A Conversation with CORNELIA GUEST
By Anita Marie Antonini
PMc Magazine’s December Issue, The Social Issue, would not be complete without an interview with one of America’s most famous “It” Girls of all time, the always charming and endearing Cornelia Guest.
Being bred in high society comes with responsibility, although not all offspring born of privilege take on that role. Cornelia has designed her lifestyle in such a way that she leads by example in her social consciousness and giving back to society.
In her life and her business endeavors (whether it be with food, Cornelia Guest Cookies, entertaining & catering, Cornelia Guest Events or her new vegan Cornelia Guest Handbag Collection), there is an awareness of promoting alternatives in our culture that she strives to awaken in our society today. Read on and pass the rice milk and chocolate chip cookies please.
Anita Marie Antonini: Your new Cornelia Guest handbag collection is totally vegan and cruelty-free: chic with a conscience. These bags also have a price tag that is more affordable than most luxury lines. Please tell us more about how this new accessory venture came to be, your design aesthetic and the brand that you have created.
Cornelia Guest: I really thought there was room for a beautiful, affordable, accessible “cruelty-free” line of accessories in the market place. I was having a hard time finding beautiful, affordable bags so I thought I would create one myself. I love classic with a twist. A bigger bag for day and inside a clutch for night. I designed it with the modern woman in mind. I leave my house early in the morning and generally don’t have time to come home before dinner. I wanted to have a great day bag with clutch for evening inside. Take the big, carry the small!
AMA: Your philosophy and passion as an activist and businesswoman is born from your childhood of growing up in era that defined the word “socialite” as a woman of privilege. To quote one of your world-renowned descendents, Winston Churchill: “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” Please comment on how you can use your influence on society to make the make the world a better place.
CG: My story centers around my love for animals which I’ve had all my life. To show and give people an intelligent alternative is my passion and mission. Through my book, Simple Pleasures (Weinstein Books, Spring 2012), blog, website and products, I hope to spread that message however I can. I want to let people know there is an alternative. Massive cruelty does NOT need to happen. Animals deserve better and people need to be educated in a loving way. That’s what I’m all about.
AMA: Your catering company was created from your love of entertaining and your chocolate chip cookies are “one of your favorite things.” They use no animal products and a portion of the proceeds from sales is donated to The Humane Society of New York. You also have a vegetarian cookbook that you are working on. I hear Bruce Weber will be taking the photographs. Making a book is a huge undertaking and I hope there are not too many cooks in your kitchen. Please tell us about your forthcoming cookbook. How has that as a process has been going?
CG: Bruce Weber is a dear friend and shares my love and passion for animals and is such an amazing photographer. I was so thrilled that he shot the cover. The book is finished and I’m very proud of it. It’s all my favorite recipes that I’ve come up with over the years, along with some favorites that I’ve changed so no animal products were use.
AMA: With the holiday coming up, I’m sure that you have been planning and getting ready for dinner parties small and large with family and friends. Do you have a favorite menu that you can share with us for your holiday feast?
CG: For the Fall holidays I love roasted squashes, Fall veggies, pumpkin pies, steamed or sauteed greens with almonds, garlic or pecans. I love crunchy roasted nuts and they liven up everything! Sweet potatoes, brussel sprouts, mushrooms and for dessert, chocolate ice cream with Cornelia Guest cookies!
AMA: Also regarding the holidays: Is there a tradition that you keep close to your heart that reminds you of what celebrating and getting together is all about?
CG: I love toasts. My family was always big on them, so I continue the tradition. I was born on Thanksgiving Day so I always celebrate my birthday that day even though it only falls on Thanksgiving every few years!
AMA: It’s that time of year to take a look back and review, and also to look forward towards the future. Will you be making any New Year’s resolutions?
CG: I think that resolutions should be a way of life. My lifestyle is about being compassionate and as cruelty free as possible. I also believe in spreading that message to help change the paradigm of how we treat animals and each other.
Cornelia Guest has been passionate about animals and nature since she was a child. Her passion is reflected in every aspect of her life including her philanthropy, animal activism and business enterprises. In 2009 she founded Cornelia Guest Events and Cornelia Guest Cookies, catering high-end charity and entertainment events with healthy, vegan dishes. Her mission is to encourage and inspire people to be conscious of the diet choices they make in their daily lives.
Cornelia is currently designing her own line of jewelry, as well as a collection of animal-friendly handbags, wallets and dog accessories made with a vegan alternative to leather, both lines launched this fall 2011.
Daughter of American fashion icon, CZ Guest and polo champion Winston Frederick Churchill Guest, Cornelia has been able to use her media attention and professional contacts to support many charitable causes including the Humane Society of New York, among many others.
Cornelia Guest interviewed by Anita Marie Antonini
Written by Anita Marie Antonini
Photography by Chance Yeh for Patrick McMullan
Design by Marie Havens
Cornelia Guest, CORNELIA GUEST PERSONAL APPEARANCE and TRUNK SHOW to promote her cruelty-free bag line, Bloomingdales NYC, Dec 01, 2011, Photography by Chance Yeh for Patrick McMullan
Cornelia Guest’s new Vegan Handbag Collection, CORNELIA GUEST PERSONAL APPEARANCE and TRUNK SHOW to promote her cruelty-free bag line, Bloomingdales NYC, Dec 01, 2011, Photography by Chance Yeh for Patrick McMullan