Scene and Heard: Lucy Sykes
Photo Credit: Grace Chang
Photo courtesy of Lucy Sykes
“At the end of the day, to know that you can rely on your girlfriends—in work and in life—it’s just so important,” said Lucy Sykes. The New York-based British author and former fashion director of American Marie Claire was in Los Angeles to celebrate her new novel, The Knockoff (Doubleday), at a party thrown by just that sort of longtime friend. Gregg Renfrew, owner of Santa Monica-based skincare and cosmetics brand Beautycounter, held the fête for Sykes on Thursday, May 28, at the company’s modern farmhouse-style headquarters where co-host Minnie Mortimer as well as Chris and Mercedes Weitz, John and Gela Taylor, Atlanta de Cadenet, Lisa Love, and Net-a-Porter’s Tracy Taylor all gathered. But Sykes’ sentiment is also prescient in the imagined reality at the center of her fictional tale—a satirical beach read that sends up the changing face of the magazine publishing industry and the women involved, taking cues both from All About Eve and the Devil Wears Prada—that was co-authored with journalist Jo Piazza. On the heels of the literary celebration, Sykes (whose twin sister is Vogue contributing editor and Bergdorf Blondes author Plum Sykes) chatted about the future of publishing and the next big lifestyle trend.
By Melissa Goldstein
Where did the inspiration for this book come from? Obviously you have a lot of fashion industry experience to draw from …
It’s basically an extreme, fictional version of something that happened to me. A woman leaves a print magazine and returns to find her world had changed—suddenly she doesn’t speak the language and everyone else does.
The story’s villain is a young, millennial-age woman hell-bent on morphing a glossy magazine into an app. Do you present a solution for bringing print into the digital age?
The story doesn’t have a Cinderella-perfect concept but it has a light at the end of the tunnel—a possibility to move forward. Obviously no one knows what’s coming next. So you just have to kind of keep up with it—if you want to—and if you don’t that’s okay too, but you can’t sit there and complain.
You co-authored this book, which is unusual for a novel. How did that work?
I’m a storyteller but I’m not a writer, whereas Jo is a brilliant journalist. We both bring something so different, but really need each other’s talents. She would write me a paragraph and then I would write it back to her and [tweak] the voice and she would make it pretty and write it back to me. The book in itself was a triumph for me because it’s like, you don’t have to be perfect—you can have a vision and get someone to help you— you don’t need to do everything by yourself all the time. My publishers keep saying: “Are you sure you’re friends? Because usually by this time co-authors hate each other.” We’re already working on book number two.
Can you give us a sneak peek at the next one?
Well, where this one was set in the tech fashion space, the new story is set in the health and fitness world. I feel that there is a complete obsession with fitness right now—wearing expensive clothes to get styled up to go to the gym, and everything. My talent as a fashion editor has always been recognizing what’s going on, and I’m not saying [it applies] to everyone, but in my circle, at this time, at my age, people are obsessed—obsessed!—with things like lavender-infused water.
Pictured: Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza
Photo by: Grace Chang