The event designer is best pals with Taylor Armstrong, wears couture and collects Barbie dolls

By Dahvi Shira
Updated July 28, 2011 03:40 PM
Richard McLaren/Bravo

She helped Taylor Armstrong throw a $60,000 tea party for her daughter Kennedy’s fourth birthday on season one of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Now, event planner Dana Wilkey, who happens to be a friend of Armstrong, is joining the cast of Bravo’s hit reality show.

The USC grad, 37, is the proud mom to her 22-month-old son John Cayden Flynn, and is planning her wedding for next year. Although loved ones and the glitz and glamour of 90210 surround her, Wilkey is at heart a goofball who experienced tragedy at a young age. Here’s what you should know about Wilkey:

1. She’s helping Armstrong through her split
“I can’t say enough wonderful things about her,” Wilkey tells PEOPLE of Armstrong, who was by her side during an interview. “She’s just the most beautiful person. She’s really focusing on Kennedy right now and surrounding herself with really good friends. She’s just focusing on being a good mom.”

2. She collects Barbie dolls as a hobby
“I’m in love with Barbie,” Wilkey says, explaining that she began collecting them when she was young, after her mom’s fatal car accident. “She used to buy me a doll every year. So it kind of brings me back to when I was little. I felt so close to my mom.” Wilkey, who has been collecting the dolls for 20 years, says her “awesome” set includes “some really limited edition” dolls.

3. She’s especially fascinated by the human psyche
“I study the brain,” Wilkey says. “I know that’s really weird, but I read books about the brain. So when my friends call me and they’re like, ‘I’m really in love with this guy,’ I’m like, ‘No you’re not. Your hypothalamus is overreacting.’ ”

4. She’s always designer-clad, but isn’t fashion-forward
“Couture is such a pleasure to wear if you can,” says Wilkey, who spends a lot of time on Rodeo Drive. “If you can afford it, it’s a cool feeling. Most people can remember when they bought their first couture purse. I’m kind of a brand-w–.” But even in her designer duds, she admits she isn’t inherently stylish. “My fashion sense only goes so far,” she says. “If it’s Christian Dior, it probably looks good.”

5. She has a silly side
“I have Dana-isms,” Wilkey says, explaining that viewers will get a better idea of her own language when they see her on the show. “People make fun of the way I talk sometimes. I don’t know if it’s because what I say sounds silly or because I make up words. There are things I call people. It’s very funny.”

The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills returns to Bravo Sept. 5.