I felt like a schoolboy playing hookie: This season, I skipped Paris fashion week to be in LA, replacing fashion with art and the Academy Awards. There are a few reasons for this, mind you. First of all, the artist Taryn Simon had an opening at the Beverly Hills outpost of Gagosian. And secondly, I hadn’t been in LA for Oscars weekend in a few years and I could have used an injection of sunny glamour after such a brutal winter. (The irony that it rained for most of the time wasn’t lost on me.) Besides, I had just been in Paris for the couture shows last month, and I had already done Milan.
Oscars weekend in LA is a very peculiar thing. It’s like all four fashion weeks combined into one, but stripped of fashion show runways and replaced with red carpets. The faces are just as beautiful but more familiar. In fact, the quotient of famous people in a small space becomes to intense that suddenly the existence of fame itself becomes a desensitizing commodity. It hits the saturating point where it becomes, Eh, who cares? Suddenly, seeing Lupita Nyong’o in the Chateau Marmont lobby isn’t as impressive because you just bumped into Olivia Wilde’s baby bump waiting for your rental car at the valet. (Though, for the record, my highlight of the weekend: Literally being in a corner with Baby from Dirty Dancing.)
For someone who doesn’t work in Hollywood, the pressure is off. In fact, it’s all fun and jolly and – this is a pretty perfect for it – gay. I spent the first part of Oscars night eating pizza in bed with my friend Jacqui, and then threw on a tuxedo after I watched Jared Leto accept the Best Supporting Actor Award. I adore Jared, a friend I had interviewed about the part of Rayon for the cover of Candy magazine last year, when she was just a character and not a career defining role. (READ THE ARTICLE HERE.) Then I went first to Elton John’s viewing dinner (I was there when Kelly Osborne strangled Lady Gaga in the ultimate photo op); then to the Vanity Fair Oscar party, which involved two security checkpoints and a level of glitz that is to be expected from the legendary party. My night ended – or rather the next morning started – at a party high in the Hills that I probably shouldn’t talk about if I ever want to be invited back. (Suffice it to say a legend who’s name starts with the letter M was the mistress of ceremonies.)
Before the Oscar weekend festivities, the weekend was anchored in something serious: The American artist Taryn Simon’s opening at Gagosian. Titled ‘Birds of the West Indies,’ it’s an obsessive observation at creating the legacy that has become the James Bond franchise. From the show notes: “In 1936, an ornithologist called James Bond released the definitive taxonomy of birds found in the Caribbean, titled Birds of the West Indies. Ian Fleming, an active bird watcher living in Jamaica, subsequently appropriated the name for his novel’s lead character. This co-opting of names was the first in a series of substitutions that would become central to the construction of the James Bond narrative. In a meticulous and comprehensive dissection of the Bond films, artist Taryn Simon inventoried women, weapons and vehicles, constant elements in the films between 1962 and 2012.”
My father has been a fan of the Bond films for as long as I can remember. Watching ‘Live and Let Die’ at our condo, which smelled like mildew, at the Lake of the Ozarks is one of my most wonderful childhood memories. So to see the components of these films, like Jane Seymour (who was Solitaire in ‘Live and Let Die’) and the speed boats and the handguns, was a peculiarly touching experience. This being LA, however, Taryn’s opening was as star studded as ever. Jared was there, and so were a bunch of other West Coast lumanaries, like Cameron and even Gwyneth. (Taryn is married to Gwyneth’s brother, Jake.) Seeing all that Bond memorabilia reminded me of the depth and the warmth of my childhood in Missouri, which are emotions that are sometimes hard to find in this town on this weekend.
CAPTIONS, from top: The prince of the weekend, Jared Leto, and I at Taryn Simon’s opening; Lady Gaga, Kate Hudson and Leslie Mann at the Vanity Fair party; Behati Prinsloo, Hilary Rhoda, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Lily Aldridge; Poppy Delevingne and Sienna Miller at the Chanel dinner; the French filmmaker Alexandre Espigares, who won best Short for “Mr Hublot,” with his wife and Jason Stathom, who he said he had a shrine of at his house and was nearly shaking when I introduced hem; Rosie and me making a Gayle King sandwich at VF; the highlight of my weekend: being in a corner with Baby from Dirty Dancing; Tayrn Simon after her opening; Jacqui Getty, Wendi Murdoch and Eva Chow at Taryn’s dinner; Elle Fanning, Terry Richardson and Jared at Taryn’s opening; coming up Rosie; the Oscar nominated Barkhad Abdi and his friend, who I bumped into on the street walking up to the Vanity Fair party; Anne V, Ashley Green and Angela Lindvall with Dan and Dean from DSquared2 at Elton John’s party; Rosie and Erin Wasson causing trouble; Sean Avery and Noah Mills; Rosie and four K’s: Karolina Kurkova and Karlie Kloss; me and Annie Hathaway
I’m not a Milan fashion week regular. In fact, before this season, the super stylist Katie Grand had only got me to the Italian fashion capital for 24 hours to launch her Hogan collection. But this week, since I was missing the shows in Paris (more on that in a future post), I figured I should pay homage to the Italian capital. Another reason? Three of my favorite people celebrated their birthdays.
‘Twas an above average Saturday night of fashion week. First up was Meenal Mistry, who had an Italian and pizza dinner (carbs? What carbs?) at the writer JJ Martin’s house. Sped through that one and then headed to Margherita Missoni’s birthday dinner. (Margherita has been like a sister to me, and who could forget how lovely she looked on her wedding?) And then my final stop: The infamous nightclub Plastic, where W’s Edward Enninful was celebrating his birthday with a midnight dance party. I checked every box this night: a sweet and intimate casual affair, a seated Italian feast, and a sweaty dance party that ended mere hours before my first show.
Edward owned this season: Not only was it his birthday, his ‘Iconoclast’ collaboration with the Prada stores debuted. It was a sensation: He turned to the Harlem Renaissance for inspiration, so there was colors and textures and a feeling of excited extravagance. At the mens store, a live jazz band played while Maria Carla Boscono and Jamie Bochert cut a rug. Also, to be noted here: The Prada show earlier that afternoon was a sensation. It was all deep V-necks with giant coats and sheer dresses.
Confession: I did briefly escape the Milan collections to attend a friend’s dinner in St. Moritz. That was an ordeal all of its own because, umm, I crossed the border without a passport. Somehow, my Missouri driver’s license sufficed after some begging, pleading, lower lip puckering.
When I got back to Milan, it was a decadent ending: Dolce & Gabbana’s show of fairy tales, armor clad power girls and even a little red riding hood finale. The shoes at D&G were works of art in themselves. That was followed by Missoni, which proved a colorful ending to my Milanese weekend.
Captions from top: Margherita Missoni and Jamie Bochert sandwiching Edward Enninful; the last look at Dolce & Gabanna; three generations of Missoni women: Angela and her daughter Margherita, and her mother Rosita; Stefan Beckman, Edward, Joan Smalls and Pat McGrath; Franca Sozzani and Giancarlo Giammetti; me and Margherita; Hanne Gaby on the Prada runway; the group shot at Meenal Mistry’s birthday party at JJ Martin’s house; Margherita on her birthday; Edward at his birthday; Joan and Georgia May Jagger at the Principe Hotel; my favorite fashion week females: Vogue’s Tabitha Simmons, Vanity Fair’s Jessica Diehl and WSJ. Magazine’s Kristina O’Neill; Cara Delevingne on the Fendi runway; handsome fellas George Cortina and Magnus Berger; the dinner scene at Margherita’s birthday; Kate King coming into the Dolce & Gabbana show; Anna Dello Russo, Lily McMenemy and Sophia Hesketh at Plastic nighclub; a Principe pileup in the bar with me, MariaCarla and Joan
London was hit with a double whammy this week: In a glamorous snafu of schedules, it was both London fashion week and the BAFTA awards, which meant that the British capital was infiltrated by the world’s biggest movie stars as well as its top models. I’ll just come out and say my highlight now: Sharing an elevator with Brad and Angelina at the Edition Hotel after the BAFTA’s. I had thought of all these really creative things to say: “Brad, I’m from Missouri too.” Or, “Angelina, I used to date women too.” But instead I just pressed my floor and sucked in the famous air. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
The biggest trend in New York – crappy weather – continued on the first day of #LFW. The winds in London diverted a few planes, including Anna Wintour’s, who ended up in Newcastle, and The New York Times’ Kate Lanphear, who ended up in Dublin. Somehow, I managed to land as scheduled (for once in my life, good flight kharma), and then the rest of the weekend was sunny and sweet.
My first show? My friend JW Anderson. I sat next to Amanda Harlech, who has become one of his most ardent supporters. Jonathan, the designer, and I met through mutual friends and I’ve watched with pride as he’s become a toast of London and – soon enough – Paris, when he debuts his first collection for Bally next season. LVMH invested in him last year, and this season his show was expectedly unexpected. Later that day, I caught another friend’s show, Henry Holland, who always puts a smile on my face. His shows are always silly, colorful and have a wink to them. It’s clear to see why he’s one of the London fashion scene’s most popular boys. That night was Charles Finch’s pre-BAFTA dinner, cohosted by Chanel. The perfect way to end a debut of fashion week. Again, I was sat next to Amanda, and on my other side was the impossibly beautiful Elisa Sednaoui. We gawked at Bradley Cooper, mainly, and probably drank too much.
Cara Delevingne owned the following day when she debuted her own handbag with Mulberry. It’s in three sizes, but my favorite was the largest, which turned into a backpack. Cara showed up at dinner at the Claridges wearing it. That dinner was, err, interesting, since I had to reconcile the fact that I’m finally an adult. Cara sat me next to her father, Charles, who’s as charming as ever, a seemingly family trait.
If Cara owned the day, the BAFTA’s owned the night. When we got back to the Edition Hotel, Ian Schrager’s fabulous new property on Berners Street, just off Soho, a BAFTA after party was in full swing. (This is when I not-so-accidentally ended up in the elevator with Brad & Angie.) Nupita and Oprah and a bunch of familiar faces were all there – and so was someone who captivated everyone’s attention, Michael Fassbender. My friend Jessica and I ended up fake-smoking cigarettes in a top-secret conference room on the second floor, just to watch him. That’s normal, right?
Monday at London Fashion week is a packed day. It starts with Christopher Kane, which was subversive and sweet and full of trash bags and fur coats; then to Erdem, which was polished and lacey and embroidered; Burberry was tricky for me because, well, some lady was in my seat and wouldn’t move (so I had to watch the whole thing on Instagram); and finally Tom Ford, which was expectedly glamorous. But the ensemble we’re all going to remember from tom’s show was the one that was a sequined sports jersey mini dress that paid homage to Jay-Z’s lyric that he doesn’t pop molly, he rocks Tom Ford.
London fashion week ends with the Elle Style Awards, and this year I was the date (well, one of the dates of) Lily Allen, who won for Most Stylish Recording Artist wearing a dress by Roland Mouret, who was another of her dates. She’s their March cover, after all. Which is the fourth time she was on the cover. As far as fashion ‘do’s go, this one was pretty fabulous. You can get by with so much more in London than you can in other cities. There’s an irreverence that you lets you get by with almost anything. Or so it seemed with some of the one-liners that popped out of host Nick Grimshaw’s mouth. Katy Perry was Woman of the Year. Tom Ford gave an award to David Bailey, who said that he liked the awards show because the set reminded him of the opening sequence of the Fox cartoon Family Guy. If that’s not British irreverence, I don’t know what is.
Captions, from top: The London eye in the distance of Poppy Delevingne’s London eyes; Katy Perry, who was the Elle Woman of the Year, with her stylist Johnny Wuchek and Henry Holland; me and Joan Smalls; Roland Mouret and Lily Allen; an antiquity in Spencer House; Camilla al Fayed and her father, the Egyptian businessman Mohammed; Joan and Jourdan Dunn getting frisky at Cara Delevingne’s party; Karen Elson, Katie Grand and Luella Bartley at the Love party; Karen on the Tom Ford catwalk; Elisa Sednaoui, me and Lady Amanda Harlech at the Chanel dinner; Mark Ronson at Chanel’s dinner; Tati at the Firehouse; Laura Love, Geordon Nicol, Harley Viera Newton and Atlanta de Cadenet; Camilla and Elisa in a sandwich with Lucas and Benji; Charlotte Stockdale and her Dries van Noten dress; Fran Hickman and Caroline Sieber at the Chanel dinner; a kissing sandwich with Kelly Osborne and Cara Delevingne; Jourdan getting snuggly with Charles Delevingne, Cara’s dad; Kelly being unzipped by Joan; Hamish Bowles in the front row at JW Anderson’s show; Angel Haze; Poppy offering some glamour to a city block; David Thielebeule and Kate Lanphear at the Edition Hotel; Edie Campbell and Stefano Tonchi; Henry with Jonathan Saunders and Christopher Kane at Hoi Palloi; Elizabeth Saltzman and Jefferson Hack; Poppy and the BFC president Natalie Massenet at the Style Awards; Leigh Lezark, Daisy Lowe and Lily at the Firehouse.
This week in Paris was cold, damp and grey. But wasn’t it gorgeous?
The disparities between seasons in the haute couture are vast: One is held in July, the peak of summer and when Paris is teeming with tourists and sunshine. The other in January, when the town is decadently empty. Each is remarkable in their own way, and as I reminisce on this past week I am fashionably fulfilled.
Since she has returned to the couture schedule two years ago, Donatella Versace has kicked off the festivities with her Atelier Versace fashion show. This year, she had a little help from her doppelganger Lady Gaga, who sat front row during the show and then next to her at dinner. (All in all, I counted the former Stefani Joanne Germanotta in no less than three ensembles throughout the evening.) Gaga herself, with a good measure of Grace Jones, was the inspiration for the show, which was dripping and draped in sumptuous fabrics and crystals and hooded in sheaths in long, blown out hair. A few days before the show, Donatella decided to throw a dinner. What she lacked in time for planning she made up for in spontaneous glamour. I was sat opposite Gaga and D.V., who cuddled like school girls with their matching black strapless Atelier dresses and long blonde locks. Gaga took selfies with Karlie Kloss, Mario Testino mugged with Azzedine Alaia, and Riccardo Tisci held court with the rest of the Italian contingency, including Italian Vogue’s editor Franca Sozzani.
The following day saw the launch of the revamped Schiaparelli label with an early morning show that drew fellow designers like Alaia, Jean Paul Gaultier and Pier Paolo and Maria Grazia from Valentino. Carla Bruni and Elle McPherson were there too. The show provided us all with a joyous, whimsical start to the day. The new designer, Marco Zanini, explained that not a single machine touched these completely handmade clothes, though they still reeked of modernity: even the finale bride wore a cropped pantsuit and veil. The shoes, all flats with plumps of feathers on the toes, made me regret ever telling a woman to put on a pair of high heels. Then there was Raf Simons’ haute couture show for Christian Dior, which was held in a specially constructed igloo structure in the Musee Rodin. The show was soft, flowing and full of holes in the fabric — but not in concept. The emphasis was on whites, which felt very modern and light in the confines of the space, with some navy blue thrown in. I was particularly taken by the off-the-shoulder dress that Stella Tennant wore in the show, as well as a white layered dress that draped away from the body in front, but created a perfect landing for some embroidery on the back. Later that day was Giambattista Valli, the gregarious Italian living in Paris, and his sixth couture offering. As is often the case with him, he turned to his garden for inspiration, with a flowering collection of short, strict dresses and long gowns. My favorite ensemble was a split gown worn over cigarette pants.
Tuesday was an iconic day, meaning it included two of the industry’s biggest icons: Chanel and Giorgio Armani. Chanel’s show was sequined and pasteled and sparkled within an inch of its life. The emphasis was on the waists, which were cinched and teeny tiny. Karl Lagerfeld also introduced an unexpected element: haute couture running shoes held together by lace ribbon laces. Mr. Armani this season turned again to two of my favorite things: Hollywood glamour and champagne, though in the case of the latter I mean the color more than the bubbly. He followed his show with a sit down dinner for about 400 of his closest friends which, in true Italian style, didn’t end till well past midnight. (Speaking of champagne, I must have had too much because I left my hat at dinner, and only by the grace of Armani’s stellar PR team did I get it back.)
The last day of couture started with Margiela. If you’re not familiar with the brand, start Googling. The mysterious house of Martin Margiela is a fashion industry favorite because of his unique, intellectual take on the seemingly unfashionable world around us. One of the first Margiela shows I ever went to had jackets made entirely of Pic pen caps – but it still looked like the most elegant thing we had ever seen. This season, we saw tops that were embroidered to look like couture tattoos, patchwork wrap tops in Frank Lloyd Wright fabrics and, my favorite, a pair of giant cuffs in the shape of sequined eyeballs. Jean Paul Gaultier followed with a new commentary on burlesque butterflies, which included a cameo from Dita von Teese herself. And finally, there was the Valentino show, which had everyone enraptured in its ethereal glamour. It was if the models were nymphs and they had emerged from a place in the woods were beautiful things are born. Even butterflies, which I had heretofore only associated with Mariah Carey, were reinterpreted as fanciful fashion candies. Florence Welch, who wore a green coat full of colorful embroired butterflies, said it was so beautiful she wanted to weep.
So, the two biggest trends? Trainers and butterflies. Who would have guessed? When Givenchy’s Riccardo Tisci (who no longer shows on the couture schedule, though still does couture pieces for clients) was announced as the new designer at Nike, it should have been a clue that sportswear was coming back. But no one saw the trainers at both Dior and Chanel coming. It is funny how the fashion zeitgeist works, isn’t it?
Scroll down for more pictures from the haute couture.
Captions, from top: A subtle shot from the Versace dinner with Gaga, Donatella, Franca, me and Mario; Lily Allen and Karl after his Chanel show; Anna dello Russo and Carine Roitfeld perched in the front row of the Margiela show; Tilda Swinton with some Asian fans, with a priceless expression on her face; Lindsey Wixson following her turn on the Versace catwalk; Stella Tennant in the opening look at the Schiaparelli show wearing a Stephen Jones pirate hat; the fries at Brasserie Lipp, served best with their chicken; Giorgio Armani and Afef Jay at his dinner; Gaga and Donatella looking like twinsies at dinner; my menswear moment at the Saint Laurent show; Hamish Bowles and Elizabeth Debicki, the breakout actress from the Great Gatsby, at Armani’s dinner; Florence at Valentino; me with Balmain’s Olivier Rousteing and Joan Smalls at dinner; the embroidered tattoos at Margiela; Caroline Seiber at Giambattista Valli’s show; Alexander Wang, Vanessa Traina and Kate Bosworth at dinner; Donatella and Riccardo at dinner; Andreea Diaconu on the Versace runway; Joan at the Gucci documentary screening; a carousel in the Tuilleries, which I sadly didn’t get a chance to ride; the Chanel finale; my favorite look at Giambattista Valli; Tilda; WSJ. Magazine’s Kristina O’Neill with some undressed fashion patrons at the JPG show; Catherine Baba, Roland Mouret and Ellen von Unwerth at the Sidaction gala; the violinist virtuoso Rae Chen and the Chinese actress Ziyi Zhang at the Armani dinner; Lily and her chips at Lipp; Andreea Diaconu showing off her favorite Acne coat; Gaga taking selfies with Karlie; Lauren Santo Domingo, Joan, Florence and me at the Gucci party
Paul McCartney was sat next to a friend of mine at lunch over the holidays and said to her how thankful he is every single time he finds himself on the island of St Bart’s. And further, any idiot who complains about being there, which was the in thing to do for awhile, was a wanker. So, who am I to argue with a Beatle?
Yes, I ended up in St. Bart’s again this year. I wasn’t sure I would, and I’m certainly not complaining about it. But I spent some time wondering if I should try something new. Palm Beach? Aspen? Los Angeles? New Year’s Eve is a good time to get away in fashion because, well, everyone takes off. It’s hard to work, even if you want to. And after nearly half a decade going to the same place, I debating a change of scenery. Then, when I was in St. Louis for Christmas, I realized: If it’s not baroque, don’t fix it.
Like McCartney said, St. Bart’s is heaven. The island is small, the weather is wondrous, the food deliciously European, and the surf is beautiful. (But, spoiler alert: Ain’t nothing cheap on this island.) My favorite thing to do on St. Bart’s is what my friend Dr. Samantha Boardman, she of the website Positive Prescription, and I call The Hike. It starts behind her house on Flamands Beach and twists and turns through the cliffs and mountains behind Colombier Beach, which is arguably one of the most magical places anywhere. One of the highlights of this particular trip was a drive over to a new venue on the other side of the island for a new hike. It’s a place called Grand Fond, and it reminds me of where poets in Ancient Greece would have imagined the sirens would sing. The coast was jagged, rocks shooting out and the waves crashing out and creating giant sprays and temporarily tepid pools. One of the formations has been unofficially labeled as The Wash Machine because the tide continuously beats against it. The merciless power and beauty of nature, in full effect.
This was a more sedate New Year’s bash. (In years past, Roman Abramovic would host a lavish bash that would have the Black Eyed Peas, or Gwen Stefani, or Kings of Leon perform.) This time, Tico Mugrabi and Mike Fuchs did a dinner at Taiwanna, which was revved up when McCartney did an impromptu countdown at midnight. For me, the next few hours were a bit of a blur. I know we went to see Jimmy Buffet sing Margaritaville in town, and I did dance with some new friends at a nightclub. But still, the next day I did The Hike.
This season, I had some marvelous brushes with transportation devices. There was a Mini Cooper that I borrowed from a friend, and left outside, top down, during a downpour. (It was towed away. The way I told my friend: Do you want the good news or the bad news first? The good news is that I didn’t drown. The bad news is that your car did.) And then there was the Waverunner that nearly drowned me. After growing up on the Lake of the Ozarks, I thought I had mastered those things. But they ain’t got waves in Missouri like the do in the Caribbean. Found that out the hard way.
Toward the end of the stay, when my jeans were getting a bit tighter, I realized I needed to step up my athletic game. My friend Dasha took me paddleboarding, which I didn’t excel at. (Scroll down for proof.) But something I was better at was kicking the ball around with some of her Russian friends at the stadium on the island. I realized, though, that Russians don’t mess around when it comes to football.
The holidays ended and it was a rough reentry to the real world. Because, as anyone who lives above the Bible Belt and West of the Rockies can tell you, America is in the Polar Vortex. So, here I sit at my kitchen table, pouring through my pictures from paradise. The sea and the sun seem like they are so close, but also so far. Happy new year!
Captions, from top: The view from Grand Fond; my room had hooks where I’d hang my white jeans and pink pants because I knew I’d have to put them at the back of the closet when I came back to New York; me and Marc on New Year’s Eve; the fireworks outside the Rosen’s house; French Vanity Fair’s Virginie Mouzat, Jean Pegozzi and Katie Lee; Paul McCartney takes the mic for the New Year’s Even countdown; the Brant Brothers, now official staples of St. Bart’s; Gabi and Charlie Rosen with their lady friends Roni and Gabriella; Peggy Seigel and Samantha; Vito Schnabel and Alberto Mugrabi on the puddle jumper; Russian Christmas; me and Dasha in a Mini Cooper I nearly ruined; a Jetski that nearly ruined me; a daily reminder that I was lucky to be avoiding the Polar Vortex, if only temporarily; a field on the Grand Fond side of St. Bart’s; Jessica and Samantha on the top of Grand Fond; some of the rocks on the bottom of the cliff; my feeble attempt at paddleboarding; the view from atop The Hike; Dasha on the pitch; Dasha and I after our football match, looking wore down yet rugged.
I’m a sucker for nostalgia. I’m the guy that can spend hours leafing through an old Yearbook, or, more recently, stalking old friends from former lives on Facebook. (Maria Zemen, if you’re reading this, can you hurry up and join Facebook? Thankyew.) And in particular, music is something that can zing me back to a forgotten time. Hole songs remind me of when me and the aforementioned Maria crashed a concert as high schoolers in Missouri. The Moulin Rouge soundtrack reminds me of freshmen year of college. Any Johnny Cash song reminds me of Hillsboro, where my uncle Fred built the Blasberg Family farm. N’SYNC reminds me of experimenting with shitty hair highlights. Kyle Minogue reminds me of my year abroad when I lived in London and started my career in fashion. Ricky Martin just reminds me of being happy. Ha! Anyway, when I stumbled upon this 10 minute long music video of all the best songs of 2013, it reminded me of all the things I did (and a few of the things I didn’t do) in the past twelve months. Sit back, listen, and remember the year that was.
Last year, I teamed up with my friends Classy Cat and Drunk Pussy to help illustrate holiday etiquette. Not much has changed since then: The holidays are still a time of merriment, etiquette is still important, and cats still rule the internet. So, without further ado, behold ‘The Eticats.’ (And for more, scroll down to see some hilarious bloopers and outtakes.)
Oh yes, it’s that time of year: Holiday party time. It’s easy to complain about these moments of forced celebrations, but the holiday party may be one of the few things that I’m not jaded about. I like eggnog and layering clothes and being social and getting presents. Decorating, though, isn’t my strong suit. But that’s why I’m buddies with Bronson and Celerie, uptown design darlings who have collaborated on The Holiday Workshop, a one of a kind, residential retail experience at 19 East 75th Street. Holiday decorations include fully decorate bespoke holiday trees with Mongolian sheepskin tree skirts and thousands of hand painted lights (with proceeds benefiting East Harlem School), red lacquer wreathes, vintage table top items and glasses, engraved julep cups, handmade stationery, and more stuff that will make people feel fancy. Bronson will also be offering his popular Arrowhead Farms cocktail mixes and salad dressing. Celerie is retailing her furniture line from Henredon and the space is beautifully decorated with Celerie’s pieces accented by Bronson’s designs and curated tabletop items — it is a warm and enveloping space. Shoppers can purchase the entire “look” or the individual items. Here, I chatted with Bronson about the collection.
The holidays are coming. Tell me: Are you excited by the prospect of holiday parties, decor and merry making? Or is it all so daunting now?
I am always excited this time of year. Everything and everyone look their best and people are in the mood to party. Why should it be daunting? If you’re worried about the holidays, you’re either over-committed or you’re under-staffed. Edit your schedule and prioritize. If you’re giving a party, either prepare everything ahead of time, or staff up. Your guests are there to see you smile. Give them what they’re there for, along with a stiff drink, and everything will be fine.
I like to think I’m decoration-ally challenged. What are some simple things that someone like me can do to spruce up their place for the holidays? (I used to have a two feet, pre-lit Christmas tree. But I lost it under my bed or my couch.)
Lighting. If you don’t have time for a tree or simply cannot find it under the bed (try looking next to your box of summer speedos), invest in some Christmas lights. Better yet, get bistro lights. The bigger bulbs feel vintage and European at the same time. String the lights across your mantle, ceiling, entry, the mirror you use to take your selfies – wherever – to give an added warmth and glow to your space and your life.
Talk to me about the townhouse uptown: How did you find the space? What are some of the favorite things you have in the shop?
Celerie and I knew we wanted to set-up the holidays this year in a real home. So my dog, Cat, and I set out on foot to find a townhouse. The space is filled with vintage and antique finds and holiday decorations from Poland, Antwerp, Paris, Mexico City, Arkansas, and hundreds of yards of tartan from Scotland. My favorites are the vintage barware and decanters, the selection of complete holiday dinner table settings (one of which you can buy here on Moda Operandi) an original photograph of Winston Churchill, and the custom malachite tree skirt we fashioned for our Chinoiserie inspired Christmas tree. Of course the bespoke trees, sales of which benefit East Harlem School, are the biggest seller.
You started by providing a service: interiors and events, right? When did you transition into products, and was that an organic transition? What else do you have in the pipeline?
I have been decorating homes at Christmas for special clients and friends for nearly 10 years. Last year, I opened the shop during the holidays so that we could do this for more people. I’m committed to doing everything I can to motivate and encourage people to throw parties, to celebrate happy moments, to drink a little too much.
Allow me to help on that last one. Cheers! Speaking of, I’m excited about your holiday party this year. How long does it take to plan and execute your fete?
It varies. Sometimes all the ideas come out in a cascade, and I just have to hope I’m able to write them down. Other times, it takes me weeks or months. The Seven Swans a-Swimming party was a snap. Eight Maids a-Milking took a little more time. Ten Lords a-Leaping should’ve been easy, but it was the first year I hadn’t done it at home, so I had to make a lot of changes to make it work at The Lion. I’ve not decided one thing about this year’s party. But it’ll come.
Much to my dismay, last year I got there just after the go go boy holiday elf dancers did their set. Biggest regret ever.
Can we please not use the term “go go boy” ever again? “Prancing elves,” or even “dancing elves,” are more accurate, not to mention less gutter-sounding.
Noted. I’ll keep it out of the gutter. [Eds. note: Please see above picture of a prancing elf playing a bagpipe.] So, what have been some of your more festive party favors?
Well, my general feeling is that the guests are the favors. And this has been born out by the number of relationships that have begun (or ended) at my parties. We had the milkmaids who served tequila from prosthetic breasts two years ago. We also had a minotaur that year. And a miniature billy goat. The cheerleaders last year were inspired by the mash-up of Express Yourself and Born This Way that Madonna did in her MDNA show. I’m a big believer in the Jello shot too.
And, last question and I’m sure it’s an annoying one: Favorite party ever? (As a guest and as an organizer?)
All the ones that I’m invited to.
All images from The Holiday Workshop: 19 East 75th Street.
I’m down here in Miami for the Art Basel festivities (check back this weekend for more pics and goss) and last night at a dinner for Louis Vuitton, Cindy Crawford showed up and put every other hussy at the Raleigh Hotel to shame. At one point, when the legendary hair dresser Oribe turned up, she did this sexy shimmy in her stiletto heels — in the sand — that left me gobsmacked. Not that this was the first time that I’d spoken to Cindy. I caught up with my fellow Midwesterner in the issue of V that’s on stands now for a fashion story where she cavorted with the handsome Clemente in the woods in Brooklyn wearing menwear. The story is reprinted here, as well as a sultry video from the photo shoot. (Click here to see the full story and more of Sebastien Faena’s glorious pictures of Cindy.) In our interview we talked about everything from West Coast dinner time to Harry Styles, but the part that I think was more pertinent is when she says that she’s a better model today than she ever was. Last night, there wasn’t a man who would have disagreed.
There’s a reference in modeling that captures a certain era: “B.C.,” as in “Before Cindy.” Cindy Crawford ignited the fashion world when she appeared on the cover of Vogue at the tender age of 21, with her killer bod, signature birthmark, and otherworldly appeal. Originally from a small town in Illinois, she would go on to become one of the most super of all the supermodels, a muse to Gianni Versace, and a household name, with her stints as MTV’s House of Style host and spokeswoman for Revlon and Pepsi.
The multi-hyphenate model, now 47, is still in demand in front of the cameras, and has launched her own multimillion dollar businesses too—making her more alluring than ever. Cindy told us that she feels like she’s a better model now—and by the looks of these photos, we’re inclined to agree with her.
What’s it like to be back in New York?
CINDY CRAWFORD When I arrived and got to the hotel I walked to a little market to get some things for a protein shake the next day, and I was reminded of the city’s energy, that buzz. I lived in New York for 15 years. I miss it sometimes. It’s very different from my life in Malibu. You don’t walk in Malibu…or else people think your car is broken down! In L.A. you go to dinner at 7 pm and in New York you go to dinner at 9 pm. But then in the Midwest it’s 5:30 pm.
That’s right, you’re a Midwestern girl. I’m a Midwestern boy. Maybe life in California is a mix of the people from the East Coast with the laid-back lifestyle of the middle of the country.
CC I grew up in a small town in Illinois where you never locked your door. I didn’t even have a house key. Midwestern people like us are nice, sometimes to a fault. You smile at strangers. But then you go to New York and everyone is hustling and in a hurry with their heads down. I love New York, but it’s a city of excesses. Too much of everything…the good and the bad. There are great restaurants, but you don’t know where to eat because there are so many choices! It was perfect for my 20s, when I was working so much, but I wouldn’t have known how to raise kids in an apartment.
Speaking of your kids, my assistant is obsessed with Harry Styles and she told me he came over for an impromptu pizza party with your daughter. What happened there?
CC Oh, that? [laughs] He stopped by to say hi when my kids and I were making pizzas. My kids were doing their own little pizzas and they couldn’t slide them off the pan. Harry goes, “Well, did you put down enough flour so they wouldn’t stick?” And my husband says, “How in the world do you know that?” and my little girl chimes in, “Oh, he used to work for a bakery, Dad. Everyone knows that.”
And started blushing, I bet.
CC Are you kidding? My daughter is twelve. That was bigger than her birthday!
Your kids are gorgeous. I know one of them did a Versace kids’ campaign. What are your thoughts on them getting into the family business?
CC That opportunity felt organic. I worked for Versace a lot in my career and I knew Mert and Marcus were the photographers and Donatella would be there. That’s a dream team. So I figured if she ever wanted to do it this would be a good experience, and it was. We had to drive three hours to the shoot and she had to miss a friend’s birthday party, and then we had to wait in the trailer for three more hours because they shot Gisele first. At the end, she thought, “This is boring.” And I said, “This is work.” It was a good lesson. If she wants to do it, I’m a good guide. I can help her make good decisions, but now I think she’d rather be an actress.
How do you reflect on that supermodel era?
CC What a wonderful time for me. That was a fun time to be a model. It was a lot of focus on fashion and how all these worlds were colliding. MTV was bringing music and fashion and television together. It felt really fun, and we were all really busy and really making money.
Do you ever use that word, “supermodel”?
CC In a tongue-in-cheek way, maybe. At first I found it silly. Do we change into capes and tights in phone booths? But with anything, the more you hear it, the more it seeps into your language. What it means to me is that before us models were more two-dimensional—mostly nameless faces on magazine covers. We were the tipping point. Some girls before us, like Twiggy and Lauren Hutton, were making the shift. But what was unique about our group was that there were five of us and we were all very different but looked good together. Is it five or seven? I never know who to include. Depends on who you ask, I guess. It was a moment when it felt fresh and different and new.
Were you aware of it in the moment?
CC If I had to label my supermodel moment, I would say it was that Versace show when Naomi, Linda, Christy, and I all came out together. We had just done the George Michael video for “Freedom,” and George was in the front row, and we came out skipping and holding hands. It felt like the stars had aligned. But then the next day we were all on another plane going to another city to do another job.
Did you ever want to slow down?
CC I remember thinking, What am I going to do when I’m 25? Or 30? Or 40? We kept pushing the sell-by date.
Are you still gratified by the job now?
CC I’m not doing it every day anymore. At this point in my life I’ve done more photoshoots than I can count, so I like something new. I’ve had people say on a shoot, “This is so Helmut Newton,” and I think, No, not really. I knew Helmut. The part of modeling I like is telling a story with an image. Modeling is a skill, and you become better at it the more you do it. Understanding clothes and lights and your face and angles…you don’t lose that, even though other things come into your life.
More so than the others, you managed to brand yourself. Was that intentional or was it clever management?
CC In the beginning it was more like, why not? I’ll try MTV, that sounds cool. But my agents were telling me not to do it. They said I could make more money doing other jobs. But they were wrong, and House of Style opened a lot of doors. When I did Playboy, it was a big deal because I was also in Vogue. I trusted Herb Ritts, which is why I did it. So those things worked out in my favor, and it gave me the confidence to go and do other projects—but not everything worked out! I did a movie that was successful for me personally, but not successful in many other ways. Choosing to do my exercise video was the beginning of making deliberate choices to do my own projects that were authentic to me, and that led to my skin care line. That was a really hard decision, because I had been with Revlon for a long time. But it was time for me to do my own thing, and now it feels like I have a real business. I love that.
You’re a business tycoon!
CC I had my whole modeling career, which was about learning the business. For the last 10 to 15 years, I’ve been building a business.
But the businesswoman still knows what to do in front of the camera.
CC I’m a better model at 47 than I was when I was 22, although I wish I still had the body I had at 22! Ah, youth is wasted on the young.
The Victoria’s Secret fashion show is one of my favorite things on earth. There, I said it. And not because I’m particularly impressed by boobs. Though, I will say, the bodies in that fashion show defy grafity and all logical thinking. (And they should. As a friend of a few angels, I know how hard they work to get their bodies in VS show shape.) And in the past I’ve done fun videos with these ladies. I’ll never forget the time that Candice Swanepoel worked me out moments before she hit the runway. So this season, I asked Alessandra Ambrosio to teach me the three tricks to being an oft duty angel. They are: Sell the garment, never stop working out no matter where you are, and know how to pose. But hearing it from her pouty lips is much better than reading it here. Without further ado, here’s my video with Ale. And as a bonus, I threw in a few pics I snapped at the VS afterparty on here too. Something for you, boys!
Captions from top: Karlie and Constance; Izabel bringing sex back; me and Alessandra Ambrosio; Lily Aldridge and Harley; the Kloss klan; Candice and Lily Donaldson; me with Jourdan and Cara