the it girl issue

The Sykes Sisters Enjoyed Their ‘It’-dom (Most of the Time)

Lucy and Plum Sykes at their birthday party at Lot 61. Photo: Patrick McMullan

“They’re twins. They’re thin. They’re attractively employed, talented, a little vague about their past, and, according to one admirer, ‘hugely in demand right now.’ Oh, and one other thing: They’re English. Meet Plum and Lucy Sykes, 29-year-old magazine darlings, and the latest in the stream of non-celebrity somebodies who flood the city’s fashion ponds from one season to the next. They’re not identical, but they think alike on many subjects. They agree, for instance, that it would be ‘rather sad’ to be young and single with a VCR in Manhattan. Why rent movies when life resembles ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ and ‘Absolutely Fabulous’ every day?” — Bob Morris, “The Plum and Lucy Show,” the New York Times, 1998

Lucy Sykes: It’s cool that you can earn the “It”-girl medal with no qualifications whatsoever: You were just in the right place at the right time, some fairy dust sprinkled on your toes. I’m grateful for that time and the fact that there were two of us. You’d be nothing without me, Plum.

Plum Sykes: And she’d be nothing without me. We lived down the road from each other, working for fashion magazines and going to the shows. I was reporting on the “It” girls for American Vogue. I went to every single party they went to, and because I was at those parties, I appeared to be one of them. I’d bristle because I’d think, Well, “It” girls don’t have full-time bloody jobs; they’re all just rich.

LS: I was a stylist, and we could fake being rich and beautiful and stylish because we could borrow the clothes from the fashion closet. And if you weren’t American, it was exotic, even though no one cared about us in England.

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PS: I remember when that Bob Morris article came out so clearly. It was one of the funniest things I’d ever read. All the funny quotes were Lucy; none of them were me.

LS: Really embarrassing, idiotic quotes. I was thinking, I’m going to get fired. And then my editor-in-chief at Town & Country, Pamela Fiori, put it on the pinboard in the corridor and was clapping when I walked through the door to work, and I was like, Oh!

PS: I remember me and Lucy were staying at the Hotel Costes in Paris and Donald Trump came up to us because he was trying to make Ivanka into a supermodel. He said, “Hi, I’m Donald Trump.” And he was like, “How did you two English nobodies get on the cover of the ‘Style’ section? Who’s your publicist?” And we were like, “We don’t have a publicist.”

LS: I did hop a lift on his plane home because I had the “It” thing and I used it.

PS: We were career girls just carrying on. But I do admit we were sent lots of free handbags and clothes. Also, getting invited to the Chanel sample sale was a rather big privilege.

LS: We hung out a lot at Lot 61, Bungalow 8, and Bar Pitti. We loved Tea & Sympathy; it just made us feel so at home. We had crazy parties — Amy Sacco was always like, “I’m throwing your birthday party,” and she did.

PS: At my and Lucy’s joint 30th-birthday party, I remember looking around Lot 61 and seeing Kate Moss. Lucy danced on the tables at Moomba quite a lot. I did not. I do remember one night being at Moomba with all the guys from Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. We’re sitting on the table and then Madonna comes in. And it was dagger stares. She made us move off the table so she could sit there with the guys. She didn’t want any other women at the table. I don’t think we exchanged one word with her, and they were all terrified of her. Unfortunately, though, I didn’t get many dates out of being an “It” girl.

LS: Were you not dating someone at the time? I was, and the parents thought it was the most awful thing that I was the kind of girl who would wear high heels to the supermarket. I took that as a massive compliment.

PS: I had one or two boyfriends over the entire time. It’s pathetic, but it’s true. Probably being an “It” girl makes it even harder for men to approach you. But I also think the fashion business makes dating very difficult because however gorgeous you are, however “It” you are, you never quite feel as gorgeous as Kate Moss. I do look back a bit and think of how, during that time living in New York, I did find it quite lonely because there was just so much time spent working. I spent so much time on planes to Europe and was just quite lonely and tired. I got chest infections at the Paris collections.

LS: It was effing exhausting, but we were young. But no one could keep that up. I think getting pregnant was a huge shift. Being a pregnant “It” girl dancing on tables at Moomba? Not so much. It was a different era. I would tell my “It”-girl self now, “Enjoy the ride, and go easy on the Sambuca.” I’d have multiple shots at the Jet Lounge. The bartender was a close friend.

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The Sykes Sisters Enjoyed Their ‘It’-dom (Most of the Time)