Top of the Classy
A peek into the jet-set life of fashion’s most popular gent, STL-bred Derek Blasberg.
It was mid-September of 2009 and the close of my first face-to-face encounter with Derek Blasberg. He’d signed off to report to his customary VIP seat—this time, at the runway showing of the Michael Kors Spring 2010 collection. Among the many more “regular” people who had piled into the Bryant Park tent, I was hip to the young insider’s reputation for reporting fashion news before such esteemed sources as Women’s Wear Daily and The New York Times—and so had a hunch his abbreviated report of the spandex-peppered, cutout-heavy lineup that later played out would come through my Twitter feed about as fast as I could take it in. Confirmed. Even before the lights dimmed, he was tapping on his Blackberry—setting the scene, heralding the spot as hot. “Whoa! Fabien Baron and Mario Testino are—no joke—having a front-row dance-off.”
It was the sort of fly-on-the-wall banter for which I had known him—and that continues to fuel his star status among most everyone with a Style.com app. Routinely recounting (@derekblasberg, which counts 70,000+ followers) such surreal outings as a private party at the home of temperamental supermodel Naomi Campbell or dinner alongside fashion’s Great Scot, Christopher Kane, Blasberg seems to possess an all-access pass to the beautiful people and every place they sip cocktails. While his current posts as editor-at-large for Harper’s Bazaar and senior editor at VMAN and V Magazine likely permit many an “in,” it’s safe to say he’s welcome regardless.
An industry veteran at just 29 years old, Blasberg launched his fashion career in 2000 upon graduating from Affton High School at the top of his class, and hightailing it to NYU. “During college, I worked at Elite Model Management, then I did PR at David
Yurman—and I finally got a job at W, working part-time,” Blasberg recalls. “My first full-time job, right out of college, was working at Vogue.”
It was there that, true to form, he made friends with editor Lauren Santo Domingo, who, at the time of our interview, was joining him in St. Louis as the official co-host of their joint nationwide tour. Meant to hype both Blasberg’s new paperback, “Very Classy: Even More Exceptional Advice for the Extremely Modern Lady,” and Santo Domingo’s foray
into luxury ecommerce, Moda Operandi, the junket made stops in ritzy hotels and the living rooms of wealthy socialites from New York to LA. “The tour is just as big,” Blasberg insists, regarding his dramatic move from sitting in bookstores to plug 2010’s
“Classy,” his New York Times bestseller, to partyhopping in celebration of its sequel. “I just made it so I didn’t have to feel like a pig at a state fair.”
Boy Next Door
Locally, the invites were sent by well-known arts patron Susan Sherman. A fan of Moda Operandi, she made time before guest arrivals to catch up and inquire about the connection to his fellow guest of honor. “Lauren is, like, my best girlfriend in New York,” Blasberg answered, while perched on a kitchen stool in Sherman’s Clayton estate. “You have a lot of those,” she rolled her eyes. “You had four other girls with you the last time you were here.” He remembered that an “amused” Chloe Sevigny was among them.
Defined by Steak ‘n Shake, Ted Drewes and Value Village thrift store, Blasberg’s STL stomping grounds would likely amuse much of his prepschooled circle—a theory that, no doubt, plays into his enthusiastic Midwest pride. Always one to entertain, he’s been known to post family videos on YouTube (including one of his Aunt Mary twirling a baton at the family’s Lake of the Ozarks vacation home), and whips out “y’all” whenever within hours of his uncle’s Hillsboro farm.
If he’s not rep’ing his roots by way of a Cougars tee or a Cardinals Halloween costume, there’s a good chance he’s working a suit, and powermingling—which, he admits, is not always the glamorous experience he’s known for portraying. In fact, his less favorable observations—of young women’s rampant irreverence for themselves, specifically—are what motivated “Very Classy” and its predecessor. Though mentioned by name just once, Snooki was a repeated topic of our conversation, which was centered on a clear message. If Blasberg has his say, girls will put p’s and q’s over GTL—and will decide that keeping up with current events is more important than “Keeping Up with the Kardashians.” They’ll ponder before going out in a mini, sans panties, and they’ll listen to the beau that resides on their right shoulder, versus Lindsay Lohan on the left.
New York Minutes
As he’s a contributor to a growing number of books, literary projects and publications, spying a Blasberg byline these days is about as common as hearing an editor hype florals for spring. His “party pics”-driven “Fast & Louche” column in Interview is among the many regular assignments for which he somehow makes deadline. “I think, in New York, you can’t help but get caught up in that excitement of doing, doing, doing,” he says. “But, that’s why I like to come home so much.”
His mother, Carol Blasberg, echoed this sentiment while making the rounds at Sherman’s impressively attended St. Louis soiree. “New York is a whirlwind, so he comes to St. Louis to relax,” she says. “He’s always working; I think we’re enjoying an Elton John
concert, and he’s taking notes on who’s there.”
Obviously driven by the rule, “Don’t rest on your laurels” (a phrase he quoted, twice), Blasberg’s career is ever-evolving, and it’s proof that hard work pays off. Take his road to TV—marked by several video snippets for Harper’s Bazaar, Louis Vuitton and Michael Kors. Together, they paved the way for his fresh appointment as a judge on Lifetime’s “24 Hour Catwalk.” A bright spot on the Alexa Chung-hosted series, the sockless third chair can be counted on to deliver a witty review of each featured contestant’s hurried designs (he labeled one model’s Native American-inspired look “Poca-hot-mess”).
Still, Blasberg has no plan to be TV’s next fashion doyen, or—despite his new blog, “Mr. Blasberg“—the web’s most-clicked style source. Really, other than completing his in-the-works third book that’s “more technical” than its predecessors (“I don’t want to jinx it,” he said, before changing the subject), he has few plans at all. “That’s the thing about fashion—it’s cyclical; it changes every six months by its nature. It can be, ‘Spandex is so out right now.’ And then, in two seasons, everyone could be wearing spandex. So, I don’t have a master plan; I don’t know what’s next,” he shrugs. “And, that’s sort of exciting.”
Photo credit: Attilio D’Agostino