Betony Vernon

Designer, Sexual Anthropologist & Author of The Boudoir Bible. Paris

To quote Salt-N-Pepa, “Let’s talk about sex, baby!”

Chatting with Betony Vernon is like getting advice from a more elegant, inhabited issue of Cosmopolitan. As a designer, sexual anthropologist (Google that sh*t!) and author of The Boudoir Bible, Vernon is the chicer, crimson-haired version of your high school Sex-Ed teacher who not only practices what she preaches but she single-handedly coined the whole “Sado-Chic” thing. Turns out her collection of jewelry was a direct result of the erotic jewels – er, “jewel tools” – she had created for “her own pleasure and a few private collectors.” While some may be ashamed to keep The Boudoir Bible bedside, – we don’t suggest reading it on the subway ride to work – we have to admit that after being described as "Every shade but grey!” we were, well, curious.

Vernon’s gothic/retro look and voluminous fiery red hair (with bangs, nonetheless) is piercing against her porcelain skin. We had heard tidbits here and there about Vernon’s abode, but nothing could prepare us for what we found inside. It had this eerie, mysterious, movie-like quality that was straight out of the pages of some sort of dark romance novel. Every crevasse of her home had Vernon’s signature whimsical touch: deep green velvety walls, fur detailed pillows and a luxurious soaking tub, which Vernon treats more like a sanctuary.

When it comes to bridging the gap between the taboo topic of sex and everyone’s favorite topic, fashion, Vernon credits Vivienne Westwood, Tom Ford, Ricardo Tisci and herself as the connecting force between the two. “After the suspension bondage photos I did with Katerina Jebb were published by Olivier Zahm in Purple Magazine in 2006, I felt a definite shift,” she told us. “The fashion system as a whole began to embrace the idea of erotic restraint and other practices and materials that have long been considered kinky or abnormal. I was suddenly called upon to tie up beautiful young girls for the same major fashion and lifestyle magazines that were calling in my Paradise Found fine erotic whips, body chains and other sexy jewels and tools for photo shoots.”

As for her take on the Fifty Shades madness? “I think E.L. James helped millions of people realize that what they once considered to be either their wildest fantasies or totally unacceptable sexual behavior, is actually totally normal.” Well, that makes the fact that our moms have read books one through three very awkward…