It is with great sadness that we learned beloved reporter and red carpet correspondent Jeffrey Slonim, 56, passed away on Friday morning. Over the years, Slonim wrote for such outlets as Allure, People, Gotham and Hamptons Magazines, Interview, The New York Daily News, The New York Post, Architectural Digest, and Condé Nast Traveler. From the journalists who were lucky enough to work beside him to the countless celebrities who’ve been interviewed by him, it is easy to say that there was no one quite like Jeff: He was wicked smart, a fantastic writer, a true go-getter, and above all, a wonderful person. We’ve asked some of his friends and colleagues to reflect—he will be deeply missed.
Linda Wells, founding editor of Allure: “We worked together [at Allure] for 25 years. He was one of the first people I hired as a contributor. He had the most extraordinary work ethic. He conducted himself in such an elevated way. He was respectful but he was himself. It’s not an easy thing to work the red carpet and work it for 25 years and ask the off-the-wall questions that we wanted him to ask. He was eager to ask and get a sense of truth and humanity from people. Jeffrey had that ability to get the humanity and the person. People loved him. Celebrities loved him. They knew his question would test their wit. The smart ones and the witty ones were up for the challenge and embraced it and went right to him. He was not only standing outside, but he was invited in. He would be the last person to leave an event. Just in case something happened. He talked to everybody from the most glittering A-list person to the person who was kicked off The Voice. He talked to everybody. He was so open, welcoming, and kind to everybody. He worked so hard. He’d work all night. He had a love of art, literature, music, he was an elevated human being.”
Euan Rellie, senior managing director of BDA Partners: “Lucy [Sykes] and I have been friends with Jeffrey and his family for 15 years. Lucy worked with him at Allure, and found him to be the perfect colleague. I felt like an insider in the world of journalists when I hung out with him. Jeffrey stood out because of the easy quality of his friendship. He was a consummate pro; dogged and persistent, but never pushy. He never seemed to be in a rush, unlike everyone else I know. He was the unassuming, understated king of the red carpet. His interview subjects adored him, and he understood them. He was encouraging and supportive of our business ventures, of Lucy’s clothing line, and of her career as an author. His son Finbarr interned two summers in a row at my company, BDA Partners, in Shanghai and in Beijing, where he was deemed clever, conscientious, a fine young man, an excellent advertisement for his dad. Jeffrey was one of those people that make New York work properly. He was an easy connector. Whenever I saw him, he’d introduce me to someone clever or successful or famous. He was kind, and would take the trouble to be courteous and thoughtful, in ways that have mostly fallen out of fashion. He gave me the most beautiful painting by his brother. He judged situations well, and was piercingly insightful, but without rancor. He was clever and funny, perceptive and supportive. He seemed to know everyone everywhere, from 25 to 75 years old. He seldom had a bad word to say, but when he did, it was light, mischievous, conspiratorial, good-natured. He was universally popular; the most loyal friend you could hope to have. Occasionally we’d plan lunch or dinner, but more often, I’d just bump into him around town. He seemed to be everywhere. He’d be there at the Met Ball, impeccable in white tie, at all the fancy parties, at movie screenings, at fashion shows, art openings, book signings, and at friends’ birthdays. He favoured seersucker, blazers, bright colors, straw boaters, like a New Englander from a bygone age. An aesthete. Gentle, always smiling, apparently pleased to see me, but inevitably with some surprising piece of news or insight which I wanted to hear. He was clever, but didn’t feel the need to prove it to his friends. He wrote beautifully, and was loved. I’m desperately sad to think that I’ve bumped into him for the last time. That means there’s a hole in my New York life. I want Fiona and his children to know that Jeffrey was a great man, and a good man.”
Fern Mallis, fashion consultant/creator of NYFW: “It was always a pleasure to see Jeffrey—basically everywhere, with his little recorder in hand. I loved talking to him because he was nice, kind, smart, funny, and he wasn’t looking to make you sound like a jerk….he wanted smart answers, and you could actually have a conversation with him and could trust him. He was a gentleman. He would talk about his wife, Fiona, and his adorable sons, and his talented brother, Hunt. The red carpet won’t be the same. RIP Jeffrey.”
Ivan Bart, president of IMG Models: “As glamorous as it all is, you get dressed to go to many of these events and it isn’t without challenges. Whether you are talent or an industry insider, being in the spotlight and going down red carpets is stressful. Jeffrey was always this calming and friendly face that was trustworthy. He was a journalist with integrity. He was someone who I trusted with any talent from IMG Models. Often times I would seek him out to talk to someone I was escorting or someone new. I was honored that one of his more recent posts from June of this year was about Maye Musk. I wrote this on Instagram, but his boyish face and his charm will be sorely missed. I’m going to an event tonight and I’m sad that I won’t see him there.”
Andrew Saffir, founder of Cinema Society: “Right now, I can’t imagine a red carpet without Jeff. He was there at just about every one—our movies of course, and every other event I went to—in a snappy seersucker jacket and with a boyish smile. He could charm even the most reticent of stars, and took such great pride in his work, going all the way back to his days at Interview with Andy Warhol. Never jaded, always eager, and always such a gentleman. And he was a devoted family man too—he loved and was so proud of his lovely and sweet wife, his handsome sons, and his talented brother. We’ve lost a New York fixture, and a good friend.”
Di Petroff, publicist: “I’ve worked with Jeffery for over a decade on the craziest red carpets and events. We came from the old school of publishing days and had a mutual respect for one another, so I never made him wait in the “press pit” since he was always so gracious and lovely with me. He was a gentle soul, but always let me know who was his interview “get” for the eve and patiently waited clenching his tiny tape recorder for me to bring him over to the interview of the evening, whether it was Karl Lagerfeld at the Gordon Parks Foundation Gala or Nacho Figueras at the Piaget Hamptons Cup Polo. I’d check with Jeffery what always felt like 100 times to see if he wanted to get his quote, but he always gave other aggressive reporters their time before he gave me the green light. My favorite moment, however, was a few years ago when we must have laughed for an hour in the Hamptons at a movie premiere after-party when I finally realized he was married and met his wife with whom I instantly hit it off with. I had no idea he was married all of the years. He will be missed by all who were graced by his presence.”
Mara Siegler, senior reporter Page Six: “Like so many, I am heartbroken over the loss of a dear friend. Jeff was a top notch reporter, the hardest worker I have ever met, always enthusiastic and genuinely excited to talk to people. He never seemed jaded and he had a nice word for everyone, a true class act and gentleman. I’ve heard so many stories about the way he cared about people and went out of his way for them whether you were a superstar or newbie reporter. When I first started out I was a bottle of nerves and had no idea what I was doing. I was so intimidated by him because he was such a pro and so well respected and he took me under his wing immediately and showed me the ropes and was there to hang out with me at parties and went out of his way to introduce me to people. I owe so much to him. He gave advice and encouragement, helped me get gigs, always offered a ride while out East, and always listened. Over the years, I had the pleasure of standing next to him on carpets several times a week and we’d laugh and vent about work and life. And then we’d be off to a party where he’d get all the best interviews. It will be sad not see him in his tux for a gala or in seersucker or plaid at some Hamptons shindig. Last year during a benefit at the Waldorf, Tony Bennett sang for over an hour and Jeff got a kick out of it, calling it a special, one-of-a-kind moment. I think his life was full of those types of moments because he was special and one-of-a-kind. He was such a good person in an industry where that can be hard to find. It just won’t be the same without him. He was a true friend and I will miss him so much. My thoughts are with his wife and children.”
Other condolences via Twitter and Instagram…
Jamie King, actress: “I cannot imagine a carpet without #JeffreySlonim—always a friend, kind, safe and first class. Many can learn from his grace. RIP”
Coco Rocha, model: “I had such nice chats with him on the red carpet over the last 10 years, always a friendly face. So shocking and sad to hear. #jeffreyslonim”
Zac Posen, designer: “Very upsetting news to hear the loss of #jeffreyslonim, he was a gentleman, quick witted and persistent. #RIP”
Glenn O’Brien, author: “Saddened by the death of dear Jeffrey Slonim—gentleman society reporter with heart & soul—he deserved a better world to work in.”
Lizzie Grubman, publicist: “RIP
@JeffreyJSlo — You were one of my most talented and nicest friends. You were always there for me in the good times & bad. Miss you.”
Alicia Quarles, journalist: “For many of us, he started out as our red carpet, dapper/did not suffer fools lightly colleague…and once you got to know him, you realized he was: genuinely nice, an excellent reporter and someone who cared. R.I.P: father, husband, brother, son, kind to many, fair and dedicated journalist. Live with love. No really. Be kind. It’s easy to be mean. You never, ever know, what people are going through.”
Kelly Brady, publicist: “My heart is broken to have learned that my friend Jeffrey Slonim has passed away. I have been working with Jeff since I was a baby publicist and he always took my pitches and helped me place my stories. I was always happy to take my clients to him on the red carpet as he was always a true gentleman to everyone he met. Just last week he came in person to cover one of my events and luckily we were able to spend quality time together. Life is short my friends…this news is completely shocking and devastating. He was only 56…it’s just too damn young. Earlier this week I put him in touch with a friend for a story and he wrote me an email saying “You’re the best. I love you!” The feeling is mutual, Jeffrey. My [heart] is broken. I’m going to miss you more than you will ever know. RIP.”
Liz Lange, designer: “Very sorry to hear that @JeffreyJSlo has died. Always enjoyed seeing him at events & chatting about pregnant celebs. So sad.
Images via Facebook and Getty Images.