For me, Old Navy will always be an American institution. In fact, I can’t think of my high school wardrobe without some of my Old Navy classics. (Let me remind you I went to a public high school in Missouri, where khakis were worn to formals and I rented a tuxedo for prom.) Old Navy launched their active wear line recently, and they asked me to help them show off some of their chic, affordably priced gym gear. So, we figured, what else is an American institution? Boxing. Me and my buddy Jessica Hart got our punch on in Tompkins Square Park in New York City’s East Village with fitnessman extraordinaire Eric Kelly. The lesson I learned right from the start? It’s almost impossible to fix one’s hair whilst wearing boxing gloves. Check out our video above.
They say New York is the city that never sleeps for a reason. I took solace in knowing that on any given evening in this town, there’s an open bar somewhere. Last night was a doozy. It was one of those times when, as the party gods would have it, everyone picked the same time to do their thing. Perhaps there are just too many fabulous people in New York doing fabulous things? Case in point: This was a random Tuesday and my schedule included a 7pm dinner celebrating Chloe’s new store and designer Clare Waight Keller in Tribeca, then the launch of a denim line from my good buddy Karlie Kloss in the Village, a 10 year anniversary dinner for those great guys Jack and Lazaro from Proenza Schouler, and finally an after party for Sofia Coppola’s film The Bling Ring.
I’m an ambitious young man, so I tried to do it all. How did I fare? Well, I was the first person to the Chloe dinner. The room was almost empty when I got there, which was good because I didn’t have to wait at the bar for a drink. (Only Diet Coke’s though, to start the evening. The trick is to pace yourself.) I sat with my pal Dree and her boyfriend and we had a giggle, and then it was off to Karlie’s dinner, which was feting her new Forever Karlie jeans line, which is in collaboration with Swedish denim giant Frame. Things were in full swing when I got there, but I was happy to sit down and have some food. (That’s my second tip: You can’t forget to actually eat at these things.) I was sat next to Karlie, so I knew that when I snuck out with Giovanna my seat wouldn’t be empty for long.
We hurried up to Mark Lee’s house for the Proenza Schouler anniversary party. (Mark Lee, the CEO of Barney’s, lives in a penthouse in my favorite building in Chelsea. Every time I go there for a party, I wonder why I didn’t work in retail.) I’ve known Jack and Lazaro for years, and it’s hard to believe their company is 10 years old. But then, it’s also hard to believe they are opening stores, have accessories lines, and built an entire empire for themselves. (So, if the retail didn’t work out, maybe I should have been a designer?) I’m happy for those guys. Good things happen to good people. And finally, we tried to swing by the Bling Ring party at the Jane Hotel, which was hosted by Louis Vuitton and Vanity Fair. But when we got there, I found a Sofia. But it was Sofia Sanchez. Not Coppola. But she was at the bar, which made everything better.
I was a very lucky boy to be back in Venice for a second time in less than a month, this time for the Venice Biennale, the arts fair extravaganza that takes over the sinking city every two years. (I was in Venice a few weeks back with Louis Vuitton, which you can read about here.) But before anyone begrudges my fortunate travel plans, at least allow me to say that it was chilly and rainy nearly every day I was there. Though, as I tweeted, even when it’s cold and wet, Venice is still the most magical city in the world.
I was at the Biennale this year for a few reasons. The first is that my friends Milla Jovovich and Tara Subkoff had collaborated for a piece they called ‘Failure to Connect,’ which was inspired by Herbert Marcuse’s quote: “The people recognize themselves in their commodities; they find their soul in their automobile, hi-fi set, split-level home, kitchen equipment.” So, for six hours, Milla sat in a glass house that Urs Fischer had constructed in a small garden on the Grand Canal and ordered more and more materiaslic commodities, which were dumped on her. By the end of the installation, she was literally drowning in her purchases. “For me Milla embodies the ‘future’ as a woman who understands technology and the cyber world. This was a hugely important factor in this work as it is a depiction of the not so distant future,” Tara explained. “This was a dream of what the future might look like if we only live inside our glass house ordering online and having our lives turn into one big long live feed of what we are ordering. And advertising. Even advertising ourselves through tweeting and Instagraming. There may be no more authentic experiences.”
The other reasons for a Venice excursion? Well, I was already in Europe after the Cannes film festival and an opening for Francesco Vezzoli at the Maxxi Museum in Rome. I was excited for the Biennale, though I didn’t get to spend as much time there as I had hoped because it kept raining on me. (And there’s only one thing to do when it rains in Venice: Find the nearest café and eat some carbs.) I will say the most widely discussed piece at the Biennale was Ragnar Kjartansson´s S.S. Hangover, which consisted of a four piece marching band blasting jazz tunes on the back of a boat stuck in the Giardini at the Arsenale. Perhaps my favorite thing at this year’s Biennale wasn’t even part of the Biennale. Édouard Manet’s Olympia was back in Olympia, hanging next to Titian’s Venus of Urbino, which inspired the work. The Manet show was sensational. The Financial Times had a brilliant piece on the show, and seeing it in the flesh didn’t disappoint. And lastly, it’s Venice. Who really needs an excuse to go there?
Beyond the art, there is the social element of the Biennale. There are parties in nearly every palazzo, which can be fun but also overwhelming. Believe me, if my oft partners in crime Petey and Harry Brant think there’s too much going on, there’s just too much going on. Which isn’t to say we didn’t have fun. Francois Pinault did his annual dinner on the small island of San Giorgio Maggiore, which was decadent and surreal. And Purple Magazine had a party at a teeny, tiny palazzo near the train station. The highlight of that party? When Gavin Brown did his own mini-installation and stood up on a table and threw his plate of race across the room, smashing it against a wall. (See, packed schedules make people hostile.) However, when I wasn’t socializing or getting my art on, I spent a few hours at my favorite place in the world: The Cipriani’s Hotel in Venice. It’s a little slice of paradise.
The Manet exhibit is up until August 18th, and the Venice Biennale’s exhibitions will be on display until November 24th. (The New York Times did a fabulous review of this year’s Biennale, which you can see here.)
Captions, from top: In a shower of rose petals on the Grand Canal; Marc Quinn’s work on San Giorgio Maggiore, where the Pinault dinner was held; Harry and Milla at Tara’s dinner; Tara and Urs, new crushes; Lola Schnabel and Ginevra Elkann at Tara’s installation; Petey in repose; me and Chris Brenner; the ultimate host with the most, Chris Bollen serving drinks; Milla in her installation; a expectedly unexpected art piece in the street; my purchase in Venice: a gondolier’s hat, which I love; not quite clear skies, but still gorgeous; a Venetian traffic jam; Princess Gloria von Thurn and Taxis; me and Margherita Missoni; a couple of cute locals, Enrico and Mattia; Venice gives good ceilings; Manet’s ‘Olympia’; Purple’s Olivier Zahm; me with Milla’s daughter Ever, who was the most gorgeous work of art in all of Venice.
I’ve actually never been to the Oscars ceremony in LA, but I’m pretty sure it’s not as fun as the Council of Fashion Designers of America Awards here in New York. (And if you don’t believe me, you can ask the lovely and amazing Jessica Chaistain, who said as much last night.) Yet, that’s what the CFDA’s are called: The East Coast Oscars. They’re the most prestigious award in the fashion industry, which drew the big wigs out last night: Jessica presented Riccardo Tisci of Givenchy with the International Award, Linda Evangelista gave my former Style.com buddy Tim Blanks the Media Award for excellence in journalism (and it was clear to see how wonderful a writer he is with his touching speech), Ethan Hawke gave costume designer Colleen Atwood the Board of Director’s Tribute and none other than Ralph Lauren presented Vera Wang with the Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award. But truly, the highlight was seeing Hilary Clinton take the stage to present Oscar de la Renta the Founders Award. I’ve never considered myself a die hard Hilary Clinton fan, but my opinion was tipped last night. She was self effacing and composed. She made jokes about her penchant for pantsuits, even suggesting a reality show called ‘Project Pantsuit.’ And when Oscar took the stage to say that she would be our president in 2016, she stood there graciously and with such composure I thought to myself that, yeah, I’d probably vote for her too.
Those awards were given to people who knew they were getting them, but there were some competition awards too. I was beaming from ear to ear when Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez from Proenza Schouler, a couple of boys I’ve known for more than a decade now (scary! We’re old!), took home the top prize for womenswear. Thom Browne won the menswear prize, and accepted the award in a pair of tuxedo shorts, which is a look I was rocking with Louis Vuitton in Shanghai last summer. (Just sayin’, Thom! Haha!) Phillip Lim took home the award for accessories, and then the Swarovski newcomer awards went to Erin Beatty and Max Osterweis of Suno for womenswear, Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne of Public School for menswear and Pamela Love for accessories.
I will say this about the CFDA Awards: They are a marathon and not a sprint. Actually, in my case, since I had just gotten off a plane from London, it was more of an Iron Man. You have to be dressed and pressed at 630pm, and this year there were three post events. First was Vera Wang, who was nice enough to give us some food, in the Pool Room of the Four Seasons restaurant on 52nd Street. It’s one of the most marvelous rooms in New York, which couldn’t have been more different from the vibe at the Westway, a former strip club turned sort-of-still-strip club on the Westside Highway, where Riccardo was having his after party. In between that was the obligatory cameo at the Boom Boom Room. Clearly. There were drinks and dancing and merriment. Because, as I said before, if there’s one thing that fashion people know how to do, it’s have fun. Jeez, you still don’t believe me? Check out some of this pictures:
Captions, from the top: Riccardo with Jessica, Marina Abramovic and Lauren Santo Domingo; Vera and Bee Schaffer; Jen Meyer and Nicole Richie; some handsome fellows, Dan Stevens, Andy Cohen and Douglas Booth (you can read my cover story on Douglas Booth from an issue of VMAN here); Michael Kors with his dates for the night, Karolina Kurkova and Cody Horn; Lauren, Lazaro and Jack; Tim and his partner Jeff; Hilary Clinton on stage with Oscar de la Renta; Adriana Lima not having it; Candice and Prabal; Lily and Alessandra; Erin Wasson and Alexander Wang; TeenVogue’s Amy Astley with J Crew’s Jenna Lyons; Cynthia Rowley with Lindsey Vohn; Tory Burch and Kristina O’Neill; Ladyfag and a bunch of boys outside Westway; Vogue’s cover girl Kate Upton and Riccardo; me and Jessica; the best posers of the past two decades: Linda Evangelista and Karlie Kloss.
“Cannes you handle it?” Oh yes, there are many puns that one can associate with the Cannes Film Festival, the two weeks of glitz and glamour that take place every May. But handle it, we did. My favorite part of this year’s festival was the prevalence of fashion people, of good friends. And though it felt like fashion week with a packed schedule of cocktail parties and dinners, friends like Karlie, Joan, Rosie, Cara and Lily didn’t have a slew of fittings and shows. So, essentially, we could kill it in Cannes. Milla Jovovich, a seasoned pro at the festival, showed us the ropes (meet at the Martinez) and when to leave (which, unfortunately, we didn’t listen to).
The festivities were bookended by The Great Gatsby’s opening night party, a swell affair which would have been swell-er had it not rained, and the amFAR benefit, which was unique because the full spectrum of style was represented, from couture to Eurotrash. Apart from chauvinistic chubby old men trying to outbid each other (but it all goes to charity, so it’s OK), the highlight of the amFAR gala was the fashion show that Carine Roitfeld put together. The theme was gold, so there she was along the runway, cheering on not just the supermodels that had flown in for her, but also fashion favorites like her daughter Julia, Giovanna Battaglia and Anna Dello Russo. I witnessed an minute with Harvey Weinstein backstage, seeing a sweeter side of the notoriously not sweet man when he seemed genuinely committed to getting people to auction off those lots. And well done to amFAR, which raised more than 25million Euros (as in not dollars) at this year’s festivities.
Oh yeah, there were movies too. The highlights of my schedule were The Great Gatsby, The Bling Ring and, a personal favorite, Behind the Candelabra, the Liberace film starring Michael Douglas in opera drag and Matt Damon as his surgically altered, drug addicted lover. I’ve already given my two cents about the Gatsby with a review on this blog a few weeks ago, but to see it again was to get back on the Baz Luhrman Express for yet another colorful, saturated, optically exhausting trip. A personal highlight of this Cannes trip was sitting next to Elizabeth Dubicki at a dinner the night before the premiere, and discovering that the Aussie is just as sweet as she is sophisticated. Cate Blanchet: watch yo back!
The Bling Ring was a harder pill to swallow, merely because Sofia Coppola’s pace is so much slower and Cannes is permeated with a sense of frenzy. Seeing it the night after Gatsby was like going to a piano recital after spending the entire previous evening rolling your face off at a rave. But I adore Sofia’s brand of filmmaking, and this film had a few elements that she omitted from her previous cinematic effort, Somewhere. Notably, there was suspense and action and, to which I hope rich absentee parents around the world will take note of, a moral lesson. Much kudos too to Emma Watson, who did a truly marvelous performance playing a spoiled, delusional, self-promotional brat. As a friend described her performance, it was a convincing bit of American drag. And, may I just say, she looked marvelous in her mini skirts and temporary (at least they had better been temporary!) tattoos.
What is there left to say about Behind the Candelabra? My first though in seeing that film is that Matt Damon may be the most underrated actor of this generation. He was fantastic, playing both a hopeful, starry-eyed 17-year-old (which, for a man in his 40’s, is impressive enough) and a cracked out, bitter ex-boyfriend. He wore face prosthetics. And a thong. Acting! Michael Douglas was sensational too, playing a bedazzled, blinged out Liberace. And soon after the film starts and we see their affair take off, you forget that these are married men. You believe them. More acting! I will never understand how this film, with those two big stars and two of their best performances, landed in the hands of HBO. (Was the subject matter too gay? Perhaps, in a world where gays cannot still get married.) But then, this may be a good thing because those who would be afraid to go up to a movie theater and ask for two tickets to quite possibly the gayest film ever made can now see it in the comfort of their homes. Or closets, more precisely.
Captions, from top: Which one is not like the others? Milla, Joan, me, Lily and Rosie; Jessica Chastain, the queen of Cannes, with me and Karlie; Joan on the red carpet at the Behind the Candelabra premiere; my new crush, Elizabeth Dubicki; Cara and her new Leo the Lion tattoo; Harvey, the King of Cannes, and Rosie; Natalia in an Ulyana Sergeenko couture dress; Wendi Murdoch and Brian Grazer at the Gatsby afterparty; Isla Fischer, Jen Meyer and Dasha; Florence Welch onstage at the Gatsby party, and she was phenomenal; the wondrous Dita von Teese; Giovanna at the amFAR afterparty, with a friend; Olympia and Pucci’s Peter Dundas; Joan Smalls with Bubble, our mascot in Cannes; Rosie gives good frame; a surprise appearance from Mark Ronson; lapping it up with Carine and Rosie; Jess Hart in Alaia; Adrian Brody being THAT guy on a motorcycle; Karlie coming down to Gianluca Passi’s level; Stacy Keibler gives good body; Milla, learning how to do an over the shoulder from Chris Brenner; Carine Roitfeld cheering on her daughter Julia on the amFAR runway; Zach Quinto and I book ending the beauties Toni Garrn, Karlie and Joan; me having an intimate moment with my friends Rosie and Joan; Christian Louboutin on the lawn, playing photographer; the image of me, Karlie and Dasha that he caught.
Who remembers ASmallWorld? I remember joining the social networking site sometime after Friendster, which I was an early adapter to, and before Facebook, which I’ve only been on for about a year. Most of my posh, toffy English friends were on it, and I wanted to fit in. The website sort of fell through the cracks in recent years with the onslaught of so many other social networking sites and apps (can someone please explain to me what the hell Snapchat is, and what the point is of sending a picture you can’t keep is?), but it’s making a comeback. The site has a new chairman, Patrick Liotard-Vogt, who is teaming up with its CEO Sabine Heller to remind people that ASmallWorld is a fun world. And they’re not messing around: This weekend, they brought a slew of fun, fabulous folks to Marrekech to celebrate the site’s relaunch. Why Marrakech? Because, I was told, it’s the chicest travel destination and still authentic. Sure, I’ll take it.
I missed the first night because of a few obligations in New York, which was a shame because that’s when the snake charmers came out. But I more than made up for it in the following days, which had me riding camels (they stink and they spit, but aren’t they adorable?), drinking mint tea that was so sugary I think I have diabetes and at least a few cavaties, and stalking the local souks for some tangines that I will bring home but never cook out of. It was a good casting too. Olivia Wilde was beautiful, charming and non-annoyingly passionate about sex trafficking activism; Dianna Agron is sweet and a wonderful swing dancing companion; and there were even a few unexpected rocker chick moments, courtesy of Alison MOsshart and the legendary Marianne Faithful. (You could hear the latter’s raspy growl all through the pool of the Taj Palace Hotel, not that anyone was complaining.) Another important moment: The return of DJ Duo Harley Viera Netwon and Cassie Coane. Cassie came out of her two year retirement for this gig. It had been a long time since I harassed them about playing my requests (who doesn’t have Ricky Martin on their playlist!?) from the floors of such sophisticated hunts in New York as Lit and Avenue. So it seemed the paradise of Northern Africa was a good place for a nostalgic reunion.
Captions, from top: The view from my room at the Taj Palace; Olivia Wilde and Kick Kennedy kicking it at dinner; Alison and Dianna at cocktail hour; the girls at the pool, from left: Natalie, Laura, Laure, Josephine, Valentine and Harley; Natasha Lyonne and I getting our humps on; Catherine Baba and the great Marianne Faithful; Waris and Meredith; Alison at a restaurant that taught her how to work a candelabra hat; Atlanta in repose; The Baba in her poolside look; Andrew and Natasha; The lovely Love’s, Nathalie and Laura; Sabine and friend; mint tea for the ladies Mary Charteris and reunited DJ duo Harley and Cassie; Valentine and Josephine on the dancefloor; Waris and another friend; Henry Holland at sunset; Henry, David, Poppy, James and I in the hotel’s top secret (and empty) disco; Laure and Lily; Ben and Chelsea; a disgruntled nut seller in the market; Cassie’s party trick is poorly balancing a drink on her head; Ashley Avignone’s flower toss on the dance floor; me and the most beautiful Dianna
Last weekend was a doozy. In fact, I’m still recovering. (Apologies for the delayed nature of this post, but I couldn’t get myself together any sooner.) I am fatigued from the fashions. In merely 72 hours of each other, I had my own birthday party and the Met ball. I can’t say they were equally glamorous — Anna Wintour, you beat me again! — but both involved costumes, dancing, high drama and the imbibing of spirits.
I love a good theme, and so does Giovanna Battaglia, the stylist who threw my birthday party at home with her boyfriend, Vladimir Roitfeld. We had been trying to think of a good theme party for months now, and my birthday seemed like a good enough excuse. (But even if I wasn’t born a Taurus, I think Gio would have still thrown this party.) It was her idea to do a 60’s theme, so we settled on Peter Sellers’ seminal 1968 film The Party as the inspiration. I was happy because I’m always looking for an excuse to wear a turban with a jewel on it. And lucky for a few of my girlfriends – Karlie Kloss, Lauren Santo Domingo, Jacqui Getty, Anne Hathaway, Kristina O’Neill and Giovanna among them – Marc Jacobs turned to the 1960’s for his spring collections of both Marc Jacobs and Louis Vuitton, so they’re costumes were sorted. The focal point of the evening was an eight foot tall pink elephant made of carnations, a present from my friend Fabiola Beracasa. And the whole thing came together under the watchful eye of my Southern sister Rebecca Gardner.
The rest of the weekend was a bit of a blur: Lauren did a dinner for Balmain’s Olivier Rousteing the next night, followed by the Dolce & Gabbana store opening; and then on the Sunday night I went to the Rihanna concert. She was late, of course, and would grab her crotch on every song, even the ballads, but I still love her music. Then it was back in drag for Monday night’s Met gala. Surely, you’ve seen some pictures from the Met. (And if you haven’t, go to www.vogue.com right now because they have hundreds and hundreds of the best ones from the night.) The Met gala has been referred to as the East Coast Oscars because Hollywood teams up with the New York fashion crowd for a night of glamour and excess. This year was more fabulous than last, but not as fabulous as next year. There were afterparties at the Boom Boom Room and Giancarlo Giammetti’s house. No one went home without aching feet and eyes exhausted by the splender.
I was quite proud of my ensemble this year. The theme was ‘PUNK: From Chaos to Couture.’ So my friend Taylor Tomasi Hill commandeered me a last minute harness, and then my friends at MAC came over to apply some temporary tattoos to my hands and neck. I had PUNK on my right knuckles and THIS on my left. (I had thought of a variety of four-word options, but I thought those were the most appropriate.)
It was one of those weekends in New York that just feels kinetic. Annie Hathaway went from brunette to platinum blonde from my birthday to the Met, for example. People know that the aesthetic stakes are high. How high? Let’s just say that I had to use paint thinner to remove my tattoos. It stung like hell, but it was worth it. For the record, I’m not just talking about the paint thinner here.
Every time I come to LA, I ask myself the same question: Why doesn’t everyone live here? I was there for over a week and didn’t see a single rain drop. I was drenched in sun and sunny people. I saw friends and their babies and had long lunches of healthy food and went on hikes and bought a whitening toothpaste. If that’s not paradise, I don’t know what is.
I flew straight to LA from Venice, where I was with Louis Vuitton. It was no easy commute, let me tell you. But oh, was it worth it! After changing into a Gucci floral suit in the confines of a tiny airport toilet, I went straight from the airport to the MOCA gala, which had a fabulous Hans Ulrich show. Robert Pruitt designed bongs because it was 4/20 (don’t worry, Mom, I didn’t partake) and me and Harry Brant tried to climb a giant inflatable panda bear that was a sign for the portable toilets. There was a marching band and then a performance from the Go Go’s. I got home a little worse for wear, with all my luggage, to bunk at my friend Jacqui Getty’s house.
Jacqui is, essentially, the mother hen of all wayward West Coast youths. She is kind and compassionate and hysterical. She also knows how to throw a mean Mexican themed birthday party, which she did for me. (The bar was set high for her, especially after my ‘country bumpkin couture’ birthday party. Did you see the videos from that? Or did you see the sweet Polaroids that Karlie Kloss took for me at the party?) She opened her home – and a bunch of tequila bottles – to the coolest, sweetest, funnest girls on the planet. Even the legendary Linda Ramone came dressed in a red velvet cape, Cavalli tiara, and she gave me a birthday present I always wanted: Beverly Hills Hotel pajamas. My worst best friend Kelly Sawyer brought a cake with the best worst picture of me on it. I can’t thank Jacqui enough for that party.
The day after my birthday party I did something that would become an often event for me in LA: I changed my flight. I was having too much fun. Besides, Armani was having a party on Thursday. (I later changed my flight for another friend’s birthday, and because I wanted one last hike up Runyon Canyon. What? It was the weekend.) And who wants to miss an Armani party? It was in celebration of Sean Penn’s relief efforts in Haiti, and the actor made a speech that was touching – and probably horrifying for his publicist. He praised Hugo Chavez and made jokes about being a single man. His best line: Actors in Hollywood know how to get narcotics, but not in bulk.
The next night was a dinner for the photographer Brian Bowen-Smith that Marc Jacobs hosted. My friend Selma Blair’s face was on the T-shirt, which the waiters were all wearing. Somehow, I came home with three of them. The Los Angeles excitement didn’t end there: The following day, my friend Milla did a bar-b-que where I ate my body weight in kebabs and that night was Jessica Alba’s birthday party. A fellow Taurus. Is it just me, or is there a disproportionate amount of birthdays this time of year? What was happening nine months ago? Summer loving?
Like all passionate love affairs, however, this one too came to an end. Toward the end of the week, the LA veneer started to wear thin. I got lost in the underground garage of CAA’s Death Star of a building. On my way to the Paramount Lot for Armani’s cocktail party there was so much traffic I thought I was going to explode into a puddle of anxiety. (I hate when little old ladies walking down the street faster are going faster than you are in a car.) And after a week, I was tired of having kale salads for dinner at 7pm and being the only one who ordered dessert while everyone else was talking about stem cell facials. Though, to be fair, I will say that the lady who told me about them – and you know who you are – did have fabulously taunt skin.
I flew back to New York to a grey sky and grey days. And just as soon as I thought I was over LA, I missed again. Which only means I need to find a new excuse to go back. Anyone have any birthdays coming up?
Captions, from top: Me with a bevy of birthday babes, including Kiki D, Kelly, Nicole, Jessica, Rachel and Lauren; the worst best cake ever; Terry and China at MOCA; Harry and a panda; Cyrpien on a refridgerator; me with my favorite English flowers, Poppy and Lily; Milla and some bubbly; Nicole’s fake ‘I like you’ face; Linda and JD; Dianna and Byrdie; PC and JT (they like initials); Alessandra; kisses for Mario and RJ; the outdoor dinner table; Patrik with two Getty’s, Rosetta and Jacqui; Joy and Sam Ronson; Dianna and me; Gela and John Taylor; Noah Mills, the most handsome handy man that ever existed; Sam giving me a kiss, much to the surprise of Kelly and Jessica; the one and only Kiki D; Natalie and my wife Gia; a group shot of boys being boys; an ‘I’m a Little Teapot’ inspired selfie at Runyon Canyon; Liz and Alex Olsen, the supremo skater, at the Armani event; Sean Penn and Josh; Fergie, Rachel and me at dinner; Frankie and Miley at Marc’s dinner; Selma and Selma’s face; Milla, a BBQ hostess with the mostest; my college friend Dagny is all grown up with her hubby Cory and baby Hazel; me and Hazie; Tara and Amanda at Milla’s BBQ; Kelly and Hilary in the lawn; last call, literally, at Jess’ birthday
Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice was never my favorite play. With Shylock going on and on about “”Hath not a Jew eyes?” Too controversial. Give me a tragic love story any day. (That reminds me: How can we make sure that Baz Luhrman’s The Great Gatsby is more like Romeo + Juliet and less like Australia? But I digress.) While it may not be my favorite play, Venice is without a doubt one of my favorite cities. The history, the sinking, the drama. The only thing I don’t like is the tourists, which I know is outrageously hypocritical since I am one.
I’ve been to Venice a fair share of times: Off the top of my head I can remember coming for a school trip in high school, for a Chanel show with Karl Lagerfeld and for two Venice Bienale’s. And oh, once for the Venice Film Festival, which my friend, Interview editor Christopher Bollen, made the world’s most embarrassing film of our Venetian adventures. (You can watch it here. But be warned. It’s amazing.) Every time I come I fall in love with it all over again.
This most recent trip was with the fine folks at Louis Vuitton. As an avid reader of this blog will attest, I’m a fan of Louis Vuitton’s entertaining capacities. In the past few years, I’ve gone with the French luxury label to Shanghai, Sao Paulo and Rome, and all of the adventures are chronicled on MrBlasberg.com. This excursion was just as wonderful. The first night was a religious experience. Literally. We had a private tour of the cathedral in the Piazza San Marco, with it’s gilded domes. We sat on the floor and they warmed the lights so that the gilded glow bounced off the centuries old mosaics like fire flies. I’m not the most religious man, and I’m certainly not a Catholic. But I would go to mass every day if I lived in Venice. We had a fabulous tour guide who kept us well informed on the history of the church, and a little bit of spicy gossip. Did you know that some scholars believe that it’s not the body of Mark in the tomb, but of Alexander the Great?
The new Louis Vuitton store is outrageous. In a city where most shops are the size of postage stamps, this one is four floors of shiny, delicious retail space. On the last night, they hosted a dinner for in the royal halls of Princess Sissi, which were covered in brocaded satin and centuries old murals from Grand Masters. As an American who is used to traveling abroad and feeling like our nation’s history is dwarfed by Europe, I felt infantile in these lush surroundings.
Some of my favorite people were on this trip too, like Dianna Agron. So sweet, so pretty. Even as a red head. Ha! Clemence Posey is divine too. Even though she’s French. Ha, ha! The Italians too were in full force, like Coco Brandolini, Anna Dello Russo, Luisa Orsini and Antonine Peduzzi. And I met new friends, like the dreamy and gregarious Englishman Christian Cooke and some nutter English girl called Bip, a handsome local Italiano called Mattia and my friend Dree’s punk and pretty little sister Langley Hemingway. We drank red wine, ate fish and went on a vodka-searching mission over bridges and under buildings to find outrageously adorable holes in the walls. It’s sad to leave Venice, but the good part of leaving that place is knowing that you’ll come back.
Captions, from top: Sunset on the Grand Canal; Dianna and Christian, a lovely couple if there ever was one; Micole, Anna and Candela in their Vuitton finest; a sweet canal; Mattia, Christian and me; Coco in San Marco; Clemence at the Hotel Bauer; me and Antonine getting frisky; the spot where Peggy Guggenheim, who founded such a wonderful museum in Venice, was laid to rest, next to her 14 doggies; the gilded ceiling of the Cathedral; Langley and Luisa in the Sissi Apartments; Vivi Courtin Clarins reading up in the new Vuitton store; the chicest transportation; the one and only Bip; Lizzy, Alexia and Delfina staying dry on a freak rain shower; the story of Genesis told in gold in the foyer of the Cathedral; Dianna and Maggie; Piazza San Marco at sunrise.
I’ve been a very lucky pal of Dita von Teese this week. First, I saw her perform her infamous feathers and birdcage routine in Sao Paulo. And while we were down there, she said she was doing a surprise appearance a few days later in Brooklyn. Intrigued, I said I’d go. I showed up at the Musical Hall of Williamsburg to discover she was making an expected cameo at a Mika concert. That Mika. So cute and talented. An added thrill? It was the first time that Dita has ever incorporated her voice into a performance. (Burlesque is all about the body, darling.) Mika’s suggestion on Dita’s performance: She leave the Michigan in her voice because, well, you can’t hate a girl with a body like this if she has a voice like that. So, behold Ms. von Teese coming out and taking off as an added visual for Mika’s hit song, Big Girls.