Tinsley Mortimer: Talk Of The Town

tinsley mortimer

Whatever you think you know about Tinsley Mortimer, it’s without a doubt not the whole story. Once a frequently photographed “socialite” and reality star in New York, she’s been an author, a fashion designer, a beauty ambassador, and most recently, the designer of a tabletop collection.

Before we get to her business ventures, I ask Tinsley about her time in New York, when her face was plastered all over the tabloids and magazines.

“When I went to Columbia,” she says, “I lived in St. Anthony Hall a co-ed arts and literary fraternity, one of the oldest in the nation.”

And without Tinsley saying so, I imagine everyone was as pretty and tan as she is: leggy, blonde and looking to have fun.

“It was this very cool, secretive kind of club,” Tinsley explains. “We lived in a big townhouse on Riverside Drive, and Vogue wanted to run a piece about us.”

The photos in the shoot were undoubtedly drool-worthy - all of the residents of St Anthony Hall looking blessed and beautiful—although the photos didn’t end up running. But some might say that’s where everything started for Tinsley Mortimer. They led to her meeting the Beauty Director of Vogue, Amy Astley who later became the Editor-in-Chief for Teen Vogue.
“Interviewing for the job was quite the experience, as you can imagine meeting with Anna Wintour is somewhat surreal, to say the least,” she recounted.

Her life seems to have been a series of fortunate events, as though every time she steps out of one cocktail party she happens to wander into another, equally as fabulous.

When we chat about her new homeware collection, she’s in her home in Palm Beach, Florida, but more specifically, she’s sitting up on her bed with her two Chihuahuas, Bebe and Bambi, using one of her Lucite trays as a desk. I ask her about the biggest misconception people have of her, and she thinks that it must be that she doesn’t work hard, even though she’s working, even in her downtime.

“Or maybe that I’m not nice,” she says, and laughs. (She’s actually more than nice—bubbly and easy to talk to). In reality, she’s been working fastidiously in design for a very long time, longer than most people know. In fact, her interest began at a very young age.

Tinsley grew up in the South—Virginia to be exact—and her mother worked in interior design. In fact, Tinsley’s first word was “Churchill” because she’d been trying to say the word “material.” Her mother ran a small business, covering pictures frames in fabric, and while Tinsley sat in her mother’s makeshift studio/office in the basement, she became truly steeped in the world of interiors and entertaining.

“She would actually join the wood herself, and then cover them with this beautiful, luxurious fabric,” Tinsley says. “People really responded. The frames started being sent everywhere.”

tinsley mortimer

This was an important lesson, as it confirmed for her that confidence comes from being able to build something on your own. This, too, is her big advice for young women: create. Find something you’re passionate about.

“Also,” Tinsley says, “listen to your parents. They have your best interests at heart. At 20, I thought I knew everything. I thought I knew better than them. Of course, I didn’t.”

But I figure she must have known some important things at age 20, at least about having a good time.

“I do know a thing or two about throwing a great party,” she says, and something tells me she’s right.

Tinsley’s homeware collection is a fascinating amalgamation of her childhood in the South and everything that came after it: her much-talked-about time in New York, the years she spent in fashion in Japan, and now, her home in Florida. Who better to design a collection of home entertaining essentials?

“It’s a spin on traditional,” Tinsley says, when I ask her to describe her aesthetic.

It’s definitely a spin, but a uniquely-beautiful one, inspired by the decadence of her childhood: traditional American pieces, old, heavy Louis XIV chairs, silk and detailed satins.

The fabrication Tinsley chooses she describes as, “fabric you almost want to make a dress out of.” Combine that with Japanese influences, and most recently, the colors of Palm Beach (lime green, orange, aqua and fuchsia).

Her unique tableware collection is just as unique as Tinsley’s cultural experiences: picture glassware with miniature palm trees, blue and white porcelain, the red- lacquered tables and ornate gold Koi fish of Japan, and of course—of course—Southern tradition.

“The result of all those different influences is that it’s hard to define,” Tinsley says.
One thing is easy to define, however, and that is that these accessories are perfect for entertaining, whether it’s a formal cocktail hour or a laidback party. I, for one, don’t want to miss out on any party advice from this woman.

tinsley mortimer
Interviewing for the job was quite the experience, as you can imagine meeting with Anna Wintour is somewhat surreal, to say the least.
— Tinsley Mortimer

I ask Tinsley about growing up in the South, and how it influenced her: “The South made me who I am,” she explains, though when she first moved to New York, her outsider status set her apart. “I wasn’t afraid to wear pink while everyone else was wearing jeans.”

It’s hard to believe that she was embarrassed about being a Southerner for a minute. But just a minute. Before long, the very things that made Tinsley different also made her strong and interesting; it gave her a distinct point of view and set her apart from the rest of her peers.

“I wanted to wear color when other people were wearing black,” Tinsley tells me. “I wanted to wear make-up; I wanted to do my hair up. I decided I wouldn’t feel ashamed. I became unapologetic.”

And why should she apologize? That outsider status, and her super-fun-looking lifestyle in New York eventually led to one of her many incarnations as an author. She wrote a novel entitled Southern Charm, which was partly inspired by her actual life, as well as, Tinsley adds: “the parties, the people I knew, and the stuff I saw and did. I couldn’t help but write about it.”
And while her life has been especially exciting, it definitely hasn’t been easy to categorize. The only correct category for Tinsley might be “constantly changing.” Tinsley Mortimer is a study in adaptation.

I ask her about the label “socialite,” a description that was thrust upon her whether she liked it or not.

“I ended up embracing it,” Tinsley says, beginning undoubtedly with those fateful parties at St. Anthony Hall, which eventually led to her being photographed by Vogue, writing for the magazine and developing an interest in fashion.

Maybe everything good in Tinsley’s life is the result of a really awesome party. She became the consummate hostess and expert in entertaining, and now is entertaining on a professional level. She currently serves as the Director of Events for Engineered Tax Services, the preeminent national leader in engineering-based tax advisory services for the CPA and design communities, real estate investors and businesses across America. Tinsley heads events all over the country for ETS, including those for Palm Beach Polo and the Miami Dolphins.

I ask her if she has any words of advice for the creative, authentic young woman just beginning her own life.

“Follow your dreams and know that you can have it all,” Tinsley says. Inspiring words from much more than just a party girl.

Sleeveless Nude Gown with Tulle Mermaid Bottom by Mac Duggal
Alchemia Quartz Ring by Charles Albert

Green Gown with Emerald Beaded Neckline by Cassandra Stone II by Mac Duggal
Cocktail Ring by Charles Albert

Red/Gold Dress-Jani & Khosla
Orion’s Gold drob Earrings by The 2Bandits available at the2bandits.com
Pearl Tassel Necklace by Charles Albert

Red Chiffon Bodysuit
Burgundy Full Skirt
Jeweled Belt-All Bell of California 220 E. Pico Bldv. Los Angeles
Smoky Quartz Cocktail Ring by Charles Albert

Photographer: Louiza Vick
Stylist: Angela Kelly with The Wall Group
Hair: Lindsay Victoria with PRIV
Hair Assistant: Charlie Duclos with PRIV
Makeup: Hinako with The Wall Group
Manicurist: Camille Young with PRIV

Photographer: Louiza Vick
Stylist: Angela Kelly with The Wall Group
Hair: Lindsay Victoria with PRIV
Hair Assistant: Charlie Duclos with PRIV
Makeup: Hinako with The Wall Group
Manicurist: Camille Young with PRIV