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July 20, 2009 12:50 PM

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Five Minutes With Fran Lebowitz

Fran Lebowitz Fran Lebowitz and Diane von Furstenberg are long-time friends, so it was little surprise seeing the acerbic writer at von Furstenberg's store last Wednesday night for a party. The bash was for Gloria Vanderbilt and her new book...

Fran LebowitzFran Lebowitz

Fran Lebowitz and Diane von Furstenberg are long-time friends, so it was little surprise seeing the acerbic writer at von Furstenberg's store last Wednesday night for a party. The bash was for Gloria Vanderbilt and her new book "Obsession: An Erotic Tale" (which von Furstenberg confirmed was "very, very, very, very erotic).

Vanderbilt, like Lebowitz, is a revered New York figure, but I didn't take the two for BFFs. Curious, I followed Lebowitz out onto the sidewalk where she smoked a cigarette and explained.

WWD: Have you read "Obsession" or any of Gloria's other books?
Fran Lebowitz: I don't know. What are her books?  It's possible.

WWD: Well, then, how do you know Gloria?

F.L.: I don't know. You know, I mean, yeah, my misspent youth.  I don't know how I know almost anyone. Let's put it this way, I've lived in New York for 40 years, I've been going out every night of my life practically. I have no idea. There's very few people I know how I know them. I mean, especially people I've known for a long time.

WWD: What do you think makes Gloria so intriguing?
F.L.: I think it depends how old you are. She is my mother's generation, you know, and I think that was a generation of fewer celebrities and fewer public scandals. I think that people that age who remember her as a young woman. She was incredibly beautiful. If you see these pictures of Gloria, she was beyond beautiful, which is the key to looking good when you're old.

WWD: So if you're not beautiful when you're young...
F.L.: Yes.  When people say, "Doesn¹t Gloria look great? She¹s 85."  I say, "Yes, she was a raving beauty when she was 20," that's the key. Very helpful. And you know, Gloria had a very public life, which is now very common, every idiot has one, but then it was not very common.  And so at a certain point you become a repository of social history and that gives you a kind of resonance.  I think that's part of what Gloria has, especially because I see all these people here who are in their 20s. I mean, not that many, but some.

WWD: Speaking of everyone having a public life, do you Twitter, or Facebook or do any of the social networking?
F.L.: No. I don't have a computer. No email. And I'm sure people say, "Oh Fran, she's old fashioned, she's a technophobe." I don't have a cell phone, but I never had the old machines.  I never had a typewriter, I never had a stereo system.  I don't like machines. You know, old, new, I don't care.

WWD: How do you listen to music at home?
F.L.: I don't listen to music that often. Someone bought me one of these Bose things, so I listen to music sometimes on that, usually when I'm rearranging books. But I've always been like that. I was like this when I was young. I'm resisting it, but I've resisted all machines.  I mean there's no writer, let me assure you, who never owned a typewriter except me.  I don't get along with machinery.

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