Photography by Mike Webb

Robert Lee Morris

Jewelry Designer

| SoHo

If ever there were a case for fashion as art (and art as fashion), it would be Robert Lee Morris’ near 50-year-old career. The legendary jewelry designer was brought to New York in the early ‘70s by an art gallery owner at the Plaza Hotel and after his gladiator collar necklace graced the cover of Vogue a mere two years later, Morris was featured in every issue of the fashion bible for the next seven years. Since then, he’s collaborated with industry bigwigs like Karl Lagerfeld, Calvin Klein and Donna Karan (he created 36 collections for DK) and has created thousands of independent designs to fill his SoHo boutique. Its’ windows gleaming with sculpted metal breast plates and geometric brass cuffs, the awe-inspiring shop is right at home amongst the troves of neighboring art galleries. Here, Morris sits down with CITIPHILE to reveal his little black book on NYC.

NEIGHBORHOOD STANDBY: We love Aquagrill (MAP IT, x) and Mezzogiorno (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x). At Aquagrill, I adore the roasted red snapper; at Mezzogiorno, I always have one of their prosciutto and arugula pizzas– yum, yum, yum!

COFFEE OR TEA: Coffee. The best cup is at my house because I use water that is free of fluoride, chlorine and other bad things due to our super-duper Seychelle water filter. I also use the decadent flavors of Coffee-Mate to heighten the coffee drinking experience.

ALL-TIME FAVORITE RESTAURANT: The Odeon (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x) is still my favorite “go-to” restaurant due to its consistent French food and the countless memories I have from dining there with Andy Warhol. Each time, he would hand me a gift under the table wrapped in brown paper— it was always a small painting that he had inscribed to me from him.

COCKTAIL DE LA NUIT: A vodka Gimlet at The Odeon.

BEST BRUNCH: I love Ladurée (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x) for brunch on weekends because it is so French— unique and luxurious in all ways.

BEST PEOPLE WATCHING: Grand Central Station.

HEALTHY STAPLE: Keens Chophouse on 36th Street (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x) for the filet of sole.

GUILTY PLEASURE: Keens Chophouse. I’ll indulge in their insanely scrumptious hamburgers and fries from time to time.

NY’S BEST-KEPT SECRET: The Museum of the City of New York (MAP IT, x).

FIRST THING I MISS WHEN I’M AWAY: The intensity of the hive— it’s like consciousness that you feel everywhere.

REGULAR AT: My favorite bakery is Dominique Ansel (MAP IT, x), the home of the original cronut. I am pulled back into that heavenly place due to the wide variety of indescribably delicious masterpieces they whip up every day. Insider tip: try and visit around 9:30 am when the lines are way shorter and there may still be a few cronuts left!

DATE NIGHT STANDBY: Lombardi’s Pizza (MAP IT, x) delivered to my home.

DELIVERY GO-TO: We always used to order-in Chinese from Suzie’s, but they just went out of business so we are still searching for a replacement!

BEST JEWELS: I recommend Leekan on Rivington Street (MAP IT, x). They carry amazing products and stones from Asia and Africa.

CLOSET CHECK: My style would be called, “Hippesque.” I love Seven for all Mankind (MAP IT). Their stretch jeans fit me well!

BEST HOME DÉCOR: My interior style would be akin to the Ashmolean Museum in England, meaning that my home is chock-full of priceless antiques and exciting artworks. I have so many fabulous “props” once purchased and used for window displays for Artwear or the Robert Lee Morris store (MAP IT). I always look for oversized, fascinating objects that are big enough to fill a window and will cause necks to turn when passing by my store like a collection of Phoenician spearheads— still sharp, but covered in Verdigris patina from age or a rare, black rhinoceros shield.

BEST HOST/HOSTESS GIFTS: Kate’s Paperie (*Location now closed).

GROOMING BLACK BOOK: The Thompson Salon (MAP IT, x) where Hiroko works.

FIT PICK: I monitor my walking through the pedometer on my iPhone. For the best physical trainer, I recommend Angel Tang (x) at Work Train Fight on Broadway (MAP IT, x). It’s one-on-one training only.

ULTIMATE NY MOMENT: The collapsing of the Twin Towers. I watched the whole thing unfold before me from my SoHo loft windows. CP

Robert’s New York

From L to R: First Row: Dominique Ansel cronuts; Keens Steakhouse; Lombardi’s pizza; Robert Lee Morris earring. Second Row: Robert Lee Morris cuff; Fig tart from Ladurée; Inside Keens; Pasta from Mezzogiorno.

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