|Born||23 July 1963
Actually, I had no idea what shooting hoops was or were. I thought dunking was something you did with a beignet and a cup of steaming coffee. I wasn't exactly sure what a Knick was.
The whole scale and scope of the decorating and fashion business in this country are incomparably grander than in London. What's thrilling about America in general, and the New York fashion scene in particular, is its optimism. It makes the whole experience energizing and uplifting.
My tastes formed quite early. All I ever wanted to do was go to costume museums.
In Miss Catherine Middleton we have the faintest, intoxicating glimmer of a New Age Cinderella story.
When I was 14, I entered British Vogue's annual talent contest and got a special mention. I went up to London to meet the editors and wrote about it in my high school magazine.
For reasons that baffle me still, my high school sports coaches put me in the first division of the rugby, cricket, and soccer teams.
I kind of miss the hatchet days of Mr. Fairchild at 'WWD', when they really took no prisoners and there was sort of outrageous favoritism and its inverse.
I started collecting couture when I was about 10 or 11 years old, and the very first piece I bought was a Balenciaga suit from 1962.
After student years of flat-sharing and living with other people's taste, I went into decorating overdrive when I acquired my first apartment – its floor plan not much bigger than the vintage Hermes scarves I then wore side-knotted on my head, pirate-style.
Lady Diana Spencer looked to relatively unknown designers – David and Elizabeth Emanuel, recently graduated from the Royal College of Art – when she wed Prince Charles in 1981.
As a boy soprano in the high school choir, I later sang a solo during the carol service at Canterbury Cathedral, but I was too young to secure the Freddy Eynsford-Hill role in our production of 'My Fair Lady' – and far too timid to have thought to audition for it.
This is how I started: My mom was crazy for antique shops and junk shops, and my sister and I would play this game where, if we were driving with my parents and saw a junk shop or an antique shop, we'd scream at the top of our lungs. My poor father would have heart failure and screech to a halt, and we'd leap out and go and explore.
What an electric thrill it sends up and down the spine, how it sets the heart racing: A Royal Romance! A Royal Wedding! The pomp and the pageantry!
I was ten years old when my first 'Vogue' cover sang me its siren call and dashed me against the treacherous rocks of fashion obsession.
My childhood memories seem to be wreathed in the twin and far from harmonious olfactory sensations of patchouli oil and caustic soda.
I started looking at fashion magazines, specifically 'British Vogue.' I was reading a lot about Cecil Beaton. Then I thought maybe I should start collecting.
My interior is very, very dense – Proustian-looking, sort of Henry James. The walls are covered in pictures, and I transformed the big drawing room into a library lined with books.
I have Tom Ford, Gucci, Saint Laurent, McQueen, and odd pieces that I've just acquired because I happened to have come across them and felt they have some historical resonance.
Singing for me has always been a joyous but private pleasure that connects me in a lyric thread to my beloved grandmother Alice.
My mother is the sort of woman who not only can raise a chicken and roast it to moist perfection but, as she proved to my openmouthed sister and me on a family holiday to Morocco when we were very young, can barter for one in a market, kill it, pluck it, and then cook it to perfection.
In the face of postwar austerity, hundreds of brides-to-be across the country sent Princess Elizabeth their clothing coupons so that she could have the dress of their dreams.
Six feet three in her stocking feet, L'Wren Scott was every inch a great lady.
When I think of my childhood, I see my mother, the complete sixties parent, decked in purple frappe silk caftans, the acidic smell of newly stripped pine mingling with incense.
My obsession with accumulation, which at times has taken on the whisper of a psychic illness – as anyone who has experienced the ode to the Collyer brothers that is my 'Vogue' office will concur – began in infancy.
We're obviously in a strange environment where practically anyone can set themselves up as a pundit of sorts. It's all about sorting the wheat from the chaff, and I'm very interested in reading different points of view, and certainly different generations than my own that have such a very different world view.
Personally, of course it's exasperating when people think you're just swanning around in Europe, going to the occasional fashion show and then being glamorous at a party.
I have a confession to make. In the beginning, I did not understand the Kate Moss phenomenon.
When I started in 1992, I really thought the 'Vogue' fashion department was one of the most frightening places on the planet.
There are so many different criteria for my collecting, and I have to confess that the goalposts do shift. But obviously, with my background, I am particularly drawn to things that have been documented in contemporary magazines.
I was a fashion editor for years in London before I came to 'Vogue,' and I spent my life arranging the folds of a ball gown skirt for a picture and pinning fabric and using all those stylist tricks. And you don't have to do that now because they can do it in Photoshop.
I think there's much more fashion competition in the more junior levels of the fashion department. And that's exciting and stimulating to see, because it's 'Vogue;' it's great to see people dressed originally and with great style and panache. It wouldn't be 'Vogue' otherwise.
Although I have lived in Manhattan since 1992, for the better part of two decades I have remained in blissful oblivion of all matters sportif.
In the midst of applying for American citizenship, of finally attempting to get my presidents in a row, I felt it incumbent upon myself to explore the national psyche in every way.
I found myself at dusk in the bewitching Roman city of Jerash with H.M. Queen Rania of Jordan one year, and scrambling with hardened paparazzi to get an image of the Princess of Wales in a tiny Nepalese clinic in the foothills of the Himalayas another.
Occasionally, I will come across something that has lost its label over the years – maybe the client didn't want to declare the dress at customs and took the label out – but I'll recognize it from an image that I've seen in Vogue, or a little thumbnail sketch.
I literally in the New York flea market – just when I was despairing of ever having a great serendipitous find – found a 1926 Chanel.
Possessions. The very word is potent – suggestive as it is of ownership both material and erotic. To possess. Possession. Possessed.