The astrologist Susan Miller was speeding up Madison Avenue in a cab recently from Frederic Fekkai, where she’d had her hair blown out, toward Barneys, despite the fact that the young man at the Fekkai counter had been unable to snag her a last-minute reservation at Fred’s for lunch. She was clutching a cane; Ms. Miller’s left leg, which has a congenital defect, recently broke for the fourth time (2009 was a bad year for Pisces). The Observer suggested they try Rouge Tomate on 60th, to avoid waiting. Ms. Miller pulled up the restaurant’s number on her iPhone and dialed it. “I always pretend to be my secretary,” she whispered, raising the phone to her ear and taking on an officious tone. “Hello, I’m calling on behalf of Susan Miller at Elle magazine. … Do you have time for a lunch reservation right now?” she said. And then, flustered: “There are two of us.” She hung up. “I can’t lie!” she wailed.
Ms. Miller is known for telling her devoted readers exactly what the planets have in store for them, good and bad. Her lengthy monthly reports on AstrologyZone.com and in Elle—she began writing for the magazine in September, demanding two full pages—are optimistic but have “no sugarcoating,” said the designer Charlotte Ronson, whose chart Ms. Miller read about a year ago. (Ms. Ronson had hoped to have her twin, Samantha, present, too, but, well, the stars weren’t aligned, schedule-wise.) “She’ll be like, ‘Don’t even leave your house in September or October!’” said Ms. Ronson.
After a year that most people, not just Pisceans, would like to forget, Ms. Miller, the current leading astrologer of the style set, is having a moment. For the first time since the late ’70s, when “what’s your sign” was a universal pickup line, astrology is almost seeming a legitimate preoccupation among otherwise sensible people. Really, when things are so bad … why not? “If I’m going through something bad in my life or I’m upset, I read it and I’m like, ‘O.K., it’s not me, it’s the stars!” said fashion publicist Mandie Erickson of Seventh House, who appreciatively calls Ms. Miller’s writings “spiritual-astrological therapy.” Mary Kate Olson, Lindsay Lohan, socialites CeCe Cord and Lauren Santo Domingo, models Molly Sims and Dree Hemingway, fashion photographer Carter Smith and designer Jeremy Scott are also fans. A friend of Cameron Diaz’s purchased a reading for the actress for her birthday last fall, and so Ms. Miller jetted up to Boston, where Ms. Diaz was filming Knight and Day with Tom Cruise. Ms. Diaz made her a delicious omelette. “She’s such a little Virgo, I love her,” said Ms. Miller affectionately.
“I’m not much of a horoscope person, but she won me over,” emailed Cindi Leive, currently the editor of Glamour, who ran Ms. Miller’s column at Self for nine years (it also enjoyed a run in InStyle). “I remember her as high-energy, very positive and startlingly sane.”
It helps that Ms. Miller’s astrology is earnest and practical, with a whiff of self-improvement. She’s a Catholic, she’ll tell you, and not a psychic. It’s not her business to predict whether you’ll get that new job; instead, “I can tell you when you’re going to be viewed most favorably,” she explained. “It’s up to you to make the argument.”
At Rouge Tomate, Ms. Miller coaxed her shiny brunet bob away from her face as she began a beet salad. “Oh my gosh, this is so good,” she said. “I can’t believe it. Mmmm!”
You’ll be heartened to hear that according to the astrologer, most signs are destined for at least a fortuitous February, and, save for an eclipse at the end of June, this year in general is going to be an improvement over last. Ms. Miller explained all these things at all-day seminars costing $125 on Jan. 30 and Feb. 6 (the second date added after the first sold out), in a grand ballroom at the 3 West Club, on 51st Street, part of her own personal plan to extend her business in tough economic times.
To the already committed fashion flock, Ms. Miller is no fly-by-night, but a trusted sage who guides fragile creative endeavors and even more fragile egos through unprecedented tumult—or, less menacingly, Saturn, which is meant to teach and challenge, and to change the established order of things. Even to nonbelievers, there is something soothing about seeing world and personal events in terms of natural cycles to be weathered and learned from, each presenting opportunities to be maximized; and New York narcissists inevitably enjoy studying the many influences that comprise their own fascinating personalities. Moon in Aquarius? Well, you are destined to speak to large numbers of people. Aries in mid-heaven? You’ll eventually be an entrepreneur.
NEW YORKERS PROVIDE the largest concentration of Ms. Miller’s roughly 18 million monthly page views (six million unique), which she garners despite updating only once a month, instead of daily like most of her competitors. There are larger astrology sites on the Internet, but Ms. Miller’s is Chanel to Astrology.com’s Abercrombie & Fitch: Her readers are educated, affluent, usually childless or with children who have left home, who appreciate her specific attention to career, creative projects, appearance and fitness, parties, home decoration and even real estate opportunities.
Last fall, when the designer Cynthia Rowley, a Leo, emailed Ms. Miller to invite her to her show, the astrologer convinced her to change the date, which was astrologically “dreadful.” (“Who can argue with Susan Miller?” Ms. Rowley emailed The Observer.) Recently, Elle creative director Joe Zee, a Sagittarius, was cautioned in his forecast to be careful about retaining flood insurance. Not long afterward, “I had a leak in my roof and my kitchen flooded,” he said. “How insane is that? Whose house floods? It’s not like, ‘Oh, you’ll meet someone, you’ll get a raise.’”