Buzz Bissinger looking subdued.
OK, for those of you who have not read the GQ feature on the writer of Friday Night Lights, who spent over HALF A MILLION DOLLARS ON GUCCI CLOTHING, go do that right now because it is amazing. It’s just a tremendously well-written and fascinating train-wreck of an experiential essay. The TLDR is that the Pulitzer Prize winning 58-year-old who sold 2 million copies of the MEGA-HIT, Friday Night Lights, a book that went on to be a movie and an incredible television series (TAYLOR KITSCH WE LOVE YOU. Tami Taylor, also) at 35, had the gnarliest mid-life crisis that was triggered by the empty nest of his kids going off to college, and his wife leaving to work in Dubai. In the last three years, he’s spent no less than $587,412.97 on designer clothes and accessories and spouts tallies like the following:
I own eighty-one leather jackets, seventy-five pairs of boots, forty-one pairs of leather pants, thirty-two pairs of haute couture jeans, ten evening jackets, and 115 pairs of leather gloves.
YOU GUYS, HE SAYS HAUTE COUTURE JEANS! Obviously, this merits further discussion (especially he’s since gone into rehab to kick his shopping habit), so pop-culture pundit and fellow MTV Style writer Julianne Escobedo Shepherd and I went in. The following is an incredulous Gchat conversation in which Julianne and I curse a lot because we are FLOORED that this dude and this article exists. Also, look at this gallery to get an idea of what Buzz looks like in his clothes. It’s PRICELESS.
Mary: UHMUHGUH how much do you love this thing?
J: MARY IT IS THE BEST STORY I HAVE EVER READ.
M: What’s your favorite?
J: OK! I really love how Buzz went from looking like a character in a Bret Easton Ellis novel to looking like an Italian circus ringleader! The knee-high women’s boots with the supertight light-wash jeans AHHH.
M: It’s all REALLY special.
J: The guy wrote “I AM FU**ING FROWING”
M: AHAHAHAHHA Yes. He writes about sitting in THE FRONT ROW at Gucci in Milan and loses his damned mind. That he actually says “FROW” out loud is incredible for so many reasons.
J: He spent $22,500 on a Persian lambswool jacket, which, by the way, I have purchased at a thrift store for around $75 dollars.
M: Talent! And, also, by the way who needs so much ostrich leather in their lives?
J: I don’t even know what ostrich feels like, but I like that it is a sustainable fabric.
M: Fair. And to pan out for a little perspective here but, seriously, WHO IS STILL THIS PSYCHED ON GUCCI? No disrespect but I find it so interesting in a post-Tom Ford Gucci world that this guy is still so desperately in love.
J: You definitely have to be 58 years old to be this psyched on Gucci.
M: I can’t believe he’s going into re-hab.
J: Yeah, right. OH, I am very curious what his wife wears, and whether or not he’s a snob about her wardrobe.
M: RIGHT? He’s awfully specific about what he likes. The thing I love and think is great is that here’s this guy who dresses like Bobby Bottle Service crossed with a 23-year-old heir to a Greek shipping empire, and he’s displacing elegant, stuffy, super-fashiony people at FROW. It’s so anti-FROW insofar as the trend of placing really young, cool, relevant blogger-types there. It’s more honestly commerce-based in a way that I appreciate.
J: Going back to the rehab thing, I mean, this is OBVIOUSLY a cry for help, particularly when he delves into the finer points of his sexuality and that he LOVES Jim Morrisson.
M: Well, right. There seems to be some confusion there AND to be fair, some pretty honest exploration. I do love how public he is. Given that he’s not exactly what you’d expect to be the “FACE” of FASHIONNNNNN. *thunder clap* Like, he’s not… the Tommy Ton would shoot him type… In a manner of speaking. And not to be completely narrow about it.
J: HAHA. He owns no Hedi Slimane.
M: He is NOT a genius at tying 42 scarves or wearing a shrunken tweed blazer UNDER a sweater.
J: But I like that he is a dude writing it, and I wonder what Anna Wintour thinks of this piece. LOL Bobby Bottle Service is a good way to describe him.
M: It’s all pretty unsavory, despicable and tawdry. I bet she hates it.
J: You know what Buzz probably loves?
J: The Box.
M: YESSSSS. I also find it super interesting that he does HIGH FASHION in the BRO-IEST way ever. It’s such a red-faced and neck-veined and eye-bulgy way to fashion. I tell you what though, Anna Wintour would LOVE him at FNO.
J: AHAHAHHA. Yes, she would love him as a shopper and guest host.
M: I’m so really into the brands that he name checks at the beginning.
“I own forty-three pieces of Gucci—twelve leather jackets, six evening jackets, five pairs of pants, six pairs of boots, four shirts, seven pairs of gloves, and three scarves. I own items from Acne, Affliction, Alexander McQueen, Alexander Wang, Balmain, Band of Outsiders, Belstaff, Bottega Veneta, Brooks Brothers, Burberry, Chanel, Charles David, Diane von Furstenberg, Helmut Lang, Ines, Jan Hilmer, J.Crew, Jimmy Choo, Jitrois, Jos. A. Bank, Joseph, Junker Designs, Loewe, Lucchese, Marc Jacobs, Mr. S Leather, Nike, Northbound Leather, Prada, Rag & Bone, Ralph Lauren, Roberto Cavalli, Saint Laurent, 7 For All Mankind, Thomas Wylde, Valentino, Versace, and Wesco.”
A very expensive Gucci jacket Buzz had made into a duster while in Milan.
M: It’s like a rap song in 2003!
J: YES. He is doing the 50 Cent thing so well.
M: OMG, YES. The whole thing is VERY 50 Cent.
J: Here’s the thing though, the end with the boozing and bragging about looking “hip” makes me really sad. Like all of the extravagance and hilarity of the first couple pages culminates in what is ultimately a man in the throes of a fierce midlife crisis.
M: Strong agree. But you know that thing of how you’re “stuck” at the age where you had a trauma? What happened to him in the early aughts that makes him shop like the last decade hasn’t happened? It’s not a mid-life crisis so much as it’s a DECADE after a mid-life crisis.
J: GOOD DIAGNOSIS. He is bumping Lloyd Banks in an Escalade truck and feeling hella relevant.
M: AHAHAHAHHAHA. I mean, he name checks Afflcition and 7s but I love it. It really is some DO YOU s*** because it’s so broken and flagrant.
J: Haha I just appreciated that he apologized to Zara for not shopping there but seemed to have no idea that that is really where fashion people get basics.
J: AND YES! The “You don’t give a f***” line was so on-point. Really though, DO YOU. HE IS ORDERING CRISTAL and a magnum of Veuve, it’s very pre-Dirty Money.
M: VERY PRE. It’s a distillation of what fashion means to a lot of people in the world once you remove the self consciousness, fear and “trend-based” pressures. It’s fashion in a vacuum which is also really incredible to consider.
J: So true. It’s also fascinating that he’s comparing shopping to sex, because he presents the costs as a form of virility and admits he’s afraid of it. It’s realer than anything I’ve ever read on fashion, actually, and the fact that his brand obsessions are so dated kind of makes it… a weird proletariat article even though not just anybody can spend half a mil on clothing.
M: It’s ballsy for GQ to run it.
J: Also, he’s really about high fashion in a functional way.
M: True, he has a uniform for sure.
J: Yeah for sure… I mean it’s also a good behind-the-scenes of what it takes to be a good shop clerk.
M: YES. I really do wonder what his stylist at Gucci is like.
J: Right. His HIGH STYLIST at Gucci is GAMING HIM so hard and probably making buckets on commission.
M: I wonder if she has a pet name for him.
J: Buzzi Boi.
M: Choupette LOL.
J: HAAHA CHOUPETTE. His wife sounds pretty badass.
M: Very well-adjusted.
J: Like, “Bye I’m moving to Abu Dhabi, do you dog.” I really do wonder what she wears.
M: It would be SO TELLING. Watch it be Tory Burch or something equally INSCRUTABLE.
J: Yeah Tory Burch and Kate Spade.
M: If it were dour and severe I’d be into it. Like, the Belgians.
J: OH GOD, all DEMEULEMEESTER. Actually you’d expect her to be the kind of woman to wear Tory Burch because in a way she has to be the responsible, grisled adult.
M: Yeah, but OMG if she looked like Michele Lamy I would die. So in summation, what are your closing thoughts?
J: I like it because he is genuinely excited about fashion, and because it demystifies a lot about the act of procuring said items, and also it looks at shopping for $22,000 coats truthfully as an addiction, because what the hell else would that kind of extravagance be?
J: When he is in the front row, fu***ing FROWING, he says what most people in the front row are thinking. “F*** you I’m frowing.” No one in the front row doesn’t think they’re a badass.
M: Right and that’s the worst thing about fashion as a scene sometimes, that refusal to admit this stuff because it’s not cool.
J: Right. I don’t care if you’re Cathy Horyn, you still think you’re a badass and special when you’re Frowing. That’s why Buzz Bissinger is the best. He’s not self-conscious about it.
M: Do you support his rehabilitation?
J: Yes. I don’t want him to go to jail for tax evasion or end up penniless.
M: I will miss him when he’s different though. It’s like Mary J Blige and her pain. I want them to be happy but I’ll miss the pain.
J: TOTAL MARY J. BLIGE SITUATION!!! Although, I DO find it hilarious that he is spending the fortune he made writing about a high school football team in Tyler, Texas, on f***ing shearling.
M: HAHAHAHHAHA. Yeah, suck it SPORTS #TeamFashion.
J: He is not going to be as awesome and gross when he is re-habbed.
M: Yeah, shame.
UPDATE via Julianne: His wife likes linen.