Richard Pérez-Feria recalls his stylish “possession” with bemused horror. How did he exorcise the addictive demon?
By Richard Pérez-Feria
Photography by DR Pictures
For at least a solid half-decade, I became fashion possessed. I would’ve said obsessed, but possessed feels more honest. And it cost me dearly.
In a tale as old as Cinderella, I found myself, in my personal Venn diagram, at the precise intersection of self-confidence and disposable income. A long-awaited spot. A slimmer figure and coins in the bank meant that I was finally—finally!—able to experience my best sartorial life. And that journey began, as so many cautionary tales do, in Los Angeles, where dreams are supposed to come true. More specifically, I honed in on Beverly Hills, home to Rodeo Drive, America’s toniest retail drag, and Fred Segal, my preferred luxe shopping HQ.
Don’t get it twisted, I caused plenty of “damage” on Madison Avenue (hello, Barneys New York), Miami’s Bal Harbour Shops (Gucci! Gucci! Gucci!) and LA’s own N. Robertson emporiums (Lisa Kline Men credit card guzzlers). But, when it came to serious retail therapy/intoxication, nothing beat a solid five-hour afternoon on Rodeo Drive or Fred Segal. It’s ridiculous to think about now, but, in my deepest truth, I know I’ve never been happier than perusing the impossibly expensive racks of clothes, shoes and accessories at the world’s finest couture outposts. Oh, and those damn accessories were at the epicenter of my I-must-own-this-right-now coveting soul. The white leather weekender from Dolce & Gabbana; the insanely priced lion’s head belt buckle at Dior Men; the faux fur Chrome Hearts rock ’n’ roll sunglasses… but that all paled in comparison to the most beautiful sight I’d ever laid eyes on: a pair of Giuseppe Zanotti alligator, python and ostrich knee-high men’s boots at Fred Segal. For the first time in my life, I walked in to any high-end store, tried on the item and marched up to the register and paid without asking for or looking at the price. Possessed, I tell you. The fever had to break.
At a rollicking dinner at super-hot-that-very-moment-and-impossible-to-get-into-restaurant Koi (the celeb/paparazzi scene outside its doors on La Cienega Boulevard was zeitgeisty deliciousness personified), I hosted a dozen well-moisturized friends to a long, celebratory evening. Late into the night, as someone was mentioning how much they liked my newly-acquired heavy silver double bracelet from Good Art HLYWD (similar to Chrome Hearts, but better thanks to Josh Warner’s genius), one of the revelers at the table, interior designer/hilarious OG Queer Eye standout Thom Filicia, shouted at me: “Richard, stop buying jewelry! Buy! A! Fucking! House!” His words hit me like a punch in the face because I knew he was right. Of course he was right.
The very next day, I quit the spending insanity cold turkey. A little later, I took Thom’s sage advice and did indeed buy a house (though I still wear my Good Art HLYWD wares for my recent—and decidedly more modest—nights out on the town).
As I arrived on-set to direct this issue’s cover shoot with movie star Matthew Modine (Full Metal Jacket, Birdy, Stranger Things, Oppenheimer), celebrity photographer Mike Ruiz and I decided we wanted Modine to exude “fashion” on this cover to embody The Mountains’ “Style & Design” theme. When the mind-blowingly nice actor walked in, I became worried: the subject of our exclusive cover story was dressed—how do I say this?—randomly. It was, in its own way, daring, but when the giraffe-tall thespian emerged from the changing room a few minutes later wearing the gorgeous wardrobe options we had selected for him, Modine was, in a word, transcendent. As much as the former Millbrook, NY resident clearly doesn’t concern himself with fashion’s fastidiousness, the talented man standing in front of me transformed into nothing less than a modern-day Cary Grant, Hollywood’s forever stylish king.
Even as I write this, I realize I’m wearing a black PGA Tour-branded polo I bought at Marshalls for $14. What’s crazier, I ask you, spending $850 for a yummy Roberto Cavalli wear-it-once shirt or being seen at Marshalls clearance rack with a smile on your face? I finally have my answer: I’m possessed no more.
true hollywood story (above) In a candid moment in Hollywood circa 2005, celebrity portrait photographer Daniel Rothenberg captures the essence of RPF in chic LA style sporting a Lisa Kline Men sweater, Chrome Hearts sunglasses and Good Art HLYWD jewelry—retail madness in full flight.