Naomi struck me … as such a nice young lady. I am always taken aback by that phone-throwing, anger-management-requiring reputation of hers. I have been acquainted with La Campbell since the late 1980’s. She used to model for my old pal, the Turkish fashion designer Rifat Ozbek. When I first came to New York, I slept, for two whole years, under a rolling rack of ladies’ garments in the Ozbek wholesale showroom. This was a lot more fun that it sounds. When I staggered home to 60th Street after a long day of window-dressing at the old downtown Barneys, I never knew who would be rummaging around my nest trying on frocks. Sixteen-year-old Naomi was a regular. Sporting a halo of unstraightened hair, she would pop in for a fitting and a cup of tea. Putting aside her staggering physical beauty, she seemed like a typical skip-along South London gal. I would never have imagined she had it in her to become international tabloid fodder.
Did she ever hurl a phone at me? A hanger? She may have done, but given the vast difference in our respective heights, it probably sailed right over my head. The occasional hissy fit? Not on the occasions when Herb Ritts or Steven Meisel shot her for Barneys’ advertising. But if I had her legs—and I speak as somebody whose legs are pretty darned attractive—I would pull a diva fit every now and then. People expect it. People enjoy it.
Last Wednesday night, I watched Miss Thing vamping through the doors of Downtown Cipriani, fresh from a day of sluicing and scrubbing turlets. Even Danny DeVito and Rachel Zoe shut their gobs as La Campbell—white fur cape, huge shades—scythed her way through the sidewalk smokers to her waiting S.U.V., every inch the movie star, albeit sans movie. Vive La Campbell! Being that glamorous is a burdensome and time-consuming job: Thank God there is somebody prepared to do it. She should be applauded and thanked for adding sizzle and style to our humdrum lives.
While Naomi was doing her last day of community-sanitation work, I was up at Canyon Ranch in Lenox, Mass., and similarly occupied.
Let me clarify: When the john in our suite started spontaneously gurgling and overflowing, I surprised my husband with my knowledge of plumbing. I sloshed through two inches of water, removed the back of the toilet, grabbed the ball-cock and saved the day.
Recalcitrant toilets aside, my Jonny and I had a lovely weekend at the legendary spa. Canyon Ranch remains a great winter getaway, not just for New Age truth- and wellness-seekers, but also for deeply cynical truth-avoiders like myself and my Jonny.
The yoga classes are fabulous; all the teachers sound like Laurie Anderson. I kept expecting them to break into “O Superman …. ” My fave? The daily 5 o’clock meditation. Forget about the spiritual aspect of it, meditation is the new un-BlackBerry, the only remaining opportunity in our culture to do absolutely nothing.
Though the simple, portion-controlled Canyon Ranch food is delicious, the real plus is the mise-en-scène. Mealtimes are like being part of a massive feminist-art installation. While chomping at the Bellefontaine Mansion dining room, and reading about how Judy Chicago’s famous Dinner Party now has a permanent home at the Brooklyn Museum, all I could think was: “I do not need to go and see it, for I have lived it.”
Canyon Ranch is estrogen village. It’s all chicks, all the time.
If you’re a bloke and suspect that you might be a misogynist but aren’t quite sure, a stay at Canyon Ranch would provide the perfect litmus test. It’s all about a middle-aged woman.
Conversely, if you’re a guy with a fetish for middle-aged women, you would find Canyon Ranch the ultimate turn-on. There they are, frequently attractive and often in fine fettle, hordes and hordes of them.
I am in the latter camp. I love middle-aged women, especially middle-aged Jewish women. They are chatty and amusing, and they support retail, which in turn supports me and allows me to take trips to Canyon Ranch. (Make your rezzie today: call 800-742-9000.)
Though chockablock with Barneys gals, the best thing about Canyon Ranch is that it has never fallen into the trap of becoming trendy. From the beige-y Italianate room décor to the wombyn’s art and crafts that adorn the public spaces, there is, thank God, nothing hip about it. Naomi would find it trés naff. While the rest of the world has gone to hell in a style-obsessed hand basket, Canyon Ranch has remained appealingly earnest and fabulously frowzy, the perfect antidote to the bitchy screech of N.Y.C.
The motto of Canyon Ranch is “The Power of Possibility.” This should probably be changed to “The Power of Platitudes.” From the affirmations painted on the walls (“Happiness is not having what you want, but wanting what you have”) to the proverb-printed tea bags (“Wisdom sleeps in youthful moments”), everything is embellished with a message of wellness and healing. And all the guests—we contemporary urbanites are clearly starved for grandmotherly proverbs and axioms—were scribbling them down and savoring each one, including moi.
Here’s a good one I saved for Naomi: “Happiness is not the absence of conflict, but the ability to cope with it.”