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Antoni Porowski is unapologetic about his obsession with Omega. The Queer Eye star is among the newest ambassadors of the luxury Swiss watchmaker that has adorned the wrists of everyone from 007 to astronauts and U.S. presidents.
“I’ve had really strong brand loyalty since I was really young,” the Canada-born star of Netflix’s Queer Eye tells The Hollywood Reporter. “I took swimming lessons when I was young. Swimming is really big in my family. The chronometers, the stopwatches at swim practice, were these white octagonal shapes with this simple red Omega symbol. That was what I looked at as a kid.”
He continues: “When I got my first nice watch, I didn’t really put two and two together that that was the brand I went to. It was a symbol of achievement and striving for something. And the fact that they were the first watch on the moon. They are the official timekeeper of the Olympics, … anything that melds performance with luxury — I have a lot of respect for what they do,” says Porowski.
His watch of choice at the moment is Omega’s Seamaster 300 “that was the one that was just reissued. It has touches of the vintage version,” he says, and he wears it with an interchangeable Nato strap that he switches up to match his outfits. “For Pride Month, while we were filming, I had a multicolor band I wore.”
Porowski has had no problems occupying his time these days. Fresh off filming the sixth season of the Emmy-winning Netflix makeover series in Austin earlier this spring, the stylish food and wine expert joined the board of new nonprofit Equaversity Foundation, which organizes international fundraising to support the LGTBQ+ community in his family’s native Poland. This month, the New York Times best-selling author released his second cookbook, Let’s Do Dinner, and he’ll soon be immortalized as a palm-sized figurine alongside the rest of the Fab Five and their Atlanta Apartment as part of a Lego building set due out in October.
In addition to dishing on his favorite restaurants in Austin and New York, the 37-year-old self-taught chef sat down with THR to chat about the Omega watches that are on regular rotation on his wrists, his go-to denim and t-shirt brands, his favorite skin-care products and more. Keep reading for more and to shop Porowski’s fashion and skincare must-haves.
In addition to the Seamaster 300, what other Omega watches do you have?
The Speedmaster 50th anniversary in the Moonshine gold. It [originally came out] in 1969. They had the fiftieth anniversary in 2019. And there’s a map of the world on the back. It’s beautiful. It was the first watch worn on the moon [Apollo 11]. It has a thin burgundy band around it and it’s a fancy watch. I’m afraid to wear it on a day-to-day basis. Watches are something personal for me. They are mementos and they remind me where I was in my life when I got that specific piece.
It’s cool, hearing about how it was so competitive between the different brands. They were all competing to be on the moon. It was something so prestigious. And the fact that Omega was the one that was able to be part of it — for America and for world history — I think is really cool.
Where do you keep your watches?
They [Omega] gave me this beautiful wood box that’s like lightly lacquered and you can fit four watches into it.
How did you first connect with Omega?
In the first season, this is way before we started working together, my first nice watch I had was this baby blue Swatch watch that I used to wear. My parents got it for me at a duty-free in Europe when I was a kid. My first proper watch, when I started working at a gallery in New York was a vintage Omega constellation, somewhere between 1951 and 1955 with a black dial and gold trim. It was my pride and joy.
And when we first started filming Queer Eye in Atlanta I used to wear that watch all the time. There were a lot of close-ups on my hands when I was cooking. [Omega] took note and it started a friendship with Raynald [Aeschlimann], the CEO, and they started inviting me to events and then they invited me to their flagship on Fifth Avenue in New York and they wanted to give me a little tour and they were generous enough to give me this beautiful gift, a Dark Side of the Moon Speedmaster with a black bezel and a ceramic case. It’s a stunning case.
I went to Switzerland and we had a weekend where we went tobogganing in St. Moritz and I extended the trip and they invited me to the Omega museum. I’m fascinated by the history of the brand and everything they stand for.
[On the tour] I came in and I started asking all these questions. They have a vault upstairs with all the history behind everything. I think I spent three hours there. [Reynauld said someone with Omega told him that day:] “Usually the [celebrity guests] take the gift and say thank you. But you really wanted to nerd out on everything.”
Do you have any other Omegas?
They reissued an older version of the Seamaster which I got which I love because the dial doesn’t have numbers on every index and they decreased the size of the case. I don’t like it when watches are too bulky. I don’t like watches that are too loud and bold.
My most recent purchase was the day that it was called that Joe Biden won the election and [Omega CEO] Reynald [Aeschlimann] sent me a photo of [Biden] wearing this beautiful Seamaster [Diver 300M watch]. It’s aluminum with this really nice blue face with this little wave [pattern on the dial]. I was so emotional I went to Times Square with my dog Neon to celebrate and went to Omega and said, ‘I’m going to do an impulse purchase and pick up the same watch that he has.’ It’s a Seamaster from I want to say two to three years ago. It feels sporty enough you can wear it to the gym.
The next one [Omega] I have my eye on, it’s like a completely white face with aluminum that’s the Alaska Project Speedmaster. It has a beautiful face on it. That one is no longer in production. It’s like a big collector’s piece.
What is your personal style like?
I’m very much a jeans and T-shirt guy. I try to keep it really simple with Stan Smiths and I love that Adidas launched a more sustainable shoe made with ocean plastics using the classic Stan Smith. With every box you can scan it and you can see where the ocean plastic is from. And they are using characters like Kermit the Frog [in eco-conscious collaborations].
What T-shirts do you like?
I have a weird obsession with the perfect white T-shirt. The brand The Row has the Luke which is the perfect fitting white shirt. They never get pit stains from deodorant and they just last forever and they keep their shape when you put them in the wash and you let them hang dry.
And there’s a brand I discovered last year that’s New York-based called Bode and they have a wonderful store in Chinatown. They have these really cool folkloric-type oversized shirts. I think Harry Styles wore a bunch of their pieces. They have all kinds of patchwork and embroidery and have these really cool, flowing wider cut, less form-fitting shirts and these crazy patchwork shorts that are embroidered as well. I’ve been wearing them a lot.
What’s your go-to jean?
It’s still J Brand. Boot cut. Not too tight. They have a nice amount of stretch. After I’ve had them for a while, I cut the bottom [of the legs] so they slide on so easy. I never put them in the dryer and only wash them every few months.
Any travel hacks?
That would actually be stuff for my face especially wearing a mask. I’ve always had decent skin but over the past year, it’s suffered during the pandemic with wearing a mask all the time and with breakouts. There are two things that I love that I like to travel with. One is called The Nue Co. and they do all kinds of supplements. They have a serum called The Pill. It keeps my face taut and kind of looking a little dewy without looking too sweaty that I really love. And then there’s kind of like a mist from the brand Tatcha, it’s called Luminous Dewy Skin Mist.
And then my daily night-time ritual is still always the same. I’m a big fan of La Prairie. And they have this essence and lotion I use as a toner every night. My face tends to break out with makeup now that we’re filming again. If I have makeup on for more than three hours, two days later my face will totally break out. And I use a great exfoliant like Tata Harper, a woman-run farm out of Vermont. It’s the daily exfoliating one and it smells like strawberries. That opens everything up. And I put on the La Prairie lotion.
What have you been cooking lately?
This is something I’m obsessed with. I start every morning with four eggs and I do either soft scrambled or over-easy eggs. And there’s a restaurant in Austin that I’ve been obsessed with. It’s really authentic Mexican food Suerte and they have these Suadero tacos, these cubes of perfect beef with like 20 different spices prepared over the day, and they melt on the taco. They top it with a couple of leaves of cilantro and this stuff called Black Magic Oil. Don’t ask me what’s in it but I think different chilis and fermented black garlic. I bought a couple of jars of that and I put that on my eggs.
What else are you into, recipe-wise?
My favorite restaurant in New York is Via Carota. They have this mixed green salad which the New York Times has written about. It’s my favorite salad. There’s a little bit of Dijon, a bit of thyme and soaked shallots. The lesson is that you don’t toss the salad in the vinaigrette. You take the back end of a spoon and thin out your vinaigrette with water. That seems counterintuitive [but the vinaigrette] is not as aggressive. You layer the salad and then you just spoon the dressing over gently and you stack it up until it’s eight inches or a foot high. You eat it with your hands. It’s my very favorite salad, whether it’s frisee, butter bib and I’ve even done it with iceberg.
How has it been filming the new season?
I’m just really excited to be back filming. It took a bit of time to adjust. Now I feel we’re in the full swing of things. The world is slowly but surely coming back. I miss New York.
I’m in Austin where we’re filming a new season, in this corporate housing apartment.
Which season is it?
I always get confused because, if you count Japan, it’s basically [seven]… so we did two in Atlanta, two in Kansas City, one in Philly. This is six if you don’t count Japan. Japan was like a special bonus situation.
Tell me more about adjusting to filming.
Well being around human beings for me definitely took a bit of adjusting after being cooped up at home. Once we got into the groove of it. I’m not allowed to talk about the [new guests] but there’s definitely a lot of beautiful and heartbreaking stories, not only with what the experience has been for people during COVID and how their lives have changed, but also how the storm has affected them that hit Texas right before we started filming.
How much had you seen the other four of the Fab Five during COVID?
I did a little work thing with Jonathan [Van Ness] when he was in New York but the rest of them … Jen (Jennifer) Lane, our wonderful showrunner really wanted to document that first moment of all of us being together. We got to capture that and it was definitely exciting and emotional. Since the show [first] came out, we spent in a matter of two and a half years, five or six seasons together. We saw a lot of each other. Then to have a full year of not seeing each other at all, you miss them. They become like your family.
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