She's maneuvering the world of high fashion using instinct, experience and a WILD and ROWDY past!
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New York University’s Stern School of Business has selected me as this years’ recipient of an honorary degree. WINONA, INC. the agency is a phenomenon. The top shop for five years running, I sometimes forget just how fierce I really am. But what a blast it is to see my grandmother, Sylvia, along with Belle and Desi, celebrate my achievement right out here in the middle of Yankee Stadium. Look at Sylvia taking it to church. Don’t let her come out of those shoes!
Belle is my plus-one for the graduation luncheon. Hosted by the university president in his drool-worthy townhouse, tucked away in the West Village, we munch and mingle with the brainy elite. And then I spot him. A beautiful boy with green eyes and auburn locks so full and lush, he gives Belle and her legendary mane big competition. I watch him as he works the room. He’s got personality-plus, a great physique, and my gut tells me that he photographs like an angel. I take a couple of shots and a few seconds of video with my iPhone. I can’t wait for Marc and the staff to see him.
Winona is wearing Cushnie et Ochs
It doesn’t take long to track him down. Joseph Kalani, Jojo for short, is a twenty-one year old NYU sociology major. I find his email address via Facebook and send to him a personal note with an invitation to meet at Minetta Tavern for lunch. On the Dean’s list, Jojo’s fast-tracking towards pre-law. But his Instagram page is loaded with wannabe model shots. “Law school ain’t going nowhere, baby,” I tell him. “But you won’t always look as good as you do right now. Take advantage of it. There’s a 12-month contract with WINONA, INC. in my bag, ready for you to sign.”
We order drinks to toast the signing but before the deed is done, Jojo’s girlfriend, Priscilla, pops up along with his father who’s visiting from Hawaii. The handsome Mr. Kalani shows his ass within ten minutes, dismissing me, modeling, and the entire fashion industry with a cheap wave of his hand. “You came here to get an education, son. A law degree. Not waste time with frivolous nonsense like this.” Jojo drops his head in obedience. It’s clear who’s steering this ship. But Priscilla’s big baby blues sparkle like bright, sunlit diamonds. She’s a film major. She dreams of bright lights and stardom and the idea of her boyfriend on a billboard in Times Square has lit her all the way up. I slip my card to her before leaving.
When Priscilla phones, her attitude hovers somewhere between Martha Stewart and Beyonce. She thinks that she’s in charge. We meet at the Clinton Street Baking Company for coffee the next morning and I’ve arranged for Natalie Portman to stop by our table. She dazzles young Priscilla, dangles a few carrots in her face and then straps her child into a Mima 3G stroller and hugs me goodbye. Priscilla’s got things straight now. She belongs to me, not the other way around, and she takes notes as I order more coffee and advise her on which of Jojo’s buttons to push and just how hard to push them. Most importantly, I tell her to put brakes on the nookie. Don’t even let him see it until he stands up to his daddy and signs my contract.
I’m surprised when Mr. Kalani phones the following day. “My son has asked me to hear you out,” he says. Wow. Baby girl is laying those bricks really fast! The next evening I slip into a pretty red dress and meet him for dinner at the Baccarat Hotel. I spend all night trying to convince him to let me have his son for one year. If things don’t work out, Jojo can always return to school, right? But he’s not budging so back and forth we go. It’s fun. And Mr. Kalani, in spite of his lips saying no, is flirting with me. I’ve been trying to keep it all about business. Seriously. But his tribal tattoo, peeking from behind his shirt, woven knit, as light as air, is pretty fucking hot.
Winona is wearing Lanvin
Mr. Kalani is a very trendy guy. He has a room at the Soho House and after dinner we head over to their rooftop bar, one of the best in town, to continue round three of our battle royale. It’s just a little after midnight but amazingly, there’s no one here. Even the bartender is calling it a night but she serves us before clocking out. Now we are completely alone, just him, me, two martinis and a glistening pool. He unbuttons his shirt, revealing his tattoo. The ball’s in my court. And you know me. I’ve gotta go one better. So I unzip my dress, drop it in his lap and dive into the pool.
Winona is wearing Manolo Blahnik satin mules
The next morning, I just can’t believe it. After working my tail off between those fine, Frette Egyptian cotton sheets, the stubborn son-of-a-bitch is still saying no, he will not let Jojo sign with WINONA, INC. Not for six months. Not even for three. Finally I remind him that his son is twenty-one and doesn’t need his permission to do anything. And that’s when it turns ugly. “I remember you,” he says. “Your exploits from back in the day were well-documented. Do you think I want my only son consorting with people like you? We’ve made our plans and the last thing we need is interference from you and your kind.”
While dressing in the bathroom, the nasty shit he said still ringing in my ears, I hear loud voices outside. Tying on the Hermes headscarf I tucked into my bag last night, I open the door and see that Jojo and Priscilla have arrived. “I can do what I want, Dad,” Jojo’s voice is trembling. But he’s strong. “I won’t be in your pocket for long. Isn’t that right, Winona? Where’s that contract?” I sneak a peek at Priscilla’s crooked little grin. She has done her job. And well. Gathering my diamond hoops from the nightstand, I drop them into my handbag and don my sunnies before giving Mr. Kalani’s dejected, terry-clothed shoulder a little squeeze. “You want to know something else about me and my kind? We’re a determined bunch of bitches. And one way or another, we always get what we want.”
I attended the Met Gala last year without an escort and had a blast. This year? Not so much. Being an ex-addict, I’ve got to stay way too woke now. Edibles float around like hors d’oeuvres these days. But we’re here for the gowns, right? And they were wild af. BLAKE LIVELY and her Versace mega-train blew in on a big-ass party bus. And RIRI stole the show in her tricked-out, jewel encrusted John Galliano pope ensemble. That drag had to weigh a ton and she had trouble keeping her hat on. But she managed long enough for pics and film. That girl was working! There were Joan of Arcs, several Nuns, lots of papal capes and robes. Me? I was feeling kind of Maid Marion-ish—without a Robin Hood—in my Vera Wang-inspired gown. It fit like a glove and the veil gave it a crazy, virginal spin, I thought. The big bejeweled crucifix? Well, everybody says that God has a sense of humor so I just rolled in on that. SMOOCHES!
The lights are bright and the celebs are out while I have my pic taken with lovely Lupita Nyong’o during the New York premiere of BLACK PANTHER. The actress with her castmates are killing it on the red carpet worldwide. I’ve been watching them slay every day.
It’s the last day of Fashion Week and the paparazzi are out in droves, trying to snag that final winning shot. It’s been a blast like always. Until next time…SMOOCHES!
Strolling along Central Park West, heading home. Only one day left of Fashion Week to go. But BLACK PANTHER weekend has just begun.
The paparazzi was thick inside Spring Studios on Monday.