For a wardrobe stylist, Robert Verdi has an expensive imagination.
Frequently seen on TV shows, like “Fashion Police” on E!, Verdi stopped in Dallas last week to herald the opening of West Elm at Mockingbird Station. If you’re familiar with West Elm, you know that it’s like a Crate & Barrel, only without the kitchen wear.
I pounced on Verdi just minutes before he was going to bestow a lucky shopper of his choice with a $500 gift certificate. I was there to quiz him about ideas for kicking up Halloween in 2006.
The New Jersey-raised fashionista said he doesn’t connect with Oct. 31. During his childhood, he once dressed up as a sombrero-wearing Mexican with a mustache and tried to tag along with his older sister. But she made Robert keep a safe distance, insisting he stay behind at least two doors down from her posse.
“So for me, Halloween is a feel-bad holiday,” he says.
At least Verdi now keeps company with people who appreciate him: Kathy Griffin and Eva Longoria are two clients he’s helped style.
But Verdi’s imagination seems preoccupied with costly bling. Coiled around his neck is a bulky jewel-encrusted collar that looks annoyingly heavy.
“It’s not that heavy, I swear,” Verdi says. “Do you want to try it on?”
He hands me the necklace. And I’m right. It’s heavy.
“These gems can’t all be real,” I say.
“Of course they are 24 carat,” Verdi says.
Back to Halloween.
Since he’s an expert on fashion if Verdi could assassinate anyone for trying to pull off an especially weak costume in 2006, what would it be?
“I hate when someone picks a really boring cliche and tries to make it into a stupid punch line. Like a man wearing a pair of underwear and carrying a legal pad and saying “‘I’m a legal brief,’” Verdi says. “I hate that stuff. “
If Verdi had $1 million dollars and had to throw a Halloween party, how would he decorate?
“I love the idea of being decadent. Luxury has lost its way. Luxury is something everyone can’t have,” he says. “So for my decadent Halloween how about decorating a room in black-diamond spider webs?”
Let’s say Mother Teresa came back from the dead and she threw a Halloween party. What would Verdi wear?
“Oh, I’d be a religious saint,” he says. “Like Constantine of the Religious Conversion. I collect religious iconography. So for me, Halloween 2006 is all about ancient religious figures.”
Verdi then reluctantly agreed to hold a plastic jack-o’-lantern for a quick photo.
“I don’t know why anyone cares about my opinions concerning Halloween,” he says.
I thought Verdi was a fashion expert. If it wasn’t opinions regarding clothing ideas or costumes why would someone talk to him?
“I’d hope they’d want to talk to me because I’m hot,” he says.
Verdi had flown into Dallas the night before. Did he do anything?
“Do you mean, did I order in for sex?” he asks?
Ummmmm … did he?
“No,” Verdi says. “But I usually do.”
Daniel A. Kusner
West Elm, Mockingbird Station 5307 E. Mockingbird Lane. Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. 214-821-3999.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, October 27, 2006.