I meet Irene Neuwirth at the Mercer Hotel. To anyone familiar with the jeweler, this is hardly surprising: she’s been coming here for the past 17 years. Sleek and minimal, it bears little resemblance to her colorful house in Venice Canals but she still considers it her home away from home. “The people who stay here are lifers,” she says. I find her cozied up in the corner of the lobby, sharing a coffee with two managers who are clearly closer to friends than members of staff. “They take such good care of me,” says Neuwirth, flashing her signature gap-toothed smile and patting the seat next to her, inviting me to sit.
Creative people can be intimidating (or irritating, depending on what kind of person you are), yet Neuwirth’s relatability and humor is disarming. Within fifteen minutes, we’re talking about her favorite brand of tequila (Casa Dragones, because “it tastes like water in the best possible way”), her love of animals (“my dog is a more of a person, y’know?”) and her obsession with Bruce Springsteen (she’s seen his Broadway show five times). Though she’s just launched a new website (more on than later), she’s in town on personal matters. “I came here to meet my new godson,” she explains. “I have some work stuff to do, but I’ve scheduled everything around that.”
“Within fifteen minutes, we’re talking about her favorite brand of tequila”