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EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW AND PHOTOS: The Real Sonja Tremont-Morgan

By: Jonathan Valdez of OrangeJuiceandBiscuits.com Photography by: Andrew Werner Styling by: Cesar Gaviria “I have a taste for luxury an...

By: Jonathan Valdez of OrangeJuiceandBiscuits.com
Photography by: Andrew Werner
Styling by: Cesar Gaviria


“I have a taste for luxury and luxury has a taste for me.”

Fans of Bravo’s The Real Housewives of New York City know this mantra as the personal tagline of the fabulous Sonja Tremont-Morgan. The hit reality television show gives viewers a glimpse into the glamorous life of the New York City socialite — but that’s all it really is: a glimpse.

Recently, I had the opportunity to step into the world of Sonja as she invited me and Orange Juice and Biscuits into her home for an exclusive interview and photo shoot, snapped by photographer Andrew Werner. We sat down in her kitchen, where she let me in on the secrets of The Real Housewives, discussed her stunning personal style, schooled me on how to create a meal worthy of the Upper East Side in a toaster oven, and unveiled the Sonja we don’t see, the one who comes to life when the cameras are off.

Orange Juice and Biscuits: First of all, how are you doing?

Sonja Tremont-Morgan: I am wonderful, and it is so nice to finally have you at my home.

OJ&B: Thank you so much for having me, it is lovely. It means so much to me that you would ask me to come. What have you thought of this season of The Real Housewives of New York City?

STM: Well, it is my first full season and I like to say, “It’s open season.” It’s open to edits and you’re going to see all the sides of Sonja: the good, the bad, the ugly, the sexy, the sassy and the bawdy!

OJ&B: Tell me about how you got involved with RHONY.

STM: They came to me when it was [called] Manhattan Moms, when they approached the original cast. I was freshly divorced and my daughter was only 5 years old, and I just didn’t have the constitution or the nerve to do it. This really is our lives and that’s how they find us. They find us in the shiny sheets. I’ve been working on different charities on committees and on the board for over 20 years. That is exactly how they find you. I have been photographed as a top-400 family. I had one of the most chartable yachts out there. I was noted for having the best millennium party in 2000. After all of that I married a very prestigious man, so that put me further into the highlighted pages of society.


Above: Sonja Tremont-Morgan is glam in her garden as she wears Oscar de la Renta.

OJ&B: I know you have known some of these women for years and these relationships were not just made up for the show.

STM: I knew Ramona [Singer] way back when we were single, buying our first apartments and dating and working out, buying our first important cars, going on our first trips to Italy and France and meeting some very powerful people in the business world. So I have known Ramona for 20-plus years. Then Luann [deLesseps] I met after my divorce, because we were both divorcing at the same time and we were out there on the scene. Friends of mine from Switzerland knew her, they were people that I skied with and she skied with. Then Jill [Zarin], of course, I knew from different charity events that I had seen her at. I didn’t really know her, but my friends did. I knew Alex [McCord] from the Hamptons, and I also knew her from the Kissinger’s. I knew Henry and she knew Nancy, and I had seen her at different functions. A lot of people don’t know that Alex knew the Bushes, and I married a family of presidents so I would see Alex but never really knew her, but socially we were in the same group. Bethenny [Frankel]: I always used to see Bethenny for cocktails and events with different friends of mine that I have known for a very long time. I would always have fun when I would see Bethenny because she is so much fun and I love her jokes.

OJ&B: You obviously can’t have this lifestyle of events and society without having amazing style. Can you tell me about Sonja’s Signature Style?

STM: Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t work. Fashion is like that, and you have to put yourself out on a limb to actually be considered fashionable, in my opinion. Do I have a certain look at my age? I do. I have a look that’s very accessorized. I buy very good basics that are basic shapes with really good quality fabric and fit — fit is essential. We all work out and we stay healthy and we fight the jungle here and eat well to look good. We want clothes that project that and highlight it. But then that is when accessories come in, and I learned that living in France and living in Italy. Accessories are everything. A good watch, a good haircut and a very good pair of shoes along with your basics go a long way. I think that would be my style: It is always the best that I can afford at the time and something that would be considered an investment.

OJ&B: What are your must-haves and staples in your wardrobe?

STM: I have to say, I do depend on my Birkins. Grace Kelly set the pace and she had it right. I have to have my headbands. I think they are a wonderful accessory in society, especially if you are with royalty or any kind of old money. I love my headbands. Good pieces of jewelry are must-haves, a good watch is a must-have I don’t want to waste my money on anything but good cashmere. Having said that, if I’m a young girl and don’t have the money to spend on the top cashmere houses, I have no problem advising young ladies and young boys to go to Gap or Banana Republic. They have very good and decent cashmere for the price. Invest in a good pair of jeans, because you need a good pair of jeans and a good cashmere sweater. A good pair of platform boots with a built-in platform that you can get from Nine West or Aldo. If you can afford it, you know, go Louboutin. Why not have one pair of Louboutins on sale over at Barney’s? You have to have one black, very well-fitted dress, whether it be Yves Saint Laurent or Prada, or just the Saks brand, you have to have a black dress! Coco Chanel told us that a long time ago, didn’t she?


Above: "I can be red-carpet ready in 20 minutes," Sonja told Orange Juice and Biscuits while talking red carpet looks like this beautiful Marc Bouwer frock.

OJ&B: On the show we see that you have a fashion stylist named Cesar Gaviria. Tell us about your dynamic and vibe with Cesar and when you would call him in to help you out.

STM: Well first of all, Cesar is easy on the eyes. My team starts with: “Do I feel good with you? Do I love looking at you? Do I love being with you?” I need to enjoy being with the people that I’m with because it is my life; it is my daily life. And at the end of the week, and it is all said and done, these are the people that I am spending my time with. That is what I love about Cesar: He is part of the family now. I met him through my niece and he worked on a fashion shoot with an award-winning French photographer that was shooting, and I was impressed with Cesar. He is a professional, he puts everything back where he finds it, and he is resourceful and pulls it together, from shape-wear and bras to accessories and shoes. He knows how to pack a bag like nobody’s business and then put it all back. Cesar is also my handler. If I go out to a big event and a lot of people start rushing at me, he knows how to get me out and get me safely home. Cesar is more than a stylist. He has great taste, a great disposition and I can count on him.

OJ&B: Who are two designers that you have been wearing a lot of recently?

STM: I have been wearing a lot of Marc Bouwer, along with Lorena Sarbu.

OJ&B: I want to talk about “Sonja at home.” Tell us about the Sonja when there are no cameras around. What do you do in your downtime… if that even exists?

STM: Well, I make sure there is downtime because I have a daughter, and when I was married I always made downtime for my husband. Now that I’m a single mom and I share weekends with her dad, I feel like after school during the week is important. I don’t shoot after school. I am with her from 3:45 on, unless it is something really critical, and then I make sure she’s involved somehow. Today for our shoot, in fact, she helped us and was involved, and she enjoys it. That’s what I do in my downtime: I spend time with my daughter. When she is with her dad every other weekend, I am basically online paying bills or cleaning the house because this is a lot of house for a single mom. Lifestyle is important to me, meaning that everyone is comfortable. Eat well, drink well, sleep well. Sleep is one of my biggest, biggest beauty secrets. Sleep is everything!


Above: Sonja Tremont-Morgan in another dress from one of her favorie designers, Marc Bouwer.

OJ&B: Tell us about your toaster oven.

STM: I’m surprised myself that everyone is so interested, but I have been cooking in a toaster oven for a very long time, I guess 20 years. I don’t know if it started in college or where, but I have always had my toaster oven in my five houses, I even have one on the yacht. If you don’t want to fire up the Viking and make extra work for the babysitters or the butler, or whoever has to clean up after you, you can just pop into your own kitchen, do what you want in the toaster oven, then rinse off the tin foil, recycle it and go again the next day. When I got divorced, and I had au pairs cooking for my daughter and me, I didn’t want them to have extra work — the toaster oven takes care of that. You make a little bucket out of tin foil, you put in a couple of Cornish hens and some asparagus with a little water and you crimp it. Then, you have steamed asparagus and Cornish hens. If you serve it in a creative way, very elegantly, you take no cut in style. You can make a cod or tilapia and it is very good. I can make anything in that toaster oven: rack of lamb, sirloin steak, roasted red-skin potatoes with rosemary, chicken parmesan; I do a ratatouille in there. You would not believe the things you can do in a toaster oven.

OJ&B: So I am hoping that you are pursuing and creating the actual toaster oven cookbook.

STM: Oh, I have the book! I have several book deals. The problem is that I didn’t know which company to go with. A lot of bookstores have gone bankrupt; deals are not what they were. For me, it’s deciding which deal to go with, so that I can allot the time it will take to do the book, which will take away from my downtime that we mentioned earlier. That’s spending time with my daughter. When you do a book, you have to do book signings and appearances. And if I am going to do it, I want to do it and enjoy it to the “umph” degree. I just have to make sure it will be worth it. Now, do I want to get my toaster oven recipes out there to everyone who is asking for them? Yes. Do I have a book deal? I have it upstairs, I just have to sign it and get going on it. Once I decide to do it, I’ll put in 100 percent of my time and burn the midnight oil to get it out there. But I’m ready! I have the cover shot and I have inside the cover shot because I did the shoot, which you might have seen on the show with that gorgeous Brian Marcus and THE David Evangelista who I have know for 25 years.



Above: Photographer Andrew Werner calls this photo "Old and New Sonja." She looks stunning in this Marc Bouwer creation.

OJ&B: Besides having a fabulous lifestyle, you also make time to give back. Tell me about your charity work.

STM: First of all, I want you to know that all of these events that I do for animals for the Humane Society and the ASPCA, you would be so surprised at how many dogs get placed. It’s amazing because every dog we can place is something. For the AIDS Walk in NYC, we — 30,000 walkers — raised over $6 million, which is the most they have ever raised — and every year they’ve raised more and more. This year, I walked with the NOH8 team, alongside founder Adam Bouska and his boyfriend, Jeff Parshley. What a great team! I have always been involved with the LGBT community, even before it was called the LGBT. At first, I was calling it the BLT [laughs]; I didn’t know what it was called, but I always knew that my heart was in the right place and I love them all and I have always raised money for their cause, and for AIDS especially. I have been involved in Jeffrey Fashion Cares, which is where you and I met, because it’s a whole umbrella for everyone who is dealing with… I don’t know what you want to call it, but it is a struggle. I went to FIT, as you know, and I had my gay roommates and that’s how I learned firsthand about what everyone is dealing with. And then I have my artists; I support the arts. Give me Eminem, give me Gaga, and basically, give them to me in the same night! I love artists! I also love children, because they need to be protected and they give so much back. They are so not jaded and they see things with clear eyes, just as artists do and just as my gay and lesbian friends do. And then, I love animals. And no, I’m not talking about my dates, I am talking about my work with the SPCA and the Humane Society! [Laughs.]

OJ&B: What do you hope the future holds for Sonja Tremont-Morgan?

STM: Well, I hope that I still have my friends of 20 and 30 years. I’m hoping that all of those people that were there for me then, and are still with me now, will be with me when I’m like Elizabeth Taylor, in a wheelchair and I’m like, “Honey, get that hair up! Can you help me? Where is my jewelry? Don’t let them steal it! Don’t let them take it from me!” That’s all I really care about. Keeping my family and friends safe, and I hope my team succeeds with me. If we can get a little piece of that reality T.V. success? That is what I am really hoping for — success for all of us. I think, “Why can’t we all do it together?”

OJ&B: Thank you so much for your time, I had a lot of fun speaking with you and I wish you the best of success!

STM: Well, thank you! With a friend like you, I think I’ll go far.


Above: Behind the scenes. After one of the fiercest photo shoots that I have ever been apart of, Sonja and I talk in her beautiful kitchen.

Stay tuned for Sonja's Fashion Do's and Don'ts next week on OJ&B!

To find out more about Sonja Tremont-Morgan visit sonjamorganonline.com.

Special thanks to Andrew Werner of Andrew Werner photography for doing the gorgeous photo shoot! To contact him please visit andrewwernerphotography.com.

Thank you to Cesar Gaviria who did an amazing job styling his client sonja! Visit cesarg.com for more info!
The Real Housewives of New York City 5418689043838302925

Post a Comment

  1. Love the article, Jon - and yes, I agree with her, sleep is the best thing for your skin....love the jacket yr wearing :)

    I think Sonja is beautiful and of the entire group, the most class - she knows how to play the game well.

    ReplyDelete

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