Bravotv.com: Do you agree with Juliet that there's a lot of talking behind people's backs in London?
Marissa Hermer: I am often surprised how often I hear friends gossiping about their friends -- especially when they are talking about people who, in my mind, are closer to them and more in their inner circle than I am -- and yet they feel like they can trust me with information. That said, I don’t feel people chat about others any more than they do in the states -- this happens around the world and not just in London. In my professional life I don’t share gossip (if I began to tell the stories of things I see at the Boujis nightclub dance floor, I could write a book!) and as a company we are all bound by a strict code not to talk to the press or share stories about our celebrity, royal, and VIP guests -- and I hold myself to this same code in my personal life as well. My parents always told me "Loose Lips Sink Ships," and I personally try to only say things that I would say directly to the person I’m referring to -- of course, this doesn’t always happen, but it is something that I try to do -- otherwise we will be sinking ships all over the place!
Bravotv.com: Why do you think Juliet had such a problem with you defending Caprice?
Marissa: When I’m upset over something or someone, I usually want my friends to agree with me and join me in my ranting about them -- you want your friends to be supporting you. I think this is why Juliet had a problem with me defending Caprice -- Juliet wanted me to agree with her when she said Caprice was being rude in leaving Mapperton early to go back to London. Clearly, Juliet was still upset that Caprice took Annabelle’s side in the Bumpkin Fourth of July Knickergate drama of Juliet vs. Annabelle, and so EVEN though it was weeks later when I was defending Caprice for leaving early, Juliet felt like I wasn’t personally siding with her. I had no idea that Juliet was still upset about this limo ride conversation, since I thought everyone had moved on. But I still defend Caprice for leaving Mapperton early -- it was an extremely hot weekend with temperatures above 90F degrees (hot for England), we were up at 6AM from London to travel 3 hours to Mapperton, and then had a long day of shooting and croquet and then a formal dinner. I was tired and I wasn’t 7 months pregnant, so I can only imagine that had I been 7 months pregnant, I would want to get back to air-conditioning and my bed! Maybe I’m being too empathetic here, and maybe it is because I am the one who has the youngest children and so can remember what if feels like to be 7 months pregnant -- it isn’t always easy -- especially being pregnant on a long, hot day. What Juliet didn’t see is that I wasn’t taking Caprice’s side in this situation, but rather I was understanding why anyone in Caprice’s situation would be tired and want to get back to an air-conditioned room!
Bravotv.com: Why did you break down and leave during brunch?
Marissa: As I said to Noelle when I walked out of the brunch room, I had had enough of Juliet. As Caroline said in the episode, Juliet creates a scene wherever she goes. I have seen this scene and this drama unfold for years -- it gets exhausting and is exasperating -- but I am always the one to defend her to our friends and to the people whom she offends. Because I do like Juliet -- she has so many wonderful character traits and is a ball of energy and fun -- and I love these sides to her and want my other friends to see these sides to her. But when Juliet then turned the drama on me in Noelle’s bedroom, especially after the years of defending her and actually being a real friend to her, I had enough. When Juliet first arrived in London, I took her under my wing in every sense of the word -- I introduced her to many of my friends, hosting dinners so she could meet people, took her to many of the social parties I went to and I introduced her to my fashion contacts so she could find a job when she wanted to work. I’ve never asked for a thank you, nor should I -- this is just what people do, or what I do when fellow Americans move to London or friends in general reach out to me. I know it can be hard to move to a new country -- I was in that same position years ago, and so if I’m able to help someone make her own transition a little easier, I always do everything I can do help. This is just part of who I am. That same innate empathetic character trait I have that Juliet loved when it was useful to her when she didn’t know anyone in London is now the character trait she criticizes in me, because it also means that I don’t always agree with her -- that I will continue to empathize with people and it might not always be her. When she mocked me in Noelle’s bedroom, saying about Caprice: "She’s perfect. She’s lovely. She’s wonderful and can do no wrong," I felt that Juliet wasn’t listening to me, because had she been listening, clearly she would have seen that wasn’t what I was saying. I think Caprice should have left us all a note saying she was leaving early to go back to London or called us to say she was exhausted and wanted to go back to see her partner and get a foot rub. It wasn’t THAT POLITE of her to take off without saying anything (especially as we were waiting for her in the morning), but I can understand why she wanted to get home. So at brunch I had a breakdown because between Juliet attacking me in Noelle’s bedroom and then minutes later at brunch wanting to toast and pretend like nothing had happened, it was all a bit too much. I can’t just brush it under the table, that isn’t how I roll. I am honest, but when I’m pushed, then I retaliate accordingly. I’m hardly perfect (just ask my husband!) and though Juliet calls me a people pleaser, clearly that's not the case, since when I don’t agree with her or join in on all her bar fights, I don’t please her. There are consequences to actions and accusations, and I can’t just make up and toast and pretend to be fine when I’m not. I never sugar coat my feelings, and if I had been able to, I would have in this situation, because unlike Juliet, I hate making a scene. Although I tried to hold it together, I couldn’t, so I left the room to break down rather than do it at the brunch table.
Marissa: The morning I woke up for my British Citizenship Ceremony was actually very similar to the morning of my wedding day, and I wanted to wear something special. I love my pink Dolce & Gabbana dress -- long and flowing (sort of like my wedding dress) -- in fact, I probably SHOULD have worn my wedding dress (except that I doubt I will ever be able to fit into it again)! I had those same nervous excited feelings, and it really did feel like I was ending one chapter of my life and beginning another. As I told Matt when we were walking into the ceremony, I felt like I was marrying his country -- and I have! But thank goodness I still have my US Citizenship and my American passport -- I’m never giving those up. With Dual Citizenship, I get the best of both worlds -- I live in London and we are raising our family here. So I’ve married the United Kingdom (but America will always be my lover), and who knows, we may end up living there one day!
Bravotv.com: How thrilled were you with the Faberge earrings? Why did your husband choose them?
Marissa: I think I went into a state of shock when Matt told me he wanted to give me something to commemorate the occasion. He has given me beautiful pieces of jewelry for anniversaries and big birthdays and the birth of our children, but I certainly didn’t expect him to get me something when I became British. In retrospect, I’m not surprised as Matt is incredibly thoughtful and does like to mark these important milestones in our lives. It was so sweet too because in the beginning, when we first talked about me becoming a British citizen, it was all about expediting our wait in the passport line at customs, but as we went through the process Matt also clearly appreciated the additional level of commitment that I was making to him, our family, and the country where we are living and raising our family. And WOW! Those earrings! Matt could have gotten me a frame for my certificate and I would have been touched and happy, but Faberge earrings?! And they are just perfect and SO me -- simple and classic and understated.
Bravotv.com: How did you and Juliet first meet?
Marissa: Juliet and I met at a mutual friend’s dinner party. She actually sat next to my husband Matt and she relayed to him that she wanted to meet people in London, and so after the dinner Matt introduced her to me and suggested that I take her out a bit and introduce her to some of my friends. The hostess of the dinner also asked me to introduce her to my friends in the fashion scene, and I was happy to do so as Juliet was fun and new in town and I’m always happy to try to make anyone’s transition to London easier. I was in that same boat myself years ago!
Bravotv.com: What did you think of Noelle's charity event?
Marissa: Noelle’s charity event was really interesting as I had no idea there was a vaccine given to mothers to protect their unborn children from AIDS. The charity Facing Zero seems to target the issue before it starts, so it is a fantastic charity to raise awareness for -- and Noelle knows that anything she attaches her name to will get press attention -- so it is a great cause for her to pick. As a result of her event, there was press coverage in Hello Magazine and Tatler Magazine about the charity, so she did a great job. I do a lot of work with a charity that is close to my heart, and I always appreciate it when my friends show up and support me, so I also know that Noelle was touched when we all supported her in her cause.
Bravotv.com: Was it nice to get an apology from Juliet?
Marissa: Yes, I appreciated Juliet’s apology. I think she knows that she can be abrasive when she communicates and that her execution in explaining her point of view can often be aggressive. Her husband told her this, Caprice told her this, Caroline told her this, and I’ve told her this. I know that deep down she would never want to hurt my feelings and her criticisms don’t come from a place of malice. That all said, I also know Juliet will continue to be Juliet -- I don’t want to change her and I couldn’t change her even if I tried -- but I also know that just because she apologized and said she won’t push my buttons again, I’m sure she probably will. That said, I can change myself, and when it happens again and I’m the brunt of one of Juliet’s attacks, I’ll be better prepared and knock it back at her rather than taking it personally.
Bravotv.com: Why did you reach out to Noelle to help you host Caprice's baby shower?
Marissa: When Caprice called me to say how much she loved the Fourth of July party and our new Bumpkin Garden at the new Chelsea location, I was flattered -- as a restaurant owner you receive so much criticism that it is nice when you hear some compliments as well! Also, I had worked for months getting the Bumpkin restaurant open -- from architecture and design to menus to landscaping to marketing and PR -- so when she asked me if she could host a baby shower event in the garden, I was more than happy to oblige. As a restaurant owner, when anyone asks to host an event in one of our private dining rooms or in our garden, I say yes! This is just how the business works. That said, after telling Caprice she could host her event in the Bumpkin Garden, I thought Noelle should get involved in the event, because though I has been getting to know Caprice over the summer, Noelle was really building a friendship with her, so I thought Noelle might like the opportunity to shower her mentor and new friends with some love and celebration.Bravotv.com: Did you know that Caprice had asked Caroline to host her baby shower?
Marissa: I had no idea that Caprice had asked Caroline to host her baby shower. Caprice didn’t mention this on the phone to me when she asked if Bumpkin Chelsea’s Garden would be available. I never ask when someone books out one of our private event spaces at Bumpkin or any of our other venues if they had any previous plans to host the event anywhere else or who they had asked to host the event or even who the host was or would be! I would never want to get in the middle of any issues between Caprice and Caroline -- or any friends that are having an issue.
Bravotv.com: How shocked were you to hear about Annabelle's accident?
Marissa: I actually couldn’t believe it. I was worried about her falling off her horse -- she had been training nonstop but still, she isn’t a professional and even professionals have freak accidents. Ever since I’ve had children, I get overly worried about any high-danger sport or activity, so when Annabelle told me at Noelle’s charity that her horse went 45 miles per hour and that I should keep everything crossed that she doesn’t fall off, I really did start to worry about her. And I did keep everything crossed, but (sigh) it didn’t work. Freak accidents happen and even to the strongest most dedicated of them all -- Annabelle! I knew Annabelle had dear friends who were rallying around her, and I was a new friend to Annabelle last summer, but I did start seeing her at her home and bringing her juices and nibbles -- the whole thing is just awful. She is getting better though and really works to keep her physical fitness high so her body can heal itself. I just hope she doesn’t get some crazy idea in her head that she wants to get back on a horse, because if she does, I’m going to have to hold her down (and Annabelle is not someone I want to mess with)!