She's maneuvering the world of high fashion using instinct, experience and a WILD and ROWDY past!
Day Four started with ADEAM’s presentation at Spring Studios. Not a whole lot stood out for me there. A long denim wrap skirt. Coats with the extra-extra-wide lapels. After that it’s all a blur. CHRISTIAN SIRIANO at Rockerfeller Center was hit and miss, too. More misses than hits. But the diversity on so many runways this season has everything to do with him so he gets a pass. This season. I hauled ass across town for JONATHAN SIMKHAI show at Industria studio. His presentation of lace, denim and long satiny slip dresses over soft, plaid trousers was an interesting combo. And Mr. BRANDON MAXWELL. He’s got his mind right after last season’s west Texas hoedown show. The presentation at Penn Station was clean, chic, sophisticated and sexy, in grown-folk colors. Sometimes you CAN’T go home again, Brandon! JOHN ELLIOTT’s show at the Brooklyn Navy Yard was my first off the Rock this season. Collabs are great, but he’s hooked up with Caterpiller construction and utility-worker chic was the theme. There’s a market. Sure. I just never thought I’d see it on the runway during Fashion Week. Day Five…
DAY THREE started out cold and wet so what luck! My schedule had me at SPRING STUDIOS for most of the day. At 10am, The BROCK COLLECTION in Gallery I kicked off with interesting tweed dresses and suits. Very Chanel-ish. But then they morphed into fussy and some pieces even got a little frumpy. Womp-womp. HELLESSY at 11 gave us deconstructed suits and dresses with stars, stripes, sequins…and Miss Pat Cleveland! So cool to see her still doing her thing. I wanted to stop and chat but had to dash for the KATE SPADE presentation at noon. Cipriani downtown. I barely made it. Kiki Layne from If Beale Street Could Talk was front row and gorge in chartreuse and egglant, pieces from the collection. On the runway were turbans, animal prints, and of course, handbags. Most models carried two. CUSHNIE at 3pm served up the usual sex on a stick with class. Her drapey gowns barely hung onto the nips and hips of her models. But never cheap. Never skanky. She always makes it work. Finally, JEREMY SCOTT. What’s black and white and read all over? Not a damn thing. Not anymore. Love me a layered tulle skirt, and he had lots of those, but the screaming newspaper theme is about twenty years too late. Epic fail, dude. Goodnight. Day Four…
Winona is wearing MONSE
Day Two started early with RALPH LAUREN. Trying something different, he presented the collection at his new cafe along with breakfast. The pastries, fresh croissants, smoked salmon and egg-white frittatas were yummy. The fashion? Same ol’ same ol’. But Ralph’s same ol’ is still kinda special. ELIE TAHARI at Spring Studios was scattered and all over the place. No theme of any kind. Christie Brinkley closed the show, sharing the runway with her daughter, Sailor. Their palm slap at the end was a sweet moment. NICOLE MILLER is on an environmental kick, serving up astrology symbols along with some weird evil-eye patterns. Denim made out of recycled soda bottles was interesting. On this runway, my younger girls ruled. But the TELFAR show at Irving Plaza. That joint was out-of-control. Models fell off the stage, crowdsurfing over the audience in the arms or on the shoulders of what appeared to be designated carriers. I’m just not here for that kind of presentation. Sorry. I like to actually see the clothes. But the baby-face-ded crowd tried to crash backstage after the show. They dug it. So there. Day Three…
Winona is wearing FENDI
NEW YORK FASHION WEEK has officially opened and the photogs are out! Starting a day early with the 11 HONORE show at Spring Studios, there were models of all sizes, all shades and all types. My girl, Belle, will be on their catwalk next season for sure! Jumping to the Armory uptown for TOM FORD’s show, for the first time, I didn’t schedule a pitstop to slip into one of his frocks. But everyone else did, from Odell Beckham and Karlie Kloss to Danai Gurira, Courtney Love and make me holla Cam Newton. To be honest, I’m still feeling pissy with Tom. He could have twisted some arms on that museum board last fall. In the meantime though, his presentation had a 70’s disco-ish kind of vibe with platform pumps, rolled and cuffed satin trousers, luscious leathers, fine tweeds, on point tailoring, heavy chains and big jewel-toned furs. Not as glamorous. Not as fussy. But it was all Tom. I’m still pissy. But I love ya, boo. Day Two…
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. It all starts NOW!
Normally, I don’t do the Paris shows. Falling right before or after Fashion Week in New York, I’m either way too busy or way too wiped out. But this year the timing was right to sneak in a few days. And I’m still stoked! This is the fashion that I miss back home. True couture wear. Like the VALENTINO show. Baaay-beeeee! Head designer PIERPAOLO PICCIOLO took ‘em to school this season! CELINE DION was crying. It was just one stupidly gorgeous gown after the other. And so many sistahs on the runway! Ow! MR. VALENTINO himself was in the front row. I wanted to leap from the balcony and into his lap. And then there was CHANEL. KL wasn’t in attendance. They said he was tired. And I guess so. He wore himself OUT with this collection. It was fan-fucking-tastic. My theory is, if I like the official show shoe, I’m gonna love it all. And the little bootie he showed with everything, from day wear to evening wear, was totally adorbs so I was sold from the very first dress. Now. Back to the Apple! NYFW awaits! SMOOCHES!
True to his word, Designer Tom Ford gets Winona a shot at her beloved Hoover Pressley Museum. To help her gain a seat on the board, the WINONA, INC. staff launches a campaign, bringing in Twitter and Instagram love from celebrity pals, great PR for the museum, and even an old flame reappears to up the drama to boiling point level. But in the end hard choices must be made. Can Winona 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. 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. On my left, Mazie Porter giggles, 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. Oh so grateful for the opportunity to travel the world and make such rich and valuable connections. But Desi said not to, so I don’t gloss over the ugly shit. Each trip to rehab made the cover of the National Enquirer. Not cute. But Dr. Ing and Atty. Livingston are nodding as I tell my story. I think they get it.
My formal interview with the entire board takes place at the museum. It’s a tough crowd of twelve. But I feel good and when it’s all over, I walk out of their finely paneled conference room confident of 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 from way back when sharing ciggies with Hollywood legend Bette Davis is his favorite. “Those dusty old board queens will collapse when they see this,” he says.
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. It’s wild! Marc comes into my office. He’s got something to show me. My ex, Riccardo Sims has posted a shot of us on Instagram from the MET GALA years ago. He’s tagged both the agency and the museum board. “You’ll never find a brighter gem for your crown,” he writes. Wow. How sweet is that? But look at him. Smooth as silk. Naturally swaggy. And we were so gorgeous together. I really liked him. Scratching my head, I can’t remember what went wrong between us. What happened? How did we go off the rails?
My curiosity won’t let me rest. I call Riccardo. 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 foul and nasty tale? A pop singer with secrets. Real vicious stuff. But his novel SHOOTING STAR was one of last years’ most popular reads. It 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. I’m twenty minutes late. I abandon the towncar finally and walk the last block and a half 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. 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! Angry tears are this close to spilling over. How. Dare. They? My detective friend, the one I keep on retainer, has collected the goods on several of their upstanding board members. Fat manila folders on my desk are stuffed with arrest reports, mug shots, affidavits. There’s domestic abuse, prescription drugs, insider trading, statutory rape. And everything kept on the hush-hush with payoffs and bribes. But they’re rejecting me? Oh! I could have their asses for breakfast. One by one. But…
There’s Riccardo. Lying in my arms just last night, he reminded me of what derailed us the first time. How did I forget? He traveled a lot for the record company back then and 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 will be the FIRST to know! Do you feel me?