The Quintessential Hostess
By Hillary Latos
Photos by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images
Hair/Makeup: Bella on Demand Beauty-Angel Morales, stylist
Thank you to The Warwick Hotel for the use of their space
Even if you're not a huge fan of reality tv shows, The Real Housewives of NY is as addictive as it is fun to watch and vicariously peer into the social whirlwind of parties, shopping and lofty living of New York City's moneyed yet opinionated denizens. One of our personal favorites has always been the arbiter of class and style, Countess Luann de Lesseps who will be back on Season 7. Here Resident catches up with the timelessly elegant Countess who dishes about her role on the show as well as new projects she has in the works when she's not filming- a best selling book, a newly launched clothing and jewelry line- The Countess Collection and a partnership with The Warwick.
Resident: Tell us about how you were chosen for The Real Housewives of NY?
Countess Luann de Lesseps: I met Jill Zarin at a party for the Michael Moore movie Sicko in 2007 and she invited me to her 4th of July shindig in the Hamptons and told me she was working on a reality TV show. When I came back in August she told me I'd be perfect for the show and I met with the production people, interviewed for it and got it.
Resident: Do you feel the show is based on reality?
Luann: It is an edited and produced TV show, but it is reality and it isn't scripted. It's what is happening in our lives, the places we shop, the charity work we do, the places we like to eat and what we like to do.
Resident: How do you get along with the rest of the cast?
Luann: Of course when you have new women there's a different dynamic, and for the most part I get along with most of the girls at this point. We're still filming so that could change, you never know.
Resident: You seem to be the most private of the cast; you never shot in your building.
Luann: I always put my family first. Just because you're on a reality show you don't have to drag out all of your marital problems on the show. People knew I was having problems at the time but I didn't want to play that out and have it out there forever.
Resident: How do your children feel about the show?
Luann: They aren't on the show that much; I've only brought them on to highlight things they like to do, like riding in the Hampton Classic or breakdancing lessons. This season Victoria has a piece in Art Basel, so we show her at the fair. The kids like it because they know I enjoy doing the show and they are very supportive.
Resident: What are some of the most memorable moments from the show?
Luann: For me one of the highlights was singing with Natalie Cole – that was incredible. Also, our trip to Morocco. I almost fell off the camel, I'll never forget that!
Resident: Any regrets about doing the show?
Luann: I try not to live my life with regrets. I've gotten to sing with Natalie Cole, write a book, had all these amazing trips, so absolutely no regrets.
Resident: What did you do before the show?
Luann: I was a model in the 90s with Wilhelmina and I used to live in Milan and worked in TV as a cohost on a Berlusconi soccer television program. I realized if I learned the language I could make a career out of it and studied at the Berlitz school. Then I met my husband while skiing in Switzerland and moved there and later raised a family. We had a summer house in the Hamptons and that's how I came to NY and lived between there and the city. I later sold that house and bought a new one in Sag Harbor. It's beautiful I love it out there.
Resident: What are you working on now?
Luann: I've partnered with The Warwick to create "The Countess: Hostess of New York" package to offer guests the opportunity to experience the things I love to do in New York City. Guests booking this package will receive a unique overnight stay where I first welcome them with a meet and greet cocktail party curated with my favorite cocktails and hors d'oeuvres, then take them out for an evening on the town. Within this overnight package, we have various archetypal options available including Downtown Diva, Broadway Babe and Chic Connoisseur – each of which features my proposed itinerary items such as dinner at Bagatelle, night cocktails at the Boom Boom Room, a private tour of the MoMA or tickets to Kinky Boots. While I've provided suggestions, these itinerary items can be further customized as I will modify offerings based on guest preferences. The Warwick is a perfect setting for this package; it was built by William Randolph Hearst for his paramour, Marion Davies, and that's where we do the welcome cocktails – in the Marion Suite. "The Countess: Hostess of New York" package is available through March 31st, 2015.
I'm also working on "The Countess Collection: Cruise 2015," comprised of 12 "chic made easy" styles grounded in black and white with accents of coral and jade. The capsule collection will be available on ShopHQ and all styles will be priced under $60, the collection will introduce a "perfect fit" signature jean, exotic zebra print separates, knot tie cold shoulder maxi dress, as well as figure-flattering tops with lace, sequin, and ruffle elements.
Resident: What part of the city do you live in?
Luann: I'm in Riverside Park, I love it there. I used to live in a townhouse on the Upper East Side, then I met Jacques and he lives on the Upper West Side. It's convenient and family oriented, has wide streets and its more of a relaxed atmosphere. Also my apartment overlooks the Hudson and the park. I love the river views.
Resident: What are some of your favorite restaurants and things to do?
Luann: I love all the different neighbourhoods in the city. On the Upper West Side, I love to dine at Jean Georges, it's a beautiful restaurant and I also frequent Lincoln Center, especially during fashion week. I also love to go downtown to the Standard and Omar's, which is cozy and the owner is a great guy from Argentina. I love the Skyline and Chelsea, and Sleep No More. The Red Rooster in Harlem is one of my new favorites.
Resident: What makes you a New Yorker?
Luann: I love the pace, and the fact that it's a melting pot and everybody has a chance to make it. It's a nonstop, never ending carnival. There's always something going on and there are always people in the street. There's so much culture and beauty. I love to be in it and live in the middle of it all.
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