bravo, bravo, bravo
Four Fashion Editors Enter a Housewives Spiral on the Bottega Bus
As things in the RealHousewives of Beverly Hills universe are hitting peak drama, Gabriella Karefa-Johnson, Nikki Ogunnaike, Lynette Nylander, and Mel Ottenberg—fashion visionaries from Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Dazed, and Interview— get into it on a bus en route to the Detroit airport after Bottega Veneta’s unforgettable Salon 03 presentation. From Lisa Rinna’s blimp lips to Erika Jayne’s ALLEGED felonious activity, fashion throws it down on the Michigan interstate.
MEL OTTENBERG: I’d like everybody to introduce themselves, please.
GABRIELLA KAREFA-JOHNSON: My name is Gabriella Karefa-Johnson, I am the global fashion editor at large at Vogue Magazine, and I am a Real Housewives connoisseur of sorts. I’m partial to Beverly Hills and Atlanta. Potomac is growing on me. I’m super excited to engage in this conversation.
NIKKI OGUNNAIKE: I’m Nikki Ogunnaike, I am the digital director at Harper’s Bazaar, and I am Team Sutton.
LYNETTE NYLANDER: I’m Lynette Nylander, by way of London and New York. I am the — what am I? I’m the executive editorial director of Dazed. Okay, let’s get into it. Nikki, a question—
OTTENBERG: [Laughs] Hold on! I’m Mel Ottenberg, I’m the editor-in-chief of Interview Magazine. A year ago, I had never seen a single episode of The Real Housewives. I thought I was too good for it, but I was wrong. Since then, I’ve watched all 11 seasons of Beverly Hills, all 13 seasons of New York, and 3 seasons of New Jersey. Take it away Lynette.
NYLANDER: Nikki, I’ll put it to you like this. How in god’s name you can defend Sutton Stracke? Not only in spite of her affiliations with Dolce and Gabbana but given her heinous treatment, this season, of an admittedly also heinous Erika Girardi?
OTTENBERG: Well, for the record, she was earning her paycheck by being heinous to the heinous. Dorit, You’re not earning your motherfucking paycheck these days.
OGUNNAIKE: Dorit brings nothing to the table except fashions, as we have discussed. Admittedly, she does turn a look. She gets a fit off. Fine. But Sutton just said what everyone else wanted to say. She’s the only one who had the balls.
NYLANDER: Okay, rebuttal. Dorit Thee Kemsley— distant cousin of Meghan Thee Stallion— actually brings a lot to the table. She brings a Massachusetts-slash-Essex twang that I really appreciate. She asked Alexander Fury for advice about her Westwood corsets, which I think is honestly doing fashion good.
OTTENBERG: Wait. You’re right. Do you think she’s bringing the trend of the corset to the masses right now?
KAREFA-JOHNSON: No, no. Don’t do that.
NYLANDER: She has definitely set a tone. Okay Gab, come for me.
OTTENBERG: Gab, do you have something to say about the extreme fashion relevance of Dorit, who brings basic things— but also Westwood things that are not at all basic—to the masses?
KAREFA-JOHNSON: Well, in the wise words of Countess Luann de Lesseps — formerly known as Countess “Money Can’t Buy You Class”—Dorit is the most exquisite example of a fashion victim. Honestly, whether or not she has money is debatable, but she’s clearly got enough to get her full Vuitton fit at West Coast Plaza in Newport Beach. Having a full designer look is one of the most pedestrian ways to express one’s fashion sense. It’s low-hanging fruit. She brings absolutely nothing to the table and then she takes the table with her when she leaves. I’m not team Dorit. She has no storyline. Like, her only thing is playing the victim and then claiming that she’s a friend of Negroes who work for her.
NYLANDER: I just want to say that I completely detach myself from that comment and that episode. That is not the Dorit I know and love. I don’t recognize that person at all, to be clear. Thank you.
OTTENBERG: Okay so you love what she’s done fashion-wise for basic bitches everywhere without fucking with this part of her. One thing I will say for what’s-her-face, who I’m not such a fan of, the one that lives on a hill in The Valley—
KAREFA-JOHNSON: —Garcelle? Don’t you ever.
OTTENBERG: I’m not a big fan of Garcelle, but I do think that she takes the conversation in amazing directions for all the white girls who watch the show, which is really cool.
KAREFA-JOHNSON: I agree.
OTTENBERG: I learned from her, and if I felt that way in just a few episodes, then fucking kudos to her, even though I don’t love her.
NYLANDER: Let’s get into Erika Girardi.
OTTENBERG: There’s one thing that I desperately want to mention that nobody is talking about. Two of Erika’s outfits. The first one is the red latex cosplay devil hooker outfit that she wore to her Season 11 theme song event. She wore it with gusto. Wore it well. It was her decision to wear that, it was her sartorial choice. Incredible. The second outfit is the devil Cruella DeVil power suit that she wears in the testimonials, with those two flat gold chains that don’t make any sense with the outfit. What do these outfit choices MEAN? She’s leaning into this devil thing subliminally, while simultaneously playing the victim. These questions must be answered, guys.
KAREFA-JOHNSON: Erika Jayne is working like the fucking rent is due, because it is due on her new Beverly Hills property. I also think she deserves the highest accolades in the dramatic arts for the way she is pretending that she wasn’t aware of her husband’s felonious activity. The bitch knows how to craft a storyline, and is now weaving this desperate victimhood into her redemption story, because she knew she was about to be called out. She is so meticulous in her word choice, as well. If you count the number of times she uses the word “alleged” in this season…
OGUNNAIKE: She is fully playing the courts. You know the lawyers are there watching every episode with her, prepping her to get on camera.
KAREFA-JOHNSON: It’s disturbing. I think that she has been playing us all from the very beginning, which is a smart bitch move, but also a horrible, criminal move.
OGUNNAIKE: I also heard that she like, dissolved her fillers and everything and that the reason she looks that way on the reunion is because she looked too good and too rich on the show.
OTTENBERG: Well, it’s expensive—
NYLANDER: —To be her.
KAREFA-JOHNSON: The bleeding mascara…
OTTENBERG: The bleeding mascara, I’m sorry, that was the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen on Housewives, but also we love. What I don’t understand is, even if you’re the coldest bitch, why can’t you pretend to care about the victims?
NYLANDER: This is exactly my point. It’s impossible to feel anything but disgust at the sight of Erika Girardi. She doesn’t need to play the crying widow, but she needs to acknowledge the severity of what happened. In the words of my friend Dorit, we’re talking about orphans and widows here.
OGUNNAIKE: Garcelle and Sutton were the only people who were willing to say it to Erika’s face. Dorit and Kyle want to kiki with their husbands behind her back, and they get dragged for that in the reunion.
OTTENBERG: I’m sorry, she was acting insane. If i were her, I would do a Denise — remember? I would leave the show. This is what I think happened with Denise. She got wasted, she did some bumps with what’s-her-face—Brandi— off her iPhone, they got naked, they fucked. Then, because Brandi is insane, she was like, “I’m going to use this to make some money and make myself relevant again.” So Denise left, that’s my theory. Do you guys agree that that’s what happened to Denise and Brandi?
KAREFA-JOHNSON: I think they definitely had sex, but I also felt like this gets at the crux of my whole issue with the cast of Beverly Hills: for some reason, the evil mean girl Lisa Rinna has become a queen bee, beloved character. She is a character assassin.
NYLANDER: It’s integral to the entire franchise. I’m not here to watch Real Housewives: Best Friends Race. We need a sociopath with lips the size of blimps, and here she is, in the form of Lisa-fucking-Rinna. I would like to see her sign on for at least three more years. Very important.
KAREFA-JOHNSON: I don’t think she’s connective tissue the way you do.
OGUNNAIKE: Vanderpump needs to come back.
KAREFA-JOHNSON: She was a monster, but she was essential. Lisa Rinna is filler—literally— in the lips and the storyline.
OTTENBERG: Vanderpump was so smooth with her evil. You really didn’t see it. Even now, all this time later, they’re still realizing, “Oh, she really did pull something on us.” The one that better hope she never crosses me in a dark alley is Teddi.
OTTENBERG: I hate you Teddi. I’m not editing this part out. You’re a mean, bad person and you ain’t shit. You walk like an idiot and you act like a fool and I’m on to you. I was on to you before Season 10. I’ve never liked you. Am I wrong?
KAREFA-JOHNSON: You’re not wrong. I think the true tragedy of the franchise is that Kim and Teddi never overlapped.
OTTENBERG: Yes. That wasn’t good.
KAREFA-JOHNSON: Because Teddi is a true beast. Another point for Sutton Stracke, ladies and gentlemen, because remember when she called Teddi “boring and miserable and horrible” at a dinner party, and then was crucified for it?
OTTENBERG: Boring and miserable!
KAREFA-JOHNSON: Boring and miserable. Boring and miserable.
OTTENBERG: I’m mad.
KAREFA-JOHNSON: I’m actually heated too now. I’ll say that. I will say that.
OGUNNAIKE: I want Kim to come back so that all three sisters can be on this show together.
KAREFA-JOHNSON: I love that idea. Kim, I think, is unwell, but—
OTTENBERG: Oh, you don’t think Kim’s well?
KAREFA-JOHNSON: Is she, perhaps, unwell?
OTTENBERG: I’ve got news for you: she is not well. Do you think that Kathy [Hilton] is going to take a diamond? It would be better for Kathy if she didn’t, because she’s in a really sweet spot. She’s on every episode, but her life isn’t part of the show. She’s chilling.
NYLANDER: I don’t want to know any more about Kathy Hilton than I already now. She’s got her little $53 million dollar mansion, she is very what I need her to be. I don’t want to know about the dark underbelly, I don’t want to know about the Trump affiliations, I really don’t. I really enjoy her whole, ” Where’s the lady? Where’s the lady with my bag?” thing.
KAREFA-JOHNSON: She’s pure, but she will take a diamond because fame is too exquisite. It’s seductive. She’s lived her entire life in the background, as a wife with two very famous children, and she thought she was above it—just like Mel did before he started watching. Then she got lured in, she gained fans, and now she’s addicted to it. I will bet her $53 million dollar mansion that she’ll be a main bitch with a diamond in her palm come Spring 2022.
OGUNNAIKE: Do you think Crystal’s [Minkoff] going to come back next season?
OTTENBERG: Crystal will come back. I mean, she’s annoying, but she’s earned her paycheck, right? Why are we not even mentioning Kyle? Does she even matter?
OTTENBERG: With Kyle I’m like, you won. You’re a zillionaire, your daughter just got bat mitzvahed. Mazel, Portia, whatever. I don’t mind that she won.
KAREFA-JOHNSON: I just feel like our standards have dropped. We deserve better from our queen bees. Like, we’re forgetting the NeNe Leakes of it all. The Lisa Vanderpumps of it all. The Teresa Giudices of it all.
OGUNNAIKE: There’s nothing quotable in Beverly Hills at the moment but there’s quotable in Potomac. There’s quotable in Atlanta. We need that.
KAREFA-JOHNSON: Mel would die for Potomac.
OTTENBERG: I’m going to do it. What I like about New York is that it’s Game of Thrones-level drama. They are all true sociopaths.
OGUNNAIKE: Bring back what’s-her-face. Who’s the one in the Berkshires? Dorinda. Bring back Dorinda.
OTTENBERG: I was at lunch on Wednesday at Balthazar sitting outside, and Kelly Bensimon sat behind me, and I wanted to talk to her so bad. She looked really good and she was just there wanting to be talked to and stuff, but I couldn’t break the fourth wall. I was just too stunned.
NYLANDER: “Scary Island” for me is exactly what I’m looking for out of Real Housewives. I actually think New York has never been as good as it was season 10. That was the perfect casting.
OTTENBERG: Cartagena, season 10. The utter destruction of Bethanny and Carole while they shit on the floor and all that stuff… Beverly Hills has been that level. Taylor and her alcoholism were incredible. Brandy was incredible. There were some real dinner parties from hell in the old seasons. I get that it’s Erika Girardi’s hell, but like, she’s annoying. How are we going to save the franchise here?
KAREFA-JOHNSON: Erika has to go, and they need to stop casting people that they feel are representative of what society is giving right now. Like, we’re not here to put a mirror up to society. We want to see the disgusting lives of Beverly Hills housewives.
OGUNNAIKE: I think they have too many characters. They need to shed a few people and really get back to the core six.
OGUNNAIKE: They need to edit, and then it’ll be great.
OTTENBERG: Closing thoughts?
NYLANDER: I’ve got to say, as someone who came into Beverly Hills this season not impressed, the second half really came through and pepped up my summer. It gave me the content I’m looking for. I really feel strongly that we keep Dorit Thee Kemsley. I feel strongly that we keep Kathy where she is. I wouldn’t mind losing a few fillers though. Lisa Rinna is filler.
OTTENBERG: But Kyle’s not filler. She’s a matriarch. I thought Dorit was filler, but I’m inspired by Lynette’s thoughts about her. It would be really fun for us to see Lisa Rinna destroyed. I’m sorry Lisa, but you know it would be fun too.
KAREFA-JOHNSON: By association, Harry Hamlin has also got to go. His supremacy this season is really a problem for me.
OGUNNAIKE: “Don’t you ever! Don’t you ever talk about my housewives!”
NYLANDER: Kyle running away in that scene, she looks like a vampire with that cape flowing! That is honestly one of the best TV moments of the 2010s! Fan-fucking-tastic.
OTTENBERG: It was great. The shake of the wine glass.
OGUNNAIKE: My favorite was Kim being like, “You slut pig!” …Slut pig?
KAREFA-JOHNSON: Tell me you wouldn’t sell a million units of, like, a ribbed white cropped tank that said “Slut Pig” on it in pink letters. Holler at me, Bravo! Let’s do it.
OTTENBERG: Thanks guys. This is the conversation I wanted to have today.
OGUNNAIKE: I need the raw footage of Bolo from Atlanta.
KAREFA-JOHNSON: You mean when Porsha had sex with Bolo.
NYLANDER: Oh! They had sexual relations.
OGUNNAIKE: They broke the fourth wall.
OTTENBERG: I must see this. What season? What franchise?
NYLANDER: Atlanta season 12.
OTTENBERG: I did all of New York this year, I’d never seen it before, so I can do Atlanta in 2022.
KAREFA-JOHNSON: The emotional toll of Atlanta is bigger than New York. Don’t start from the beginning, it’s too much. It’s going to consume you. Kim Zolciak and NeNe alone will take up a year of your fucking therapy.
NYLANDER: Honestly, a comedic duo that never got their flowers. Emmy worthy, at points.
OGUNNAIKE: When NeNe goes, “I want to pop my eyeballs out drive home blind.”
KAREFA-JOHNSON: The way that she just IS Michael Myers, oh my god.
NYLANDER: You mean Michael Lohan?
KAREFA-JOHNSON: Also that.
NYLANDER: When Shereé goes “I didn’t want to pull off her wig, I just wanted to SHIFT it a little bit.”
OTTENBERG: I met this guy on Grindr who worked at Bravo. He told me a rumor that Erika has a new sugar daddy. This isn’t a spoiler alert, I just wonder if my Grindr trade is right and she does have a new sugar daddy. Lynette, you are looking very stressed out.
NYLANDER: That just sends the wheels in my head turning. That’s a storyline I’d like to see.
OTTENBERG: Did you see that there’s a thing in that new book that we should all read this weekend. Apparently Sonja takes lit cigarettes up her…
NYLANDER: I’m SORRY?
KAREFA-JOHNSON: Apparently our sweet Sonja Morgan has had lit cigarettes inserted into her vagina. I don’t know how the hell someone would know that, but it’s a claim that’s been made in the book.
OTTENBERG: We’re a book club now. I want everyone to order this as soon as this plane from the Bottega show in Detroit lands.