Sometimes, what a writer wears can be as important as what she writes. “Can I try the little lynx mini-top?” asks Plum Sykes, at the new J. Mendel boutique at Bergdorf Goodman. A furry shrug is produced—“Very cool, very bohemian, very Kate Moss–y, perfect for the Houston book party,” she says in front of a full-length mirror. “There are five book parties, you know!”
Indeed, in the next few weeks, New York, London, Houston, L.A., and possibly Palm Beach will fête Sykes’s Bergdorf Blondes, the tale of an unnamed heroine—she goes simply by “Moi”—navigating New York’s social world, filled with PAPs (Park Avenue Princesses), PHs (Prospective Husbands), and “ana” girls. “Someone once said to me, ‘Plum, you’re so ana!’ ” says Sykes, a five-eleven Brit with Ritalin-kid energy. "I was like, ‘Anna Wintour?’ She said, ‘No, you’re completely anorexic! I worship it!’ ”
Sykes, a 34-year-old contributing editor at Vogue and the more dramatic sister of a nineties “It”-girl twin set—“Lucy and I were Paris and Nicky without the sex tape”—received a $625,000 advance for her novel from Miramax Books in 2002. Bergdorf Blondes turns out to be a Devil Wears Prada where everyone is an angel. “I say, if you are lucky enough to go on gorgeous trips abroad, take your girlfriends something fashionable back,” reads one line. Early reviews are lukewarm (“Tacky? Absolutely,” said Publishers Weekly).
“It’s not an exposé!” says Sykes. “What was I supposed to expose, that society girls are adorable and funny?”
Sykes, whose broken engagement to painter Damien Loeb became “Page Six” fodder—as did the rumor that she then dyed her wedding dress black and wore it to Lucy’s wedding—today resembles nothing so much as a character in the book. After taking digital photos of herself in various dresses—“You have to, otherwise how will you know how you’ll appear in party photographs?”—she spots a John Barrett brow shaper walking by. “Eyebrow Lady!” she shrieks. “I need you! I really need you! I just can’t remember your name.”
Then it’s down to Soho House for a manicure, to be followed by dinner with a TV producer who might be able to book her on talk shows—"You know, Miss Devil Wears Prada goes on those,” she says. "What shall I wear tonight?” she muses. "I’ve got the cutest suit for my tour, but I’m trying to save it. It’s kind of like my book-tour costume.”