Three days after the new cast of The Real Housewives of New York City is announced, the ladies are posing together in shimmering cocktail dresses atop the Empire State Building. The topic soon turns to holiday gifts for friends—and/or frenemies. Bathrobes, hot sauces, and chocolate are mentioned. Jenna Lyons, the former J. Crew creative director and the flashiest name attached to the franchise, suggests coffee-table books, ideally tied to a location the receiver loves or hopes to visit. “That’s my little party trick,” she says. Brynn Whitfield, a communications professional who seems to talk solely in innuendo, suggests giving the gift of adult Twister. “Have a couple drinks. When you do the spinner, don’t say what it says. Just look for what would make the most mess,” she says. “I don’t even know how to flirt anymore,” protests the London-born fashion publicist Jessel Taank, unconvincingly. While there are a few preexisting relationships and a tangled web of mutual acquaintances, the seven women tasked with reviving the former flagship of Andy Cohen’s Bravo empire are very much still getting to know one another.
The original RHONY existed in an Upper East Side bubble where things like subways, bodegas, and diversity didn’t seem to exist. These ladies are a far more representative slice of the city—among them, they celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas, Diwali, and Eid. But they all confess to enjoying any sort of holiday party. Should they decide to break bread, Ubah Hassan, a Somali-Canadian model who once fronted a Ralph Lauren campaign, promises to bring the main course. “I might hire a chef, but I’m a model who eats.” Sai De Silva, a laid-back Brooklynite, will handle the drinks. “I was a bartender for about 10 years, so I am always in charge of the alcohol,” she says. As for who’s serving the best gossip, the group isn’t quite sure yet. “We don’t know yet,” says Erin Dana Lichy, a power real estate agent. “We may know, but we’re not telling,” says Lizzy Savetsky, a former PR maven turned influencer and wife of a plastic surgeon.
They seem united, however, in wanting to avoid the darker dramas that have engulfed other corners of the Housewives universe. “The narrative does need to change,” says Lyons. “We all signed up to do this, not to repeat what’s been done, but to actually see if we could do it and still have fun. It doesn’t mean we won’t have moments, but I think we’re all looking for something different.”
Still lifes photographed by Bobby Doherty. Styled Christina Holevas. Prop styling by Noemi Bonazzi at M.A.P.
Lizzy Savetsky’s hair by Senada Kanaci; makeup by Gila Russy. Ubah Hassan’s hair by Shanice Fields; makeup by Yuko Takahashi. Sai De Silva’s hair by Ikeyia Powell; makeup by Renee Sanganoo. Erin Lichy’s hair by Andrea DiSabatino; makeup by Kasey Spickard. Jenna Lyons’s hair and makeup by Troi Ollivierre. Jessel Taank’s hair by Lumturie Sela; makeup by Karuna Chani. Photo assistant: Chris Dinerman; digital technician: Milton Arellano; fashion assistants: Emmalynne Walpole, Natalya Clarke; retouching: Chroma Visuals; special thanks to the Empire State Building.