Simon Says: Frumpy Is Fab in D.C.

By Lavanya Ramanathan
Thursday, July 24, 2008

If anyone understands the meaning of "eccentric glamour," it is Simon Doonan. The Barneys New York creative director/window display guru, writer and VH1 personality has a personal style so idiosyncratic, so utterly his own, that it cannot help but be remembered.

Washington women, hide your flip-flops.

Tonight, Doonan -- he of that luxury retail imprimatur, that boffo London accent, those flower-print shirts -- will land at the Corcoran Gallery of Art for a talk about his latest book, "Eccentric Glamour: Creating an Insanely More Fabulous You."

Though the book does extol women to "say no to ho!" and "resist the tidal wave of porno chic," it is only occasionally a self-help book. Instead, it contains quips, witticisms and profiles of eccentrics whose glamour Doonan admires (Tilda Swinton, designer Isabel Toledo).

But Washington doesn't need quips. Washington needs help.

In anticipation of his visit, we asked Doonan: Is there anything Washington can do to be more glamorous? More eccentric? Less susceptible to universal disdain for our stuffiness?

"For me, the only faux pas is conformity," Doonan says in a phone interview. "Except if you're in Washington."

Huh? No stern admonitions to quit it with the flip-flops?

Doonan explains his fear of a fashionable capital: "I think that would be a disaster! If people are public servants -- if you work in Washington -- your clothes should have a certain self-denying restraint to them.

"If you're in Washington and you're just dying to bust out your fashion chops, leave Washington and go work for John Galliano," he adds. "I like my politicians to be frumpy and frowzy. I like them to have cankles."

The mix of power and fashion is too . . . dangerous. Just look at Imelda Marcos, he says.


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