FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: THE KAITLIN PHILLIPS HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE
The holidays are upon us once again, and for this month’s column, Kaitlin’s forty closest friends have the perfect thing in mind. Links included and you should definitely open them all!
No one has ever asked me to write a gift guide, so I assigned it to myself and all my friends. All I want for Christmas is The Row’s drug rug. Genius. But the perfect gift is obviously a Lucien sweatshirt, because they were never for sale and Zac Bahaj, the owner, has run out. I have eleven of them, in various colours.
Girls love subscriptions to the anime streaming service Funimation (7.99 $/month). I’d start with two of their more fucked up shows, about horny girls: SHIMONETA and PRISON SCHOOL.
For moms, Vanessa Noel – start by reading her bio – makes the best cashmere scarves in New York.
I once knew this artist who used to wear a red ski suit all winter out to restaurants. She looked better than everybody. If you’re cold, you look stupid, and you annoy your date. This is the closest version of the white, high-waisted underwear Nicole Kidman wears in Eyes Wide Shut. Wear it under the ski suit.
I’ve been sporting my Ashley Williams’s SHUT UP mohair sweater on all my zooms. Boy, do I recommend. I consider shopping at SSENSE highly ethical because it means I’m supporting their editorial platform, run by Durga Chew-Bose.
If you have money, I highly recommend my horse-hair mattress. A friend of mine’s mother has all D. Porthalt linen. That’s the height of luxury to me. I’m kind of obsessed with luck, so I’ve always had a spot for Trèfles green sheet sets, the shamrock pattern. Don’t get me wrong, It’s ugly!!!
In terms of cheap presents … I like to buy people DVDs of Funny Ha Ha (2002) and In Bruges (2008). Two of the best films ever made. My boyfriend orders cake guts ($9) from Sam Cade like every weekend. It’s cake in a jar, leftovers from the seriously insane cakes she makes. (She has a great dog, which I know because I met her in a park). Another person I met in a park who I then bought from is Hellcat Studios, who makes these rad Valerie Solanas sweatshirts ($ 80).
Yes I meet people in parks, that’s just the kind of person I am.
I’ve rounded up some recommendations from a cross-section of the American public a.k.a ~ 40 of my friends:
Writer TIANA REID urges you to shop at Choices, “a curious recovery shop on the Upper East Side that’s been around as long as I've been alive.” Get a sober person a medallion, they deserve it.
Equestrian SARAH MANKOFF, my best friend, recommends sporting a chic pair of riding boots around Manhattan. “Parlantis ($ 1,050) are so soft, there’s no break-in time. The flip side is they’re so soft you’re not even supposed to ride in them. Just save them for the horse show.” Secchiari boots ($ 275) “aren’t a very popular boot on the East coast, but they’re bigger on the West coast circuit.” She says these particular Secchiari boots ($ 975) are highly covetable. Need to be made custom, of course.
Author NICO WALKER says read The Third Policeman by Flann O’Brien, Sin by Forough Forokhzad, Via Negativa by Daniel Hornsby. I was trying to keep books out of this holiday gift guide altogether, but I covet Nico’s book recs.
Director and actor DASHA NEKRASOVA, says “Christmas isn’t really about gifts it’s about CHRIST, so it's a good time of year to support some of the many monasteries that handcraft various baubles. These nuns in Maryland make really cute felted soaps.” She recommends fudge or an austere oil lamp, or finding something from this cloister shoppe. “If you’re wondering what to get someone like me, Ienki Ienki makes charming puffer babushka hoods that are a high enough price point to be generous.”
Reporter ALEXANDER TRAUB did not recommend anything, but I got cold the other day – because he insists on eating outside in freezing cold temperatures even though I get rapid tests just for him – and borrowed his patterned cashmere scarf, which I loved. You can buy it here (on sale for $ 29). He just texted to get it back.
Editor DAVID VELASCO says buy leather roses from The Leather Man and Cosanti bronze wind chimes (“bells”) made by hippies who live in a commune in the desert.
Novelist – formerly The Most Popular Publicist in New York – SLOANE CROSLEY says buy a copy of Dostojewski’s The Gambler, a bottle of Russian Standard, dice, and cigarettes. Or a vintage compass. Or a satchel of Vitamin D pills and a note that reads, Welcome to Room: 2020. It was this or an egg snake.
TV Writer CORD JEFFERSON recommends the Eldridge Cleaver FBI Wanted Poster ($500), a unisex Cartier tank watch ($ 6,990), and Gordon Park’s Doll Test, Harlem, New York (price upon request). We love a price upon request.
Critic JON CARAMANICA says buy your man a vintage Missoni sweater, furniture from Wentrcek Zebulon (the surprise drops), DJ Screw CDs and a poster from Screwed Up Records and Tapes.
House painter JOE KAY recommends a private reading with his “favourite wizard”, metal that melts in your hand ($ 23.95), and a Warrior Mini flashlight, which has six brightness settings ($ 63.96).
Author of the surrealist Jim Carrey memoir, DANA VACHON got marooned in Hawaii, with Jim, on an aborted book tour for five months during Covid. Thus, he recommends Hulu Cookies, “especially the chocolate coconut with vanilla ice cream”. Also Louisa Marcq’s whimsical hand-painted lampshades, which he discovered in the English countryside … e-mail her to find out more.
MY BOYFRIEND – who does not like superlatives, and who doesn’t like his name showing up on google – recommends Palestinian olive oil, a vintage-looking fridge that actually works (do not buy SMEG), and nice induction plates, he suggests a chic Italian alternative to a stovetop (you’re gonna have to call an electrician to install). Like Ethan Hawke for Uma Thurman, every holiday he buys me lingerie from Rebecca, the owner of Le Petite Coquette. Valentine’s Day, my birthday, National Girlfriend Day, Christmas. Rebecca keeps your size on file indefinitely, and will personally manhandle your boobs the first time you visit the store. (I hear they’re closed because of coronavirus, a travesty.)
My ex-fiancé, artist CARSTEN HÖLLER, says read The Gift: Forms and Functions of Exchange in Archaic Societies (1925). He’s being cheeky. I’m not going to read it myself. After we broke up, he express-ordered the taxidermy of a Ptarmigan. You have to shoot the bird in the right season, or the feathers are the wrong colour ….
My ex-boyfriend from college, critic CHRISTIAN LORENTZEN, says buy a Mikhail Gorbachev shower curtain “for the Gen Xer in your life.” He once bought me a nice edition of Norman Mailer’s The Prisoner of Sex. I didn’t hate it!
Painter JAMIAN JULIANO-VILLANI says every girl needs a purse-sized breathalyzer, a purse-sized ghost detector, blue light blocking gamer glasses, and a Tens 7000. I think the latter is for muscle spasms, but she didn’t specify its use value.
Reporter OLIVIA NUZZI recommends an attractive miniature of the constitution, a vintage Soviet cigarette case, and a sexy black dress with cut-outs, ties and snaps ($ 1,030). And a subscription to New York ($ 70/year). She’s a company woman, folks!
Scholar LESLIE DICK – related spiritually to me, but biologically to Audrey Wollen – says buy Woodbridge Lodge (£ 700,000).
Comedian LAUREN SERVIDEO recommends Olatz bedding. I personally like the children’s book dragon colour combo – purple and green – because Elizabeth Taylor bought that particular set. Lauren also has a yen for this torture mask (“imagine walking into a Popeyes with this on, Covid compliant”) and suggests copping a Cappuccino cup and saucer from Cafe Reggio. Keep the restaurants alive!
Artist and critic WALTER ROBINSON says, “I once gave my wife a signed photograph of Don Rickles and that was a big hit. You can buy them on eBay. The other thing I got her is a bulk package of chocolate tootsie pops, 60 for $ 13.23.” He also says fuck with the James Fuentes cheap multiples sale by artists starting Dec. 1st ….
Artist BORNA SAMMAK swears by disposable cameras and canned stuffed grape leaves. He doesn’t care which brands, I asked.
Poet RACHEL RABBIT WHITE is obsessed with vintage uranium vaseline glass. “I’m collecting enough of this toxic glassware to throw a drug-addled radioactive dinner party.” She recommends these creepy children book-ends, a bunny, teacups, a vanity set, and a candelabra. The green items glow neon when placed under a blacklight.
Writer SARAH NICOLE PRICKETT covets custom utensils by her friend Willa Nasatir’s hot older sibling, Sachi. DM to inquire. Also for the kitchen, a large quantity of olive oil in a pale yellow tin and a copy of Lesley Blanch’s From Wilder Shores: The Tables of My Travels, which she says is more relatable than millennial cookbooks because it’s “actually about having taste”.
Her girlfriend, artist NICOLE EISENMAN, says this tea pot is the sweetest thing. “Nice whistle and it ages beautifully.”
Fashion publicist MATTHEW DOMESCEK has already commissioned a “major” pastel triptych from Morgane Richer La Flèche, and he suggests you do the same.
Editor RORY SATRAN recommends springing for masque vernix. I strongly agree that all beauty items, as gifts, should cost over $ 100.
Editor LUCAS MASCATELLO, of Civilization, recommended kratom. “I think you can get a forty-dollar kilo from yokratom dot com.” I have no idea what it’s for or how to use it. Yolo!
Writer AUDREY WOLLEN says pay a stranger’s medical debt and buy Vivienne Westwood platform “court shoes” from 1993 ($ 3,859.38).
Writer and plant mom JASMINE SANDERS recommends the books of Claudia Jones, horticultural charcoal ($8.98) to filter out toxins from hard city water, and perlite ($ 16.97) to stave off the effects of overwatering. Home Depot, baby!
Artist CYNTHIA TALMADGE recommends a taser pulse pro ($ 449.99), the gold standard for hot girls, and Chinese clean energy ETF (because they are hard to regift).
Model OLESYA IVANISHCHEVA recommends Incienso de Santa Fe, a 7 Scent Sampler of Natural Wood incense ($ 15). The scents? Piñon, cedar, juniper, hickory, alder, mesquite, and fir balsam.
Writer LEXY BENAIM says this sandalwood incense will make your house smell “like a man in a good mood”.
Artist TOREY THORNTON is allergic to avocados but likes this realistic-looking avocado coin purse. They recommends purchasing The Ethical Slut by Janet W. Hardy, because it changed their life, and imagines someone could incorporate this mirrored mask into their sex life.
Nail artist NAOMI YASUDA recommends Lily Allen’s sex toy. She does Madonna’s nails and mine. If you can get an appointment, she can freehand just about anything. The artist Jeanette Hayes hooked me up ….
Don’t forget to buy art! Painter SAM MCKINNISS recommends Luke O’Halloran’s fresh paintings currently on view at Kapp Kapp. (“Like if somebody exploded Chardin's house of cards, but more au courant and more fabulous.”) Also kooky ceramics from Seth Bogart, who had a fire show at Fierman Gallery this fall.
Gallerist and wellness guru BEGUM YASAR says, for maximum results, strap on this pulsating stress relief watch, grab this portable light therapy Gidget, and be one of those women mixing potions into your coffee.
Illustrator JOANA AVILLEZ fell down the other day on the street and then, in a daze, purchased $ 250 cashmere sweatpants. She has not taken them off!
Actress HARI NEF says pre-order Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters ($ 27). “This novel is going to make the girls mad!”
JAY BULGER – who wrote the greatest profile in magazine history – says Chinatown is getting weird after dark, and girls should carry the JOLT mini rechargeable LED stun gun, in pink ($ 16.99). For boxing aficionados, a poster of “one of the greatest sporting events ever”($ 35). Also foot duster for your brother, if his feet smell ($9.99).
Pre-ordering books is the most ethical thing you can do under capitalism, in case you forgot.
Kaitlin Phillips is a writer and critic and lives in Manhattan. Her column “For Immediate Release” appears every third Wednesday of the month on Spike. Last time, she wrote about the dark times.