Author Lucy Sykes on Becoming a ‘Fitness Junkie’ and Why She Wouldn’t Want to Exercise With Gwyneth Paltrow

Lunch with the fashionista-turned-novelist and her husband, Euan Rellie

The scene at Michael's
Michael's.

So glad to be back on the beat at Michael’s today! What better way to beat the February doldrums than with a dishy ‘Lunch’ with one of my favorite Manhattan power couples, Euan Rellie and Lucy Sykes. The delightful duo are very popular on the city’s social circuit due in no small part, I’m sure, to their devastating wit and British charm. They know everyone and have the stories to prove it. Sorry, the best ones are OTR, but we still found plenty to chew on over our soups and salads.

Lucy Sykes, Diane Clehane and Euan Rellie

Euan, whom I met—where else?—in this very dining room years ago, is the co-founder and senior managing director of BDA Partners, an investment banking firm. One of the last gentlemen in the city, Euan is the kind of man who orders for his female guests and always has a handshake and a hearty hello for fellow diners. It should also be noted that he takes some of the best photos you’ll ever see on Facebook of New York City and darling shots of the couple’s two sons, Heathcliff and Titus, when the family is traveling hither and yon. So, if that banking thing doesn’t work out, he’s got something to fall back on.

Lucy had a fabulous career in fashion as a stylist, editor and fashion director (most recently at Marie Claire) before segueing into publishing. Her first book, The Knockoff, co-written with Jo Piazza, was a best-seller in 2015. Her writing career seems something of an eventuality when you consider her literary lineage: Her grandfather Christopher Sykes penned a biography on Evelyn Waugh (who just happened to be his BFF) and her sister, Plum Sykes, another fashionista-slash-writer penned the much-talked-about Bergdorf Blondes, one of the most successful novels of the chick-lit genre. When Euan suggested we get together to talk about Lucy’s upcoming book, Fitness Junkie, also co-authored with Jo Piazza and due out in July from Doubleday, I jumped at the chance.

Fresh off their family vacation to Utah, Euan arrived at high noon having endured a head-spinning informational meeting at his oldest son’s school on navigating the tricky terrain of high school admissions. Lucy arrived a bit later and after exchanging air kisses with fellow ex-pat Vicky Ward seated at a nearby table, settled in for our chat.

Five minutes in, I was dazzled. Married in 2002, Euan and Lucy are equally matched in the storytelling department—both have a penchant for finishing each other’s sentences. “When we got engaged, my friends told me about [the Sykes’ family] literary eccentricity and that they were barking mad,” said Euan. Don’t you love those British expressions?

Since the purpose of our ‘Lunch’ was to chat about Lucy’s new book, Euan helpfully steered the conversation, making sure Lucy touched on everything that inquiring minds might want to know. “I thought I would marry this cerebral woman who would fill in all the blanks on Shakespeare,” said Euan. “But Lucy has this ESP—this emotional intelligence. She’s very good at understanding people. She has a very clear sense of what she wants to write about.”

“I’m an observer—I find human nature fascinating,” said Lucy. Her years in fashion proved fertile ground for her first book, The Knockoff, about a seasoned editor who has to fend off a tech-savvy startup from taking over the glossy magazine she’s helmed for ages. We both agreed working at a fashion magazine isn’t for the faint-hearted. “When I worked at [Harper’s] Bazaar, I had my boss throw a shoe at my head and he told me, ‘Don’t ever bring me Stuart Weitzman [shoes] again!”

This time, her inspiration came closer to home. “Two years ago I started noticing that wherever I went, women were dressed in athletic wear. The women at my sons’ school were showing up at pick-up looking like J.Lo and going off to workout for two hours with their trainers. These women aren’t celebrities—what do they need to work out for two hours for?”