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Partners in design

Style minds Simon Doonan and Jonathan Adler offer a preview of exclusive nuptials -- their own.

August 10, 2008|Erin Weinger | Times Staff Writer

A ceramic Dora Maar for a cake topper? A bust of Margaret Thatcher as a dominatrix on the altar? Matching paisley tuxedos? Think of all the aesthetic possibilities when Simon Doonan, creative director for Barneys New York, and his partner, potter and decorator extraordinaire Jonathan Adler, exchange vows next month.

Doonan elevated store window design to an art form in the 1970s at Maxfield and now works his magic for Barneys (one of his windows did cast Thatcher as a dominatrix). Adler is head judge on Bravo's "Top Design," and the man behind such whimsical household items as the ceramic Quaaludes Jar and needlepoint Disco Dandy pillow.

But the two have strikingly low-key plans. The Manhattanites have channeled their knack for fabulousness into dinner for four and an equally intimate ceremony in Big Sur.

"Big weddings make me nervous," says Doonan, 56, who writes books about style as well as the Simon Says column for the New York Observer. "Every uber-fab wedding I have ever been to ended in divorce."

"We have been together -- totally married -- for so long that it would feel weird to make it into a whole thingy," says Adler, 42, whose lifestyle brand has spawned seven Jonathan Adler boutiques, including one on Melrose Avenue in L.A.

We caught up with the couple to get a preview of the non-thingy -- and a few bons mots on gay marriage, Doonan-Adler style.

Why are you getting married now?

JA: Because we can! We would have gotten married years ago, but we didn't have the right to do so.

SD: Jonathan's mother, Cynthia, and his sister Amy are both lawyers. They have been avidly following the gay marriage debate. Cynthia called us one day and said we should get hitched in California. I have a scheduled event which I am hosting at the Barneys store in San Francisco in September. This seemed like the perfect opportunity.

Remind us of your back story. How long have you been together and where did you meet?

JA: We met 14 years ago. It was a blind date. I talked a lot, and Simon was annoyingly inscrutable, but we've been together ever since.

What tone do you want for this event?

SD: We both come from unconventional families. Something low-key and easy-breezy.

JA: With the occasional Jewish overtone.

How many guests are you having?

SD: Two: Jonny's mom, Cynthia, and his sister Amy are flying out.

JA: Any helicopters circling overhead are going to be very disappointed.

Who is doing the flowers and what kind?

SD: Since we will be in Big Sur, I am seeing us having a hippie moment.

JA: Daisies in the hair, etc.

What's on the menu?

SD: I am very crunchy -- I love macro health food, but am not sure this is going to fly with my carnivore in-laws.

What kind of cake and cake topper?

JA: I love a Betty Crocker chocolate cake, so I'm hoping my mother will step up to the plate and bake one.

What are you wearing?

SD: We have been joking about wearing matching caftans.

JA: Except I'm not joking. I want matching caftans.

Are you exchanging rings? What kind?

JA: We bought silver Georg Jensen wedding rings about 12 years ago. I lost mine in a cab, so we are going to replace them with something.

SD: I want something more than a gold band. I can see us dithering about it and ending up with string.

Who's officiating?

JA: The Post Ranch Inn provides someone. I think it's a staff member who is qualified to do weddings.

SD: I wanted Buddy Hackett, but he's no longer with us.

Did you write your own vows?

SD: Jonny and I have always been loyal and blissfully happy. Our vows are implicit. Maybe we will sing that new country song.

JA: It's by Heidi Newfield, I think. She sings, "I wanna love like Johnny and June," meaning Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash.

Who gets the bachelor party, who gets the shower? In other words, will there be any pre-festivities?

JA: We are not very good at the Star Jones part of all this.

SD: We already have all the dishes we need -- courtesy of my potter husband.

How are you staving off people who want to participate?

SD: All our friends already think of us as married.

JA: They understand that this is about civil rights and not really about szoosh and gifts.

What do you fight over?

JA: We fight over stupid things like the air conditioning.

Are you taking a honeymoon?

JA: We are getting married at the Post Ranch Inn -- it's called the Elopement Package -- so that we can combine the two.

Is Liberace [their Norwich Terrier] having any part in the ceremony?

SD: He is oblivious. I suspect that he is deeply conservative and not totally pro the whole thing.

JA: Unfortunately, the Post Ranch Inn is not dog-friendly, so Liberace can't attend.

Simon, if you were designing a window to represent your wedding, how would you?

SD: I am seeing us at the Henry Miller Gallery doing a bit of interpretive dance -- having a counter-culture freak-out

Jonathan, are you getting any gay couples registering at your store? What's the most popular item they're registering for?

JA: Yes! It's been pretty amazing. There have been so many gay couples who have wanted to get married, like us, so now that we're finally able to, there's been a huge surge in gay wedding registries at my stores! The most popular item has been my Love/Hate canister set.


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