At Costume National, in Search of Patty Smyth, Malcolm Gladwell Finds Patti Smith, Singing Praises of Oral Hygiene


Seeing a bespectacled Malcolm Gladwell step inside Costume National's party for Patti Smith this past Friday night piqued our interest. Is the New Yorker scribe and novelist a megafan? Or did he merely hit one of New York Fashion Week's final fêtes at the request of his friend, and companion for the night, actress Lake Bell? "Neither," he confided. "I got her confused. I thought she was the one who was married to John McEnroe, but that's another Patti Smith." Patty Smyth, we corrected him. "I was all excited by the fact that John McEnroe was going to be here and I guess I'm wrong," Gladwell explained, adding, "I'm simply crashing and so I'm happy with whatever happens."

Fortunately for Gladwell and the rest of the fashion and art crowd — which included Ryan McGinley, Bijou Phillips, Danny Masterson, and Alan Cumming — in attendance at Costume National's new Mercer Street store space, Smith treated everyone to a live performance that included a heartfelt rendition of "Because the Night," which she dedicated to her late husband, whose birthday fell on this past Sunday. Decked out in her iconic menswear uniform (which included Costume National men's pants, which Smith credits as "the best"), Smith was sporting a particularly unexpected accessory — a toothbrush still wrapped in plastic in her breast pocket. "I got it on the airplane. I always carry a toothbrush because, being a singer, sometimes after eating, you want to sing, and you just want your mouth clean," Smith said. "Also, when you're singing with somebody else, you don't want your bad breath in their face," she continued. "I once was on tour with Bob Dylan and we were singing on the same microphone and I was running around backstage trying to find a toothbrush. And I thought, 'never again.' I'm not uptight about things, but I like to have clean teeth. It's a good fashion accessory — the toothbrush, the clean teeth."