The New York Times, 04/18/2012
"I'm not an unkind person," says Trudie Styler, "but by the same token, I'm not a people-pleaser."
DURING a visit to India to celebrate her 50th birthday, Trudie Styler consulted a seer. Recently, she recalled the episode, highlighted by a reading of her Vedic chart, with mock incredulity. "Oh, madam, by golly, this chart is very unique,' " she was told. " 'By 2012, you could be asking for the Taj Mahal — and you would get it.' "
At the time, she was unmoved. "I was thinking, 'What would I do with a mausoleum?' " she said.
What indeed? Now 58, Ms. Styler is mistress not only of a spacious aerie on Central Park West, where she sat serving guests espresso last week, but also of six lavish homes scattered from London to Los Angeles; she owns a wardrobe that Eva Perón might have envied, her Versace-sheathed comings and goings tirelessly documented by a doting fashion press. And invitations to her charity balls are among the most coveted in town.
She also makes movies, sells organic produce farmed on her various estates and has raised four comely children, ages 17 to 28, the offspring of her 30-year relationship with and 20-year marriage to (but you knew this) Gordon Sumner, a k a Sting, the sinewy pop idol. At 60 still a magnet to besotted fans, he is her rock: subsidizing her gilt-edged life and flaunting her virtues as if by rote. "When I met her, she was beautiful," he said the other day, breezing in from their terrace, which overlooks Central Park West. "But then I figured out that she was smart, much smarter than me."
And yet for Ms. Styler — who has fashioned herself as an unlikely hybrid of charity-driven social diva and, yes, brainy jill-of-all- trades — too much, it seems, is never enough. Earlier this month, she pulled off the latest of her social coups, producing her biennial benefit for the Rainforest Foundation, which she and Sting founded in the late 1980s, flexing her skills as a celebrity wrangler to persuade, among others, Meryl Streep, Elton John, James Taylor and Bruno Mars to belt out show tunes at Carnegie Hall.
Afterward, at a dinner and live auction at the Pierre Hotel, Bill Clinton, Ms. Styler's guest of honor, mingled with Aretha Franklin and Tom Hanks, then ogled Jennifer Hudson, prying his eyes away just long enough to explain what had induced him to come. "Sting and Trudie and I have been friends for a long time," Mr. Clinton said, stealing a glance at his hostess, whose clingy white Pucci gown showed the outline of her underwear. Oh, and yes, "I believe in their cause."
Ms. Styler, it seems, can embrace any cause with a vengeance. "If I'm connected to an idea, it just doesn't let me go," she said the other day. "All I have to do is catch up to the image in my head by doing the practical steps to get there."
At the moment those practical steps revolve as well around shaking the perception that she is little more than the fashion plate, unregenerate gadabout and celebrity consort best known to New Yorkers as Mrs. Sting.
She has engaged the high-powered publicist Matthew Hiltzik, whose clients have included Harvey Weinstein, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Katie Couric, to promote her achievements.
As a Unicef ambassador, her official biography states, Ms. Styler helped transfer hundreds of Ecuadorean children from the dumpsites where they worked to new schools. She has also aided in the installation of water filtration tanks in the area. The rain forest event, sponsored by Revlon this year, took in some $3 million, according to Sting, much of it earmarked for the rescue of the Amazonian jungle.
A health and fitness evangelist, Ms. Styler also makes wine on her estate in Tuscany and has turned her passion for the downward dog into profit, producing six yoga DVDs, the latest one distributed in overstuffed gift bags to her guests at the Pierre.
And that is the upside. These days Ms. Styler seems just as sharply focused on exerting a little damage control. In London, Trudie-baiting has been something of a blood sport, dating roughly from the time when Ms. Styler spirited Sting away from his first wife (and her neighbor), Frances Tomelty, an actress.
Today journalists routinely take aim at her high-consumption way of life, one that encompasses not just the half-dozen homes (one of which is an 800-acre estate in Wiltshire, England) but a personal entourage including a chef, a private secretary and a hairdresser who travels with her everywhere. A life, in short, that is glaringly at odds with her image as socially conscious Granola Lady.