An exclusive Q & A with designer, fashion icon, and CW’s High Society reality TV star Tinsley Mortimer at TFR’s VIP event at Redwood Restaurant and Bar.
By Olivia Clark
Olivia Clark: Tinsley, we love your new reality show High Society and are excited for the second season. How did you decide you wanted to do a show and how is it different from other reality TV?
Tinsley Mortimer: Well, CW approached me a year ago. They wanted a look into the world that I live in which can be perceived as exclusive, and I thought it would be a great idea as national television would be great exposure for my line. This show would allow people to see how I live and a little bit more about the New York City social playground. I also did it for mere entertainment purposes. I thought it would be fun and interesting for people to see. I think it’s very different from other reality TV because it’s 100% real.
OC: If anything, what do you want your viewers to take away from this next season of High Society?
TM: People don’t ever get to see me speak or what I do with my fashion line; it was important to me for people to see that. I want people to know that there is more to me than being a “socialite” and attending parties and social events. I want viewers to be aware that I’m actually very charitable and hard-working.
OC: You are viewed as a fashion icon on New York City’s social playground. What are some fashion tips you can give to women living in Washington?
TM: I don’t follow trends. You’re not going to look your best if you don’t feel comfortable in what you step out of the house in. Feeling good about yourself is reflective of how you look to other people. I’m also a girly-girl, so I love to dress up. I think women living in Washington should realize that wearing dresses is the easiest thing ever. If you want to dress up and look put-together, throw a dress on. Also, don’t be afraid of color.
OC: Here in Washington we like to see and be seen, but dress rather conservatively. What is your advice on the key to looking Front Row Fabulous while still Hill appropriate?
TM: The clothing pieces you choose to wear will either be conservative or not, but it’s what accessories you choose to pair them with that make you stand out. Accessories can make any outfit look more “spiced up.” I would recommend adding bold accessories to plain outfits.
OC: What do you love most about the style and fashion of women in the District that differentiates it from other cities?
TM: To be honest, I don’t necessarily know it too well today, but for me growing up, D.C. was the only place that inspired me fashion-wise. Growing up in Richmond, there was little for me to be intrigued by, but Washington was much more of a fashion capital. After moving to New York City, I became much more focused on the fashion there.
OC: Your handbag line with Samantha Thavasa is both glamorous and chic. Where can we purchase it?
TM: There is one store in New York City next to Christian Louboutin on Madison Avenue. Since it’s a Japanese brand, there are a lot of stores there. The line is huge in Japan. Although the website still needs a bit of work, you can also purchase items on http://www.samanthathavasausa.com.
OC: What inspires you when you design?
TM: I am inspired by myself! I design things that I would want to wear and I design based on what I need and want. As far as being inspired by an era, I’m currently really influenced by the 80’s.
OC: You have a lot going on right now; a clothing line, a handbag collection, and your second season of High Society. Do you have any other projects in the works?
TM: There is nothing that I can say right now, but I’m definitely talking to people about doing more in the fashion business. I would like to work on a project on my own, but right now I don’t have anything specific planned.
OC: If you could only bring three items of clothing on a trip, what would they be?
TM: Dry shampoo has changed my life! That would definitely be an item that I would bring. I can put dry shampoo in my hair, and I can keep my hair looking fresh and in-place for days on end. I would also bring my Diorshow Blackout mascara. It makes my lashes very thick and black, and gives that faux-like effect on them. I’d have to say a credit card would be my third item! That’s all I need.
OC: A lot of times, reality TV portrays females as catty and dramatic. What is your take on keeping it classy and sophisticated under the limelight?
TM: Honestly, I just do not lead a very dramatic lifestyle. I don’t enjoy gossiping about people and I tend to remove myself from any situation in which someone is talking about someone else behind their back. Initially, I was concerned about doing the show because I know that people like to amp it up to make reality TV entertaining. I do not like to hear people talk about other people; I’m not a bitch – it’s just not my nature. I can honestly say that the show portrayed me exactly how I am in real life.
Olivia Clark is a rising senior at Fairfield University. She is studying communications and fashion journalism.