Fashion writer and social fixture Derek Blasberg has taken note of both good and bad behavior while hanging with a high-profile set of young women. He’s written a book titled Classy: Exceptional Advice for the Extremely Modern Lady.
What are your qualifications to write an etiquette guide for girls?
I grew up in the Midwest, so I have sort of an honorable moral code. But I moved to a city and joined a sort of fast crowd. A lot of people who grew up in the city sort of aren’t aware of manners and other ways of life and “common decency.”
It’s labeled for “young adults.” What age group is that?
I think it’s 14 and up. I’d like to think it’s sort of like the Preppy Handbook, where anyone at any age can pull something from it.
It’s got pictures of your friends.
There’s only a few places in here where there’s pictures of people that you might know. That’s Byrdie Bell. And then Katie Lee; she helped me with the hostessing section. [It also includes photos of him with Emma Watson, Barbara Bush, Chloë Sevigny, the Olsen twins … ] This isn’t like, um, you know …
“Look at who my friends are!”
Did you have to ask Anna Wintour and Tom Ford for permission to include their thank-you notes?
I don’t know. Did I? It passed legal! I didn’t think about that.
You write about throwing a black-tie dinner at the NYU dining hall.
It was my 21st birthday. And I’d saved up all my meals from the meal plan. There were some people that I’m still friends with, like Evan Yurman—David’s son—Arden Wohl, Tara Subkoff, Leelee Sobieski. I put down some sheets as white tablecloths. Someone spiked the punch.
You write that the government should send free cigarettes to trashy people. To make smoking less glamorous?
I think that’s the best way to get shallow people to quit smoking.
How do you keep a sense of perspective?
I try to go home to Missouri every couple of months. I do that because I like my family, of course, but my mom doesn’t know who Carine Roitfeld is. And as much as that horrifies me, it’s a good way to keep your feet on the ground.