gustafson portrait

After college (at Duke University) and a brief dance career brought to an end by an injury, I found myself writing for magazines, working for a series of legendary editors who not only gave me a break but entrusted me with assignments that proved to be important installments in my education.  At Vogue, Leo Lerman and Alexander Liberman sent me off to see the world and interview Placido Domingo, Peter Brook, Samuel Ramey, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Herbert Ross.  At The Atlantic, Bill Whitworth gave me the chance to write in greater depth, at greater length; in 1982, three of my pieces about dance won for The Atlantic the National Magazine Award in Essays & Criticism.  At Alfred A. Knopf, Robert Gottlieb recruited me to collaborate with a much beloved ballerina on her book, Choura: The Memoirs of Alexandra Danilova, which in 1986 won the De La Torre Bueno Award for best dance book of the year.  Two years later, in his new role as editor of The New Yorker, he hired me as a staff writer; over the next six years, while living in Paris, I wrote a fashion column, profiles, and Talk of the Town pieces.  In 1994, I joined The New York Times as the Style Editor of the magazine, overseeing weekly coverage of men’s and women’s fashion, architecture and design, beauty, and food, six annual supplements, and occasional special themed issues (Women in Sports, Women of the 20th Century) of the Times Magazine.  Two more books–A Dedicated Follower of Fashion (Phaidon Press), a collection of essays, and Girlfriend: Men, Women and Drag (Random House)–were published in 1998.  Girlfriend was named one of the 50 Most Notable Books of the Year by the New York Times Book Review.  I have freelanced for W Magazine, Vanity Fair, The Gentlewoman, Travel & Leisure, Departures, Mirabella, O, House & Garden, Architectural Digest, and others.

I have also written for television and film, including numerous programs for the Dance in America series, on PBS, many of which won Emmy awards–among them, “Balanchine,” a two-hour documentary about the choreographer’s life and work, and “In Search of Nijinsky’s ‘Rite of Spring.'”

In 1998, I left full-time journalism and moved to Milan to work for Prada, the Italian fashion house, overseeing their search for architects and serving as design liaison on flagship stores in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Tokyo.  After leaving Prada in 2000, I continued to consult with other luxury-goods companies based in Europe, the U.S., and Canada.

Having lived in New York, Paris, and Milan, I returned in 2006 to Pittsburgh, my hometown, where I am attempting to revitalize the Granite Building, built in 1889 as the German National Bank, by converting it to the Forbes Hotel, an independent hotel that will showcase the city’s history, culture, people, and products.

I am currently working on a biography of Tanaquil Le Clercq, a ballerina for the New York City Ballet and George Balanchine’s last wife.



Portrait by Mats Gustafson