Gruber suggested we meet here, at Indochine, that historically fabulous restaurant that opened on Lafayette Street six years before he was born, in part because it was the site of his 21st-birthday bash in 2011, thrown by his then-paramour (and mentor) Calvin Klein, who is 48 years his senior.
That night was easily the high point of Gruber’s gossip archive, when everything about his swift arrival at the height of New York fashion society was going so apparently brilliantly.
He found Gruber’s ordinariness refreshing and thinks that Klein might have, too.
“I mean, I’ve been on my own since basically 8 years old,” he tells me, before ordering a refill on his coffee.
(“It helps you burn an extra few calories when you work out,” which he says he’s doing afterward.) He was born in Northern California, near Sacramento, and his parents split when he was very young, his mother moving with him to Florida and sliding into drugs.
“I think maybe Nick didn’t know much about who Calvin was when he met him, which I think might be part of what is nice about Nick.” Mc Mullan mentions Gigi, the Colette novella about a turn-of-the-century courtesan-in-training trying to find her way among the bored, louche Parisian gentlemen, which was made into a musical by Vincente Minnelli; as Maurice Chevalier’s character puts it in the film: “Ah, well, she’s a wonderful girl, Gigi. She’s not sophisticated like most other women are, but then what do sophisticated women have to offer? ” Klein polished up Gruber physically, judging by photos of Gruber that circulated online before they met, fixing his teeth, among other apparent cosmetic procedures.
The process ultimately resulted in Gruber looking a bit like a sturdy blond version of Klein in his Fire Island heyday.