I am pleased to introduce you to a true legend in the design world, Steven Stolman, who will be discussing the book he co-authored with John Kurdewan, Bill Cunningham’s right hand man at the New York Times. The book BILL CUNNINGHAM WAS THERE SRING FLINGS +SUMMER SOIRÉES, along with Steven, will be the subject of an upcoming Costume Council of the Chicago History Museum event on Wednesday, March 16th (I’m doing a separate post on the invitation details and a brief review of the book later today!)….the book is a must have in your fashion/lifestyle library. It’s a stunner. Steven, thank you so much for letting us have a glimpse into your life.
I asked Steven to respond to my questionnaire, I know you will enjoy his answers….here you go
WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST JOB
If you mean first ever, it would have been an ice cream scooper at Baskin-Robbins in West Hartford, CT. If you mean after college, it would have been as a PR lacky at Albert Nipon on Seventh Avenue in NYC.
BRIEFLY DESCRIBE YOUR MOST RECENT OCCUPATION
After stepping down as president of Scalamandré, the renowned textiles house, I went out on my own as a freelance PR and marketing consultant, specific to the design world.
WHEN DID YOU DISCOVER THE FIRST IMPRESSION OF YOUR TALENT
I could always draw. In junior high school, I was lucky enough to have an art teacher who recognized that and nurtured it.
WHEN DID YOU KNOW YOU HAD “MADE IT” EXPLAIN
Being inducted into the CFDA, the Council of Fashion Designers of America, and being invited to The White House as a member of the organization.
HOW YOUR ORIGINAL PASSION BROUGHT YOU TO WHERE YOU ARE NOW
I have always been a strong designer and wordsmith. It’s just what I do- and something I do pretty much everyday.
WHAT WOULD HAVE BEEN YOUR ALTERNATE CHOICE AS A CAREER….WAS THERE ONE
Definitely a journalist.
YOUR FAVORITE BOOK,
Dominick Dunne’s “The Way We Lived Then”
“Indiscreet” with Ingrid Bergman and Cary Grant
FAVORITE FORM OF THEATER
Definitely Broadway musicals, and specifically Stephen Sondheim’s “Company”
TYPE OF MUSIC YOU LIKE TO LISTEN TO
FAVORITE LOCAL RESTAURANT
FAVORITE WORK OF PUBLIC ART
I view the John Hancock building as a public work of art. For my entire life, it has defined Chicago.
They don’t call me the Serial Entertainer for nothing. During normal times, I am a relentless host. It runs in my family.
YOUR HOME….MODERN, TRADITIONAL, ANTIQUES (WHAT ERA) ECLECTIC DESCRIBE
Always a mix. The great Bunny Williams says that a great room should be like a salad- a little bit of this, a little bit of that. Otherwise, it looks like a showroom.
WHO WOULD YOU HAVE AT YOUR FANTASY DINNER (LIVING OR DEAD AND BE SURE TO INCLUDE YOURSELF!) AND WHAT WOULD YOU SERVE (10-12 GUESTS)
I just don’t think that way. I have a lot of friends who rhapsodize about legendary individuals, but I don’t. My fantasy (and reality) would be to be at a dinner with the people I love.
FAVORITE VACATION SPOT VISITED AND/OR ON YOUR GO TO LIST (HERE IS A CHANCE TO TALK ABOUT WHERE TO GO AND WHAT TO DO!)
London. Always London. For me, it’s exhilarating- walking through Fortnum & Mason- one of my earliest European memories- having Welsh Rarebit for lunch somewhere- and sitting at the bar at Scott’s in Mayfair for dinner. That’s my happy place.
WHAT DO YOU ENJOY DOING MOST IN YOUR FREE TIME?
At this point, the lines between work and leisure have been blurred. I do love writing, which I do for both work and pleasure. The same with cooking- if it’s for people that I love. My “zone” is setting the table. That’s also something I inherited from my family. My mom, especially, took such pride in setting a beautiful table. The simple act of doing it gives me great comfort.
HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE REMEMBERED
As a mensch.
INCLUDE A FAVORITE (OR TWO) RECIPE
Oh, jeez. Wonderful New York Times Cooking editor Sam Sifton had a thing for my recipe for Chicken Provençal, which isn’t really a recipe but a preparation. It was among the most popular recipes at The Times for that year.https://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/05/magazine/the-enduring-appeal-of-roasted-chicken-provencal.html
“This is a recipe I picked up from Steven Stolman, a clothing and interior designer whose “Confessions of a Serial Entertainer” is a useful guide to the business and culture of dinner parties and general hospitality. It is a perfect dinner-party meal: chicken thighs or legs dusted in flour and roasted with shallots, lemons and garlic in a bath of vermouth and under a shower of herbes de Provence. They go crisp in the heat above the fat, while the shallots and garlic melt into sweetness below. You could serve with rice, but I prefer a green salad and a lot of baguette to mop up the sauce. — Sam Sifton”
I also make a mean vinaigrette, which baffles me because it is so basic. But people freak every time I serve it.
1 big spoonful of Dijon mustard
1 small finely chopped shallot
1 splash of cider vinegar
1 pinch coarse salt
A few grinds of black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
Combine all ingredients EXCEPT the olive oil in a coffee mug. Blend thoroughly with a fork.
Then, slowly drizzle in olive oil while whisking with a fork until creamy and emulsified. Taste for balance. You don’t want it too sharp or too oily. If you can’t determine that, you should not be cooking.
Toss with a few heads of freshly washed and thoroughly dried Boston lettuce. Add a final bit f salt and pepper and toss again. Pile high on pretty salad plates. That’s it.
FAVORITE LINKS YOU WANT ME TO INCLUDE
The Instagram accounts that I find inspiring are:
Bunnys_eye (Interior designer Bunny Williams)
Douglasfriedman (Interiors photographer Douglas Friedman)
BLOGS YOU FOLLOW
My sister Stacey’s blog! She’s a professional chef and food stylist with her own studio kitchen in South Portland, ME.
All photos with the exception of the chicken and vinaigrette are courtesy of Steven Stolman.