You may not be able to pinpoint exactly when you first started noticing Robert Verdi, but he certainly has been a familiar face in the celebrity style industry ever since the pendulum shifted and stylists no longer remained behind-the-scenes figures. You didn’t really think your favorite celebs dressed themselves all those years, did you? A pioneer of the now ubiquitous Fashion Police, which has even after Verdi’s stepping down become a weekly TV show and staple in nearly all celebrity magazines, Verdi’s opinion on trends and poorly dressed celebs became sought after.
As time has passed, Verdi has cemented his spot in the style-centric world by wearing many hats, albeit, many fashionable ones. As a celebrity stylist, interior designer, business owner and television host, Verdi has created a career that exudes flair. Yet, aside from his active and introspective Twitter feed—“I don’t know what I like about the word glitter…but I like it”—Verdi manages to maintain a pretty low profile, keeping most of his private life, well, private.
HudsonMOD catches up with Verdi to talk fashion, of course, but also the fast approaching holiday season and his proud New Jersey roots.
What’s your take on New Jersey?
I love New Jersey! I’m from New Jersey. I miss New Jersey. For me, Jersey isn’t just highways and malls, although the malls do make Jersey especially fabulous. I believe most people think of New Jersey as Newark Airport and imagine that it’s just a little industrial state. But, in truth, Jersey is gorgeous. It’s the farms of Bernardsville, the glorious beaches of Cape May and of course it’s the Jersey Shore. I’m heartbroken that Hurricane Sandy has ravaged the Jersey Shore—a place where my fondest summer memories occurred. I already feel the sense of community and unity as New Jersey families begin to rebuild something bigger than any storm could take away. What New Jersey really is is simply said on every license place: The Garden State.
How did growing up in New Jersey help prepare you for the foray into Manhattan and Los Angeles?
I grew up in Maplewood, NJ, which is about 16 miles outside of New York City. When you grow up that close to a major metropolis, it becomes your backyard. So the only real transition for me was the square footage of my living space and moving from my parents’ house in New Jersey to moving into a studio apartment that was as big as a bathroom in my childhood home. Now I live in a bigger apartment than my childhood home, so I guess the foray was good.
What are some pivotal moments in your career that have helped to shape where you are right now?
Attending the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) really allowed me to shape my love of fashion, style and design. When I graduated I started my own business, which may not have been the best idea because I ended up closing it after a couple of years. From there I went to work for other people to learn the ropes and make mistakes on someone else’s dime. One of the most important relationships has been with Eva Longoria, whom I happened to meet while working as an entertainment reporter for E! Entertainment Television. She and I hit it off and have become important confidants for each other in both our professional and personal lives.
What does luxury mean to you?
I think when people talk about luxury and apply it to fashion they expect it to be conspicuous. True luxury is not an alligator bag, it’s a bag lined in alligator.
What is your favorite item that you’ve splurged on recently?
I have a passion for art that may be overtaking my passion for fashion. I recently acquired a Mel Bochner print titled “Money” that I hung in my office and that makes me smile every day.
What would you recommend as the ultimate holiday gift?
I’m very practical when it comes to holiday gift giving. One of my favorite gifts to give women is a vintage clutch. I find them at flea markets and thrift stores throughout the year and when the holidays hit, I go to the local drug store and fill them with classic beauty products. It’s the perfect balance of chic and practical because every girl always seems to forget her mascara, and with all of the holiday parties it’s a must to be prepared. I also love giving a piece of art from 20×200 because it can inspire people to start their own art collections.
What fashion pieces would you recommend for the frigid season to impress guests at holiday parties?
Every outfit during the holiday season should have shine, sparkle or shimmer—whether you wear it as a lipstick, manicure, patent leather shoe, sequin tank top or a great pair of dramatic earrings. The season gives you an excuse to sprinkle some sparkle into your wardrobe.
What are some of the most common fashion mistakes?
I like people who experiment and try new things and who have an individual and unique approach to styling. One item I hate though is Capri pants—they’re the most unflattering things on every shape. I have a strict “No Capri” rule with all my clients—no matter if they’re celebrities, superstars or socialites.
What can we expect in 2013?
I’m working on a lot of really exciting stuff in the digital space. I think that the Web is where a lot of creativity can be expressed in a fresh and unedited manner. So maybe everyone will be tuning in and watching me in a very raw program online soon.
Editor’s Note: Since publishing the Winter issue of HudsonMOD, Verdi has released his awaited, annual gift guide. Get Verdi’s picks here—The Most Exciting & Stylish Fab Must Haves of the Season!