Fashion Chat: Derek Blasberg

Derek Blasberg was in Vancouver a few weeks ago, and The Bay’s The Room hosted a cocktail party to celebrate the launch of his book Very Classy: Even More Exceptional Advice for the Extremely Modern Lady. I’ll be honest, I knew very little (truth: nothing) about this guy, so I did the google search, checked out his website, and read his book. I was impressed. I too am a stickler for manners (not as extreme as him) but I take great offense when people have poor etiquette when it comes to invitations. I also like that he says a lady must be on top of current affairs, that is another thing I dislike about a great deal of my students: they know the latest on Brangelina but had no idea about the civil unrest in Syria. That is just plain sad.

Derek Blasberg, Very Classy, Fashion chat, fashion interviews

Anyway, he was fantastic to interview, I started by asking him some questions about being classy in Vancouver (read that part of the interview on Vitamin Daily) and then the conversation moved on to more general etiquette.

Alexandra Suhner Isenberg: I lecture, I used to lecture at St. Martins in London and now I lecture in Vancouver, and I feel that people’s manners have gotten worse.

Derek Blasberg: Definitely. I’ll be the first to admit I’m just as shocked I made the New York Times best seller list because I really didn’t think that in this Jersey Shore world that people wanted to hear which fork is the salad fork or how to put on perfume. I thin there is more challenges with social media, and there are more negative influences. For me, when you see a girl or a guy with good manners, that is the one I want to hang out with, I want to hire, its the girl I want to put in the magazine.

ASI: Speaking of hiring, what impresses you when you are hiring people or hiring interns, aside from manners?

DB: I look for clean fingernails. I look for a little thought process behind what they are wearing. You want clean nails, you want clean skin, not too much makeup, a good resume, a lot of experience. A lot of it is self-awareness. You should know what you are coming in for. I’ve met dirty little tramps who haven’t even opened a magazine in their lives.

Derek Blasberg, Very Classy, Fashion chat, fashion interviews

A spread from the book.

ASI: What about email etiquette? I get emails from students in text message language…

DB: That drives me nuts. Whole words, please. Never use the number two when you are talking about where you are going to. There is a time and place for that , you will never impress anyone with text message. As a writer, I can’t even do it on Twitter, I feel like I am cheating if I use “w/” instead of with.

ASI: I loathe Ugg boots, and I say that the only acceptable time to wear an Ugg boot is if you have a chalet and you are taking the garbage out.

DB: Or if you are a surfer and you are on the beach in Australia. I get the Ugg boots and I get the idea of comfort, but they are not a very sophisticated footwear.

  • Jasper

    i’m pretty sure wearing graphic tees, super short crotch lengthed mini skirts with leggings do not make you a lady… i don’t think a lady should be have to drink cocktails either… and the updo haha.. not to mention they have same amount of makeup on, which appears to be quite a lot. well there goes any credibility out the window!

    based on your article, he just looks like a little pretentious, wait no, i mean a very pretentious asshole who tries to be THAT man. like someone a spoiled brat who went to harvard, just about any character in any brett eaton ellis novel, a club monaco crony who thinks he has top notch style and is above others, or like a wannabe relevant gq douche.

    what does being a new york times best seller even mean? it seems like anyone who has a book nowadays is a new york times best seller. i just don’t find a book about how a lady should act is relevant. i get the message, it’s just sad because certain etiquette should be redundant and it’s not. the sex of the author shouldn’t really matter either, but it does and it’s a little offensive to me that a man is writing a book for women on how they should act, and his *CLASSY* photo next to the cover is not helping him be more likable or for his book to be more reputable. i guess some people would read this to feel better about themselves in a way or some people would read it just because they lack etiquette! but if someone is the latter, surely there is a better book that’s more relevant. i think if you encounter someone without etiquette, it’s not their fault so one shouldn’t be so critical, as i think the truly classy thing to do would be to help them improve their etiquette.

  • Lola

    If you need a book to learn how to be classy, you’ll never be classy. I believe classiness and elegance come naturally, and has a direct correlation to your upbringing. 

  • Anonymous

     I understand your point, but have you read the book? It is not really about being classy, it is about manners and etiquette, both which do not come naturally.

  • Anonymous

     All good points, but I need to say I have read this book, although there is a lot of useless filler, the main points are EXTREMELY useful. I am constantly shocked at the amount of poor etiquette I deal with on a daily basis, from people in the industry, acquaintances, and students. Blasberg’s points about not talking on your cell phone at dinner, dressing properly at the airport, etc… are necessary. We can’t assume people have basic manners (because most don’t.) Yes, it has been sold as a book on being “classy”, but I think that is more of a marketing angle. There is some seriously useful info in there, and very much worth a read, despite the silly photos.

  • Jasper

     totally, i was just bored and felt like being cynical yesterday 😛 i’m sure there’s some merit to it being a best seller

  • Vanessa James

    The book is anything but classy. Derek Blasberg calls any woman who offends his delicate sensibilities a “slut” and a “tramp” and a “skank.” What right does he have to whinge about classy women? He completely lacks class himself.

  • Vanessa James

    Unfortunately being a best seller doesn’t make it a good book. It’s pretty rude and offensive. It’s anything but classy.

  • alexandrasuhnerisenberg

    Hi Vanessa,
    Interesting that you mention this, because I have totally changed my mind about Derek Blasberg since I started following him on Twitter (which was after I wrote this.) Although I do agree with a lot of what he says in the book (don’t use your phone at dinner, dress nicely at the airport, be careful of what you put onto the internet), he is certainly not classy. All he does is tweet about outfits, drunken parties, and his celebrity friends, which is pretty much the opposite of classy. So yes, I agree with you on many points. Thanks for bringing it up.