Where ‘The Nikki Haskell Show’ Never Ends


With the New York charity circuit on hiatus, here is how some philanthropists and society figures are spending their time and resources during the pandemic.

Age: 79

Occupation: talk show host, party planner, diet and fitness entrepreneur

Favorite charities: Nancy Davis Race to Erase MS, Angel Ball, Carousel of Hope, Project Angel Food

Where have you been sheltering?

I live in a high-rise in the Wilshire Corridor in Los Angeles. I can see the golf course and, to the east, the snow-capped mountains. I get up every morning and I get dressed. I’m in full makeup every day.

What about now?

Actually, I’m wearing a robe. I just got out of the bathtub. I’m working on my party. We’re going to celebrate my 80th birthday on May 17 at the Beverly Hills Hotel. I’m not shy about anything and definitely not shy about my birthday.

It’s a 12-foot-tall bronze work cast from the Venus de Milo. The bronze has a patina, so it looks like it’s been sitting there for many years, and it’s clustered with crystals.

How does it relate to your body of work?

I try to make my work float in time a little bit, so that it feels linked to now, but could also be from the past or the future. Giorgio di Chirico, an early favorite artist of mine, included ancient works in his painting but placed those in very modern scenarios. They could have been made any time in the past hundred years. I like that.

You have worked in the fashion world. What drew you?

Fashion is a very different way of creating meaning, creating value. A lot of clothing that I wear is vintage. I have a pretty substantial sneaker collection that dates back to the mid-’80s. Clothing gains character through the user, and it’s very much tied to the zeitgeist. A lot of artists try to escape their era, to create a timeless work. To a certain degree, that’s impossible.

Has the pandemic changed our perception of time?

For a lot of us, living through it felt very long. Now looking back, it feels very short. So many of us can remember exact moment when we were told we had to go into lockdown. We have a visceral sense of that moment. It can still feel very present. That the normalcy of everyday life can be so dramatically altered in the span of a day or a couple of weeks — few generations have experienced that.


There must have been challenges.

It was scary from the business side. We had to think about closing the store for a time, about absorbing inventory. We’d been shipping from our warehouse in Brooklyn, but the warehouse closed. Last year we did a sample sale out of our garage. I liked packing orders that had color, prints and sequins. It gave me hope. I’m good at working. It’s my therapy. Maybe I’m twisted that way.

You have a new pop-up store on Smith Street, in Brooklyn. How is that working out?

The first people to come back were the seniors because they were vaccinated. “Oh, we’re so excited,” they told me. “We haven’t been out in a year.” We’re putting together a new model for showing artwork, a shop within the shop, with installations by friends including Chelsea Spengemann, Gwen Smith and Sara VanDerBeek.

What looks are people craving?

People are starting to buy shoes again. My retail director tells me that they’re buying belts. They’re showing their waists — a sign things are changing.

What will you be wearing?

I’m excited for high heels. I’m not dying for a miniskirt, but I’m not afraid of it either. What we’ve learned is that clothes can really bring you joy.

Interviews have been edited.



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