By Mackenzie Brewster; Photography by William Ross

Emily Saunders

Designer, SAUNDER

| Greenwich Village

Emily Saunders and New York City go together like Manhattan and bagels… or dollar pizza… or the Yankees— that is to say Saunders lives, breathes and embodies this city like few others. Besides being born and raised in the heart of Greenwich Village (she even has her own neighborhood version of Cheers), she is about to make her mark on the fashion industry thanks to her made-in-New-York women’s wear label, Saunder. The Saunder aesthetic— globally influenced, yet downtown inspired— is a direct reflection of the designer’s own eclectic personal style, curated by a lifetime of city living and world traveling. The Saunder girl is one who floats around the city by day, dances her heart out by night— an irreverent soul with a whisper of urban edge (not unlike the designer herself). Launched in 2011, the four-year-old label is certainly one to watch as we get closer to the start of New York Fashion Week. Here, Saunders sits down with CITIPHILE to reveal her little black book on NYC.

NEIGHBORHOOD STANDBY: I’ve really been digging Northern Spy (*Location now closed) recently; it’s a little ways away from my apartment, but it’s worth the effort. It’s seasonal farm-to-table so the menu is constantly rotating but for the past six months they’ve had the most amazing appetizer of pork rinds with buttermilk dipping sauce– it’s straight-up food crack.

COFFEE OR TEA: Coffee! One thousand times coffee! I like Café Grumpy (MAP IT, x) if I’m in the Garment District, La Colombe (MAP IT, x) if I’m downtown, Birch (MAP IT, x) if I’m in Kips Bay and bottled Stumptown cold brew from my fridge when I’m at home. These are all the best because, like me, their coffee is dark and bitter.

ALL-TIME FAVORITE RESTAURANT: Well, picking favorites is hard, but one of my all-time favorite restaurants is Keens Steakhouse (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x)– that place has been around since 1885 which is practically prehistoric by New York standards. You get the feeling that nothing has changed in the past one hundred-plus years (the waiters have all probably worked there since the turn of the century) and they even have a clay pipe that Chuck Norris smoked. If you go there, you must go full mutton chop… it’s probably not a great place for vegetarians. For vegan food, I love Blossom on the Upper West Side (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x). The atmosphere is beautiful, the wine selection fantastic (and also vegan) and the food is always so tasty.

COCKTAIL DE LA NUIT: I love the Pilot Punch (a mixture of tequila blanco, jalapeño infused tequila, yellow chartreuse, cucumber, mint, and lime– insanely refreshing) at Mayahuel (*Location now closed) and I’m always on the lookout for a well-made Gershwin which is simply gin, ginger syrup and rose water. Most bartenders glare at me, then tell me they have no idea what I’m talking about when I order it, but if I go to Raines Law Room (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x) or the Flatiron Lounge (MAP IT, x), no explanation is needed.

AFTER-WORK HAPPY HOUR: The Summit in Alphabet City (MAP IT, x). My friend, Ryan and I go there a fair amount– we sit at the bar and drink several rounds of the Ground to Glass (tequila, cucumber, red pepper purée, orange bitters, lime and hickory-smoked salt rim) and talk to Demetrius, the bartender, about dinosaurs before we continue our adventures elsewhere.

GIRLS NIGHT OUT: If by “girls,” you mean my gay boyfriends, then it would probably be dancing and watching the drag acts at This n’ That in Williamsburg (*Location now closed).

MUSIC PICK: This is a hard one because I love all kinds of music, but I’m going through a hardcore “yacht rock” phase right now. Most recently, I’ve been enjoying the ’90s rap stylings at Jeepney (MAP IT, x) while I eat their awesome Filipino ribs slathered in banana ketchup. I will; however, forever be obsessed with the juke box at Doc Holliday’s (MAP IT, x)– it’s the best in the city.

BEST PEOPLE WATCHING: The Russian & Turkish Baths on 10th Street (MAP IT, x).

HEALTHY STAPLE: Hu Kitchen (MAP IT, x) for their chicken salad and cabbage slaw.

GUILTY PLEASURE: I don’t feel guilty about enjoying delicious food.

NY’S BEST-KEPT SECRET: The AMC Kips Bay Movie Theatre (MAP IT)– it’s always empty and it has beautiful movie murals on the second floor of Barbra Streisand and Jack Nicholson, plus a lot of old Kevin Costner posters. It rocks.

FIRST THING I MISS WHEN I’M AWAY: The feeling of being home.

REGULAR AT: Yes, Burp Castle in the East Village (MAP IT, x); it’s my Cheers– I always feel at home there. They serve tasty Belgian ales and have murals of cavorting monks on the walls. There was a long period of time where I would go with my friend, Jon on the same night of the week every week; we became regulars and our other friends would always know where to find us on that particular night if they wanted to stop by and hang out. I have laughed a lot in that bar and hatched a lot of plans. My tip: don’t go in the men’s bathroom. It smells like the 10th ring of hell. But if you do happen to find yourself there, you’ll probably find some graffiti that I wrote on the wall by the sink… just saying.

DATE NIGHT STANDBY: My boyfriend and I have a really good date night trifecta: we start at The Russian & Turkish Baths and shvitz for a solid hour-and-a-half, then we go across the street to Quintessence (MAP IT, x) and get a big Buddha bowl (mixed greens, kale, tomato, cucumber, sprouts and onions) and proceed to sneak our food into a movie theatre for a movie dinner picnic.

DELIVERY GO-TO: I’m not that much into delivery. I love to cook and can usually throw something quick and healthy together in a pinch, but if the fridge is bare and I just worked a 14-hour day, I’ll probably order some Indian food. I don’t really have a regular place, but I’ve discovered that Chote Nawab (MAP IT, BOOK IT, ORDER ITx) has a good chicken Biryani.

TO SEE AND BE SEEN: I’m not much into scenes. I don’t like lines and I don’t like discriminatory door policies. That being said, sometimes you can find me at 2 am on a random Wednesday dancing around in the pool at Le Bain (MAP IT, x).

TO ESCAPE AND UNWIND: Coney Island, the most magical place on earth.

CLOSET CHECK: I have a pretty eclectic personal style, but you could probably describe it as some kind of rock-n-roll-meets-flapper hybrid. As far as shopping goes, I kind of pick up things along the way. From time to time, I’ll pop into INA on Bleecker Street (*Location now closed) and Opening Ceremony (MAP IT, x) to see what they have going on. I recently discovered The 9th Street Haberdashery (MAP IT, x) which has a great selection of quirky, vintage finds– I just bought a beautiful cotton and lace Edwardian nightgown that I’ve been floating around the city in this summer.

BEST HOME DÉCOR: My interior style is messy, but I have aspirations to live the minimalist lifestyle of a Scandinavian recluse… I’m working on it. I really love the Michele Varian (MAP IT, x); they have beautiful home items as well as a lovely jewelry selection.

BEST HOST/HOSTESS GIFTS: My go-to for this would be a bottle of dry bubbly or a nice whiskey like Talisker or Oban from Astor Wines (MAP IT, x).

BEAUTY BLACK BOOK: I love to get big stiletto nails from Valley Nails on Elizabeth Street (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x). Also, I’ve been going to Arté Salon (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x) to get my hair cut and colored for years and years– Joseph gives a great cut and Amy is killer at keeping my hair looking sunny.

FIT PICK: I train with my boyfriend, John Prada (email [email protected]x) who is an independent personal trainer. I lift a lot of weights, and do a lot of hardcore, prison-style workouts– it’s the best because I love feeling strong. I haven’t been working out regularly this summer, but I have been learning to surf in Montauk on the weekends. I get up at 5 am and go to Ditch Plains before too many other people are up and out and it’s just some locals and hardcore surfers in their 50s and 60s.

ULTIMATE NY MOMENT: Once, I accidentally insulted Pedro Almodovar in an elevator… I guess that’s kind of a long story. CP

Emily’s New York

From L to R: First Row: Truffle pasta from Blossom; Keen’s Steakhouse; Saunders outerwear; Cocktail at Raine’s Law Room. Second Row: Nails by Valley Nails; Bites at Chote Nawab; Décor at Michele Varian; Ribs from Jeepney.


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