Pretend It’s a Metropolis isn’t a enjoyable watch. It needs to be. A Netflix docuseries concerning the author and Manhattan socialite Fran Lebowitz complaining about New York? The definition of enjoyable. But, watching Lebowitz wander round pre-pandemic Manhattan in an enormous overcoat and taupe scarf, scowling on the metropolis in all its mask-free, lattice-shaped grandeur, it’s arduous to cease desirous about how painful an expertise it’s now that town – and Lebowitz inside it – is out of attain.
Lebowitz isn’t a style icon, however she is a method icon. Embodying the type of mental New York world she lined in her 70s column for Andy Warhol’s journal Interview, she would possibly discover the concept amusing. However we are going to by no means know, as a result of she’s going to by no means learn this, since she doesn’t have a cellphone, or a pc. Her solely Tweet, posted over a decade in the past, reads drily: “thanks for following me you persons are uber candy”.
Nonetheless, as a self-confessed coat-loving materialist, she can be hard-pressed to disclaim it. “I hate cash … however I like issues … I like garments,” she says in a single episode, enjoying with the sleeve of a crisp, white males’s shirt from Hilditch & Key. In one other, she launches into the origin story of her gold cufflinks made by Alexander Calder – the sculptor famed for his kinetic wire mobiles – that are most likely value about £50,000. Later, she wonders why she was refused a mortgage.
Lebowitz has worn the identical garments for the previous 50 years. Apart from the pastel blue and cream sweaters she wore in her 20s – however gave away as a result of they appeared “infantile” – and each blue moon a pair of Manolo Blahniks, her uniform not often deviates. It consists of the next: pinstripe blazers and broad-shouldered overcoats by Anderson & Sheppard, a Savile Row tailor whose solely earlier feminine shopper was Marlene Dietrich; Cuban-heeled cowboy boots, probably by Miron Crosby (though she received’t inform), initially worn due to an damage, but in addition as a result of they elevate her from 5ft 4in to 5ft 6in; many pairs of Levi’s 501 denims with the hems ironed up; Hilditch & Key males’s shirts; and, in fact, the tortoiseshell spectacles, initially by Calvin Klein however copied by one million hipsters. This led, hilariously however inevitably, to Lebowitz collaborating with the US glasses retailer Warby Parker.
If it appears reductive to speak about her coats as an alternative of her caustic wit, blame her habit to cashmere. Martin Scorsese, who co-produced the sequence and interviewed Lebowitz, is aware of this. He lets the digicam scan her from head to toe as she takes within the “singular sensibility” of Grand Central station, or sips Weight loss plan Coke from a goblet on the Gamers members membership, or walks over the 1964 Panorama of the Metropolis of New York at Queens Museum, these boots in protecting shoe coverings.
Netflix indulges it, too, having produced a promotional poster of the present wherein Lebowitz’s face turns into a doodle haircut and glasses. How many individuals, except for Ziggy Stardust, John Waters and Anna Wintour, are so acquainted they are often efficiently decreased to a cave drawing?
And Lebowitz is aware of it. For each quip concerning the superfluousness of artwork on subways, or individuals carrying yoga mats, she has an anecdote about garments. A favorite entails discovering herself entrance row on the 1971 Muhammad Ali v Joe Frazier struggle – the one the place Frank Sinatra pretended to be a photographer to get ringside. She tells Spike Lee that she had no concept what was taking place contained in the ring as a result of she was solely within the “incredible” fur coats and hats of the attendees.
Whether or not displaying Lebowitz with Betsey Johnson, carrying a dinner jacket to the sequin glamour of Studio 54, or suited and booted on stage with Toni Morrison, the sequence is a love letter to her sartorial triumphs. However it additionally reveals how they’ve grown richer with age. For the reason that 00s, Lebowitz has appeared (dressed) within the 2016 Pirelli calendar (“I assumed it was a joke”), in a cream dinner jacket on the CFDA awards (dinner jackets are her pink carpet go-to) and on the entrance row of style reveals for Carolina Herrera.
Lebowitz was once a fixture of style week, too. “I’m at all times excited about garments, plus there are lovely ladies,” she says. “It was an ideal factor to me. What may very well be extra good than a style present?” Now, she isn’t so positive. “I’ve at all times been excited about garments… which is why I don’t go to style week any extra, as a result of they’re not about garments,” Lebowitz advised AnOther journal final spring.
Style recommendation stays a part of her repartee – no to the small glasses development as seen on Kim Kardashian, sure to the cartoonishly giant Jacquemus straw hat of 2017. On menswear, she says she would sooner see a person strategy her with a grenade than carrying a pair of shorts. And as for yoga pants, it’s a agency no.
Lebowitz loves a superb coat however she additionally sees garments as an economic system and a metaphor. From skewering Donald Trump’s aesthetic as “a poor particular person’s concept of a wealthy particular person”, to evaluating the connection between Brooks Brothers and Ralph Lauren’s buyer base to the skyscrapers of New York and Dubai, she understands the function New York has to play in it.
Faux It’s a Metropolis is a pitch-perfect dream of Warholian events and consuming with associates, soundtracked by Lebowitz’s epigrams, which stack up like the recent canine buns of the Manhattan vendor she passes. However it is usually a celebration of her fashion, in all its well-tailored, smart, formality. In brief, come for the quips, keep for the coats. If it appears unusual to really feel homesick for a Savile Row blazer, it can make sense after watching this.