Bravo's The Real Housewives of New York City Season 9 is giving us the best present the reality TV show gods could give a gal obsessed with the inner workings of the Big Apple's socialite scene: Tinsley Mortimer. For those already in the know, please feel free to squeal a little bit as you make sure to have your fridge stocked with rosé and party snacks for Wednesday's ninth season premiere on April 5. If you've somehow had better things to do than gawk at New York City gossip columns for the past decade, you might be wondering who RHONY newcomer Tinsley Mortimer is and what all the fuss is about. Where, oh where, to begin?
The basics, first. So, Tinsley is not from NYC originally. She was born into the Mercer family in Virginia, who are supposedly related to Thomas Jefferson. She attended boarding school in New Jersey, at Lawrenceville Prep, which is one of the top elite schools in the country and where she met her equally old-money first husband, Topper Mortimer, whose family founded Standard Oil. It's like a contemporary Edith Wharton story, right? It gets better.
After attending Columbia University and getting a degree in art history, Tinsley became an "It Girl." Like, as a career. Sure, she did a few various jobs, RHONY-style as an event planner and Vogue beauty assistant, parlaying that socialite status into a personal Tory Burch-style brand, but really, she's best known for being everywhere with "anyone who's anyone" in NYC. She even had a cameo playing on this status in Gossip Girl's Season 2 premiere (where Jenny meets her in the Hamptons).
She had a widely publicized divorce from Topper and moved to Palm Beach, Florida, where she started dating the decade younger Alexander “Nico” Fanjul, the son of a sugar baron. They had a very, very rocky relationship. She alleged abuse, he alleged abuse. She was even arrested for trespassing on her then somewhat estranged husband's property while his new girlfriend was there. According to The New York Post's Page Six, Mortimer was reportedly found, "crying and screaming irrationally."
Since then, she's slowly rebuilt her fallen "It Girl" reputation by writing a book, launching a handbag and clothing line, and most recently becoming a beauty ambassador for Dior. With support from her friend, and RHONY cast member, Sonja Morgan, Tinsley moved back to New York City in 2016, which is where we will get catch up with her to see what she's up to.
Tinsley will be living with Morgan this season and there have been reports that early on, Ramona Singer takes an issue with Tinsley's houseguest etiquette, which means we're definitely in store for some classic Ramona confrontations with the famous socialite. The egos of the RHONY cast know no bounds, but Tinsley Mortimer is a New York City institution. There's no doubt that she'll be laying some claim to her former playground and put some of the other cast members in their place.
Get in formation, #TeamTinsley, this is not a drill.