Industry Insiders: Robert Childs, All Suited Up

When menswear designer Robert Childs first entered the offices of Thom Browne, he was a student at FIT and an intern at Adam Kimmel. He saw himself designing extreme sports ware and didn’t own a suit. “Never once did it cross my mind where I was like, ‘Man, I want to work for Thom Browne,’” says Childs. “It was actually kind of the other way around. I was always telling my friends, ‘I’m in fashion because I never want to wear a suit.’ I just kind of stumbled into it.” Now Childs spends his days overseeing Browne’s meticulously tailored designs, from start to finish: “My job is to help Thom realize the collections from concept to the show. Pretty much anything he needs to get done, I facilitate.” This season, that includes Thom Browne’s much-anticipated first collection for women. Here’s Childs on the new collection, the Thom Browne design process, and his own intriguing story—how he went from community college drop-out to showroom staple.

First interest in fashion: I don’t know when I first got into fashion. I was a junior or a senior in high school and me and my friends were skateboarding, wake boarding, and surfing a lot and doing a bunch of ‘alternative sports.’ I wanted to make clothes we could wear because the clothes that I wanted to buy were never cool enough.

On Plan A: I had the bright idea to go to business school. My friend at the time was moving to Gainesville, Florida and I didn’t apply to any colleges at all. So, I moved to Gainesville and decided to go to community college because my friend had a house up there. I dropped out of because I hated business school. I moved back home and just kept working on what I was doing. My mom’s friend taught me how to sew and I wasn’t very good at it at the time. I was like, “F*** this.” I applied to FIT because I thought I wanted to go right into the fashion end and design.

On his experience at FIT: I got an acceptance letter to FIT, packed up what little things I had, and moved to New York. I was this little guy from Key West moving to New York. It was crazy. Every day waking up and going, “Wow. I’m in New York City.” Went to school for two years. Got an Associates Degree. Learned to sew like a badass. Never once did it cross my mind where I was like, “Man. I want to work for Thom Browne.”

On how he got the job: It was absolutely bizarre. I knocked on the door, walked into this office and everybody turns at me. I’m super casual and everyone is in a suit. Everyone just looks at me and I’m like, “Uh. Uh. I just wanted to speak to the design director or whatever. You know…Is Thom in?” They’re like, “No.” The CFO at the time came up to me and said, “What do you need?” I was like, “I just want to hand you my resume. I work at Adam Kimmel upstairs. I’m looking for a job. I was hoping you could hand this to Thom for me.” And, he said, “Okay. I’ll give it to the design director for you.” The next day or the day after, Thom calls me up and he’s like, “Hey Rob. It’s Thom. I want you to come in for an interview.” I went home and banged out a little project for him. I did like 12 or 15 looks. I brought it in and presented it to him. I was freaking out thinking about what I was going to wear to this interview for the guy who makes the best suits in the world. So, I borrowed a suit from Kimmel. I’ll never forget it. We sat there talking for a long time. I thought it went terribly, but I guess he liked me. The next day he called me and offered me a job. I’m super stoked.

On the day-to-day: My job is to help Thom realize the collections from concept to the show. Pretty much anything he needs to get done, I facilitate. It’s never visual. He doesn’t like us to look at inspirational pictures or anything like that. It’s more of taking from the everyday. We never use color charts. The colors develop as we develop fabrics. Nowadays, we’re developing 90% of all the fabrics we get. I never thought I’d be designing fabrics. Designing accessories and looks from start to finish, anything that he wants. It’s a lot of work, but it’s a lot of fun.

What he has to offer: What I bring to the table for Thom Browne is very not so Thom Browne which adds a cool mix to it. I get to think a lot more and think outside the box and push myself to think about these crazy, cool concepts that I don’t think I’d ever really think about if I wasn’t working for Thom Browne.

The end-result: It’s so cool to be able to work for five or six months then, though it is really short at the end – that show – it’s like 15 minutes and can make or break your entire six months of work. When, it’s done, it’s like, “Oh. It went so well.”

What to expect in the new women’s line: We’re gonna show in September at Fashion Week. I hope. That’s the plan. I don’t know how much I’m supposed to talk about. It’s gonna be very “Tom Browne for women”. A lot of fabric ideas for men translated to women. We’re also taking some of the more classic men’s fabrics and using them for women. It’s very tailored, but at the same time, trying to make it suit a woman’s body.

Favorite designers (other than Thom Browne, of course): I really like Junya Wantnabe. I’ve always followed what he’s been doing. I think that he a lot of the time really hits the mark. The other guy, Patrik Ervell, is based out of New York… and, Adam Kimmel.

Go-To Places: There’s a place called Five Leaves. Really good food. Been there a couple times and its tasty for sure. There’s another restaurant in the city, Dell’anima. It’s so good. Doughnut Planet for sweets. Then, of course, for a burger, I like to go to Shake Shack. I go when it’s raining. It’s wet, so nobody’s in line.

Industry Insiders: Drew Aaron and Hana Soukupova, High-End Addicts

Patrons of John DeLucie’s new Greenwich Village eatery The Lion will find works by Basquiat and other 20th Century art-world luminaries gracing the walls, all thanks to art enthusiast Drew Aaron and his wife, Czech supermodel Hana Soukupova. The couple, who met at a gallery opening back in ’06, immediately bonded over a shared love of Basquiat and Warhol. They’ve since acquired over 100 pop art creations, including more than a few iconic works. (Visit their midtown apartment and you’ll find various Warhols and works by Christopher Wool.) When they ran out of room on their own walls, they branched out to their friends downtown spaces. We caught up with Aaron to discuss the duo’s Lion connections and Hamptons exhibition, and their “heroin”-like addiction to collecting.

On how the couple started collecting: We began collecting about three years ago. We bought our first piece, one of Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans, and right away, we realized that we had the same favorite artists in common: Basquiat, Richard Prince, Warhol and David LaChapelle.

What they love about their choice artists: First of all, they’re all contemporary, modern artists, so I think right away we realized that we were both drawn to modern art. We both like the field of Pop Art. The art that we’re drawn to has somewhat of a commercial component to it, but is, at the same time, something very original.

On acquiring new work: A lot of it comes down to luck and timing. I think that because we have close friends around us who are serious art collectors, we had the strong advantage of having them help guide us through the process. David and Libbie Mugrabi are very close friends of ours and our neighbors in the Hamptons. They’re also the largest private Warhol collectors in the world. Chris Brant and his wife, Felicitas (who is our art advisor), are two of our best friends and we were able to learn a lot from seeing what they were doing and choosing what we liked most from the artists that they were buying.

Dream pieces: I’m on the lookout for a Richard Prince Joke painting. We’ve made several failed attempts to buy one at Sotheby’s and Christie’s, but were subject to heavy outbidding due to the dramatic increase in pricing over the past year. My wife is equally interested in a Richard Prince Nurse painting. The two are the most iconic genres of what he’s done. It’s an ongoing family battle on which we’ll get first.

A question of limits: Depends on the day. A lot of times, you get caught up in the momentum. When we go into an auction, whether we’re phone bidding away in Europe or actually in the auction house ourselves, in Christie’s or Sotheby’s or Philips, a lot of times you set a limit and then, all of a sudden, you’re there and you’re bidding on a piece in front of you. Your emotions start to change. Before the auction begins, we try to always decide what our limit is, but once in a while, you feel that you’re getting close and you’ll break the rules.

On art as a vice: Art for us has been like heroin. Once we start buying, we can’t stop. It consumes us. It truly is the only thing that I can think of that’s lethal and legal that’s out there. It really does become an addiction. There are many times during the week where we say, “We’re going to bid on one piece, but whatever happens, we’re not buying a piece of art this week.” On certain weeks, it happens. On certain weeks, it doesn’t. We’ve probably acquired 100 important pieces over the past two years, which is when we started heavily collecting. After filling the walls of our new space in the city, designed by Mark Cunningham, and our home in the Hamptons, we turned to The Lion. We’re friends with the owners of The Lion and we’d offered to share some of our private collection with them. There are some works by Damien Hirst, Eric Freeman, Basquiat, David LaChapelle, Gretchen Ryan, and many others.

On the summer Hamptons project: It’ll start on June 1 and go until late October. It’s going to be a 15-year overview of David LaChapelle, his work and his career, showing how he evolved from the fashion photography world back in ’94 until now, where his focus was solely on art. It’s going to be about 50 different pieces from the beginning when he started shooting working for Interview magazine to his present day work. It’s almost like he wasn’t the same photographer as he is today when comparing his fashion photography of the ‘90s to some of his recent masterpieces like the Museum Flood & Deluge. Hana curated the Hamptons show herself.

On Basquiat as the new bond: The stock market went from 14,000 to 7,000 over the past year while the post-war art world has doubled and tripled in value, especially contemporary works and more modern artists. Warhol, Basquiat, and Giacometti have each created records. A recent Giacometti sculpture sold for $104 million and it was an edition of 10, not even a one-of-a-kind. Technically, combined that makes those 10 works worth well over a billion dollars. People have realized that there’s some type of security in art. Blue chip companies like General Motors filed for bankruptcy this past year and so did many other prominent companies. Warhol’s dead. Marilyn’s dead. Investing in a Warhol Marilyn is a much safer bet and the best part is that you can live with it in your home and enjoy the beauty of it while it’s in our strong opinion a very lucrative investment at the same time. One thing that Hana and I have as a family rule—an investment strategy, and also as a personal strategy—is we won’t buy a piece that either or us don’t completely love and we won’t buy a piece by an artist that either of us doesn’t truly believe in for the long term. Our new favorite newer artist who’s starting to get a lot more recognition is Glenn Ligon. We just bought our first piece by him last week and now, of course, we’re looking at another one. Another top on our list that we don’t own as of yet is Baldessari.

Final words: Art’s a risky habit to get into as it’s truly addicting. It’s great in the sense that if you buy art you love and the market appreciates, you can increase the value of your collection while getting the enjoyment of being surrounded by amazing works, but it can potentially consume you and even get out of hand. You get to the point where you’re hanging art on walls that you don’t even have room to hang. In the city, we’ve started to hang pieces in the hallway outside of our apartment.

Photo by Brett Moen. More on their website.

Industry Insiders: Todd Selby, Inside Man

Fashion and interiors photographer Todd Selby never dreamed he’d spend his days behind a lens, much less shooting inside the homes of creative icons like Karl Lagerfeld and Christian Louboutin. He grew up in the suburbs and worked a bevy of eclectic jobs—Tijuana tour guide, exotic flower wholesaler, and Japanese clothing designer to name a few—never having considered or even heard of a career as a photographer. All that change when Selby moved to New York and began working at Details in 2001. Selby began taking photos of his friends and their homes, developing his own portfolio in his spare time. These pictures—intimate glimpses into the lust-worthy (and often cluttered) spaces of artistic personalities—soon became the buzz of the design community by way of Selby’s photoblog, The Selby.com. We sat down with fashion’s favorite voyeur to talk Selby beginnings, dream subjects, and his new book, The Selby in Your Place. Details after the jump.

On what brought him to photography: I’ve enjoyed it since I was a kid. I used to do it a lot when I was growing up when my family would travel. I didn’t know about being a photographer. I knew about National Geographic and the person who did school portraits, but I never knew that an editorial or advertising photographer existed. After I moved to New York City, I got involved with different design stuff and learned photography. I worked for a magazine and I thought I wanted to work at a magazine. Then, I realized that photographers had the most fun. That’s kind of the coolest job.

On the beginning of The Selby: On the weekends, I started developing my portfolio, taking pictures of my friends and their homes. Some of the same people that I shot for beginning The Selby were the same people who I shot for my portfolio in 2001.

How The Selby went from personal project to what it is today: I worked for a long time in media work and in London doing portraiture. For magazines I would do a portrait of a band, do a picture of an author in their home, do some celebrity portraiture—I tended to shoot people in their spaces. I just thought it was a lot more interesting than just shooting someone in the studio in a space that had nothing really to do with that person. Then, I wanted to do a personal project based on my interests. So, I just started out doing The Selby as something for myself. I thought it would be kind of cool and fun.

On his blog becoming popular: In the beginning, nobody looked at it. It was just me and my friends. By word of mouth, they’d send it to their friends. Then, other blogs talked about it. It just started getting really, really popular. As it became more and more popular, people started e-mailing me and sending pictures of their places.

His first subjects: I’ve been excited by a lot of the people I’ve photographed, to be honest. Especially in the beginning, when I was just starting out and people were just like, “Yeah. It’s cool. Come.” In the beginning, it was just me and my friends. I’d say, “I’m doing this project. As a favor to me, just let me do this thing.” Then, people started being down with it and excited about doing it and that was really exciting to me.

On the 9-5: I don’t miss any of that stuff. I feel like it’s fun and good and healthy for people to do a lot of different stuff and try things out. I think that I did that and it was really fun. I think my job right now is really amazing. I get to travel. I get to meet really interesting people, go to their house, find out all about them. It’s intellectually stimulating for sure. It’s really fun and artistic and creative. It’s pretty awesome.

The most lust-worthy space he’s photographed. I’m not a very jealous or envious person. I just go in. I’m happy with my own place and my own things. I approach it more as an interest in how other people live. I feel like the Neistat Brothers who are in the book have a really cool office space. I think I was the most inspired by their workspace. In my space, I have all these hard drives and cords that drive me really crazy, but they actually took all the cords and tapes and everything and made it into a cool display.

Dream subjects: I’d really like to shoot the Obama family in the White House. I’d like to shoot the astronauts living in the international space station. I really want to shoot Ralph Lauren and Bruce Weber. I think he’d be really interesting. Those are my top picks.

If time and space weren’t an issue… I’d like to shoot me and my family when I was a kid.

On his new book: I’ve worked on it for so long. Most of the shoots in the book have never been published before. I put a lot of love into that thing. I think it’s a lot of fun. It’s not just my website in a book form. I think it really adds a lot to the whole thing.

Upcoming projects: I do a fair amount of advertising. I shoot for Vogue Paris. It’s a style and home kind of thing. I did my first shoot for American Vogue recently, which was really cool. I do a lot of cool editorial and I just always try to keep working on my own website and doing a new post every week.

Go-to spots: The Smile for dinner. You know The Smile on Bond Street? And, Il Buco for lunch, also on Bond Street. I go to Saltie on Metropolitan in Williamsburg. I was just there today. I love the Jane. Now that it’s reopened that’s exciting for me.

Image by William Gentle.

Industry Insiders: Shareef Malnik, Dean of Decadence

When The Forge Restaurant | Wine Bar first opened in Miami in 1969, it was the talk of the town. It’s been 42 years and the restaurant’s seen more than a few transformations, from ’70s steak-and-Sinatra standard, to coke-fueled ‘80s club-hub, to South Beach’s reigning celebrity haunt during the gaudy ’90s scene. During this time, one thing’s remained constant: The Forge is hot. And the man behind the heat is Shareef Malnik, owner for 19 years running. He grew up busing the restaurant’s tables, inheriting the space from his father in ’91. Now, he’s responsible for Forge’s most drastic re-incarnation yet; this March, the restaurant re-opened after a $10 million, one-year renovation. Blond wood took the place of brooding mahogany, $700 bottles of Cristal gave way to $8 pours, and Executive Chef Dewey LoSasso was brought in to breathe some much needed life into the classic, albeit intimidating menu. White linen is gone for good. We caught up with Malnik to chat about The Forge Restaurant | Wine Bar’s recent changes, his Top Chef-style selection of LoSasso, and the toned-down scene he sees in Miami’s future.

On getting involved in the family business: I was born in Miami Beach and did all my schooling in the area, through to Law School at Miami School of Law. My family’s been in the restaurant business ever since I was about 10 years old, so I’ve always worked in restaurants although I didn’t know I was going to end up a restaurateur. After I finished law school, I left the country and bounced around for a number of years. In 1991, I moved back to Miami because Miami Beach was starting to become something very interesting. There was this great underground buzz happening called South Beach. At the same time, there was an opportunity to take over my father’s restaurant and reinvent it. So, I put my heels in and got to work. I’ve been doing it ever since.

On the history of The Forge: The Forge is 42 years old and it’s seen a lot of changes in the world. In the ’90s, The Forge really fell in line with what was happening here in Miami Beach and it went kind of crazy. The ‘90s were all about excess.There’s 10 years of crazy experiences that make up one giant, crazy experience. I really mean that. The excess was just outrageous. Miami Beach was very celebrity-driven in the ‘90s and everybody was just flocking here. Everybody in the world ended up at The Forge—eating too much, drinking too much, and partying too much.

Well, that must have been fun if not a little bit intense over a long period of time… It was fun while it lasted, but nothing is meant to last forever. Period. That’s just the way of the universe. Those days are gone. That Forge—you don’t cater to a culture that’s not there anymore. The Forge has been modified.

On the iconic restaurant’s recent renovations: When The Forge was originally designed in 1958, it was unique, progressive, and eclectic. Although I pretty much gutted the entire restaurant, I thought it was important to tie in where we come from with where we’re going. You can find the original brick wall line the main dining room next to some beautiful French millwork next to a panel of stainless steel. I wanted my clients to feel at home and that meant more couches and less seating so that it was less rigid, albeit still in an elegant room. It really worked. It was very important for me to break this image that The Forge might be pretentious and stuffy, only for special occasions and grand dinners. The final step was the food and service. We have all kinds of food on the menu. If you want to have a five-course meal or a ten-course tasting menu, you can. Generally, most people are going to come in and try five or six of our snacks and share a couple appetizers and maybe even have a salad for dinner. Those dishes are all over the menu, like the Lobster PB & J. It’s whimsical and fun, but it’s also a seriously great dish. The service is the final brush stroke. You can get as much or as little as you want.

On selecting Chef Dewey LoSasso: The Top Chef thing was that, what I’ve found over the last number of chefs, is that personality is key. There are a lot of great chefs and there are a lot of people who can cook, but that’s only one aspect of it. It’s being able to work with somebody and live with somebody. In the restaurant business, it’s a life commitment and you’re a family. It’s fortunate that in this case you can choose your family. Usually, you can’t. You choose right or you’re going to have a miserable existence. I really feel strongly about Dewey, his skills and his integrity as a person. He truly has become a member of my family. I chose Dewey by having chefs come into my house. They would start prepping the day before so I would be able to see them. The next day, they would actually cook for and serve eight friends in my dining room. It wasn’t so much about what they made as It was to see that this a person we can work with and does he have great skills. Dewey was the standout.

On the new clientele: The crowd is more diverse. It’s so great to see every age, every type. It’s a beautiful thing.

On the future of hospitality in South Beach: I’m seeing a lot more casual, a lot more approachable…[Laughing] Basically, the things we’re doing. I’m seeing a lot more natural ingredients, farm-to-table. Those seem to be the trends happening in the future. Those are the restaurants that I’m eating at.

Go-to spots: I like Michael’s Genuine very much. Michael’s has got a great burger. I like Sra Martinez. I love Michelle Bernstein and she’s got such an assortment of great half-plates. I love them all.

Future plans for The Forge: I’m looking to do another Forge now that I have this new re-branded restaurant. This summer, I’ll spend some time in London looking around, maybe Los Angeles. Of course, ultimately, New York City. I’m looking at an airport concept. I also really love our wine bar. It’s really an interesting thing where you can be served by a sommelier and have that experience, or you can go and grab a wine card and a debit card and load it up and go and try wines by the glass. We have a Forge Wine App as an iApp. You can rate the wines and share on Twitter or Facebook. People don’t always need to be spoon fed everything anymore. You can be your own sommelier if you want to be. I think that’s very important.

Canadian Club Launches Trek Around the World

Thirty some years ago, Canadian Club launched a rather unique ad campaign: they hid 25 cases of whiskey in remote locations around the world and released clues in the form of local and national ads. People–read single men in their twenties–got into it and spent days, weeks, and in the case of some, months, hunting down the booze in such exotic locals as the Great Barrier Reef, Death Valley, and Mt. Kilimanjaro. Now, the campaign is back, and we have to admit, it’s kind of brilliant. Starting this Monday, CC will be re-launching the old hunt in the form of a three part, viral competition.

Round one encourages consumers to log online and play CC related games. Top players (anyone who successfully completes five out of six tasks) move on to round two in which they’re asked to submit a video explaining why they should be selected to go on the next booze hunt. Eight of these participants will be selected by way of public vote, and here’s where it gets interesting. These finalists, made up of four Canadians and four Americans, “will join us in the quest for the case in an amazing adventure across the globe,” writes CC on their website. “The Americans will be competing against the Canadians in the adventure of a lifetime, exploring exotic locations, trekking through uninhabited and unusual lands, racing the clock to solve the clues and find the elusive case.” No details on exactly where these “adventurers” will be wandering, but if past locales are any indication, the Club will not shy away from the risky or remote. The winner takes home 100K, and the whole excursion will most likely be broadcast online. It’s Amazing Race meets Survivor guided by The Thirsty Traveler Literally, Kevin Brauch is the host.

We checked out the launch event at the Explorer’s Club uptown last night and here’s what we learned: the clues are tricky (we tested samples in teams; ours lost), the odds aren’t bad (one marketing developer suggested 10,000 participants as a possible goal), and the drinks are quality (but we knew that already). Interested in participating? Go here.

Industry Insiders: Michaelangelo L’Acqua, Global Warming

When Michaelangelo L’Acqua first entered the high stakes world of music-meets-high-fashion, he couldn’t have been more blissfully unaware. L’Acqua has spent a decade working with designers like Tom Ford, Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, Michael Kors, John Varvatos, Jil Sander, Chanel and Diane von Furstenberg on nearly 150 fashion shows and 200 commercials. L’Acqua is far from naïve about the industry, and as a seasoned vet in an ever-thinning circle, he’s diving into his new position as the W Hotels’ first ever Global Music Director with unbridled enthusiasm and bohemian sensibilities. L’Acqua has been busy producing the W’s 8th CD, crafting a digital mark for the brand and drumming up more than a few live performances. More on L’Acqua’s W plans, history in the industry and memories of the “velvet mafia” after the jump.

Fashion backstory: I used to play in funk and soul bands. Then, I wanted to be part of the bigger picture so I moved into production. After I’d been producing music for a while, I got invited to produce a Cynthia Rowley fashion show with my old partner who didn’t know anything about producing. We did a bunch of remixes for the show, and the next thing we know, a production company called Kevin Kline and Associates heard about the remixes and how people were just going nuts about them. They asked me to audition, and then, I was on a plane to meet this guy Tom Ford. I had no clue who he was. When I landed in Paris, I turned to my old partner and said, “How is he related to Ford trucks?”

On Tom Ford: When I met him, I was like, “Hey, Buddy! How you doing?” Everybody else was like, “We don’t look at him in the eye directly. You have to have a ten foot distance away from him at all times.” Working for Tom was one of the most intense moments of my entire life in the creative world. He’s a man who had such unbelievable vision in what he wanted to accomplish in fashion and in life. When I started, it was one of the largest moments in fashion. It was the passing of the torch. Yves Saint Laurent was just stepping down. Saint Laurent hated Tom Ford because he thought he was selling out to a person who wasn’t like Saint Laurent. He was such an epic character and Tom was more of a marketing genius. Tom acquires the most talented people in the world and orchestrates them to create his vision. For me not to have known anything about fashion and then thrust into that world was insane! I’d have to create a soundtrack like a score for a film and visualize it from the words that Tom would say. He’s the only other man that made me cry other than my father. He’d refuse the word “I can’t.” I used to say, “I can’t do this!” He’d just look at me and say, “That’s not part of my vocabulary. You’re gonna do it or you’re back to oblivion.” Every move you made could be your last, but if you did what he wanted, you were like a prized dog.

Career highlights: One was the first season of Gucci where Tom was inspired by the movie Magnolia , and I did remixes of Aimee Mann songs for the show. The level of attention we received having no one know who we were at the moment was incredible. Then, the first season of Yves Saint Laurent when Yves Saint Laurent stepped down, everybody was waiting for that show. There were people who were expecting Tom to fail and people who were expecting Tom to be the next God. We were told, “If you fuck this up, not only will you never work in fashion again, but we’ll probably break you. We’re gonna get the velvet mafia on you and you’ll be in some ditch somewhere.” Other shows that stand out are John Varvatos when he won the CFDA Award for Men’s Designer of the Year. We did the show in Florence, and it was this America rock icon show inside of an abandoned church that had been burned out. We opened it up with Jimmy Hendrix playing “Star Spangled Banner.” Every single person in that room just had chills straight down to their toes.

On DJing: I grew up in a time when you had to be the baddest motherfucker on the block. If you weren’t, you wouldn’t get the job and you never got hired again. Now, it’s changed. A lot of it is about who looks good in a skinny tie and all this other shit. I watch DJs, and it’s not about the skill that they put into their craft. I still approach it like the years where I was an artist or a musician. I wish more kids put more time into their craft these days.

Favorite DJ’s: There’s this one guy, Lincoln Madley. He’s a slick little brother–plays everything and his knowledge of music is phenomenal. There are a couple guys I like in the city. One guy’s named Jesse Marco. He’s real good. There’s another guy named Ian Boyd who is really good. And, my old friend Jordy.

On being the Global Music Director for W Hotels: It’s the culmination, the convergence of all the things that I do and that I have done. From working with advertising agencies, in fashion and scoring commercials, producing records, behind the scenes executive producing to managing egos and talent in the corporate mindset. I find myself working with the W at a time when the industry’s completely falling apart. There are no rules anymore. Whatever worked three years ago, chances are, is not working now. I feel like an artist. I’m a creative person who can just throw some stuff up on the wall creatively. Then, pick the pieces that mechanically work well together. Present it with a partner like the W and say, “This is the direction we can go.” People are now being forced to be more creative and let go of the institution or they’ll sink with the institution. I feel I’ve never been more creative in my life than right now. Working with the W has given me the platform to really help them have a voice out there.

Current projects: We’ve just launched a new record, Symmetry, and I’m in motion to prepare for the next record. I think we’re gonna depart from your standard compilation. We’re taking it more into original content. Within that, it’s developing the relationships and identifying the right artists that could be a part of this record. That’s a day-to-day project even though it may be nine months out. Then, we have the Symmetry live events. We start the first one in Los Angeles with Janelle Monae. We might be doing something with Kelis in Miami for swim week. We’re developing our DJ series, as well. So, we’ll do record release parties and we’ll pull in maybe Golden Filter, maybe Aeroplane in six or seven different cities throughout the US. We’re working hard to develop our digital initiative so that we can come out in 2011 with a whole new interactive platform.

Go-to places: I love places like Bianca and Florio’s, Momofuku Noodle Bar, Barrio Chino, all these Lower East Side joints. La Esquina. There’s a bar called Ella on the Lower East Side that my friends own. I’m excited for the Downtown W, happening in the next few weeks.

Side gigs: I’m producing a festival in Southampton in August. We secured the rights to the land and it’ll be a 1000 to 1500 person festival. An all-day event with ten bands of epic proportion. Then, I’m producing a Mafia Opera that I’ve been writing. It’s a cross between Tony and Tina’s Wedding and Rocky Horror Picture Show. It’s an homage to Martin Scorsese’s mafia films. I’m hoping to premiere in August at a place like The Box. The project’s called Tommy Shine Box and The Mirrors. Everybody sings.

Christian Siriano Named Youngest Ever “40-Under-40″

Move over Alexander Wang. Project Runway prodigy (“Tim Gunn…realized within 30 seconds of meeting Mr. Siriano that he was special”) and industry wunderkind Christian Siriano has won over the critics – and now, the economy. The designer was named one of Crain’s “40-under-40,” an honor typically reserved for the who’s who of finance and philanthropy – other winners include 39 year-old Seth Pinsky, the head of the city’s Economic Development Corp, and 38 year-old John Lockwood, executive director for the city’s Habitat for Humanity.

“The day that Lehman Brothers collapsed in 2008, Christian Siriano had meetings scheduled with buyers from various retailers,” writes Crain’s New York Business. “They all canceled.”

“The sassy young designer, who had just shown his first solo collection during Fashion Week, knew he needed to be more than a runway wonder to succeed in the era of the great recession. He quickly diversified.”

In came talon-esque shoes for Payless, an LG lotus promotion and a Victoria Secret cosmetic line. A Secret deodorant plug and $20,000 deal with Bertolli were denied because they didn’t fit the image he was trying to develope. (“I cried,” says Mr. Siriano, recalling the day he rejected the Bertolli offer.”)

Now, Siriano sells his high-end ware in Saks and Neiman Marcus. Revenue is up 75% since 2008 to $1.2 million and sales are expected to grow an additional 40% this year. Recession be damned.

Siriano will share the secrets to this success in a “really documentary style” Bravo feature this Monday. “It’s very like The September Issue, very Valentino [The Last Emperor]. We want it to be as cool and as real as possible,” Siriano told The Cut way back in November. “It’s going to be really serious, like not so campy. There are a lot of moments that are just silent and like working and like really how serious the business is, because it’s really hard, it really is.”

Here’s a sneak peak:

*We’ve been informed by Steven Kamali’s publicist that he was also 24 years old when named to the list in 2006

Sahali’s Crash State Dinner, Score Reality TV Show

Rumors of reality stardom have been simmering for months. Now, the truth is out: White House party crashers Tareq and Michaele Salahi will indeed be staring on Bravo’s Real Housewives of DC. Sources have let slip that the couple’s shameless stunt was none other than an attempt to get on the boob-tube – not the “embarrassing” – i.e. brilliant – endeavor to befriend MObama that we once hoped. And, as I’m sure you’re wondering, the White House visit will be on air, quite possibly as the season finale. Only in America.

The Daily Beast reports:

“After one of the most visible reality-TV series auditions in history—yes, Bravo cameras were on hand as the Salahis arrived for that ill-fated White House event—the couple has now been fully embraced as the focal point of the series, expected to premiere in July…. A source close to the series tells The Daily Beast that Bravo executives were more than relieved to learn the Salahis wouldn’t be prosecuted.”

No kidding.

“In-house viewing of the audition footage and sample programs made it obvious that it would have been next to impossible to edit out the commanding presence of the statuesque platinum blonde, Michaele.”

Should make for quality reality programming – not to mention ample evidence of our theory of Michaele as the classy Heidi.

Of course, the reality audition wasn’t completely harmless. It did cost one woman (White House Social Secretary Desiree Rogers) her job. The Sahali’s hope to clear up this and other “misunderstandings” in an upcoming tell-all. “People will be surprised when the truth about the Salahis is finally told,” says Sharlene Martin, the couple’s literary agent.

No word yet on who the other “alluring and discriminating” housewives will be.

Todd P Hosts Anti-SXSW Across the Border; Total Chaos Ensues

Sometime in the wee hours of the morning, Todd P’s three-day DIY rock fest in Monterrey, Mexico – MtyMx, call it the anti-SXSW – drew to a close. Now, the reports are in, and – brace yourself – there were some bumps along the road. Shuttles were canceled. Tents disappeared. Bands dropped out and the crowd waned (to estimated 500 from the expected 1500) – to say nothing of the drug war raging along side.

According to The New York Times, around one third of the 75 scheduled bands – including big names Washed Out, Toro y Moi and No Age – didn’t make it to stage. Thee Oh Sees apparently tried – and failed– to cross the border at least twice. Another bus full of bands left SXSW, only to turn around 15 minutes later in fear of “[breaking] down long before they arrived.” Of those that managed to wait out the 10 hour-plus trip and slide past customs, “confusion and schedule shuffling” intervened, says the Times, “almost obscuring cathartic sets by Dan Deacon, Andrew WK, Das Racist and the Coathangers, among others.”

The Village Voice offers a slightly different perspective:

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and:

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In rough translation, “I had to bathe myself to be fresh for the last day of MtyMx. So much fun, so many friends….” and “those haters are funny, because in the end, everyone I see is happy, drunk and dancing.”

also:

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“Das Racist is drinking tequila outside of 7 Eleven.”

So, there you have it. Apparently, all was not lost at MtyMx. Sure, Todd P. had a little more trouble getting the promised camping equipment across the border than anticipated. (Turns out, hauling 300 military tents through the border in the midst of a gorilla-style drug war is harder than thought.) No doubt a couple parents didn’t want their kids partying in the violence-ridden city. Small Black, Beach Fossils and about 20 other bands didn’t make it, but, if twitter’s to be trusted, those that did had a good time. And tickets were $30 as advertised. That’s a feat in-and-of itself.

We’ll leave you with Todd P’s own recap: