Not My Job: Fashion Guru Simon Doonan Gets Quizzed On Microsoft Windows
BILL KURTIS, BYLINE: Now, there are those who might not call fashion a science, but those people haven't had to figure out what to wear to a bar mitzvah in Croatia on Easter Sunday like some of us have.
PETER SAGAL, HOST:
Simon Doonan is one of the reigning experts on fashion in the world of fashion, but he got his start working for Barney's, the men's store, doing the windows.
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SIMON DOONAN: Well, at the time I went to Barney's in the mid '80s, my boss told me, make the windows a talked-about thing. So, you know, it was around about the period where they were calling Margaret Thatcher the Iron Lady. So I put her in an S&M outfit, made a caricature of her, put her in the window ironing and listening to Metallica - you know, in a dungeon.
SAGAL: Were you able to - I mean, how do they sell clothes, though? Do people see the S&M Margaret Thatcher, then walk into Barneys and say, I'd like one of those, please?
DOONAN: Over and over again. And that was just the men.
SAGAL: You are now Barney's creative ambassador-at-large. What does that mean?
DOONAN: It means that I get to wear a sash.
SAGAL: Oh, there you are.
DOONAN: I'm wearing my sash right now. I ironed it specially for this broadcast.
SAGAL: Does it have like medals on it and ribbons in the manner of the classic ambassador?
DOONAN: It does. But I think to be a proper ambassador, you have to be terribly fat, don't you? Like the sash looks much better on a corpulent physique.
SAGAL: How - when people ask you for fashion advice, as I'm sure they must do, what do you tell them?
DOONAN: Well, I actually give terrible advice.
DOONAN: I'm very reckless. Like I'm not one of those helpful gays. You know?
DOONAN: You know, like "Queer Eye For The Straight Guy." I actually auditioned for that show and they rejected me 'cause they said you're just not helpful enough.
DOONAN: They showed me a picture of some guy with a mullet and a Metallica T-shirt, and I said he looks great. What's wrong? Like, I don't have that - I see clothes as being nonverbal communication. They're anthropology, they're not something you - I want to change, which makes me completely useless at giving advice. So in the absence of having any useful advice, I usually tell people, you know, go out and buy a blue stripper wig, you know. Or go home and take all your sensible work clothes and give them to the Goodwill and just wear party clothes for the rest of your life. If you can establish a signature look that is recognizable, that is yours - bingo. You've made it, darling.
MAZ JOBRANI: What if your wife doesn't let you leave the house with your signature look?
DOONAN: Have you been wearing that leopard jumpsuit again?
SAGAL: Well, Simon Doonan, we have asked you here to play a game that this time we're calling...
KURTIS: Fatal System Error. Please Reboot.
SAGAL: Since you got your start designing beautiful, strange and useful windows, we thought we'd ask you about clumsy, awful and annoying Windows - namely, Microsoft Windows. Answer two of these three questions correctly and you'll win our prize for one of our listeners, Carl Kasell's voice in their voicemail. Bill, who is Simon Doonan playing for?
KURTIS: Hannah Shulman of San Francisco, California.
SAGAL: All right. Ready to do this, Simon?
DOONAN: Yes, I'm completely technologically idiotic, so this is going to be interesting.
SAGAL: It shall be. Here we go. Now like many famous brands, people have tried to take advantage of Windows' popularity. Which of these was a Windows branded product you could once buy in Japan? A, a Windows 7 Whopper at Burger King with seven - count them - seven all-beef patties; B, Windows brand lingerie; or C, Windows windows for your house?
DOONAN: I'm going to go with B because I love lingerie, braziers, negligees, anything like that. So let's go with B.
SAGAL: I'm fond of them too, but before I give you the answer, how do you think Windows lingerie would work? Would there be little windows you'd open up? I mean...
DOONAN: You know, a good piece of lingerie screams for a little aperture, doesn't it?
SAGAL: It does.
SAGAL: So you're choosing a Windows lingerie. Oh would that it were. It was really the Windows 7 Whopper with seven all-beef patties.
PAULA POUNDSTONE: Ew.
SAGAL: I know, but it was a thing. Second question, you still have two more chances here, Simon. If you have trouble with Microsoft Windows and you call their help line somewhere in the world, you might be helped by which of these? A, a 5-year-old boy; B, a computer running Microsoft Windows; C, Bill Gates himself, but only on Tuesdays and alternate Fridays?
DOONAN: Well, C is so preposterous that I'm going to go with C because that would be kind of great, wouldn't it?
SAGAL: It would be great, perhaps - and I don't think you need to do this, but some people like to choose which one is actually likely to be true.
SAGAL: And that's just an option, you don't have to do that.
DOONAN: Well, you know that fashion people are completely idiotic.
DOONAN: I want to stay on message.
SAGAL: I feel - I understand that instinct.
SAGAL: You're going to choose Bill Gates?
DOONAN: Yes, Bill.
SAGAL: I'm not going to talk you out of it, but it was a 5-year-old boy.
DOONAN: You're kidding?
SAGAL: Five-year-old Ayan Qureshi of Coventry, England passed a Microsoft exam and is now an accredited Windows IT expert who's qualified to give out help. Last question, back in 2009, to get the word out about Windows 7, Microsoft encouraged people to do which of these things that no one we assume actually did? A, throw a Windows 7-themed house party; B, get a Windows 7 face tattoo; or C, hold a neighbor hostage until he or she downloaded and installed it?
DOONAN: I'm going to go with A because it sort of screams Tupperware, doesn't it?
SAGAL: It does. And you're right.
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POUNDSTONE: There we go.
SAGAL: There's actually a hilarious video demonstrating how such a house party would go that we cannot recommend highly enough. It is amazing to watch Microsoft's version of what they think actual human beings might speak to each other. Bill, how did Simon Doonan do on our quiz?
KURTIS: You know, Simon is a great window preparer. Simon, you're doing really well. Thank you.
SAGAL: That was very diplomatic.
JOBRANI: That's the nicest way of saying you lost.
SAGAL: Yeah, I know. We're just going to skip the whole topic. That was hilarious.
KURTIS: You tried so well.
SAGAL: Simon Doonan's latest book is in paperback now. It's called "The Asylum: True Tails In Madness From A Life In Fashion." Simon, thank you so much for joining us.
POUNDSTONE: Thanks, Simon.
SAGAL: Really fun to talk to you. Bye-bye.
DOONAN: Thank you.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WINDOW SHOPPING")
HANK WILLIAMS: (Singing) You're window shopping, just window shopping.
SAGAL: When we come back, finally something my degree prepares me for. The science of rhyme as exhibited by our own limericist and the best hair in government. We'll be back with more of WAIT WAIT ...DON'T TELL ME from NPR.
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