Every season, there’s a celebrity who winds up front and center at Fashion Week, becoming a ubiquitous presence at all the best parties, sitting front and center at all the trendiest shows. A few seasons ago, it was the starlet Camilla Belle. Later, it was Maggie Gyllenhaal. This season belongs to Courtney Love.
There she was last Thursday, hanging out at the reopening of the Boom Boom Room at the Standard Hotel. And there she was again on Friday, doing a gig at Don Hill’s. Monday night, Love could be seen backstage at Marc Jacobs, gabbing with the famous designer. Tuesday, she was up at the tents at Lincoln Center taking in Narciso Rodriguez’s typically minimalist show. Security practically had to pry her off the floor so they could start the proceedings, because at the time they pulled up the muslin, she was still crouched down on the ground, deep in conversation with W magazine editor Stefano Tonchi. By midnight, Love was back downtown, hanging out with her stylist Pantos at the Style.com 10th anniversary party.
As far as Love saw it, she attended much less than she would have liked—or than her friends in the fashion world would have hoped. “Actually, I missed a lot of things because of Don Hill’s,” she told The Daily Beast at the Style.com party. “I had to rehearse.”
Even with the preparations she did for her show, the performance didn’t turn out quite as well as Love would have liked. “I did this Lady Gaga cover,” she said. “I did ‘Bad Romance.’ But at the top of it I sucked because I was forgetting the lyrics. Now it has 300,000 hits on YouTube. But it was late, I didn’t get on until 1:25.”
What does this consummate rock chick think of the world’s biggest dance diva, we asked?
“My thing was always opiates. I just haven’t taken the subway in years.”
“She sure is better for 9-year-olds than Britney was. And I like that she flies her freak flag,” Love said.
But back to Fashion Week.
Though Love went to the Lexington Avenue Armory on Monday night to catch Jacobs’ much lauded Spring 2011 collection, she got there a few minutes after the start time and managed to miss the entire show.
Mind you Love was only “like five minutes late,” but after seasons of Jacobs beginning his 8 p.m. show sometime between 9 and 10—and taking it on the chin with critics like Suzy Menkes—the designer now sends the models out on time and woe is the fashion editor or celebrity who gets there even one minute late.
“Me and Pantos were at Marc right when it ended,” Love said. “I have to write him a note because frankly, he’s invited me to the Met Ball every year. Last year he came with Madonna and she kicked me off. I had my clothes and everything and he texted me and said ‘Madonna kicked you off…I really want to go to the Met Ball this year.”
Why was she late? “The dumb tanning lady came over,” Love said, pulling a Marlboro Light from her purse and lighting up right there in the no-smoking venue. “I apologize deeply," she said, of her tardiness. "But Narciso [Rodriguez] was great. A lot of people are mad at me because I didn’t make their shows but I had to rehearse. I had to be good.”
Though Love has lived famously hard, her skin (and basically everything else) looked pretty well taken care of—a little airbrushed, but by no means freakish looking. She was wearing a simple Dior fitted dress that was accessorized with a pair of black patent leather pumps.
Love also has a major thing for Rick Owens. “I was his first client,” Love said. “I have a good eye. I really wanted to go to Ohne Titel and Altuzarra [this week]. And I re-discovered Zac Posen. I ran into him at the Mercer, and I was like ‘I’m not really one of your girls.’ But he gave me this dress that’s very Betty Draper and it’s cute. I’ll wear it to something.”
At any rate, Love shouldn’t have any trouble making all these shows next season, since she’s now living in New York full time, ensconced at the Mercer Hotel on Prince Street, a situation that feels very much to her like “Eloise in Groundhog Day at soho.net.”
That’s how she put it, anyway.
While Love’s been in the city for about a year now, she still finds ways to get totally, completely lost. On Monday, she wound up in a bad situation with a friend who was “acting vapid,” and just had to get away. So she jumped on the subway, which she barely uses, and wound up somewhere in the vicinity of Yonkers.
“I wasn’t on drugs,” Love said. “I barely drink. I’ll have some wine, some Petrus, but I was never an alcoholic. My thing was always opiates. I just haven’t taken the subway in years.”
Still, the episode caused her to lose her temper. “I threw a bottle against the wall,” she said.
At some point during this saga, it also turned out Love was totally without cash and had left her credit card back at home. “I had to borrow $10 from someone.” (She added that the loan had already been repaid, that she mailed the money right back.)
A waiter approached. “You’re not allowed to smoke in here,” he said.
Love apologized, but went right on smoking.
“You’re not allowed to smoke in here,” the man said, coming back a moment later. “It’s illegal.”
”I got you sir,” Love replied, smiling up at him. ”You’re like a cute camp counselor.”
The waiter handed her a near-empty drink in which she extinguished her cigarette; then she began talking about her new literary ambitions. “I’m really working hard on a short story for The New Yorker that I’ll submit. I really want to do it because I’ve been reading about my grandmother Paula Fox. She was this cause celebre, this major novelist, like better than Updike. So I was like ‘You know what, Paula? I better get published.’”
The way Love tells it, the piece is going to be some sort of sequel to Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire, picking up 10 years after Blanche DuBois is carted off to the asylum. “In Streetcar, she’s 46. I have her at 56, wealthy. I have her with two sons.”
Needless to say, there are some obvious parallels between Blanche and the would-be author—for example, a penchant for chaos coupled with a surprisingly strong survival instinct, not to mention a habit of sucking up all the oxygen in a room.
Love’s also working on a book with Anthony Bozza, a former writer from Rolling Stone.
What’s that one about, we asked, as the interview wound toward a close?
“Oh,” said Love. “It’s a last-bitch-standing kind of a thing.”
Jacob Bernstein is a senior reporter at The Daily Beast. He has also written for New York magazine, Paper, and The Huffington Post.