy’s. Anna Wintour only goes to the tents to support her advertisers. Kanye West wouldn’t be caught dead in a tent, but that’s because of a bad experience he had at Boy Scouts and has nothing to do with Fashion Week.
Anyway, this is just one of those Housewife obfuscations, like when Countess Crackerjacks said that her daughter was going to have a piece in Art Basel but it was really just at some other tent down the street during the same week as Art Basel. Similar, but not the same. It’s like the difference between an actual nude photo of Jake Gyllenhaal and one of those very convincing mock-ups where someone with far too much time on his hands and a bootleg copy of Photoshop who most certainly is not the president of a well-respected institution like the Real Housewives Institute puts Jakeypoo’s head on the body of a porn star so that we can all imagine what it would look like.
Anyway, not everything has to be a fashion show either. As Elie Tahari showed us, some brands — either ones that are smaller or ones that show in another city, like Paris or Milan, but still want a presence in New York — have a presentation. Basically, models just stand there wearing the clothes for about 45 minutes while people mill about and look and take pictures and then go somewhere else where there is free Champagne. This is what Carole, Heather, and Kristen attended to watch Kristen’s nail polish you can buy at Ricky’s spin around on a tropical lazy Susan that looked like it was out of the opening of The NeverEnding Story. (Note to self: Remember to refer to Ramona later in the recap as the NeverEnding Sorry.)
I have no clue what the party happening before the Elie Tahari presentation was supposed to be. Was that a party for the makeup and nail plan? Was that a co-branded event with Ricky’s to promote the nail-polish brand? Was it just the stylists and makeup artists sitting in the back room eating pizza off paper plates with a bunch of Pop of Color nail polish sitting on a table in a perfect circle? I have no idea. But what I know for sure is that Kristen’s Elie Tahari black dress with the foot of mesh at the bottom was La Freak, c’est fleek. Fleek out!
That was just the messy preamble to the main mess attraction, which was Sonja Morgan’s fashion launch party. The trouble all started at the model casting, when Sonja invited Heather and Ramona to join her to cast models. They thought they were going to be helping her select the final looks for the show, but for some reason it seems like the clothes weren’t there yet. I blame that assistant with the RBF and the fur vest that every sophomore in college for the last decade bought drunkenly in the middle of the night on Asos. It seems like it’s her fault, even if she just opened up the crate of dresses, gave them her natural side-eye, and slurped the last drops of her iced coffee through a straw, and they just got up and slowly slinked out of the door just to get away from her.
The three of them are sitting there in this rented WeWork conference room, and the whole thing is just awful. It was so bad that I had to crush up a Klonopin and put it in my Cocoa Krispies just to make it through. Heather is yelling at Sonja about insulting the models to their faces, but Sonja thinks that it’s not an insult because they got this far, so if she says they’re ugly, they should take it as a compliment. I mean, Heather was right, it’s not professional to let the girls know their flaws in front of them, but I see Sonja’s point, too. She was complimenting them, just as she was telling them there was no way in hell they were getting hired. It’s like saying, “You don’t sweat much for a fat dude.” Bethenny, of course, was talking to the model, making it worse by acknowledging that all this poor model could do was stand there and take it while these three women clucked and hawed at each other and she was a powerless living mannequin dreaming about the two pieces of sushi she’s going to eat for lunch.
The whole thing was just horrendously unprofessional. It was sort of like that time that I worked delivering phone books (it was the early ’90s) and the interview happened in the ballroom of a Best Western and consisted of, “Do you have a car? Can you read?” The worst was when Sonja’s partner couldn’t answer Heather’s simple, “Who do you want to hang with?” question. Sonja said, “People ask us that all the time.” If it’s a question you get asked all the time, then just have some bullshit answer prepared for when you are inevitably asked. Do you walk into a job interview without knowing where you see yourself in five years, your biggest flaw, and five things your last boss would say about you to her therapist? At parties, I always say my favorite movie is Howard’s End, but it’s not really my favorite movie, it’s just an easy answer — a movie that everyone likes, and one that no one else is going to choose so I seem smart and discerning.
Sonja needs the same thing, and she sort of answered it when she said she was more like a “Ralph Lauren cut” to her clothes. Here, Sonja, is your answer, now and forever. “I would say we should probably hang with Ralph Lauren, Michael Kors, and Donna Karan. You know, sophisticated American sportswear that is a bit formal, but still sexy. Or next to Sean John. I used to party with Diddy.” Done. Answer created. No one wants to hear “Well, there is no comparison” bull. I’m sorry, there is no brand of clothing so original that it can’t be compared to something else.
Then the fashion show itself. Oy, I can’t even talk about everything that was wrong with it. It resembled a professional fashion show in the same way that this monstrosity from Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt resembles Miss Piggy. Sonja was just totally disorganized, didn’t have the two rows of seating assigned or name tags printed out for people. She didn’t have all of the models ready. She didn’t have each model assigned looks or had to switch them around at the last minute, so there was utter chaos behind the scenes. Even her stylist and stylist intern were yelling at her. I have watched Unzipped countless times, and it was even more uncomfortable than when Linda Evangelista asks Isaac Mizrahi what he has against white women.
My favorite part of the whole episode was Terry, the head designer of House of Fashion, which is apparently who makes Sonja T. Morgan NYC Clothiers, Ltd. Terry, with her serrated, soda-can necklace, was running around backstage telling them that they couldn’t make people wait anymore, that they had to send the girls out in a timely fashion, that they had to do something that resembled a professional fashion show. Sonja, on the other hand, had other notions. Why wouldn’t people wait 20 minutes between the first set of looks and the second one? They had an open bar. This is not what Terry imagined for her life when she was sitting in the dorms at FIT ordering furry vests off Asos drunkenly at four in the morning. She did not envision a whippet of a woman screaming “chignon” at her in the makeshift dressing room of a rented event space on the East Side.
At one point Sonja is running around and says, “Do I have to do everything myself?” Yes, Sonja. That is called running a business. And when you coax a bunch of teenagers to be your “interns” and don’t pay them anything, how do you expect them to be bothered to print out the names of the guests correctly? There is an easy way around doing all of this for yourself: Hire someone. I can give you the names of at least three fashion PR people who can produce a show for you. None of them are Margaret Cho from that episode of Sex and the City where Carrie becomes fashion roadkill. They will handle the catering, the alcohol, the seating, the venue, just about everything except the clothes. But, hey, you get what you pay for. That’s why Sonja is sitting in the front row scribbling with a Sharpie instead of inspecting the actual garments.
As for the clothes, well, they were really good. I’m not going to lie, I was pretty into most of those ensembles. They were pretty simple, but elegant, well-tailored, and flattering for many different types of women. They were like an Instagram you take from the deck of a yacht. They were like rush of cold air when the subway doors open in a hot station and for a second you get really horny all over. They were like a meal at Cipriani that, if you saw it being taken to another table, you would have to walk over to the other table and say, “Sir, I hate to be rude, but that looks so delicious. Can I have a bite of your eggs à la française?”
The only good part of the huge lag between the first and second rotations of Sonja’s fashion show was that it allowed for Ramona and Bethenny to get in a fight. Well, fight isn’t the right word. There was no fighting. This is not The Real Housewives of Atlanta, where you don’t know an incident has occurred until the police have been called and there is a hamster-size chunk of fake hair lying in a clump on the ground. This is not The Real Housewives of Orange County, where the shrieks get so high-pitched that they can only be heard by dogs, the criminally insane, and RadarOnline reporters. This is New York, and Bethenny wasn’t trying to pick a fight with Ramona as much as she was trying to expose the hypocrisy of her New Beginnings party (which, initially, I thought was a launch party for a new line of menopause medication).
Basically what Bethenny said is that Ramona is a complete phony for celebrating her New Beginnings when she steals dresses, insults bartenders, insists on having preferential treatment, and is the otherwise selfish monster that she has always been. While the Ramona at the beginning of the season seemed a bit more grounded and empathetic, that Ramona is definitely now gone, a concocted scheme that has overstayed its welcome. It’s like Madonna’s British accent: fading the longer she affects it. I appreciate Bethenny for this, because she is finally in a higher social position than Ramona and can hold her accountable for all of her bad behavior. Oh, also, there was something about telling Heather that Bethenny cheated on her first husband, but who cares about that. Has he ever been on a reality show? No. Then he doesn’t exist.
Ramona gets very defensive, especially about the dresses she stole, and says, “Why wouldn’t you let it go?” Well, Ramona, because you stole dresses. If Bethenny lets her get away with it, she just stole the dresses and gets what she wants. Bethenny is hunting for justice and to let Ramona know what sort of behavior is unacceptable. Of course Ramona apologizes profusely, because that is her M.O. She is the NeverEnding Sorry. Bethenny lets her know that won’t work either, just doing what she wants and then apologizing when she pisses everyone off. The front row of a fashion show hasn’t been that dead since — RIP, Zelda Kaplan.
While all the Housewives were sitting in the front row of the inordinately narrow runway with a perilous-looking spiral staircase at the end of it, two women were in a clutch of others standing by the open bar. The redhead said to her blonde friend, “This is just an absolute disaster. Who makes people wait like this? What kind of fashion show is this?”
“Yes, it’s absolutely horrible,” the blonde says, leaning her bony elbow against the bar and turning to look toward the dormant runway. “This never would have happened at Brooklyn Fashion Weekend.”
“Oh my God, do you remember that?”
“Of course I do! Now, that was a fashion show. Remember when Ramona modeled?”
They both bugged their eyes out, put one hand on their hips, and waddled a few steps among the crowd. They stopped and laughed, clutching at each other like if they touched the memory it would last longer, conducted through the invisible energy passing between their limbs.
“Oh, what a good time that was,” the redhead said.
“Yeah. I really do miss it. I’ve even missed you!”
“Stop. You do not. You’re all the way in Australia now.”
“That doesn’t mean I can’t miss it.”
“We sure did have some good times, didn’t we?”
The blonde looks at her rosé Champagne and raises it slightly into the air towards her friend. “We sure did. To good times!” she said. Alex McCord and Jill Zarin clinked glasses, and the bubbles got together in an angry scrum in each of their glasses and huddled their way to the top in a fizzy explosion, dispelling into the hot air of the fashion show and disappearing forever.