I was first acquainted with Chris Glass backstage during Michalsky Stylenite during Berlin Fashion Week.
He was all dapper, I was all disheveled, in a mad dash to catch the “Who's Who” for backstage interviews. In utter, yet gracefully panic. I saw Chris through the cameras and crowd, like a mirage--water in the desert. I remembered screwing up an interview earlier with Barbara Becker on the red carpet. So, I thought what the hell-- I'll ask this studious gent if he could be so kind to ask Barbara for another interview. Well, certainly he responded, as any polished man would. Before doing so, I couldn't miss the chance to have an interview with the demur chap. Chris oozed charm and charisma during the interview. He explained post interview that in fact, he was originally from The States, yet a worldly individual. A man after my own heart. Needless to say we decided to go back for seconds.
Georgian born, New York raised, Chris Glass is a connoisseur tout de mode, etiquette and charm. No need to further explain why he is the European Membership Director of the member's only club, The Soho House and friend of Catchup. You knew I would shamelessly promote, so don't act surprised.
Photograph provided by Magnus ReedLet's find out how to let someone down gracefully, attend a fashion show and behave like we have some home training and all the while not feeling privileged because we can drink Champagne at 10 in the morning.
Jordan: So Chris, we want to find out what a man, “In the know", actually knows. How does one become a Membership Director of anything?
Mr. Glass: In the know – famous last words. ;) I’m not sure that there is any clear path to becoming a Membership Director. I've done so many different things over time. In the end, I think I am where I am today and I do what I do, because of a very natural curiosity. And that curiosity makes it interesting to meet people and then eventually there’s so many people in that mix that you look for ways to connect the dots. That is largely what my job is about today – connecting the dots and building bridges, repairing those bridges when they’re damaged, and looking for places where people didn't realize a bridge was needed.
Jordan: You've been in Europe for awhile now, specifically Berlin. I've noticed some differences between socialites in New York and Europe. Mainly, that the majority, not to generalize, but a lot of people I've encountered in the fashion industry, don't have the need to name drop like in the States. It's as if there's no need because if you're someone, everyone knows it. What differences have you noticed?
Mr. Glass: Interesting assessment… I think there’s a big commitment to the craft of fashion here in Europe. It’s about the tradition and the storytelling and the heritage of a brand that makes them stand out and the people that reinterpret these factors are the stars. It’s about what they've done – whether short term or over decades – that separates them from the 15 minutes of fame types across the pond. Instant gratification gives way to commitment and what you’re left with is a real story to tell.
Jordan: I've never been one to “name drop”, cough cough. But I have said some things which I probably could have kept to myself. You know the moment when someone says something that embarrasses the entire room? I've never done this I swear, but I have been known to have bouts of Tourette's Syndrome in airports. What should one do, once they've realized that they've just stuck their foot in their mouth?
Mr. Glass: I think there are two courses of action. Either you inhale, look the person square in the face, and run! Or you can take the more graceful approach of apologizing and then immediately changing the subject. My favorite one is favorites… What’s your favorite film? Color? Power tool? Once you get everyone caught up in the new conversation, inhale, and run.
Jordan: With these pegs I can run for miles. There is someone who comes to mind when I think of big mouths and Tourette’s. Karl Lagerfeld for example is infamous for his "Foot in Mouth Syndrome". What I love and hate about him is that he is unapologetic. It's a bit disturbing, but nonetheless, it gives you the impression, that if he said it--he meant it. Do you think that there is a time and place to be opinionated?
Mr. Glass: I think there is a time and place for everything. What is it they say – opinions are like assholes. Everyone has one and they usually stink. I figure if you’re going to have something to stay, be able to stand behind it 101%. You have to live with yourself, your thoughts, and your remarks. And if you can look at yourself in the glare of a department store mirror (cuz they are the worst!) and still crack a smile, then speak your mind. Now if you get pimp slapped, then you have to deal with that too!
Jordan: What if I have never been able to look in a department store mirror. Just saying. Speaking of shopping. What's your take on the trends this season? I'm not a huge fan of trends. I prefer to trend set. Geez, that sounds awfully arrogant when you say it out loud (please read the last sentence in silence and nod your head as if you were at the Poker table). Give us your favorite and most disturbing trend this season.
Mr. Glass: I’m going to touch on a non fashion related trend – because like you, I try to avoid being trendy. What happened to old fashioned conversing? People spend so much time using electronic devices with the intention of being better connected, but when they are finally face to face, they’re busy typing messages to other people. People walking down the street Facetiming… people sitting at dinners Facebooking… bikini waxing while conference calling. What if we actually try to spend at least a few minutes of the day being present to the good, the bad, whatever?
Jordan: The worst is attending a dinner party and everyone takes 20 minutes Instagraming food. I feel like spraying it with the plastic spray, like in Chinese restaurants downtown and saying, “the food museum is in the kitchen, please have a seat like respectful human beings and enjoy”. I’m sure you wouldn't be caught dead shooting food porn. Were you always so debonair? Or do you have a long lineage of charming fellow family members?
Mr. Glass: That is very charming of you to say. I think almost anyone that grew up in the South would have to concede to being inspired by the pageantry of Sunday morning church services. Women in impossible hats, men in pastel suits, everybody swaying and shouting and all that show. Sundays were for us THE day to make a special effort. At some point in my life I decided that everyday should be a Sunday. I think making that extra effort (I call it the extra 15 minutes) is the icing on the cake. You walk a bit taller, you talk a bit smarter, you smile a bit bigger, everything feels like it is a celebration. And life is really – a celebration… we just have to remind ourselves of that.
Jordan: While we're on the subject of charm. There is some rather distasteful behavior happening during fashion shows. I once saw this gauche of a woman, sitting in the front row--answer her phone, walk out of the show--while the models were still walking, like she was Anne Wintour. What advice can you give us about avoiding a fashion faux pas?
Mr. Glass: Again, this for me transcends fashion. If someone has taken the time and energy to create something and then invite me to be a part of it, the least I can do is take the 10 minutes required to honor their effort. It’s called RESPECT (cue Aretha….). This is one of those things you learn in kindergarten – and those really are the best lessons - put yourself in the other person’s stilettos for a moment.Jordan: In my personal--very humble opinion. You can't buy class. But you can buy privilege. Tell us one of the most decadent pieces in your collection, so decadent that you're even too embarrassed to tell people how much you spent on it? Ok, so why would you tell us. So, tell us the second biggest splurge you've made.
Mr. Glass: My biggest splurge is simply unmentionable. My second biggest splurge was actually a gift, so it was a splurge from someone else. It’s a Show Piece from Y3 – a wool sheath with 2 arm holes. I always carry it on flights - it doubles as a blanket and a scarf and if I need to throw some drama in there, I rock it as a poncho. It’s a blue so deep it looks black and I cannot imagine a winter without it. Thank you Tattu!
Jordan: I’d love to be in your birthday shoes. I’m not big on Show Pieces, but I do love Film Noir. Sometimes I wish I could travel back in time just to attend a party. If you were a protagonist in a Film Noir, what would your name be and what would be your catch phrase? I would be, “The Long Pins Dame.” and I would repeatedly call men Saps and Goons. Pleasantly, of course.
Mr. Glass: You femme fatale! Film noir often focused on women of dubious virtue – a girl after my own heart! All that drama about what one should do and what one wants to do – story of my life. I would surely draw on my southern roots and reply to everything remotely controversial with a gasp followed by ‘my stars’. I’d always wear all black, speak about people in the third person, and have them call me the Dark Horse.
Jordan: My stars, that’s fabulous. I normally ask this question as an icebreaker, but I'll throw it in for shits and giggles. Imagine you had a band following you. Every time you enter the room, they would play a song, your song, that say's I'm Chris Glass, the dark horse and I have entered the room. What would that song be? Why?
Mr. Glass: This is so wrong of me to do – and so wrong of you to ask! But I have to say, no song says ‘I’ve entered this mother and I am about to turn it out cuz I can’ like “Queen of the Night” by Whitney Houston. Door opens, wind machines, those drums, to make you drop to your knees… I mean, really!
Jordan: “Cause I'm the queen of the night. The queen of the night, Oh yeah, Oh yeah, Oh yeah, Yeah.” She was such a diva, really! 100% even with the good, the bad and the ugly, she was still pure class. I know too many people in the fashion industry who try to "Keep up with the Joneses", sometimes to the extent of no avail. I'm sure you've seen a bit of the "Fake it to you Make it" crowd. How can you spot a real from a phony? Is it like spotting a fake Hermès in a crowd?
Mr. Glass: I always ask – would you go to your mother’s house for lunch dressed like that? If it’s authentic, it can’t be wrong. But if you’re playing a part that even you don’t believe, you’re going to be found out sooner or later. Save yourself the trouble and keep it real – really you.
Jordan: Word to yo motha. (Don`t tell her I said that!) More importantly, why do you think that the Germans chose David Hasselhoff as a mascot during the fall of the Berlin wall? Is there something we're missing?
Mr. Glass: Misery loves company?
Jordan: Now that we're on German aesthetic, who is your favorite Berlin designer?
Mr. Glass: I think I’d have to take it back to the roots of where we first met… Michalsky is definitely a favorite. His designs are timely and simple and always surprising. And one day my arse will be small enough to wear it as well.
Jordan: That makes 2 of us. Another similarity we have is Manhattan. I remember back in the days, in New York, there was a number to a hotline that you could give to someone who you were, "just not that into". Genius idea, I have to admit. But, what is the correct way to let someone know, you're just not that into them?
Mr. Glass:I have these fabulous little black cards that someone gave me which say ‘Please stop talking!’. I think that sort of erases all doubt. And then there’s my mother’s way of doing it – you give them the iciest grin you can – teeth clenched, eyes narrowed, hands folded - and say ‘I hope you have a LOVELY evening’. Pause after lovely for effect. Then inhale, and run!
Jordan: Good ole Southern charm. I'm glad we got to know more about you Chris. Where are you these days and what do you do when you're not gracing the Berlin social scene with your fabulous presence?
Mr. Glass: I have the fortune of jetting off to some great destinations almost on a monthly basis at the moment. I am in love with Istanbul and also spending some time in Amsterdam. Both fabulous cities – polar opposites – but they share wonderfully warm people and lots to discover. I’m working on some writing projects. I’m visiting friends. I’m perfecting excuses for not going to the gym. I’m trying to sleep as much as I possibly can. And more than anything, I’m just trying to stay connected to the moment. Right here. Right now.
You heard it here first folks: Stay polite, keep it real and always wear your Sunday best. You can find Chris in the first row of any important show, any party worth attending, and always with a smile. This guy is more genuine than a Dior Haute Couture in Paris. We’re lucky to get acquainted with him and happy to share it with you.