Robert Verdi may be best known for his charismatic and bold TV personality – he currently stars in The Robert Verdi show on LOGO – but it is his flawless style and taste that have dictated his incredible career as a style expert. The FIT graduate put himself through school by working at Bloomingdales and designing jewelry sold at New York’s high-end department stores. In the early 90′s, he got his first job in television on Gay Entertainment Network, and the rest was history.
He is currently one of the most present TV persona’s in the fashion and design industries, having created and co-hosted Full Frontal Fashion on Metro TV in 2000 as well as hosting Discovery Channel’s highest rated daytime show, Surprise by Design, in 2002. Since 2008 he has acted as a judge on TV Land’s She’s Got the Look, and is currently on his own reality show, The Robert Verdi Show. He has also been a celebrity stylist and interior designer to stars such as Eva Longoria and Cynthia Rowley (whose wedding’s he designed) as well as Hugh Jackman, Mariska Hargitay, and Bobby Flay. Here, Verdi shares his unique family heirloom with us.
What is your heirloom? Tell us how you came to own this precious object. Was it something you grew up with? If so, did you appreciate it then as you do now?
My heirloom is a scrimshaw, a carved whale’s tooth, that belonged to my grandfather. My mother kept it in our living room on the coffee table for years as a conversation piece because carved on it is a map of the islands of Azores, where my mother’s family is from. It sort of annoyed me growing up, because I would hear the stories so many times about my grandfather the fisherman. At the time I took for granted that it was something that helped tell the story of my family history. Now I love it, as well as all the other carved whale’s tooth pieces that I inherited.
How do you live with your heirloom? Is it somewhere you can enjoy it every day?
Yes, it is on my desk in my apartment and so I see it everyday. I use it as a paperweight to hold all of the bills down.
Who in your life has most influenced your personal style and taste?
I know all gay men say their mom and I have to follow suit and agree. But in addition to my mom, I met a really glamorous woman named Lucille Kerdersha when I was working at Bloomingdale’s while putting myself through college. She was the epitome of style. There was something carefree about her look – it wasn’t studied, it was never perfect, but it was always refined and glamorous. She really impacted how I think about fashion and personal style. That said, I also love anyone in the world who is wearing a tuxedo to breakfast, even if I don’t know them.
Fill in the blank: Whenever I look at _____, I can’t help but smile.
My dog Winky.
What’s the best part of your day? What makes it so special?
I spin every morning at 6am and it’s the best part of the day. It jumpstarts my engine, helps me clear my mind, and I go to my office completely renewed. It’s also the only time of the day that I don’t have to talk to people so I get to be quiet – I bet nobody can imagine that!
What is your favorite place to shop for antique/vintage pieces?
I love the hunt and because of that I love going to house sales and garage sales and discovering unexpected treasures. You can find some of the most wonderful accessories and furniture at house sales, in good neighborhoods – wink wink.
What was the most memorable gift you’ve ever given or received? Why?
Most memorable gift I’ve ever given was a set of inscribed cookbooks by all of the top chefs including Jean-Georges, Nigella, Paula Deen, and Zarela that I gave to Eva Longoria for her wedding shower, because I grew up knowing that the kitchen is the heart of the home. It is the most loved room in the house and I knew it would be unforgettable.
What was your last purchase that you believe (or hope) will mean something to you 10 years from now? What makes it significant?
When I turned 40 I acquired the diamond Sheika watch from Piaget. A diamond watch is something that I always wanted and I hope that this will become an heirloom for my sister’s 4 little girls, and that when I die they fight over who gets it. Nothing beats leaving a lasting memory!
*Photos by Monica Rich Kosann