Joey Lawrence on the Art of the American Sitcom

Joey Lawrence has enjoyed a career as a television actor for nearly thirty years, getting his big break on the sitcom Gimme a Break before landing the definitive role of Joey Russo on Blossom. After stints on dramas like CSI: New York and coming in third on Dancing with the Stars, Lawrence is back as a sitcom star, playing opposite Melissa Joan Hart on the hugely successful ABC Family comedy Melissa & Joey, the second season of which premieres on Wednesday, May 30 at 8:00pm. Lawrence also heads his own production company, as his early start has allowed him, at 36, to have a keen understanding of the Hollywood system. I spoke with Lawrence over the phone about his show, how the half-hour comedy has evolved over the last decade, and which former sitcom actor has shaped his own career trajectory.

You and Melissa Joan Hart both reached fame as child actors. Did you have a bond based on your similar history?
Not on the show, no. We did My Fake Fiancé for ABC Family, which was the first time we’d ever worked together. It was the highest-rated TV movie of the year, and the network came to us to see if we’d be interested in developing a TV show. We found some good writers and came up with characters each of us felt comfortable portraying. The pilot was the highest-rated premiere ABC Family ever had, so they picked us up for 30 episodes. We’ve shot 45 episodes now.

Did you know each other before the film?
We had know each other, yeah, we had known each other for years. Both of us started in New York together.

And you also directed an episode this season?
I did.

Is that something you’ve been eager to move into?
You know, I went to USC film school. I directed several episodes of Brotherly Love back in the late ’90s. It just makes sense, man. I’ve done 500 episodes of TV, you know, and it’s just something I should be able to be fairly confident at. It’s a lot of work when you have an on-camera load like I do on the series because you’re in every scene and you’re directing. It’s easier when you come in for four or five scenes and you can focus more on the directing and less on the acting stuff. I’ll do some more in the third season.

You’ve been doing sitcoms for a long time and they’ve all been multi-camera shows. It’s interesting how American TV has embraced single-camera shows like Parks and Recreation, The Office, 30 Rock in the last few years. But it seems like multi-camera, studio-audience element is coming back.
I’ve never done a single-camera TV show, I mean obviously in movies and stuff. I don’t know, sometimes that works and a lot of times it doesn’t work. I think that the geniuses, 65 years back, when they created television—I’m talking about The Honeymooners and I Love Lucy and those shows—really the half-hour comedy was taking theater and putting it in a box. They wanted to capture the energy of live performance that everyone could see in their homes. That’s why an audience is a whole other character. Depending on how big they laugh, that changes the dynamic of the rhythm of the scene instantly. I think it’s very integral to the half-hour comedy, The industry has been pushing the single-camera thing. It definitely makes for a much more honest form of acting—you don’t have to project as much, which I appreciate. That sort of helped the multi-camera sitcoms, because now people are coming back and bringing that same sort of realism to it instead of the broad comedy where hijinks ensues. I appreciate it because I came back to it and they’re not asking me to mug, and there are none of these goofy moments. I think a lot of that has to do with the quality of acting in the single cameras.

It’s sort of interesting when you talk about playing to an audience, is that something that’s more difficult because you are on camera and have to be aware of not being super dramatic in that way?
Yeah, it’s one of the hardest parts, the performance part of it. I mean, the hours that you work are not as hard as a drama or a single-camera show. The cast of Modern Family will shoot two or three scenes a day and there’s no pressure because you can tweak it and go back and redo scenes. For us, each episode is 55 pages, and Melissa and I are pretty much on every page. You have to know the entire piece; this is like a play, and if you don’t know it, it’s just not going to work. If we do a scene in front of a live audience and it doesn’t work, they rewrite the scene and within minutes we’re doing a scene that is 80 percent new lines that we haven’t done before. But I love that, I love that for this medium. There is something exhilarating about it, and you get that rush when your audience is screaming and yelling when you nail a joke. It’s like theater.

You kind of forget about that—there’s the extra layer of playing to the audience as well as a camera.
Oh yeah! If a shot doesn’t land right… It’s almost like live TV. We used to do that—when I was on Blossom and Gimme a Break, we did two live shows.

I don’t remember that!
Dude, you talk about a rush…and back 15 years ago, that’s when a lot of people are watching our shows. It’s not like today when they go, “Hey, five million people, wooo!” Because there’s so many different many channels, you know? Back then, in the Blossom/Fresh Prince era we were averaging 24 share, can you imagine that? That’s bigger than Idol, bigger than everything today. We did it live and knew that 23 million people were seeing it. I love that 30 Rock did that again.

That’s a really good point… It seems like the live kind of music competition shows and the reality shows have taken the focus from comedies and dramas, which is what was the focus on TV for so long.
Yeah! There are so many pieces to the pie now, and so many channels. And with DVR, we still do not yet have a proper rating system. We were the highest-rated premiere ever on ABC Family, and our show does very well for them. There’s a ratings point whatever it is like 2.44, which means that two million people are watching, right? But we were not on in the rest of the world—that was just North America. Yet I’m getting tweets from all over the world—from Spain, from Europe, Czechoslovakia, from Southeast Asia—from people who are watching the show online, whether they’re watching it legally or illegally. So in today’s world, who knows what the rating is; it could be tens of millions, but there’s no way to track it. I know we’re really pushing as an industry to try and get this Nielsen rating system readjusted because it’s such an antiquated system. Back in the day when there were 75 million TV sets in the country and there was a box on every third one, you could tell that two-thirds of Americans were watching a show? But today, who knows?

And the invention of DVD, too.
Yeah! Exactly. It’s ridiculous. So I think the numbers are much greater because there are many more eyeballs today, so I think millions and millions of people are watching these shows. Nielsen has been around from 55 years! Don’t you think it’s time to change the system?

It also prevents shows from getting the chance to develop into something.
Totally. Seinfeld would have never been Seinfeld. Nobody watched that first season.

There are so many shows I can think of where I completely skipped the first season.
You’re right, they really very rarely will give a show time to breathe. We would never had have hit shows like The Simpsons or Seinfeld. Married with Children? No one watched that first season, and the show was on for 12 years. A lot of these networks are run by marketing executives rather than creative people; all they care about is the numbers right now, and if they don’t get the numbers the first night, it’s over. We probably wouldn’t have some of our greatest shows if that’s how it was in the past.

What other projects are you working on?
Well, my production company is in full swing; we have a slate of shows we’re producing for other networks. We have a show on Nickelodeon coming out called Rock the House; it’s kind of like Grease meets Glee for 14-year-olds. Dude, it’s awesome. And we got two other shows we’re working on with MTV. Hopefully over the next few years we’ll have a nice blend of reality competition shows and scripted series. It’s exciting, and that’s part of what I need to do as a business man. I want to focus on more features in the next five years. I turned down a lot of the teen movies when I was in my twenties in order to bank on myself now. I just wanted to wait ’til I was older. I could have made a lot of money if I had done She’s All That and these kinds of things, but it would have been completely over-saturated what I was known for and that would be it. I wanted to have the career I always dreamed of, and for a lot of men that doesn’t happen until we’re 35. Look at someone like George Clooney. He didn’t get ER until he was in his thirties.

I think people forget that he was on those later seasons of The Facts of Life.
Exactly! The guy was basically playing a Joey Russo-type on The Facts of Life. Who would have thought that guy would now have an Oscar? Nobody. The guy is in his fifties now, and his career definitely changed when he was in his late thirties. That’s what excites me. Bruce Willis did the same thing; he did Die Hard when he was 33. Harrison Ford played Indiana Jones at 38. We’re lucky as guys that it really doesn’t get cookin’ ’til we’re in the our mid-thirties, and we can work until our late sixties. That’s what I banked on, because my dream would be to do something like Die Hard—I think that would be my dream role right now.

Photo courtesy of JSquared Photography

Kimberly Snyder’s Guide to Healthy Bites in LA & NYC

As a self-proclaimed health nut, I’ve been a fan of celebrity nutritionist and beauty expert Kimberly Snyder for years. Her blog has always been a mainline for holistic guidance, healthy recipes, and overall inspiration, so seeing her name appear in magazines like Vogue and watching Vince Vaughn give her a shout on Letterman is pretty fantastic. To celebrate the launch of her first book, The Beauty Detox Solution (buy your copy in stores and online today), I caught up with Snyder to discuss her top spots for healthy dining and drinking in the two cities she most frequents: Los Angeles and New York.

Los Angeles Best brunch & lunch: Venice Beach Café (1512 Pacific Ave.) “It’s right on the boardwalk, so it’s great people-watching. Offers organic salads and above-average brunch options like vegan scramble (non-soy!), veggie tacos, and a portobello veggie burger.”

Best dinner: Cru (1521 Griffith Park Blvd.) “It’s cozy, has good energy, and offers a delicious mix of raw and cooked vegan food. Also it’s BYO, so you can bring your own organic booze.”

Best group dining: The London West Hollywood (1020 N San Vicente Blvd.) “If you call ahead, Chef Anthony can create a healthy, customized menu to suit your taste. He did my book launch party, and with my vegan, gluten-free and soy-free constraints he created insanely good food, like it was his culinary specialty!”

Best drinks: Newsroom Café (120 N Robertson Blvd.) “A vegan-friendly spot right on trendy Robertson Boulevard with a juice bar and vegan smoothies. There are lots of interesting people to check out, as well as a great newsstand full of mags to read at the bar or if you’re flying solo.”

Best-kept secret: Inn of the Seventh Ray (128 Old Topanga Canyon Rd.) “It can be a real challenge to find an elegant, candlelit nighttime restaurant that serves organic, local vegan entrees as well free-range options for the omnivores. Well, here is it! And it’s right next to a bullfrog-filled stream, to boot!”

New York Best brunch & lunch: Quintessence (263 E 10th St.) “If you can nab a spot at this tiny East Village jewel, you’ll be happy to find ‘normal’ brunch items like bagels and lox made vegan and raw. Tastes just like non-vegan brunch food, but their version is exceptionally good for you!”

Best dinner: Candle 79 (154 E 79th St.) “This elegant vegan restaurant’s great food and elegant atmosphere makes it worth the trip to the Upper East Side. For romantic dates, I recommend reserving a booth upstairs.”

Best group dining: Blossom (187 9th Ave.) “Along with having absolutely delicious, mouth-watering vegetarian cuisine (with lots of non-soy choices!), the restaurant is situated in the cutest little building in Chelsea with a great seating area upstairs for groups.”

Best drinks: Flatiron Lounge (37 W 19th St.) “Located in a 110 year-old building, this art deco styled lounge plays classic jazz while you sip on your cocktails infused with fresh fruit.”

Best-kept secret: Bonobo’s (18 E 23rd St.) “Besides the double-doozie of having been under scaffolding for years because of construction next door and being sandwiched between fast food joints, this tiny place off Madison Square Park is a great casual lunch place. Try the nut-meat salad with kale and the macadamia nut pate. And don’t forget the durian ice cream!”

Where Celebs Go Out: Marc Jacobs, Amanda Lepore, Adrian Grenier, Emma Snowdon-Jones

At David Barton Gym annual toy drive: ● MARC JACOBS – “In Paris, there’s a small club called Montana, and there’s a restaurant called Thiou. Bars I really don’t hang out in. Oh, there’s this great club that happens once a month in Paris called Club Sandwich. And it’s at the Espace Cardin. And everyone gets super dressed-up, so it’s really, really fun. I try to go whenever I’m in Paris, if it’s going on. And we stay out all night and just dance like crazy. And in New York, my favorite restaurants have always been the same. I love to eat at Pastis. I love the Standard. I love Da Silvano. I eat in the lobby of the Mercer a lot, the hotel. I usually go to Pastis for lunch, and there’s a sandwich that was on the menu, but they don’t make it anymore, but I always insist that they make it for me. And it’s really fattening, so I shouldn’t eat it, but it’s chicken paillard and gruyere cheese and bacon. And it’s so delicious. It’s really good. And it’s my weakness. It’s just like the most perfect sandwich.”

● DAVID BARTON – “Oh, I can’t think where I like to hang out in Seattle except my new gym! There’s a great place that just opened up in New York, up on 51st, called the East Side Social Club. Patrick McMullan is one of the partners there. He’s co-hosting with me tonight. Great place; really cool. It’s very old world, kind of like going to Elaine’s, kind of little cozy; sit at a booth; very cool. Love a little place called Il Bagatto, over on 7th between A & B — little tiny Italian place, East Village, kind of a neighborhood place that I go to. What else? I don’t know restaurants. I’m very casual. I’m so not that into food. I mean, I could eat cardboard — I’m just not into food! I like people. I like atmosphere, but I’m just not that into food.” ● AMANDA LEPORE – “I definitely like Bowery Bar and I like Hiro. Boom Boom Room. Just anywhere where everybody is, I guess! [laughs] Novita, I like, my friend Giuseppe. Any favorite dishes? I try not to eat too much! ● PATRICK MCDONALD – “My favorite restaurant in New York is Indochine. It’s been around for 25 years. Jean-Marc, I adore. I love the bar at the Carlyle. I don’t drink, but I like to go there for tea in the afternoon. And I love Lady Mendl’s Tea Salon on Gramercy Park. I love Pastis, Odeon, and everywhere. I like the French fries at Pastis.” ● PATRICK MCMULLAN – “I love going to Waverly Inn downtown. Boom Boom Room is fabulous. That’s really a new, great place. SL, on 409 W. 14th Street, down below is nice. Of course, I have the East Side Social Club that I’m involved with, and that’s great for hanging out in, for eating. Favorite dishes anywhere? Oh, I don’t know, just anything that people recommend. I usually go with what people recommend ’cause most people know what’s good — the waiters know, so I think that’s the best thing. Red wine is good to have to drink sometimes. They have a drink called the Eastsider at the East Side Social Club that’s really good; any of their pastas; their ravioli is great there. What else do I like? That new place that’s open, the English place, on 60th in the Pierre — Le Caprice, that’s a nice place. At the Waverly Inn, I like the macaroni and cheese. It was funny because the macaroni and cheese is about two dollars less than a room at the Pod Hotel, which is where the East Side Social Club is! The Monkey Bar is fun. There are so many cool places in New York. I just go where people tell me to go.”

At elf party for Santa Baby 2: Christmas Maybe:

● JENNY MCCARTHY – “In Chicago, I would have to say Gibsons Steakhouse still; in Los Angeles, Katsuya, still love that sushi; I’m addicted to it. And in New York, Koi. I’m very trendy and boring, but, hey, that’s where the good food is, so …” ● PERI GILPIN – “In L.A., we like BLT a lot. We have five-year-old twins, so we’re like in bed by nine o’clock — pretty boring. Corner Bakery for soup.” ● CANDACE CAMERON BURE – “L.A., hands down, our favorite restaurant is Gjelina, which is in Venice. And we love Craft; love Michael’s in Santa Monica. Here, in New York, my favorite restaurant is Lupa, which is a Mario Batali restaurant; love it here. And I don’t go to clubs anymore, nightclubs; I don’t ever! At Gjelina, they have a burrata with prosciutto and, usually, a warm pear or a warm peach. I love that! I really love tapas. I enjoy getting a lot of appetizers, more than just a main dish. We, actually, have had our own wine label, Bure Family Wines, for two years, which is at several restaurants, so matching the food and the wine is a big part for us. We’re big foodies” ● DEAN MCDERMOTT – “There is a great bar, Ye Coach & Horses in L.A., on Sunset. I’m so bad at this stuff! Oh, Katsuya, in the Valley, awesome sushi. It’s our favorite place. We go there like three times a week.” ● KEN BAUMANN – “In New York, my favorite restaurant is Il Cortile. It’s in Little Italy, and it’s run by this guy named Stefano, and it’s incredible, phenomenal food. In Los Angeles, my favorite restaurant’s gotta be Cut, which is in the Beverly Wilshire Hotel.” ● SHAILENE WOODLEY – “Honestly, I’m not really a club kinda girl. I’d rather go to a local bar with some friends and hang out there. Or just go back to my house and have people come over. I’m more of the congregate-at-my-house kind of chick. I’m 18, so I don’t drink, so I don’t go to bars. There’s a place called the Alamo, which has karaoke and it’s a bar, but we go and karaoke there probably once a week.” ● FRANCIA RAISA – “I’m not a big club person. I really like bars and lounges. In L.A., I like to hang out at Buffalo Wild Wings, watching sports and drinking beer with my friends. I really don’t go out that much. I hang out at home and have my own glass of wine, watching Grey’s Anatomy. Oh, I just tried this restaurant yesterday at Gramercy Park Hotel. It’s a new, Italian place — Maialino. It was amazing. And again, I’m very simple, so I like pizza, and John’s Pizza out here is amazing to me, too. And hot wings I like at Planet Hollywood. I’m obsessed with them!”

At Zeno “Hot Spot” launch party @ MTV Studios:

● SKY NELLOR – “I am a huge sushi fanatic, so I just had Katsuya three times in two days in L.A. What is it about Katsuya? It’s the baked-crab hand roll in a soy-paper wrap. It’s just so yummy. I want one now! In New York, I have a fixation with Bagatelle. I just love the fish and the veggies. Nightclubs, nightlife, oh, my God! Apparently, I’m a really good bowler, so I hang out at Lucky Strike everywhere — Miami, L.A., Kansas! We just had a bowling party, and I won, so … Oh, they didn’t let me see my score. I just kept getting strikes to the point where they were, like, ‘Give her more shots! We have to stop this girl!’ And the drunker I got, the better I got. Clubs — if I’m going to go out, I’m going to go out to dance. And I’m going to go where the DJ is playing. I don’t care what club it is. I went to a dive in L.A., at a party called Afex, just because some of the best DJs were playing that night. Like, I don’t care about the crowd. I don’t care about the scene. I care about the music. I don’t think the venue has a name. I think it’s called No Space. They just move the party around.” ● SUCHIN PAK – “I have a great place. It’s called Broadway East, and it’s on East Broadway. And I love it because it’s a beautiful space, but also it’s literally across the street from my house. That always helps. And then there’s a really fantastic place called Bacaro. Oh, it’s amazing! It’s downstairs. It’s almost a dungeon-like place. The people that used to do Peasant, the wine bar there, moved to this place. I like to say the Lower East Side on East Broadway is where the grown-up hipsters go. For a true Lower East Sider, it may not be true Lower East Side, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve moved more south than east, and I keep trickling that way.”

At charity:ball for charity:water:

● ADRIAN GRENIER – “Brooklyn. Fort Greene. Habana Outpost — it’s run mostly on solar power, and it’s a sustainable business.” MARK BIRNBAUM “Well, if I do say so myself, Abe & Arthur’s on 14th Street; SL, the new club underneath it. I still love Tenjune. And I like hanging out at home other than that. What about places other than your own? So I shouldn’t say the Chandelier Room, in Hoboken? I really like going to Bar and Books in the West Village — that’s our spot. You know where else I like to go? Miami — the new W South Beach is unbelievable, by far the best hotel down there. The design is incredible; the pool area is very nice; they have good restaurants there — there’s a Mr. Chow’s and the other one is good; the rooms are really nice; it’s very well done; it’s just very fresh, the entire thing; and the artwork is incredible. You don’t feel like you’re in South Beach — not that there’s anything wrong with it — but it’s really, really, really, well done.” ● NICOLE TRUNFIO – “I just found this really cool jazz club in Paris where they still dance to old, rock-and-roll music in partners. It’s a location undisclosed. I don’t remember what it’s called. It’s in the Saint-Michel — it’s just off it. You can jump into a taxi, ‘cause we went to a jazz bar called the Library, but that was closed. So we asked the taxi driver, and he took us to this place. So, I’m sure lots of local French taxi-drivers would know the place.” ● LAUREN BUSH – “Oh, gosh, I’m like so uncool! It’s such an obvious question, it’s so hard … I’m a vegetarian, so I love Blossom restaurant. They have a good, quinoa-tofu dish. It’s like gingery. It’s really good. ● EMMA SNOWDON-JONES – “I love Le Bilboquet because it’s consistent, and mainly wherever your friends are it makes the place. It’s on 63rd, between Park and Madison. I’ve gone there since I was in boarding school. I’d come into the city on the weekends, and I’d go there. I think anyone that’s been in New York as long as I have knows it. That’s a really, bloody long time, sadly. As good as my Botox is, it’s too long!” ● KRISTIN CHENOWETH – “I am an old-fashioned girl, and I still love Joe Allen’s. I go there all the time. And right next-door above, is a place called Bar Centrale, and I go there, too. I was just there last night for three hours. I like the manicotti at Joe Allen’s. It’s excellent!” ● JULIAN LENNON – “Probably the Jane bar and the Rose Bar in New York.”

At launch of S.T. Dupont in-store boutique @ Davidoff on Madison Avenue:

● RON WHITE – “I love the bars in Glasgow, Scotland. You could go sit in a bar by yourself and in five minutes, you’d be talkin’ to 10 people because they’re so curious about anybody that walks in that’s not normally in there. They just want to go talk to ’em and find out what they’re about. They’re just as friendly as they can be. I was there for the British Open, or the Open Championship, as it’s called. And if you go to a bar in New York City, you can sit there for the rest of your life and not meet another person because they’re not really gonna come up to you and go, ‘Hey, what’s up? What are you doing in town?’ That just doesn’t happen here.”

NYC: Healthy Restaurants to Balance the Holiday Bulge

I just got back from a wedding. In Florida. A normal wedding would not have been as detrimental to my waistline, except this one was a combined vacation, right? It’s a wedding and it’s vacation, and when on a vacation wedding, you’re allowed to eat and drink as much as you want. But it’s okay because I’m going to start a healthy fast this week. Yup. No eating meat or dairy or anything Gwyneth Paltrow deigns to ingest. So basically, I’ll eat nothing solid for the rest of the week, and I’ll be back on track for the holiday season. Oh, I forgot. Thanksgiving is this week. And before that I have drinks with a friend in town for the holidays, and then I am having a pre-Thanksgiving feast with people who will be out of town for the actual feast. Then there’s the actual feast. I’m not the type of girl who skips special occasion eating, and I am not the kind of girl who’ll down pro-biotic liquid chalk while everyone else has stuffing. So balance, I need balance. I need smart restaurant reservations amid all of the customary gorging. Here are some healthy alternatives to even out your This Is Why You’re Fat holiday binge-a-thon.

Organic Avenue (Lower East Side) – Do-gooders open up a health nut’s paradise and we’re all better for it. ● Angelica Kitchen (East Village) – Neighborhood veggie powerhouse is the anti-Mickey D’s. No cell phones, no booze, no credit cards. No coffee either, the stuff they peddle doesn’t even come close to getting those teeth grinding. ● Blossom (Chelsea) – Way more stylish than its culinary kinfolk, the crunchy health nuts here totally shower on the reg. ● Josie’s (Murray Hill) – Lots of glowing girls fresh from NYSC, nibbling on oven-roasted free-range chicken, tofu duck, and Japanese yams. ● Pure Food and Wine (Flatiron) – Say goodbye to a future of pacemakers and a gut the shape of China. Raw food is real food. Surprise your out of town pals with a reservation at this health-hole. Tell them it’s tres New York, so get over the raw part. ● Counter (East Village) – So healthy, it shouldn’t be this close to Blue & Gold. But it is, just in case you’ve indulged at happy hour and need to purge your poor diet sins. Meatless, organic, futuristic Jetsons-chic diner. ● The Pump () – Gay bar? “Energy food” actually, totally baked and never fried.Good for lunch, will give you some room for egg nog every once in awhile.

Industry Insiders: Stacey “StaceyPants” Bendet

Stacey Bendet Eisner is a woman of her own design. Deciding to forgo the Wall Street path early on, she entered the fashion world, becoming her own CEO, and after blazing the way for super original multi-colored jeans, earned her “StaceyPants” nickname. A mother to Eloise, wife to producer Eric Eisner, and often times a convivial hostess, the pint-sized powerhouse designer behind Alice + Olivia makes her work part of her life, and her life part of her work. Here she talks about her new ventures, her bi-coastal tendencies, and her love of Big Macs.

What are you doing in LA right now? Well, I’m out here the last week of each month. We have two shops here. We just opened a store out in Malibu but right now I’m actually on my way over to my store on Robertson.

You seem to juggle your public life with your family life. How are you able to multitask? Well, I think that my work is part of my life and my life is part of my work. It all goes together. Definitely having a husband and a baby you have to make some effort to balance things, but we do the last week of each month and then in New York for three weeks. Just kind of makes it work.

Does the whole family travel together? My husband actually produces and finances films so he likes to be out here more.

Alice + Olivia has been expanding. What’s in store for the future? We just opened a Malibu store. We have one of the biggest programs expanding for the next fall with 9T, our T-shirt collection. It includes all kinds of cool T-shirts at a little bit of a lower price point than some of our other stuff. Given the economy right now, it seems to be working really well. They are embellished, really detailed with lace or crystals or embroidery design. Some of them have necklaces attached. It’s more of a T-shirt you’d wear at night, not a shirt you’d throw on at the gym. We are also doing jewelry collaboration with Erickson Beamon, which will come out probably in November. We are discussing doing a possible makeup line that is not totally solidified yet but it’s something we are discussing.

What is the Alice + Olivia face? What would be the makeup aesthetic? It would be kind of signature Alice + Olivia, lots of blacks and whites. Black eyeliners, white sparkling eye shadows, and then pops of color like neon nail polish.

Aside from putting a face on the Alice + Olivia girl, what kind of girl wears the clothes? I think the Alice + Olivia girl is kind of that cool girl anywhere from 18-40 that likes to mix and match her outfits. And it could be anyone from the girl hanging out on the Lower East Side in one of our crazy dresses over a pair of jeans, to the more uptown girl who is going for lunch. Diversity is one of the things I focus on when designing a line. I like my pieces to be able to be worn by a wide range of people.

What are some of your favorite pieces? Right now I like all our new pants. We did all the genie pants and cargo pants for Spring that I really like.

What are some of your biggest goals for your brand in the next year? I think for the next year it’s just to keep the business clean, efficient, and leaner, because of everything that’s going on in the economy.

How do you feel the economy is affecting your own company? It’s been a wake up call. We were a little bit more lax about things, and now we are very much about being lean and efficient. We re-staffed and restructured in a way that is a little bit more reserved.

Is this affecting the materials you use or what you design? We’ve made an effort to have products that are at a low price point. I won’t compromise the quality of my fabrics or the garment for anything. I’ve tried to take a lower margin on some things so we can have a better price.

Many are mourning the death of their closets thanks to this recession. Can you give some advice on how to look great on a budget? I think it’s about keeping your wardrobe based around basics, and allowing yourself to buy statement pieces, like a great colorful bag or one awesome dress. Try to focus on things you can wear different ways. That’s why I love our t-shirts, because you can dress them up or down.

What inspires you? I think you’re inspired everyday of your life, and if you’re not you shouldn’t be a designer.

How would you describe your lifestyle right now if you were in work mode? I practice yoga everyday. My life is a little bit crazy and a little bit random. I’m kind of impulsive.

What about the way you design-what’s the creative process like? A little bit random too. We have certain things that we have to finish at certain times. Alive + Olivia is very much a collection of items, rather than putting out seasonal collections. We are making hundreds of things each month. The creative process builds off itself each day.

What are some of your favorite places to shop? Random vintage stores. The Way We Wore, Decades, Resurrection, Frock, Opening Ceremony, and Iris.

Where do you go out to these days? In LA we usually are pretty mellow. We love Il Sole, or Hamasaku for sushi. We have drinks with friends at the Chateau Marmont In New York we usually go to Rose Bar for drinks and we have dinners at Nobu, Waverly, Monkey Bar. I am always up for drunken bingo at Tortilla Flats.

What’s the best meal you’ve eaten in New York? I love Blossom for vegetarian and vegan food, I love Sushi Sen-Nin on 33rd street. Best meal? McDonalds. Nothing really beats a Big Mac and a strawberry milk shake. Definitely McDonalds.