Original and opinionated, at 71-years-old Fran Lebowitz defies any theory about ageing gracefully …
“I am like a slut of literature: I’ll read anything,” says author and actor Fran Lebowitz. She’s not wrong – she has over 10,000 books in her New York home, the key perhaps to her agile mind and acerbic wit. In addition to popping up as Justice Janice Goldberg on the legal drama Law and Order and on Law and Order: Criminal Intent, Lebowitz had a small role in The Wolf of Wall Street and starred in the Netflix documentary series Pretend It’s a City, a lockdown hit (pictured above). Directed by Martin Scorsese, this sees her visiting the New York Public Library, The Players Club and wandering the streets of Manhattan complaining and quipping about just about everything. Her musings are an extension of her books: Metropolitan Life (1978) Social Studies (1981) and The Fran Leibowitz Reader (1994). Both Metropolitan Life and Social Studies were published at the beginning of her career, when her friend, Andy Warhol, hosted one of her book parties at Studio 54.
Lebowitz’s feisty mind is matched by a sartorial uniform that is carefully curated and cared for – earning her a coveted nomination as one of the “Best Dressed Women in the World” by Vanity Fair. She wears a jacket (from Savile Row tailors Anderson and Sheppard), a man’s shirt (from Hilditch & Key) with cufflinks, Levi’s 501 jeans, cowboy boots, two gold rings, and Warby Parker tortoiseshell glasses. Lebowitz has told Elle, “When I get home, the first thing I do is hang my jacket on a hanger. I put my cufflinks in a box. I wax my shoes once a week. And I always go to the most expensive dry cleaner in town.”
Lebowitz believes looking good in clothes is “a trait, not a talent. You see this especially at the Academy Awards. Even if the dresses are beautiful and expensive and important, the actresses can’t always carry them. Sometimes I feel like saying to them, ‘Act! You know how to act, you’re an actor. You’re about to win an award for (I don’t know) convincingly playing that Venezuelan nun who went to war. Now act like you can wear this dress.”
It’s a pity she is not asked to comment on red carpet style more regularly, but no doubt she discusses fashion faux pas with her posse. This includes designer Diane Von Furstenberg, political columnist Frank Rich, former Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter, and the Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison.
Famously she is a technophobe who shuns social media: “I don’t have these things because I don’t know what they are. I don’t have these things because I do know what they are.” She doesn’t have a laptop or typewriter, and makes all calls on a landline.
Lebowitz’s feisty mind is matched by a sartorial uniform that is carefully curated and cared for.
As a Jewish lesbian, and outspoken Democrat, Lebowitz is most often described as a public speaker, an off-the-cuff opinion maker (please don’t call her a comedian). This summer she is on tour and has popped up in Belfast and Dublin en route. Audiences would do well to take notes as she shares her observations on a range of subjects. Some of her memorable bon mots are as follows:
On beauty: “You’re only as good as your last haircut.”
On children: “I never met anyone who didn’t have a very smart child. What happens to these children, you wonder, when they reach adulthood?”
On holidays: “How horrible must your life be if you think: ‘You know what would be fun? Let’s take the kids to the airport, sit there for a few hours and get yelled at.”
On art: “We live in a world where everyone is getting excited about the price, not the Picasso.” and “If you can eat it, I’m sorry, but that’s not art. It’s a snack.”
On hotels: “To put it rather bluntly, I am not the type who wants to go back to the land; I am the type who wants to go back to the hotel.”
Main featured image Fran Lebowitz via PRETEND IT’S A CITY COURTESY OF NETFLIX © 2020
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