2013 February 9
When Miller Met McInerney
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(NEW YORK) When we heard longtime pals Nicole Miller and writer Jay McInerney would be lunching at The Standard Grill, we asked if we could tag along. Lobster roll, anyone?
BY PAIGE REDDINGER
How and where did you two first meet?
Jay: At either a nightclub, or somebody’s loft, or maybe it was someplace like Nell’s. I’m not actually sure. The downtown scene in the ’80s was small enough that sooner or later you met everybody.
Nicole: We’ve narrowed it down to some time in 1984. Jay knew my husband first, and Jay and I both knew Bret Easton Ellis and Candace Bushnell.
What was the scene like back then?
Nicole: I was always busy doing stuff, going to Area and Studio 54. We worked hard during the day, and we partied at night.
Jay: We never went above 14th Street, and a lot of energy was spent thinking about having an ‘in’ to those clubs. Area had a tough door policy, like, if you were an actor you had to be a real hipster actor to get anyone to pay attention to you. Matt Dillon used to hang out with us, but nobody got really excited if Michael J. Fox showed up.
[The waitress checks in. Nicole orders chardonnay. Jay sticks to water.]
Jay: I’m a little under the weather. I’m going to try and not drink for 48 hours. I might shrivel up and die!
Nicole: Remember when you had that dinner party in the Hamptons? I had a cold, and I decided I wasn’t going to drink. I lasted five minutes!
Who’s the bigger foodie?
Jay: We’re both big foodies. We e-mail each other all the time about our latest meals. It’s sick.
Nicole: My old standby is always Da Silvano.
Jay: When Da Silvano’s chef has truffles, I withdraw a large amount of cash from the bank in advance.
How do you keep the pounds off?
Jay: I fidget a lot. Nicole’s at Soul Cycle all of the time.
Nicole: It’s true, but today I saw in the Post that I missed Bradley Cooper at the Tribeca location!
Do you influence each other creatively?
Jay: I steal stories from her. I’m waiting to write my ‘Nicole’ character.
Nicole: Always. Jay’s so dapper!
Is he going to get hooked-up with some new clothes?
Nicole: I’m going to have to dress him!
Jay: I remember when you designed menswear the first time. You were like Ralph Lauren. I had a grey suit that you made me, and you used one of my books on that tie you did with all the book covers on it.
Nicole: We sold thousands of those ties! That’s when men used to have a sense of humor.
[They order. Jay opts for the lobster roll and fries; Nicole gets her usual hanger steak salad.]
Nicole: This is the best bread and butter in New York! Every time I leave here I take the bag of bread.
Do you remember your first runway show?
Nicole: Of course! We did it at this club called Laura Belle. Back then, everyone would show in different places around town—old theaters, mannequin studios, nightclub venues—and the editors were always running all over the place.
Jay: Things were so different. In the early days, we couldn’t even afford real fashion. We were wearing vintage clothes, costumes, or still wearing our prep-school stuff.
You show at the Tents now, Nicole. Why?
Nicole: They really make it really easy for you. There’ve been times when we’ve gone off-site, and inevitably there’s something that we didn’t think of. I remember after 9/11 when Fashion Week was canceled. We had to move the show to the showroom. A lot of weird things happened. We served lots of alcohol.
How’s the Bright Lights, Big City remake coming along, Jay?
Jay: Great. It’s being made this summer. The screenplay was written by Josh Schwartz, who was the creator of The O.C. and Gossip Girl. I wrote the original screenplay for the first film in 1988. It was successful at the time, but I don’t really like it. What was more authentic for me was a movie I wrote called Gia.
Oh, we’re familiar! It’s required viewing at The Daily.
Nicole: I’d love to trade places with Angelina Jolie for a day. But Gia wasn’t really a supermodel. She became a much bigger deal after she died.
Jay: Eh, she had five or six months when everybody wanted her.
Nicole: Yeah, it’s funny. I remember over the years that there’d be a model and she’d walk like a dream in my show. Then we’d be booking the next show and I’d be like, ‘What about that girl? She’s really cool.’ Then they’d tell me, ‘No, she’s over.’
It’s a tough racket. What models are you loving this second?
Jay: The only ones I can think of are Sports Illustrated models like Bar Refaeli.
Nicole: It’s not like it was in the ’90s, certainly.
Jay: I want to hear a good naughty model story! Got any?
Nicole: I don’t really have any bad stories, but we once did a lingerie show at Scores. We thought one of the models was going to take her top off.
Whose style do you admire?
Jay: Hamish Bowles, Tom Wolfe, and Nicole, of course. I remember back in 1995 when The New Yorker asked me to write about fashion. I told them I knew this girl, Chloë Sevigny, from around the clubs. She was living in squalor somewhere in the East Village even though she was from Darien. It took me three days to find her. She had this impeccable ability to find stuff in a thrift shop that would drive Anna Sui wild.
What starlet would you love to dress?
Nicole: I like Jessica Chastain, plus she has red hair like me.
Jay: Amanda Hearst, my stepdaughter, is at the top of the list.
Does Amanda ever give you fashion advice?
Jay: She’s been kind enough to refrain from that, but I sometimes ask her about stuff for her mom. I discovered Rag & Bone through Amanda.
What other designers are you into?
Nicole: I like to look at the British shows like Meadham Kirchhoff and Jonathan Saunders.
Jay: In the ’80s, I liked Armani. In the ’90s, I liked Prada. In the early part of the last decade, I liked Gucci. I have a few pieces by Thom Browne right now, but I don’t wear the pants flood-length.
When did you first realize you were famous?
Nicole: When it was easier to get dinner reservations. They’d be like, ‘Oh, we’re all booked up.’ Then I’d be like ‘Oh, but it’s me.’
Jay: I remember a pub party at Area for Bright Lights, Big City. Norman Mailer, Boy George, and Billy Idol showed up and I thought, ‘Wow, this is cool!’
[A friend approaches and greets Nicole.]
Friend: Are you all right? I saw there was a photographer marauding you!
Nicole: Yeah, I’m just being paparazzied.
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