A Moment With: Lauren Mechling
Lauren Mechling is an author and Vogue Contributing Editor based in New York. Her debut adult novel How Could She is centered on the friendships of three women—Sunny, Geraldine, and Rachel. From their early beginnings in Toronto to the eventual move to New York, their lives diverge and sometimes, uncomfortably coincide. How Could She is a society novel for the contemporary age. The women navigate the delicate balance of their friendship with all the ego, professional hiccups, and romantic disappointment that comes with living a full life in New York City.
VSP chats with Lauren about her obsession with friendship, clogs, and the glamour of working at Vogue. How Could She is out on June 25th from Viking.
How Could She is based around friendships—how have you maintained long-term, enriching friendships with the women around you?
To be clear: I’m not a friendship expert; I’m a friendship obsessive. And the more I obsess over friendship, the more I understand that I’m not very good at it. The big problem with friendship—actually, a big problem with friendship (there are so many problems with friendship!)—is that even when a state of friendship bliss has been reached, it’s not built to last. The dynamic is always changing, along with each individual’s circumstances and desires and mood. The one thing that has been helpful to me is coming to accept the impossibility of a perfect friendship. I try to let go of hidebound and ridiculous expectations of what a friendship should be, or what a friend should do. I’ve shifted my focus to identifying and appreciating those moments of joy that can spring out of nowhere and that fulfill me like nothing else.
The novel dispels the myth that you should already have things figured out in your mid-to-late thirties, what are some of the obstacles your characters are navigating through?
How Could She is a platonic love triangle involving three women who came up together in Toronto in their early twenties. The main story is set over the course of a year, when they are thirty-six, and find themselves in vastly different stations in life. Each is facing her own set of struggles. Rachel is a happily married new mother in Brooklyn who fears she is on the brink of professional obsolescence. She used to have a healthy career as a young adult writer but now is having a hard time getting published. She’s envious of people like Sunny, a sought after artist and tastemaker blessed with what seems to be a sickeningly perfect life. She lives in a West Village townhouse and people fight over the chance to be associated with her. But she is plagued with self-doubt and loneliness; true human connection eludes her. Geraldine, the heart and soul of the novel, is the only one who still lives in Toronto. She is still traumatized after her former fiancé called off their wedding four years ago. She is sick of being pigeonholed as a left-behind who deserves better. It’s humiliating.
What was your process like in writing How Could She, and how did you carve out time for yourself to sit down and write?
I was working full-time at Vogue during most of the writing of the book. I would wake up at an ungodly hour every morning and write sometimes for an hour and a half, or even just a tiny bit. If I missed my chance to write before going to work I’d take my laptop to the office and go to a café during lunch. It was a steady, superstitious practice. The only rule was I had to open the document every single day.
What is one thing you would want people to take away from your novel?
That our feelings about our friends are complicated, that they can be intense and embarrassing and even ugly. And that’s okay.
Tell us one secret about what it's like writing for Vogue
If your story is approved it’s “AWOKed” (pronuned: “A-walked”). This stands for “Anna Wintour OK’d” it. The other thing about working at Vogue is the conference room goodbye parties that staffers throw each are chicer than most weddings I’ve been to. You should see the flowers!
How would you describe your style, and who are some designers who are doing new and exciting things?
I also run an Instagram style account called @thecloglife, and even though it’s partly parody, it definitely reflects my tastes. So I’d call my style: Clog. In other words, not overtly sexy. A little awkward, secretly cool. My favourite designers to wear are Suno (RIP, thank goodness for consignment), Maison Mayle (another dearly departed designer that was resurrected!), and Mara Hoffman. I also love Gabriela Hearst. There’s an unapologetic femininity to her designs. It would be hard not to feel pretty in them.
What has been one of your most memorable nights in New York?
Going with a group of friends to a bathhouse in Brighton Beach and then dancing at a Russian nightclub. But I only remember half of it.
Photos and Text by Marlowe Granados
Styled by Basia Wyszynski