Among the other things she’s worn: head-to-patent-leather-toe Chanel (tweed suit, thigh-high white boots) to the Juicy Couture store opening last year; the notorious sculpted Balenciaga floral dress to the 2008 Metropolitan Opera premiere gala; the voluminous hot-pink spatter-painted Dolce & Gabbana dress paired with fingerless leather gloves to the Costume Institute gala last year; a pant-less Lady Gaga look with the Rodarte blazer and Chanel combat boots to a New Yorkers for Children gala in April; and a purple and pink Jason Wu ruffled minidress to the opera just last month. Mr. Wu’s dress is the only of these she borrowed, since it had appeared on the runway in his spring 2010 show just a week prior and was not available for purchase.
“SHE REALLY OPERATES her closet like a business,” said Robert Burke, her good friend and the former men’s fashion director of Bergdorf Goodman. “She looks ahead and plans ahead and the way that she approached buying clothes is very strategically done.”
“She’s a sincere risk taker who doesn’t make her bold, unexpected choices simply and cheaply to turn heads, but chooses more from an almost unspoiled girlish glee in clothes,” said his colleague, Bergdorf women’s fashion director Linda Fargo. “Have you seen her full-wattage smile when she’s really decked? Someone should really bottle and brand her. Forget Barbie! Can you imagine buying Julie dolls and playing her video fashion games with that closet, imaginary places to go and business deals to seal?”
Ms. Macklowe stressed that her current shopping habit is an earned pleasure. Before she made her own money, she said, “I was very fashionable, but I was shopping at Contempo Casuals and Wet Seal and Charlotte Russe. You always have the appreciation, but you can’t always afford that stuff when you’re 21 unless you’re of a family that’s giving you money, which mine wasn’t!” (Ms. Macklowe’s father works in residential real estate in Arizona; her mother is a housewife.)
Julie’s husband, Bill ( who after famously bad-mouthing his own father in a Wall Street Journal article, took over leadership of the much-diminished Macklowe family empire in 2008), does not enjoy going to benefits as much and, according to his wife, is “amused” by her fashion choices. “For our fifth anniversary he has banned all benefits,” Ms. Macklowe told The Observer at the Whitney. Mr. Burke is often her date to various social functions.
“I’ve been to their house a number of times for dinner,” he said of the Macklowes. “They really complement one another. They both have a lot of energy. They have definite opinions. They are both very quick and witty.”
And who wears the pants? “Oh, I wouldn’t even get near that one!” he replied.
On this particular evening at the Whitney, Ms. Macklowe was accompanied by her friend Jen Failla, whom she introduced as a “hedge fund chick, too.”
When asked if she ever raids her friend’s wardrobe, Ms. Failla, who was wearing a more conventional Dolce & Gabbana gown, said, “Well, I could maybe wear her tops, but not her bottoms. They’re a little Shakira.” (Shakira was, in fact, also a guest that evening.)
The Observer told Ms. Macklowe that given the invitation, we would gladly borrow a few pieces. “Well, you’re little more badass,” Ms. Macklowe said.
“Hey, I’m badass, too!” Ms. Failla piped up, seemingly not wanting to come off prudish.
“Well, she has an image to portray,” Ms. Macklowe said. “I don’t.”