Interview: The Glittery World of Richie Rich

Though Heatherette is all but ancient history, Richie Rich is still a glam club kid at heart.  Amidst a sea of models – bones and high ponytails from wall to ceiling – I met up with the designer and his design director Angelo Lambrou during a casting call for Richie’s runway show. This will be his second collection for his eponymous label and will be held at the Hammerstein Ballroom on February 10th at 9 pm. Proceeds will go to benefit two causes very close to Richie’s sequined heart: DoSomething.org and Cookies for Kids' Cancer. We discussed Richie’s fabulous inspirations, his fabulous friends and the first time he met Madonna. Which was, you guessed it, fabulous. On this season’s aesthetic: It’s sort of 20s/30s glamour meets East Village punkiness/funkiness. Imagine if Marie Antoinette fell out of the sky and landed in the middle of the East Village. We’re just going to let her have fun. But it’s going to be more refined and upscale. On his partnership with Angelo: Angelo’s kind of my design director, we’re a team, doing this line together. I hate titles, that’s the thing, but we’re having fun. We met on 7th St when I had my line, Heatherette, that was my studio. But he’s right across the street still on 7th St.  Keeping it real with the East Village. I was looking for someone to partner up with me and have fun and direct my crazy mind. It’s like when you decorate the Christmas tree, if you have too many ideas you need to edit it…I think Angelo brings refinement to my glittery fun. On his upcoming runway show: The show this season is on February 10th at the Hammerstein Ballroom. Fashion Week is usually very exclusive, invite only, but I’m opening my show up like a rock concert this year, letting people in who never really get a chance to go to a fashion show. I never realized, like a lot of my friends that aren’t in the fashion industry,  I’ll invite them to my show and they’re like, "Oh my god, it was so much fun! I’ve never been to a fashion show before." I always take it for granted because that’s what I do. It’s fun when people who haven’t experienced it get a chance to and see what it’s about. And it’s as much fun to watch the crowd as it is to watch the show. This year I'm selling tickets to the show and proceeds go to DOsomething.org as well as Cookies for Kids' Cancer, which is a charity for little kids who unfortunately have cancer. We have a good friend who passed away in the last couple days…It felt weird at first, selling tickets, but you know if you can help people it makes sense. Then again this spring, I think I’m going to do another show to launch a partnership with a Fast Fashion House. I guess I’ll be the first designer that’s ever been the face of something they’ve done. On casting models: I look for personality. There are so many beautiful people out there that model. I don’t like one kind of look, I like everything. That’s why I love New York. It’s like an 80’s Bennetton ad. You have the amazing black girl with the Asian kid and the gay kid…I just think we all wear clothes, you don’t have to be a size 0 because beauty comes in all sizes. On pre-Fashion Week jitters: I don’t get nervous, really, it’s more like happy nerves, excited, energetic. I’m always like what if nobody shows up? I probably asked my mom that before my fifth birthday party. I don’t really get nervous or scared or intimidated, I’m more excited like it’s Christmas Eve. I just want everybody to come and have a good time. The worst part is when something goes wrong, like when kids can’t get in or something’s wrong with the door. I’m backstage trying to get everything together and I have all these friends on the alert. You don’t know what’s going on and you end up getting in trouble the next three days or five months. That’s where the nerves come from. That’s the nerve-wracking part. On other fashion shows he’s looking forward to: I always look forward to all of it. I go to Marc Jacobs every year. He’s an old friend. I love him, he’s supported me a long time as well. But I just go with the flow. Fashion Week is such a rollercoaster, that’s why I like doing opening night because then it’s over with and I can just have fun. On his celebrity friends walking the runway: I didn’t really intend, when I started doing fashion shows, to have celebrities at the end. They just happened to be my friends and were out and about. A lot of people in the media are like, "Who are you having this season?" Your guess is as good as mine. I usually just call up some of my friends, ask if they want to do this. If it’s part of a charity, even better. It just kind of unfolds. I’ll definitely have surprises this season. I don’t know the surprises until they happen. They’re really always last minute. Last year Ellen [Degeneres] finally called two days before [the show]… I remember one season, Britney Spears and Paris Hilton were in a fight. So Paris is in one car and Britney is in another car. I went out to get them but they both knew each other was there. I didn’t know they were feuding and they decided not to come out of their cars. And Kimora Lee was also walking so she's like, "Well, where are Paris and Britney?" I said they’re not coming out and Kimora goes "Well I guess I’m the finale!" Kimora was great, I like having other designers walk. I think it should all be a big family. I don’t believe in the whole competitive thing, we’re all having fun for the same reason. On meeting his icons: My friends enticed me to move to New York and I sort of moved here on a whim. The night I came they threw a party for me at this club in Union Square. I had long finger waves and was wearing this discoball-ish headpiece when Madonna walks up to me with a beer and a cigarette in hand.  She just kind of looked at me like, "Who is this?" and said, "Hey, what’s up?" I’ve always been a huge fan, obviously, of hers – and I was just like, "WOW. I’m staying in New York!" And the next night, I was living at the Hotel 17 in Gramercy Park with my friend Amanda Lepore, who was my neighbor and David Bowie was in the elevator with me. I grew up with my brother loving David Bowie. We ended up doing a photoshoot literally outside of my hotel room with Interviewmagazine. Then two nights later I met Debbie Harry! New York came alive in a week. It just felt like it was meant to be. I think that’s why I appreciate fashion and pop culture so much: the sheer will of having a dream, letting it unfold and hopefully inspiring other people to realize their dreams. Which is what all those artists have done for me. On his own style: I pretty much wear everything from Dots and H&M mixed with Chanel, everything from Marc Jacobs to Prada, Dior, The Gap, vintage. I’m just all over the map. I think if you think too much it doesn’t make sense. But on the flip side, if you do a fashion shoot and somebody else styles you, it’s fun to see how they envision you. Like popstars for example. It’s not really their vision, but somebody else giving it to them. Even Gaga, she’s bringing back to the surface what club kids did for years, but she’s smart about it. She has good people around her. Kate Moss’s best friend, he’s gay, told me there’s always a good f****t around any fabulous girl. [laughs] If you want a ticket to enter Richie's glittery fun world, you can buy them here — that way you can be fabulous and support two great causes!