Andrew Mukamal: Kell's Angel
By Noah Michelson
Kelly Cutrone can be scary. The no-nonsense fashion PR guru is infamous for telling it like it is -- often verbally eviscerating those foolish enough to get in her way -- both behind-the-scenes and on reality television where she's made a name for herself by mentoring up-and-coming socialites like Lauren Conrad and Whitney Port on MTV's The Hills and The City. So imagine working as Cutrone's assistant. We caught up with Andrew Mukamal, who's been happily toiling away at People's Revolution for a little over six months and who began taping the Bravo show Kell on Earth almost as soon as he landed his new job (through an outlandish turn of events), to chat about working for the ferocious Cutrone, male liberation through fashion, and what it's like to live his life on camera.
Out: When did you first get into fashion?
Andrew Mukamal: I think fashion was always just running in my blood. And it was just the way that I was always expressing myself. My mom likes to joke that she would leave town when I was like 3 and 4, and she would have all my play date outfits and soccer outfits laid out, and she'd come back and whoever was taking care of me (my nanny or whatever) would say I refused to wear anything that she had laid out. All of the drawers would be shredded open -- I was walking around looking like a total freak. I think it's always just what I was doing. But I didn't really recognize it as what I would ultimately be working in until I went to Paris when I was a junior in college. I was exposed to how many people live off the industry. And somewhere along the line, everything else kind of fell away, and there wasn't really anything else that I was thinking about or thinking about doing.
You're brand-new to People's Revolution. How did you start working there?
I was working as a stylist's assistant, working freelance with several stylists, for a few months before I graduated from school in Virginia. I would come up to New York for some of it, but it was right after I graduated that I really got into it. I was doing seven days a week, with like four or five different stylists in New York, and one day I actually walked into People's Revolution to do a pickup, which happens like 200 times a day with our messengers and everything going on, and Kelly spotted me and walked over to me. First, she was like, 'Are you trying to do something here?' And I was like, 'Uh, yeah, I'm just trying to make a pickup.' But she was like, 'Look at you. Look at what you're wearing. Show me your jewelry. What's your name?' And in five minutes she had asked me 40 questions, knew my sign, knew where I grew up -- I gave her like a vocal resume. And then she's like, 'We're hiring.' And then she yelled to her then-assistant, [Stephanie] Skinner, 'Skinner, give him my card, ' and she hands me her card and she says, 'Send me your resume tonight. Call us.' And I called, and I sent my resume in, and I actually didn't hear back from anybody for two weeks. I was really busy working. I was on a shoot where I was having to leave at like six in the morning, and it was the kind of thing where I was nervous to call because I knew it could be 'Come in right now,' and if I was on a set in upstate New York, shooting something, I couldn't really drop everything. So I was kind of hesitant, and I was only calling once a week, so I called twice, and then I ran into Kelly at this RAD by Rad Hourani thing at the Soho Grand, and she was on me and immediately was like, 'Um, so, when are you going to be my assistant? When are you coming in? What happened to you?' And I said, 'Well, actually, everybody in your office has been blowing me off.' I started two days later, and I learned that she came back from that night and was screaming at everybody and saying, 'Excuse me, I'm not getting my messages! People are calling for me!' Which obviously now I relate to. The next morning she gave me her cell phone number, and she said, 'Never call the office again. From now on we're communicating on our cell phones. And I'm going to call you tomorrow.' And at 8:45 I woke up, and I'm lying in bed -- I didn't have a real job -- and I'm lying in bed, and it's Kelly Cutrone calling me and she leaves me a voice mail that's like this hysterical thing -- 'Nah, nah, nah, the early bird gets the worm.' Like gibberish, practically, but pretty scary -- especially considering I didn't really know what to expect. And then I started and -- boom -- that was kind of it.
What inspires your own personal style?
I don't really think about it that much. I mean, obviously I educate myself on everything that's going on in fashion. Not that I want to -- it's more of just something I can't resist, you know? So when shows are happening, we're having Fashion Week in here, but I'm out catwalking, waiting for each show to pop up [online], streaming through them like it's a drug or something. Somewhere along the line it kind of morphed into this look of, I don't know, I guess it's kind of androgynous? But what I'm most interested in is men's liberation through fashion. I think that now women have so much more freedom in terms of what they can wear. And in the '70s Yves Saint Laurent put women in pantsuits, and it was a revolution, and now women can walk around in pants everyday, which several decades ago was not considered appropriate. Jeans, T-shirts, none of this. But, you know, men aren't supposed to wear a dress. Men aren't supposed to wear a skirt. Men aren't supposed to wear sheer mesh -- unless you're like a tranny or something. So I'm really interested in maintaining masculinity and still being able to explore other venues of fashion. We need to start moving in that direction. I mean, you look at those movies of the future, and everybody's in the same suit. I think that right now -- Rick Owens is pioneering this, it's just kind of like a 'fuck you' mentality. And I love that.