She's maneuvering the world of high fashion using instinct, experience and a WILD and ROWDY past!
True to his word, Designer Tom Ford gets Winona a shot at her beloved Hoover Pressley Museum. To gain a seat on the board, the WINONA, INC. staff launches a media campaign, bringing in Twitter and Instagram love from celebrity pals, great PR for the museum and even an old flame reappears, upping the drama to boiling point level. But in the end hard choices must be made. Can she live with her final decision?
Tom Ford comes through! He gets me an interview with the board of the Hoover Pressley Museum. Pulling out the arsenal, I send invitations to five key members for a Sunday brunch at my home. This killer view overlooking Central Park should count for something, right? I hire SWEET BASIL to cater and spend several nights soaking up the museum’s history online. Desi is on various boards around town and he gives me an idea of what to expect. “You know they’re choking on your past, darling. So be honest about it. The drugs. The booze. The scandals. I mean, every nasty little thing you did for twenty years was splashed across the front page of gossip rags all over the world. It’s already out there. Own it.”
Winona is wearing Oscar de la Renta
Brunch is served! Slices of brioche french toast, with glazed apples, are an inch thick. The poached salmon is moist and juicy. Everything is presented with great panache and every dish is to die. While the bellinis flow, to loosen things up, I work in a few shady celebrity stories, just to wet their panties a little. Mazie Porter, on my left, shoves a forkful of pork tenderloin into her face and finally asks, “What can you bring to our board, Winona?” I go Humble Hannah on them, grateful for the opportunity to travel the world and make such valuable connections. But getting over racist roadblocks and my own personal demons to build WINONA, INC. is nothing to be modest about. I don’t hide a thing and Dr. Ing and Atty. Livingston appear to be impressed.
My formal interview with the entire board takes place at the museum. It’s a tough crowd of twelve but I walk out of their finely paneled conference room feeling pretty secure about my acceptance. I think they’re ready for me. The very next day my staff, Marc, Terri and Curtiss, launch a “Let’s Get Winona Warner on the Board!” social media campaign. They upload several model shots of me from back in the day and within hours the campaign grows legs. Phones are ringing. Calls are coming in from HUFFPOST, PAGE SIX, ESSENCE, FORBES. They all want a statement.
Winona is wearing Ralph Lauren
I contact my girl MICHAELA ANGELA DAVIS to handle the news media. She can go places where my staff just can’t. “Forget about a press release,” she says. “Let’s do an interview!” They don’t call her an image activist for nothing. We shape my statement and agree that taking a full-out knee might not be necessary but how lame would it be NOT to mention my unique spot as potentially the first African-American on the museum board? When the interview hits a few days later, because Michaela is a force, it’s all anyone’s talking about. Marc, in the meantime, is very strategic with his online photo selections. Mick, Ralph, Andre Leon, Anna. But the shot of me sharing ciggies with Hollywood legend Bette Davis is his favorite. “Those dusty old board queens are going to collapse when they see this!”
Friends like Tracee, Will, Naomi and SJP come through with hearts, likes and kudos on Twitter and IG. The museum is getting loads of pub, too. And then one morning Marc comes upstairs to my office to show me something special. A real blast from the past. My ex, Riccardo Sims. He’s posted the shot of us from the MET GALA years ago, tagging the agency and the museum board. “You’ll never find a brighter gem for your crown,” he wrote. Wow. How sweet is that? I haven’t seen this shot since it was taken. Look at him. Smooth as silk. Naturally swaggy. And we were so gorgeous together. I really liked this man. Scratching my head, I can’t remember what went wrong between us. Where did we go off the rails?
My curiosity won’t let me rest. I call him. And just his hello gives me feels. I thank him for the post on Instagram and ask what he’s been up to. No longer at ATLANTIC RECORDS, he writes fiction now, under a pseudonym. Fiction? I roll my eyes. But swearing me to secrecy, he confesses. “I’m Roman Carlucci.” I gasp and choke on cookie crumbs. He’s laughing. “Are you okay??” But I don’t—I can’t—believe my ears! How does a gracious man like Riccardo Sims conger up such a sordid tale? A pop singer with secrets. Foul secrets. Ugly stuff. But SHOOTING STAR was one of last years’ most popular reads and stayed on the TIMES best-seller list for twelve whole weeks! “Have dinner with me tomorrow night”, he asks. I have plans…but they are so cancelled.
The traffic on 5th and 31st is at a standstill and I’m twenty minutes late. I exit the towncar and walk the remaining block to the restaurant HENRY, where Riccardo is waiting. My heart is jumping around in my chest as the maître d’ leads the way to his table. Riccardo stands. Still rocking a suit better than any man I know, his head is bald and his beard is big and bushy. And silvery white. I hardly recognize him. But when he kisses my cheek, my knees go weak, just like the night we first met at that dumpy club downtown. The tip of his nose brushes along my jaw and earlobe. I feel him inhale, breathing me in.
Riccardo is wearing Cifonelli
We chatter all through dinner. There’s so much to talk about. Afterwards, hopping into a taxi, we head uptown. Sitting close in the back seat, he takes my hand and presses it to his chest. “I’m so glad you called me,” he says. “I think about you often.” We pull up to the COVE LOUNGE on Lenox Avenue in Harlem and take an empty table towards the rear, away from the small pockets of latenighters scattered around. When Riccardo leans in to kiss me, his lips are warm and his beard soft. Oh yes. This is going to happen. He drops two twenties on the table, we leave the club and with our arms wrapped around each other, we walk the few blocks to his brownstone on 128th Street.
One month after the brunch, a letter from the museum arrives. Federal Express. This is it. In the study I pour a victory goblet of wine, open the envelope, unfold the page and — wait. What’s this? I’ve been rejected?? They’re turning me down! I haven’t cried in years but I’m fighting back tears. How dare they? All I can think about are the fat manila folders on my desk filled with arrest reports, mug shots, affidavits. My detective friend, the one I keep on retainer, collected the good stuff on several of their upstanding members. Domestic abuse, ODing on prescription drugs, insider trading, even statutory rape. And everything kept on the downlow with payoffs and bribes. But they’re rejecting me? Oh, just think what I could do to them. One by one. But…
There’s Riccardo. Lying in my arms last night, he reminded me of just what derailed us the first time. Traveling a lot for work back then, he only knew Central Park West Winona. It was a while before he got a good whiff of South Bronx Winona and when he finally did, it flattened him. “I’m not lining up with a bunch of other suckers for you to grind into the dust,” he said. “If you’re still out here collecting scalps, tell me now.” With a sigh, I slide everything back into the folders and file them deep inside the desk drawer. A man like Riccardo you don’t throw away twice. Yep. I’ve decided to ride the monogamy train for awhile. Just me and him. Let’s see where it goes. But I promise you. If things get derailed again, for any reason, those muthafuckas on the museum board are in real deep trouble. You feel me?
Winona is to FASHION WEEK what fireworks are to the 4th of July. The show might go on but without her it sure won’t be the same. Back in the day she was in such high demand on the catwalk that designers were known to adjust their show dates to work around her schedule. And now, as the agency owner with six of the fashion industry’s top models on her roster, they still do! Ah…it’s nice to be on top. But hard as hell to stay there.
She shows up on everyone’s web page and blog site during FASHION WEEK. Covering her fashion choices for the next seven days is just as important as anything happening on the runways so stay tuned. WHAT SHE WORE DURING FASHION WEEK starts now…
MICHAEL KORS 10AM show at Pier 17 was a snoozefest. Lots of play-play and very little working woman daywear. That’s always been his deal and you come to expect certain things from certain people, you know? Back in the day, the ultimate reward for keeping your bod on point was rocking a genuine HERVE LEGER bandage dress that spared no mercy. Their new CD, CHRISTIAN JUUL NIELSEN, has rebooted and brought it back! His presentation at the NOMAD HOTEL gave me new life! Which I needed later on after the one and a half hour wait for MARC JACOB’s show to start. Because they went with RIHANNA this year to close out NYFW, that bitch stalled his show on purpose. Don’t try and tell me different. And his collection? Childish and way off the beam. Mid-life crisis anyone? RIHANNA hauled us out to the BROOKLYN NAVY YARD for her SAVAGE X FENTY lingerie show. SLICK WOODS, very pregnant in pasties and a harness, was in labor supposedly and while she was tight and still looking pretty fab, some thighs we just didn’t need to see. Are we celebrating cellulite now? Really?? Girlfriend Riri was chilled and beyond during her final stroll. Tight, luscious and altogether yummy, I saw no sign of cheese in the extra LBs she’s carrying.
So there it is, doll. Another NEW YORK FASHION WEEK is done. The London shows start on Friday but I’m staying put. SMOOCHES!
The weather on Monday was just plain shitty so I blew off the OLSEN twins at 9 AM. They were presenting in their showroom waaaaay downtown but CAROLINA HERRERA’s 10 AM show at the HISTORICAL SOCIETY was just down the street from the condo. No-brainer. The new head designer for the House of Herrera, WES GORDON, is all over the place. Kinda Carolina but then, so NOT. She was in the front row with the fam. Can’t imagine what she was thinking. PHILLIP LIM’s show at ESSEX STREET ACADEMY on the Lower East Side was pretty wet, but lots of young blood was present on that rooftop. Cameras were poppin’. The PROENZA SCHOULER show, just a few minutes away on Wall Street, was denim-heavy and kinda meh. Not a great comeback to New York Fashion Week for the boys. But ANNA SUI at SPRING STUDIOS gave us beautiful patterns and fabrics, funky turbans and the cutest little crochet shorts. I even liked the kitten heels with socks! Before turning it in, I dashed through the little soiree MILES RITCHIE hosted at the PUBLIC last night. He’s so cute but all of those tatts! I couldn’t work with that. He’s better off signing with WILHELMINA. The Finale
It was rainy and cool on Sunday but MANSUR GAVRIEL at SPRING STUDIOS gave us clean lines, a neutral palette and yummy Parisian sweets. The goodies were for buyers only but I grabbed a few. Try and stop me, Boo. We stood in the rain for TELFAR’s show on the helipad at BLADE. No kidding. It was kind of a pain and the all-in-one sagging pants and drawers combo made me want to slap somebody, but with the live music and vibe of the crowd, there was no denying the cool factor present. Back at SPRING STUDIOS—PRABAL GURUNG. Thumbs way down on this collection. Using diversity to cover up mediocrity? Sorry Prabal. I see you. Some designers I root for every season. LAQUAN SMITH is one of them. This season’s offering, at PIER 59, was less slutty than previous years but there was still plenty of slut-appeal. It’s his style. I’ve accepted that. And after a quick change at the agency, I made it to The BUSINESS OF FASHION 500 Gala at the 1HOTEL BROOKLYN BRIDGE. I did the rounds and dragged my tired ass out of there by midnight. Another day done. DAY FIVE
On the third day…JONATHAN SIMKHAI. His presentation gave me the heebie jeebies. Seriously. I don’t mind a little lace and frill but why the mad overload?? I had two sweet-faced girls in the show, though, and they were perfect. So it’s all good. BRANDON MAXWELL at the CLASSIC CAR CLUB has kicked New York City sleek to the curb with a big, red cowboy boot. Using pick-up trucks and coolers for seats, it’s clear with this collection that the Texas boy has returned home. And b-t-w? TIFFANY HADDISH is gorge. BADGLEY MISCHKA at SPRING STUDIOS did what they do best. Pretty dresses for ladies who like being ladies. The little kids in the show gave Ralph’s kids the night before some Fashion Week competition. Cuteness level on high. ADEAM’s show in Chelsea presented super-fussy fashion. That’s their M.O., I know, but they took it to the extreme this season. It was fun to be in TUNNEL again, though. Wild times in that joint back in the day. The JIMMY CHOO party in Chinatown caught me draggin’ ass. After hugging Tiffany again, I called it a night. DAY FOUR
Day Two. It started out so sweetly. First, a beautiful show for KATE SPADE at the Library. There was glitter, little notes left on our chairs, everything was so pretty, I hope she was pleased. And then, onto CUSHNIE’s first solo show. Some were worried, but not me. I know what she can do. More pretty was on hand but with a Caribbean vibe. Details to drool over. Very SADE, during the Babyfather days. On 37th Street, MONSE brought us genderless deconstruction. Loose, flowy, I still don’t get the NICKI MINAJ connect but WHOOPI? Oh yeah. I get that. Last night, RALPH LAUREN’s 50th anniversary gala in CENTRAL PARK called for a big, ball skirt. I mean errrrrr’body was there, from OPRAH to HILLARY to KANYE, who just had to show out. Girlfriend’s question was off the wall, though. But what ever happened to ignoring a bitch?? I skipped, hiking my skirt like Cinderella and hauling ass over to the PLAZA for the HARPER’S BAZAAR party. Got there just in time to see Nicki Minaj and CARDI B go at it. Lucky me. Shoes came off, Cardi’s gown got trashed, her whole ass was hanging out, and somehow baby girl got a huge knot on her head! PR stunt gone awry? That’s my guess. You can’t play those games with everybody. Oh well. Day Two—over and out! DAY THREE
Winona’s skirt is RALPH LAUREN