By Devorah Rose
Photography By Gian Andrea di Stefano
Christie Brinkley’s name is synonymous with the Hamptons. Besides rolling farmland, rustic beaches, and picturesque towns, something else that frequently comes to mind when people think of the East End is polo. This June 29th, Christie will host the sport of kings at Polo Hamptons in Bridgehampton. When asked how she felt about the sport, Christie said, “I think it’s amazing to see the horses and the riders galloping around. They are so passionate, and I love activities that bring people together, especially when it brings people outside. Polo is a beautiful combination of these two things. Being outside, watching horses, enjoying the summer day, and being part of a tradition are things I enjoy.”
Not too many people know that Christie has quite a bit of experience around horses. In fact, she is accomplished in the art of cattle cutting. This sport is a western-style equestrian competition where the rider shows how artfully his or her horse can separate an animal from a herd of cattle. The judges assess both the rider’s skill and the horse’s athleticism. The rider chooses a cow (or steer) for the horse to herd, then drops or loosens the reins, which signals to the horse that it is in complete control. The horse must then defeat the cow’s repeated attempts to rejoin the herd, until the rider picks up the reins to signal that it’s time to allow the cow to rejoin. The horse then repeats the dance within the two and half minutes allowed. Elaborating on the sport, Christie explains, “It stems from real cowboys who had to round up their cattle, and then it turned into a formal competition. I went out to compete in cattle cutting at the National Horse Association championship in Fort Worth, Texas. The first year I placed fourth in my division, and then the following year I went back and I won. It was the celebrity division, and I was competing against Michael Keaton and others.” But that is not where her love of horses began. Christie grew up occasionally riding horses on summer vacation with her parents, but having her own horse was when sparks flew.
“When I was married to Billy, one Christmas morning I awoke to find a white horse with a red ribbon waiting for me on the lawn. And it was the first horse of my very own. Belle Star was her name, and I absolutely loved having a horse that I got to know on a deep level. I knew everything about her: what she was afraid of, what she liked. I would groom her myself, and I just loved that. Then I got other horses and eventually got into cattle cutting.”
Christie’s adventures are pretty diverse. From model to cattle cutter to songstress and back again, there is always a challenging project in her life. Confessing her surprise when approached about the recent revival of the musical Chicago, in which she also starred in 2011, Christie revealed, “I’m always open to new things, to taking on new challenges, and giving it a go. When I was asked to do Chicago this year at age 65, I thought, Well that’s an amazing challenge. And I wondered if I could do it: Can I get back in that saddle? I was so grateful for the opportunity to give it a shot and was so excited by having this new project. Things come along and for some things you know it’s the right time.” And boy was it the right time! Christie graced the stage both on Broadway and on the Las Vegas strip, and inspired audiences and critics alike. Her breathy voice and presence has been compared to Marilyn Monroe’s numerous times and having seen the show myself, I can confirm that this impression is an accurate one.
Having three successful runs on Broadway wasn’t something Christie ever expected. “Every single time I went to a play, I would watch and wonder what it would be like to be a part of that group. But I never really saw myself up there and was completely shocked when I got the offer the first time around. I was, like, what? Why are they asking me? There must be a mistake. So while I dreamed of it, I never thought it could be a real thing for me.”
And yet Christie has always been surrounded by music. One activity she delights in is singing with her songstress daughter, Alexa Ray Joel. “Alexa loves to do harmony,” Christie says. “She has me do the soprano part and then she does all the harmony around it. The harmony part is the most difficult. And of course I love it because she does all the work and makes me sound good!”
Music has always brought happiness to Christie and those around her. She is a fixture at the Garden when Billy performs with their daughter, Alexa. She proudly takes videos and uploads them on Instagram. And the happy supportive mother you see in public is who she is at all times. For Christie, music is the glue that binds friends and families. “Many years after our divorce, Billy would still come to my house for the Christmas singalong and play the piano, and all our friends would come over and sing Christmas carols. Singalongs are one of my favorite things to do. And you know that’s what makes everybody happy,” Christie says.
Today in particular, what makes Christie beam with pride is her son’s entrepreneurship. Jack Brinkley Cook has launched Rove, a new way that the young and hip can commute to the Hamptons. Traveling (specifically the logistics of travel) is something Jack has always enjoyed. “When he was little, and we would travel, Jack was our travel guide. He would say ‘Mom, let me book the flights, let me find the best prices.’ We rarely came home the day we were supposed to from a trip. Jack would push the flights back and follow through with every little detail — from arranging all transportation to letting everyone know the new plan. He is still taking care of details. Can you imagine that when you book your ticket with Rove, you can also purchase a bouquet of flowers for your host? Making sure his clients don’t show up empty-handed is very Jack. My philosophy for a good business is if you are putting a smile on someone else’s face, it’s a good plan, and that’s what Rove does. He’s got the formula, creating smiles.” Christie’s own smile beams as she speaks about Jack.
Happiness is something Christie is great at creating. One of the reasons she has created Bellissima, her brand of prosecco, is because she enjoys celebrating life and the important moments in life that call for commemoration. Continuing to grow her incredible brand, Christie has added two products to enhance the Bellissima experience. One is Bella Sprizz Elderberry. “You just splash a bit into our prosecco and it’s the most refreshing summery gorgeous drink,” says Christie. The second is Bella Sprizz Aperitif. “Most people know the Aperol spritz, but there was no challenger to this classic, so we decided to create our own beautiful orangey-red liqueur. It’s a skinnier version of an Aperol spritz when it’s mixed with our Bellissima zero-sugar prosecco. Also ours is half the price!” A new spin on an old classic is always welcome. It seems that Christie is challenging and expanding the liqueur market while her son, Jack, is challenging the established Hamptons travel market.
It’s no surprise that Christie is always up to a new and exciting project. From conquering Broadway for a third time to introducing new and exciting products, Christie can always be counted on for her adventurous spirit and can-do attitude. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to see what she surprises us with next!
Creative Direction: Devorah Rose
Photographer: Gian di Stefano
Stylist: Jamie Frankel, Honey Artists
Stylist Assistant: Grace Darienzo
Hair Stylist: Johnny Caruso
Makeup Artist: Moyra Mulholland
Behind The Scenes Photograper: Kate Carlucci
Cover Jewelry: Nigora Tabayer
Cover Dress: Lee Mathews
Special thanks to the incredible Claire Mercuri
The location shoot was at
124 Brennans Moor
Water Mill, NY
Exclusively Listed by Sauders & Associates
Dawn Brennan Hagen
Licensed Real Estate Salesperson at Sauders & Associates