The Phyllis Stine Diaries: Phyllis Meets Freud

Dear Diary:

April 26: C’est moi, c’est moi , Phyllis Stine. Sorry I haven’t written lately. Think I’m going out of my head. Still recovering from chafed neck which resulted from carrying white Prada shoulder bag slung across the torso as advertised. Consulted skin specialist Dr. Patricia Wexler, who says I take fashion too literally.

Still trying to get out of Carlyle hotel divorce purgatory. Every day the same thing: put on one of three gray silk and elastin jersey Hermès tank tops, Gucci gray wool pinstripe pants, Chanel stretch satin jacket and Manolo Blahnik alligator 4-inch pumps, and go look for apartments with Linda Stein–no relation–from the fancy Edward Lee Cave real estate firm. This aforementioned ensemble, to quote the French, is the outfit I think will get me past any co-op board in New York, although Linda Stein isn’t so convinced. She says think Jayne Wrightsman.

So every morning for the past two weeks I have awakened, ordered lemon slices and warm water from room service and sat there in the Carlyle wondering, what would Jayne Wrightsman think? But Mrs. Wrightsman isn’t coming through so easily, whereas Diane Sawyer is loud and clear even with the mute on. It’s the hair.

Was walking on Fifth Avenue the other day because I wanted to see the new Christie’s at Rockefeller Center, when I feared it would rain. Raindrops on Chanel stretch satin is not one of my favorite things, so I thought I would stop at Saks Fifth Avenue and purchase an umbrella. But was swept up in big throng piling into St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Found myself in a front pew at Joe DiMaggio’s memorial service. Let me tell you: If you need a handkerchief at a memorial service, don’t ask the Mayor. Security people were not amused.

Lastly, I’ve been having this recurring dream: The estranged Mr. Stine is a young soldier on leave in New Jersey and he is naked and there is this pot of rats. Then I always wake up. Try to read Amanda Foreman’s Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire . Georgiana was a real swinger back in the 18th century when getting pregnant not by your husband really meant something. Also been kept awake at night lately thinking about what Hillary Clinton can write in An Invitation to the White House , her hostessing book for Simon & Schuster. After a few paragraphs about dessert cupcakes and after-dinner cigars, what else is there? Which brings up another nightmare: I’m encircled by live pinstripes in the Kips Bay Boys and Girls Club Decorator Show House room inspired by Hillary Clinton. Am licked by a horse named Little Hans. Can’t escape.

April 27: Wake up. Try and imagine what Jayne Wrightsman would think. Fail again. I feel spiritually intercepted, probably because I never made it to Saks yesterday. Not looking for apartments today–can wear whatever I damn well please. Put on Jean-Paul Gaultier couture jumpsuit with fishtail legs and wing my merry way to Saks.

By the Hussein Chalayan counter encounter glamorous French woman wearing Yves Saint Laurent trouser suit. It’s Saks’ fashion director Nicole Fischelis, into whose arms I fall and tell her about my dreams of rats and Mr. Stine and she starts talking about Freud–Sigmund not Bella, the London designer. I go, “Bella Freud. I own the clothes. But the only things I like from Sigmund are the slips.” She stares at me for a long while. Then I admitted, “Botox.” No time for shame in the new millennium.

Dr. Freud is in fashion again courtesy of the Jewish Museum’s current exhibition, Sigmund Freud: Conflict and Culture . From April 30 to May 10, a bunch of designers (Geoffrey Beane, Calvin Klein …) are exhibiting frocks-as-art outfits inspired by Freud in the windows at Saks. Themes include fetish, fantasy, dreams, ego, obsession. I should really come back and see what that means when the windows open, so to speak.

For now, Nicole says ponder these fashion themes. Think Cubist Prada shoe. Think lavender silk, beaded Gucci pants.

April 27. Evening: Catch 7:30 show of A Walk on the Moon at the Crown Gotham. Don’t get it. The blouses weren’t that great.

April 28. Morning: Another upsetting dream. I was trying to hem my wardrobe but couldn’t do it fast enough and then I hired a seamstress named Dora who was hopeless.

Concerning Sigmund Freud, open pages of The Psychopathology of Everyday Life sent round from the Madison Avenue Bookshop and fall immediately upon this line, “A woman who is very anxious to get children always reads storks instead of stocks.” Well, Dr. Freud, we’ve come a long way and that just never happens now. Get Carolyne Roehm or Georgette Mosbacher on your couch and see if they slip up thusly! Or that adorable Patricia Duff whose mathematical equation, Storks = Stocks is Nobel Prize material.

Cancel apartment-hunting expedition as I have a go-see this evening for a possible role as an understudy in the Innocent Theater Company’s production of The Bad Seed written by Maxwell Anderson. Why not take up acting now? Everybody else is directing. Show opens May 6 at the Ohio Theater on Wooster Street. Big excitement, as the cast is mostly men and stars James Kaliardos, the famous makeup artist and co-founder of Visionaire, as Rhoda, the murderous little girl who wants fashion and all its glorious accessories so badly she kills. Lots of Freudian undertows.

Spend day toning voice as suggested by audio cassette of Julia Cameron’s The Vein of Gold , terribly New Age. Put on brown wool gabardine Miu-Miu dress with Michael Kors orange silk anorak and Fendi slides. Arrive at Ohio Theater. Stage set is designed by Jack Flanagan and Ruben Toledo. Confer with Isabel Toledo, costume designer for the show. “Rhoda is a mother’s nightmare,” she said. “I wanted to make the look disturbing, not campy. I want you to remember the emotion.”

Chilled, I’m sure. Decline to audition for understudy role as dream life is already dark enough. Even free spirits like me need to put both feet down on the ground sometimes.

Billy’s List: Quiz time!

1. Who are Stephen Miller Siegel and Nannette Brown?

a. Set designers for the new New York City Ballet production of Swan Lake .

b. Decorators who designed the Hillary Clinton suite at the Kips Bay Boys and Girls Club Decorator Show House.

c. Understudies in Closer .

2. What is the compelling feature of the Queen Amidala Fashion Doll collection from The Phantom Menace ?

a. It comes with its own lullaby written and sung by Mariah Carey.

b. It has a special Todd Oldham wardrobe.

c. Children can re-create the character’s elaborate hairstyles.

3. Who was recently caught at a train station outside Oslo trying to disguise himself in a blonde wig and sunglasses?

a. Marlon Brando.

b. Johnny Depp.

c. Paal Enger, the escaped prisoner who stole Edvard Munch’s painting The Scream in 1994.

Answers: (1) b; (2) c; (3) c.