Nearly a year later, Cutrone is still fuming over the Dupré incident. “I mean, Marc Jacobs would have had that girl in the fucking window!” she says, as a busboy with unlucky timing reaches for her plate. “I’m still eating that,” Cutrone growls. “Look, this is an industry that perpetuates the concept of whoredom. I mean, you take some 16-year-old laying on the floor in chains like she’s been gang-banged by a bunch of Russian businessmen—that’s called an ad campaign. But when it happens in real life, we freak out. I mean, ‘Oh my God, a woman had sex for money!’ What about every [trophy wife] that goes to Bergdorf?” The fashion world’s spun-sugar fantasies don’t generally make much room for the messy realities of life, she notes. “We are people who want to play dress-up all day—we don’t want to know about all the pain in the world.”
Designer Jeremy Scott, a longtime client, praises her brutal honesty, even though it can be startling. “A lot of people in fashion will just lie to your face,” he says. It’s her ferocious frankness that distinguishes Cutrone from some of her peers, many of them decades younger and arguably as enticed by being part of the scene as by promoting it. “I’m not interested in PR,” she says. “I’m interested in communicating. There’s a difference.”
That distinction is behind Cutrone’s new book, which is aimed, she says, at “young women and gay boys.” Part memoir, part self-improvement sermon (and conspicuously published by HarperOne, the spirituality imprint behind some of Marianne Williamson’s and Deepak Chopra’s books), it recounts Cutrone’s own fitful journey. After her arrival in New York in 1987, with a dream of becoming an MTV V.J., she writes, “the universe sent me an angel” in the form of writer and bon vivant Anthony Haden-Guest, whom she met at a party. The champion scene-maker became her own fairy godfather, providing her with a place to stay, a crash course in New York society, and a hookup with PR maven Susan Blond. Readers will also learn about Cutrone’s decision to become a single mom (her daughter, Ava, 7, was conceived during a passionate affair with Italian actor Ilario Calvo); her brief stint as a would-be music diva; her marriages to pop artist Ronnie Cutrone and, later, actor Jeff Kober; her bout with drug addiction; and her dramatic spiritual awakening.
In the all-white master bedroom of her apartment—a tidy floor-through just upstairs from the People’s Revolution offices—sits a small shrine where the publicist does her chanting. At a particularly dark period, her life was saved, she says, by a vision of the Mother, a spiritual guru. She is a devotee of Amma, the “hugging saint,” and views Hindu divinities Kali and Durga as “the true power girls.” According to Cutrone, the “ancient feminine” has been marginalized in our society. It’s her hope that Kell on Earth might help to redress the cosmic imbalance—even if it’s just via the occasional glimpse of a Hindu deity on the wall behind her desk. “TV is a powerful medium,” she says. “Think about Durga riding on her tiger, smashing down through the airwaves into America’s households. Somehow, somebody is going to be affected by that.”