Todd Selby and I met at a New Year’s party (well, I guess you could call it a party) in a small town in the Yucatan Penninsula a half decade ago. A mutual friend, who we love but is a little bonkers, had promised a disco rave in an old school Aztec village. What we got was an iPod dock and some Red Bulls in an abandoned town square. But, wow was it fun. Todd is the sort of guy who can have fun anywhere. Which is the reason why I like his style of photography so much: He notices the little things, shoots the quirky things, has an eye for something special when it might be easy to miss it. His newest book, seen here, is all about fashion people. Here, we talk about it.
Derek Blasberg: I have to be honest: I love going to people’s houses. I will go to the house of someone I don’t even like, just to see their house. Are you the same way?
Todd Selby: I’ve always been curious about getting to know people and I always thought the best part of being a photographer for a magazine was seeing peoples houses and learning about them through that.
DB: Have you ever been shocked by someone’s house?
TS: I do my research and never agree to shoot a place till I have seen photos. I have never shot a place just on word of mouth.
DB: Oh, but I bet now everyone wants you to shoot their place. Do you get a lot of requests?
TS: People come to me all the time, but the vast majority of what I do is still finding the subjects I want to focus on.
DB: When you go into people’s houses to take pictures, do you have a good ice breaker? Do you sit for a cup of tea and make them relax? Or do you go straight in and start snapping what they have in their cabinets?
TS: My ice breaker is to ask for a tour of their house. This gives the subject a chance to off the bat tell me and show me what’s in their house and I start to get a sense of things in the house are especially important to them.
DB: How long does a tour take?
TS: The tour usually takes 5 to 10 minutes and I do start casually taking photos of some of the items the subject mentions.
DB: Do people need some wooing? Or are they typically game from the get go?
TS: If there is someone I really want to shoot, now I just send them my other books so they get a feel of what I am looking to do with them. Having the previous books definitely helps me a lot.
DB: How did you start taking pictures of peoples’ places in the first place?
TS: started shooting my friends and their places on my time off and it evolved from there.
DB: Who were some of the first people?
TS: My buddy William Eadon was the first person, which you can see here
. Carols and Marico were another one and what was funny is that Marico feel asleep during the shoot. The first and last time this happened to me thank goodness!
DB: This newest book is dedicated to fashion people. Why fashion?
TS: Fashion is a world of kooky colorful people, such as you, Mr. Blasberg. It’s a natural fit for my photography.
DB: Who’s the kookiest fashion person, if you had to pick?
TS: Definitely me! I am up to all sort of kooky stuff all the time.
DB: In your experiences, are fashion people tidy at home? Or more messy? I like to think creative people have really messy homes. But maybe that’s because my house is really messy.
TS: It totally varies, some creative people are in the messy camp and some are ultra organized or minimalist. It runs the gamut.
DB: Anyone shock you by being particularly messy-minded, but very organized at home? Or the other way around? Do you think that most people ‘clean up’ for you?
TS: People generally do clean up and even I think art direct their homes before I come. I’ve caught people putting together perfect piles of books and neatly arranging their shoes, just for me.
DB: Most of the spaces you photograph are extremely eccentric, so you must be somewhat immune to too much zaniness. But, has there been a place that you’ve just been floored by in terms of bonkers design?
TS: The goal for me is that someone picks up the book and no matter where they start, they see one of the crazy kooky places I shot.
DB: Any funny stories on the job?
TS: I’ve been really into the cat t-shirt style for a long time, and then I met Natalie Gibson who has 18 cats and has been wearing cat things for many, many years. She is the originator of the cat in fashion movement.
DB: You travel all over the globe for work, is there one place that you think has a tendency to produce more noteworthy spaces?
TS: London and Japan are where I found the most out there spots!
DB: What’s the most random spot you’ve venture for a fashion person’s home? Any distant, far off place?
TS: For one shoot in the book, I went out to Yuima Nakazato’s tree house two hours outside of Tokyo where his family lives. That was pretty epic!
DB: I think Manuel is the jam. You tried on those jackets, didn’t you? You must have.
TS: I was definitely considering it. But I just didn’t know how I could pull it off.
DB: Missed opportunity. Has anyone ever given you any amazing home souvenirs?
TS: I definitely get a lot of little presents. Louis Vuitton has definitely showed me the love over the years with bags and all sorts of camera accessories.
DB: Simon Doonan wrote the forward in your book. How did you get involved with him? Have you ever been in his closet? Tell me the truth: How many feathered boas does he have?
I shot him for ‘The Selby is in Your’ place and have known him for quite a long time. I’ve photographed him in his closet so you’ll have to check it out yourself!
Captions, from top: The cover of Todd’s book; an interior from Virginia Bates’ bonkers space; some rad jackets from Manuel Couture; works from Written Afterwards; a Natalie Gibson sketch from the book; Todd, shot by Mark Seliger.
No matter how self important we fashion people may become, Mother Nature proved that she’s the one calling the shots during New York fashion week. The defining trend this season: The cold. Not in recent memory has there been so many women wearing down jackets and Wellington boots during fashion week. Pity the street style photographers.
Despite what was happening on the streets, however, the city still brought the glamour the industry has come to expect from New York, the first stop on the month long fashion season.
Red was big this season: There was the last look at Donna Karan, which was Karlie Kloss in a flowing chiffon cape. And then there was Tabitha Simmons’ birthday dinner at the Bowery Hotel where she found herself in a ginger sandwich, courtesy of fashion’s favorite red heads Karen Elson and Grace Coddington. (Also at Tabby’s birthday, I met the actor called Kit from Game of the Thrones. I haven’t yet seen that show, but Kit was reason enough for me to add it to my Netflix queue.)
Perhaps the most poignant moment during fashion week was a dinner that Barney’s organized at the Swiss Institute on Wooster Street to celebrate their spring campaign, which Bruce Weber photographed using exclusively transgendered models. Fashion week dinners can be tedious, and using transgendered models could be seen as a gimmick. But Bruce’s 35 minute film, served during the first course, was an endearing tribute to some of the world’s strongest, most inspiring young people. I was sat next to a girl called Valentijn, who had been born a boy and started taking hormones when she was 5. She wanted to be a ballerina, and has used the poise she used as a young dancer to grow into an elegant – and extremely tall – model based in Holland.
Other memorable moments? Alexander Wang’s dance party, which was held in a much more convenient venue than his fashion show. Grace Jones performing at AMFAR. Moncler’s presentation at the Hammerstein Ballroom, which had an acapella group on stilts swinging around a stage that was filled with a Hollywood Squares-inspired grid of their outwear. Prabal Gurung had a streaker at his show, which was amusing and sort of annoying. (To work for six months on a show, and then some Urkanian douchebag mucks it up? Not cool.) The Purple party was cooler than school. And just as the snow started to come down, Proenza Schouler hosted an afterparty for their show — which was one of my favorites of the week — at Westway.
Finally, on the snowiest, slushiest, coldest day, it all ended: Marc Jacobs presented a sparkled and ruffled fantasy of a show under plushy clouds. It made me think that even on a cloudy day, in fashion we can find beauty. After the show, I ended fashion week in the most fabulous way I could think of: At a crappy midtown karaoke bar to celebrate my friend Kristina’s birthday. Not to brag, but I killed it on the mic to ‘Fergilious’ and ‘Jesus Walks.’
Captions, from top: Karlie at Oscar de la Renta; Karen, Tabitha and Grace at Tabby’s birthday dinner; Kit, me and Gus at the Bowery Hotel; Grace Jones at the AMFAR gala; Carine Roitfeld and Julia Roitfeld at the Altuzarra show; Natalia Vodianova at a dinner for Berluti’s new store on Madison Avenue; The faces of The Man Repeller and Into The Gloss at the Prabal Gurung show; Prabal after his show; The front row at Altuzarra, from left: Jenna Lyons, Courtney Grangi, Phillip Grangi, Liberty Ross and Sofia Sanchez; DVF having an exciteable moment at her post show dinner; the Moncler presentation; Caroline and Alexia at Theory; Leigh and Randi at the Darby; Margherita Missoni on the front row; Gina Gershon and Gia Coppola at Zac Posen’s show; a model on Zac’s runway; Simon Doonan and Valentijn; Matthew Moneypenny and Magnus Berger at the Barneys dinner; Bruce Weber and Barney’s Dennis Freedman with two of the models; me and Karlie; Olivier Zahm and Mario Sorrenti; the Brant brothers and Harley Viera Newton; Julia and Liberty; The Hiltons: Paris, Nicky and Barron; Chrissie and Alex at the Purple magazine party; The Dorff; Lauren and Dasha having an uptown moment; Gaia Repossi, Gia and Samantha Traina at the Proenza Schouler show; Lisa Love, David Armstrong and Pamela Hanson at the Proenza party; Jack McCollough and Trish Goff; Rita Ora feeling frisky at the DKNY show; Hanne Gaby at Alex Wang’s party; Chanel Iman and Karlie at the Berluti dinner; Klaus Beisenbach and Cecilia Dean at the Marc Jacobs show; Kristina O’Neill with Clare Richardson, Elin Kling and Andreea Diaconu at Kristina’s birthday.
I was not a boy who watched Star Trek. When I was little, I was more into Tennessee Williams than I was science fiction TV dramas. But this fall in New York, those worlds converged when Zachary Quinto, who plays Spock in the recent big screen revamp of the cult TV show, began a run as Tom in one of my favorite Williams plays, ‘The Glass Menagerie,’ on Broadway. I was there when the play opened, and I’m happy to report that Quinto was an inspired choice for the part. Which was a bit of a relief. As any Williams scholar knows, this part was Tennessee’s most autobiographical. The choices that Zach made were poignant. And, for any of my Missouri readers out there, the bonus of this play: It takes place in my beloved St Louis. BELOW, my chat with the actor following his stellar performance. Go to vmagazine.com for more
HOLLYWOOD DARLING ZACHARY QUINTO THRIVES ON THE SPICE OF LIFE, TAKING ON ROLES IN BLOCKBUSTERS ALONGSIDE BROADWAY PLAYS. AFTER OPENING NIGHT OF TENNESSEE WILLIAMS’S THE GLASS MENAGERIE, HE SPOKE WITH OUR EDITOR-AT-LARGE ABOUT THE BENEFITS OF VARIETY
Playing it cool isn’t the easiest thing to do, and to his credit, the stern severity and rigidity that Zachary Quinto brought to the role of Spock in the recent Star Trek revamp is a testament to the 36-year-old’s acting skills. However, luckily for us, seeing him play the part of Tom in Tennessee Williams’ 1944 play The Glass Menagerie allows the actor to show us his complicated side. The play takes place in St. Louis, Missouri (this writer’s hometown, as I’m happy to tell anyone!) and follows a few nights with an unconventional Midwestern family: Quinto’s character is an arts-minded youth with a crappy factory job who supports a complex and delusional mother (played superbly by Cherry Jones) and a homebound, socially awkward, slightly handicapped younger sister (Celia Keenan-Bolger). Any drama buff knows that Quinto’s is an important role, since, as the actor points out, this is Williams’s most autobiographical work. After seeing the play, we asked him what it was like to tackle the role.
How familiar were you with Tennessee and this play before you signed on to do it?
ZACHARY QUINTO I came to this experience with an appreciation for Tennessee and his plays—but without any deep familiarity. I had read The Glass Menagerie and most of his other major plays, and I had seen a number of his works over the years. But I had never worked with any of his material myself until this production.
How did you prepare?
ZQ I read. A lot. There is no shortage of literature about Tennessee, often written by Tennessee himself. So I just dove into anything I could find about his life and his experiences. Tom Wingfield is the most autobiographical character in Williams’s canon, so learning everything I could about Tennessee helped me gain a point of access into the character.
You know I’m from St. Louis. Did you have to do any research on the city? My face lit up when The Jewel Box was mentioned. It’s my favorite place back home.
ZQ Sadly, I have yet to make it to St. Louis. So all of my knowledge of the city is from books and pictures. It was such a difference place in the 30’s. Teeming with people from all over the country and the world, converging to gain some measure of accomplishment. It was full of possibility and life. I look forward to using the play as a point of reference when I finally get to travel there.
You do a convincing slightly-southern-mid-Atlantic accent. Was that difficult?
ZQ The poetry of this play is so beautiful and well structured that a vocal quality and cadence merge within it over time. Being true to Tennessee’s roots and also his affectations was important. But so was making the distinction that Tom is his own person. I make vocal choices that hopefully support that distinction.
At its core, it’s a sad tale. Tennessee himself had a sick sister, which beleaguered him all his life. You have the final monologue, the last word on a failing American Dream. How do you cope at the end of a performance?
ZQ Strangely, perhaps, I find myself exhilarated at the end of every show. There is catharsis in the journey of this play for me that allows me to feel a sense of gratitude each time we finish a performance. It is a sad tale on many levels. But it also contains such a universal sense of humanity; that there is a kind of communion between the company and the audience that becomes life affirming.
You seem to have hit a good rhythm between big production Hollywood fare and something more intimate and personal, like Broadway. Is that important?
ZQ Diversity is key for me. I am always at my best when I am busy. And I like to immerse myself fully in experiences that demand different facets of my interests and abilities.
And how are you coping with the grueling schedule of being on Broadway?
ZQ I try to set up a structure for myself that allows time for self-care. Being productive with my days and trying to be active. Taking care of myself. But, I also enjoying the social aspect of being on Broadway. It helps that I am a total night owl too.
Captions, from top: a copy of the most recent revival of Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie; the cast; me and Zachary out in New York earlier this year
Horseback riding? Dolly Parton? Carrie Underwood’s anthem ‘Before He Cheats’? I’ve made no secret of my affection for all things Southern. Something new to add to the list: Karl Lagerfeld’s trip to Dallas, Texas, to present a special Chanel collection. It wrapped last night, and coming back to the real world has been difficult. Don’t take my word for it. I just received this email from my friend Giovanna Battaglia: “I miss the Dallas bubble where everyone wears chanel, everything is taken care of, and the only occupation is to learn cowboy dance moves while having Jell-O shots with the most fun group of people.” The Kaiser did it again.
Let’s discuss the important element of any Chanel production: The showmanship. Yes, the clothes were great. (I’ll get to that in a minute.) But what a day! The first part of the evening was a screening of Karl’s latest short film, this time starring Geraldine Chaplin as the legendary couturier. It’s a touching film about Coco’s return following the war and a 17 year absence. Not that this was a typical screening: Everyone was ushered to their seat inside a vintage convertible and watched the film from there. Karl himself sat in the back of a mid century black Rolls Royce next to Anna Wintour. Andre Leon Talley sat shotgun.
When the credits came up, we all filed into the show venue, which was a barnlike amphitheater. Kristen Stewart, who was just announced as a new face of the brand, came in and couldn’t contain a smile, which was nice to see mainly because it doesn’t happen that often. And then the show began. What a show it was. Karl’s greatest skill is the ability to tap into something – symbols, culture, an era, a person – and flush out the best elements while managing to avoid being clichéd or obvious. Now, in a place like Texas, which is rich in visual texts (big bangs, big fringes, big belt buckles immediately come to mind), this can be especially difficult. Yet he managed to be both contemporary and referential. Yes, there were cowboy boots and fringe. But of course. However, there was never the impression that the show was costume-y or forced. Even if they convinced Linda Grey, the star of the TV show Dallas, to come back for to town for a victory lap. It was a standout collection.
After the designer took his bow, the party began. In what was the size of an airplane hanger, the hottest and sexiest nigh club that ever existed in Dallas was constructed. Shame, then, that it only lasted one night. The mechanical bull was brought out; Hot Chip took the stage; professional line dancers taught us the paces, which probably would have been a better idea to do before we all guzzled cocktails; Lynn Wyatt, the most divine of Texans, held court with Karl. It was all of my favorite American things refined with a French saivoir faire. I cozied up to Karl when the model Edward rode the bull – check out my Instagram account for a video of that – and he asked if it was an authentic representation of Texan culture. I looked down at my beer and winked. It was the chicest incarnation of cowboy chic.
Our last stop was The Round Up, a gay line dancing bar (you heard me right) in the middle of town that has a sunken dance floor and enough boys who are boot scooting and boogying that even a novice dancer like myself can blend in with the moves. How much fun did I have? As I sit here and write this, my thighs are still burning. Who knew line dancing could be such good cardio?
Captions, from top: Karl Lagerfeld near the bull pen; me getting lassoed by a couple of Chanel bags; the lovely Lily Collins; VIP seating for the film screening; Laura Love on the mechanical bull; Carlyne de Cerf, Sarah Nataff and Crystal Renn; Alexa Chung and Poppy Delevingne; Erin Wasson and her mother; me and a couple of ranch hands; Sofia Sanchez and Caroline de Magret; Jen Brill, Sarah Hoover and Mel Ottenberg; some of the 74 vintage cars at the drive in; music impresario Michel Gaubert backstage; Joan Smalls and Jacquelyn Jablonski during rehearsals; Alexa at the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts; Poppy at Dolly Python, a fabulous vintage shop; the return policy at Dolly Python; a weird piece of art outside our hotel; Angela Lindvall on the bull; Leandra Medine, local Texan Taylor Tomasi and Dani Stahl; Poppy and Alexa driving me wild; Lynn Wyatt and Jerry Stafford; the finale of the show; Giovanna with the Jell-O shots; Sigred Agren and Jacquelyn; Harley Viera Newton at the Round Up; Angela, Poppy, Kristina O’Neill, Rebekah and Sarah; me and Georgia May Jagger during last call
“It’s like Black Friday for rich people.” That’s how a friend of mine described the VIP opening at Miami’s main convention center, which is the official home of the Art Basel Miami fair, an annual event where galleries from around the world come to hock their wares and promote new artists. My friend wasn’t exactly exaggerating, either. I was there when the doors flung open and many of the art world’s biggest movers and shakers – and spenders – burst in and started scouring the galleries and stands and making deals and slapping stickers on things. They weren’t hitting each other and pulling each other’s wigs and braids out, like I’ve seen in those fabulous Black Friday videos. But they might as well have been.
Yes, some people here were obsessed with the acquisition of art, even if it has more to do with ‘ownership’ and ‘investment,’ as opposed to a love for art and decoration. But I still think that’s a good thing. My biggest complaint when it comes to the festivities surrounding Art Basel Miami is that they don’t have enough to do with, err, art. Which I don’t say from a place of arrogance: I’m a proud member of the fashion community and I love the people I’m fortunate enough to work with. But, isn’t fashion week enough?
The trick is for a fashion brand to create a connection – a genuine thought, because nothing feels as wrong as a forced collaboration between the fashion and art worlds – and create a mutually beneficial relationship. Take Louis Vuitton for example, who teamed up with the estate of the late, great artist Charlotte Perriand to finally execute her model house design. Google it. Simply amazing. Nearly 80 years after her original designs and the house still felt divine and modern. (Vuitton did a sophisticated dinner, for which they brought in their new ambassador, the lovely and amazing Michelle Williams, and a luncheon the following day.) LVMH made a big impression on Art Basel this year. Their menswear brand Berluti had a chic and understated opening for their Design District boutique, with a dinner hosted inside the gallery that housed Rosa and Carlos de la Cruz’s collection of modern art. They even served Joe’s Stone crabs and provided bibs with tuxedos on them.
What about the art? The fair in the convention center is huge. Like, imposingly and ridiculously large. Lose a friend in there and they’re lost forever. I went to the fair twice and found myself consistently drawn to the large scale works of Jack Pierson (even though I don’t think Carol Blasberg would appreciate that ‘Motherfucker’ work) and Doug Aitken, who’s pieces ‘More x4’ and ‘END’ both ended up on my Instagram. It was interesting that I was so drawn to these big pieces. Maybe it’s because as a New Yorker, size is everything. I wish I had a wall big enough to house those pieces!
And then it was off to the more affordable fairs, like SCOPE and NADA. Even though when I say affordable I don’t mean clearance racks. I had my eye on a poster – not even an original work – that was an old 1980’s promotion of the art show that debuted the works that Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol did together that has them both with their dukes up and wearing boxing shorts. It cost the equivalent to two months of my rent. (But if anyone is looking to get me a good Christmas present, now you know!) I was really impressed by a show that the art dealer Adam Lindemann put together called ‘Piston Head,’ which was a tribute to the cars of art lovers. So there was a tricked out cop car that Tom Sachs designed, a revved up Porsche from Richard Prince, the dotted Mini Cooper that Damien Hirst commissioned, and – my favorite – a 1963 Buick Select that Keith Haring painted on in 1983. That’s probably the only Buick that could sell for millions.
Some of the art world has started to abstain from coming to the fair. Maybe they’re over it. Maybe they don’t like the sun. But a few of my favorites were there, like the indomitable Agnes Gund, a tireless patron of arts education and an icon of the MOMA museum. Klaus Biesenbach, another favorite, toasted her at the NADA with a quick speech and some champagne at sunset. I got in a few squeezes with the artists Dan Colen and Ryan McGinley, who were both in town for a hot second. And then there was Aby Rosen, who owns the popular W hotel in Miami, and the art dealer Tico Mugrabi, who can’t help but show everyone in their orbit a good time.
Speaking of having a good time, this is Miami, after all. So there were a few nights on the town too. Which explains the picture of me, Nicole Richie and Paris Hilton: We all bumped into each other on the way to the Wall, the nightclub at the W hotel. Camilla al Fayed hosted a luncheon at the Soho Beach House for her brand Issa, where Mark Ronson was DJ’ing and let me pick a few songs. (‘Vogue.’ Always ‘Vogue.’) And oh, I met the legendary Cindy Crawford at a part that Leonardo DiCaprio hosted on the appropriately named Star Island. It was nice to put a face – and a beauty mark – with the famous supermodel, [who I had interviewed only a few weeks before for this V story.]
‘Twas such a busy week indeed that my recreational activities suffered while I was in Miami. In the end, the closest I got to the beach was when I walked down the boardwalk in combat boots. The closest I got to a pool was Boy Child’s performance. Not that I’m complaining. I get enough pools and beaches the rest of the year. Art Basel, though it can feel like the same parties and people as all the previous incarnations of the event, only happens once a year.
Captions, from top: Michelle Williams and Kate Young at a dinner for Louis Vuitton; Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie with me at a dinner at the W Hotel; Diana Picasso, Agnes Gund and the MOMA’s Klaus Biesenbach at an impromptu toast to Gund; the lanterns decorating a dinner for the Charlotte Perriand house at the Raleigh Hotel; Scout Willis and Mr Andre at the Berluti cocktail party; me and Cindy Crawford; the legendary Tico Mugrabi; the hosts with the most, Samantha Boardman and Aby Rosen, at the Wall nightclub in the W; the view at the Wall; the time that Nicole Richie accidentally bumped into her father at Leonardo DiCaprio’s house party; a painting by Louis Eisner; Fabiola Beracasa at an installation by the Still Group; a last tango at an event to celebrate the opening of the new Faena resort; my footwear for most of the week; a bad word by Jack Pierson; some dots from Yayoi Kusama; Harry Brant and Barron Hilton; Jean Pegozzi and Alexia Niedzielski; Andrea Dellal and Delfina Fendi; Mark Ronson DJ’ing an event for our friend Camilla al Fayed and her fashion company, ISSA; WSJ. Magazine’s Kristina O’Neill, Karolina Kurkova, Paris and Amanda Hearst at the W magazine dinner; a performance from Boy Child at the Delano Hotel, which Klaus curated; the best Buick ever, since Keith Haring tagged it in 1983; and a sign denoting the beach, which I never got to.
Waif? What waif? These girls got curves. Or so I decided with my friends at Mr Porter. I recently wrote a story for them that explained why boobs and a bubbly personality seem chic again. Here is the story, and perhaps just as importantly, here are Karlie, Candice, Joan, Kate and even Gisele with some other of fashion’s feisty females in never before seen pictures from my archives.
The return of the curvy, girlier model is not a new phenomenon. When the Victoria’s Secret poster girl Ms Adriana Lima turned up in a Prada show a few seasons ago, it was clear that chicks with boobs and butts were making a comeback. But last month, during the Jean Paul Gaultier show at Paris Fashion Week, something happened that made me welcome with open arms the return of a 1990s obsession with girl power: Ms Karlie Kloss stood on a runway, Voguing. Celebrating her athletic curves (regrettably, she was not in a cone-shaped bra) and Madonna’s own brand of sex-fuelled female empowerment (which I think Ms Miley Cyrus may have taken notes on), she framed her face with her angular appendages before stomping down the runway. The crowd went wild.
Long live Ms Kate Moss, but I’m happy that the waif silhouette is dead. Ms Kloss was on the cover of Italian Vogue in December 2011 for an editorial shoot by Mr Steven Meisel titled “Body by Kloss.” My favorite shot of her was the one in which she wore little more than a hat and killer heels. Not that Ms Kloss is the only top model who knows that powerful shapes – which, for the record, are much different than untoned, jiggly extra pounds – are both fashionable and fun to look at nowadays. Another one of my favorite vixen models? Ms Joan Smalls, the Puerto Rican stunner and face of Estée Lauder who is just as sexy as she is saucy. I’ve always thought that Ms Daria Werbowy had the best rack in the business. And don’t even get me started on Ms Candice Swanepoel, the South African Victoria’s Secret Angel whose body is a rock hard hourglass. And believe me when I say it’s rock hard: there’s a video on YouTube in which she and her trainer show me how to get the perfect Angel body before the lingerie company’s annual fashion show extravaganza.
Cindy, Claudia, Naomi, Stephanie: all these girls had the sorts of bodies that looked as if they were sculpted by gods. (Not following me? Those girls’ last names are Crawford, Schiffer, Campbell and Seymour, respectively. Start Googling.) These were the original supermodels, and there wasn’t a waif among them. So, we are left to wonder why fashion has returned to their curvy aesthetic. Some say that in these troubling times we are nostalgic for a more comfortable era. And what was more comfortable than Ms Crawford in a Pepsi ad in the 1990s? I wrote an article for Harper’s Bazaar a few years ago that fashion’s new obsession with sexed-up clothes was a result of the economy: sex always sells. And it’s free.
But recently, I had another thought: as more and more straight men become more aware of the fashion industry (oh yes, the metrosexual is here to stay), their influence has seeped into it. This isn’t solely a gay man’s gig any more, and we need to think about the sort of girl that men find sexy. Meaning: most guys probably don’t want to ponder over 14-year-old girls who are so skinny they have facial hair. For example, my favorite girl I met while in Paris this season was Ms Andreea Diaconu, a Romanian with curves and an even better attitude. She’s smiley, sexy, tells a good joke. She’s the sort of girl that I wanted to immediately set up all my straight guy friends with because I thought she was so awesome. (But don’t get your hopes up. Turns out she has a boyfriend. And he’s a doctor.)
We can thank one woman for the fashion world’s return to the bodacious body in the post-grunge era: Ms Gisele Bündchen. Have you ever tried to have a conversation with the Brazilian bombshell? Let me tell you what it’s like: she talks a million miles a minute and you just sit there and listen and act like you understand, even if you don’t. Because she’s just that gorgeous. Her body moves and her lips open and close and her perfect hair gets flipped back and forth. But who cares? You’re talking to a goddess. She’s paved a curvy path for the rest of the world’s saucy vixens.
Which brings me to you, Ms Kate Upton. At the party for Ms Carine Roitfeld’s documentary, Mademoiselle C, in New York in September, a few friends and I found ourselves pushing away chairs to create a dance floor in the the Pool Room at The Four Seasons. At one point, when Mr Kanye West and Ms Roitfeld had sequestered themselves into the corner, the crowds parted and in came Ms Upton, the newest of the world’s sexy supermodels. Yes, she looks like Ms Marilyn Monroe. But what I didn’t know is that she can dance like Ms Jennifer Beals, or whatever the woman in Flashdance was called. She sashayed toward us and she shimmied and shaked, and, for a minute, the whole world stopped.
Captions, from top: Candice Swanepoel running around Boston; me and the super curvy Kate Upton; a gaggle of curly girls in Peru; me and Gisele; Joan Smalls and Lily Donaldson at fashion week in Paris; Candice and another girl who knows about curves, Kim Kardashian; the super sweet Andreea Diaconu; Gisele, with a pregnancy curve – and still radiant; Karlie Kloss in Paris; me seduced by Joan
Halloween ain’t what it used to be. I can remember when I was growing up back home in Missouri it was a small street affair. The year I remember most vividly was the one I made my own King Tut mask out of cardboard with magic markers and accessorized with my mother’s fake gold jewelry. I walked around with my equally budget-ly costumed friends’ suburban St. Louis neighborhood carrying pillow cases and cheap orange plastic pumpkins that we filled with candy. But we had to work for it: Did anyone else have to tell jokes at the doors to get the sweet stuff? That’s Missouri for you. No such thing as a free lunch. Or a Halloween candy.
When I first moved to New York, I realized that this holiday is a much bigger deal. Making one’s own costume? Pff. People in New York don’t even do their own makeup. (Poor Pat McGrath. The makeup artist gets harassed to do everyone’s faces. Which is why I just showed up a part with my makeup and made her do it on the spot. More on that later.) Nowadays, it’s even worse. Or better, if you’re into dressing up and public drunkenness. Halloween has become Halloweek, an entire week of parties. Some are intimate and private and others are sponsored and promotional.
There’s an equation to the amount of fun I have on Halloween that’s proportionate to what I’m wearing. Namely, how good my costume is will affect how fabulous I feel whilst out with friends. (But, wait, isn’t that always the case on any night in New York?) This year, I was happy because I didn’t have to think about it. Last year, I had been proactive and bought a train conductor’s uniform but didn’t get to wear it because of Hurrican Sandy. (It’s hard to believe it’s been a year since that fateful week. It feels like yesterday, and read my Sandy blog post here.) So, that’s one costume, done. And my other costume I found when I was cleaning my closet when I was home in Missouri this summer: A fabulous black tuxedo with tails that was very Eddie Munster. Done, done.
Now, on to the extravaganzas. In New York, Alison Sarofim owns Halloween. Her annual party is always on the top of everyone’s list and she doesn’t mess around when it comes to themes. This year it was French Polynesia, which is why she was wearing a giant leaf all night. It was divine. I, unfortunately, couldn’t partake in the theme because of the aforementioned left over costume from last year, but I’m sure one day they’ll have lots of trains in French Polynesia. Marjorie Gubelmann brought my favorite Texan, Lynn Wyatt, who had on my leopard print than all over New Jersey combined. I spent most of the night sat between Pat McGrath, who looked divine in colorful makeup and orchid hair, and Joan Smalls, who somehow managed to look drop dead sexy whilst wearing a polyester hot pink monster costume with a polyester hot pink wig. Pat touched up my makeup through the night, and she had better not send me an invoice. We sat on a couch and held court. Hi, Valentino! Hi, Craig McDean! The highlight? A selfie with Woody Allen. Most people who come to Halloween parties not in costume are spoil sports. But Woody can do what Woody wants.
A few days later I had to come to London for a story, but I was happy to see that my mates in London had finally realized the joys of a costumed holiday. Or maybe it’s that the Brits need no excuse for fancy dress parties and public drunkenness – whatever the case, I was happy to discover that there was a lot of Halloween options in the British capital. UNICEF did a big ‘do where my friend Lily Allen performed. Hats off to Lily Alien, which was her costume. Painted herself green and even managed to find a green Chanel bag to accessorize the package with. That black tuxedo came in handy in London because I went as Derek Munster, the perfect companion to my friend Dasha Addams. Again, even with white face and a black polyester hair, Dasha looked divine. Who are these girls?
Captions, from top: A selfie with Woody Allen; Lily Allen as Lily Alien; the hostess with the mostest, Alison Sarofim; Bernard Smith and Joan Smalls; Elizabeth Saltzman and Patrick Cox in London; Valentino and Giancarlo Giammetti; Marjorie and Lynn; Petey Brant; Camilla al Fayed and Dasha; Jenna Lyons and Courtney Crangi; Atlanta de Cadenet; a very charming Camilla; Tabitha Simmons and RJ King; George Barrett and Pixie Geldof; Jessica Diehl; Sofia Sanchez and Alex de Betak being very creative as Guns N Roses; Harley Viera Newton, another hot dog on the street; Noor Fares and a friend; a martini and a piggy; Carlos Mota as a bird of paradise; Jean Pegozzi; Joan, me, RJ, Pat and Tabitha; Aimee Phillips; rolling with Joan; when I felt really dirty at the end of the party; Alison in action; Dasha, Lily and me at the end of a long London night
The American version has the bob. But in Italy, they have an ethereal fall of long, blonde tresses. I’m referring to the editor of Italian Vogue, Franca Sozzani, a woman whose steely blue eyes, curly yellow locks and understated Italian glamour have reigned the Conde Nast publication for decades. Last week, she brought her brand of glamour to the cash-rich Middle East capital for a multi-tiered extravaganza of emerging fashion and traditional Italian entertainment. There was a fashion show, a Fashion’s Night Out-style party in the world’s largest mall, and then an outdoor – yet still air conditioned – black tie dinner with performances from celebrated Italian ballet dancer Roberto Bolle and the opera singer Vittorio Grigolo. Joining Franca were many of the Italian fashion industry’s biggest luminaries, including Donatella Versace, Roberto Cavalli, Dan and Dean from DSquared2, and Givenchy’s Riccardo Tisci. Tipping the scales on the ultimate in fashion glamour? The legendary Naomi Campbell.
But first, I’m compelled to mention Mohamed Alabbar, the chairman of the Emaar Properties, who was Franca’s partner in this venture. This Dubai local – which are few and far between as only 10percent of Dubai’s population is actually from there – worked his way to the top of the corporate ladder to become the corporate head of this lucrative territory, and the man responsible for the world famous Burj Khalifa, currently the tallest building on the globe. It also holds the record for the fastest built, as well as the record for highest dining experience. On our first night, we ate at Atmosphere, the building’s restaurant at a mere 125 floors.
“Modern luxury is giving back.” That was Franca’s battle cry at this event, which combined her desire to expose new talent from the Middle East to the Western world as well as raise funds for Dubai Cares, the charity initiate founded by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum. So, on a sunny day (but aren’t they all?), we all met at the Dubai Mall, the largest in the world, for a show from designers from Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Nigeria, Ireland, Italy and Russia. (My favorites? Iteun Basi from Nigeria and Ireland’s Simone Rocha.) Then, a gala for 400 on the terrace: Vittorio sang and the fountains exploded, Roberto danced when the buildings in the distance were illuminated for effect. The tables were under the night sky, but individually air conditioned from below, which blew my mind. There was an auction too, which had a few akward moments: Turns out that even though they’re rich, the Arab people aren’t as showy with their public displays of philanthropy as we may see back in New York. Somehow, though, Vittorio managed to sell the sweaty shirt off his back for $40,000, which was added to a pot that topped a million dollars for Dubai Cares.
The night ended at the Armani nightclub with Roberto, Franca’s son Francesco Corrizzini and Vittorio all dancing without their shirts on while standing on the back of a banquette, Franca and the lovely Afef Jnifen flanking them with big smiles on their face. Naomi too showed some prowess for the dance floor, pulling a few moves with Roberto when we got back to the hotel. (Scroll down to the pictures below for evidence of this supermodel’s dance skills.)
My last few days were spent in the desert, which was a wonderful and surreal experience. Less than an hour from the luxury that was the Armani Hotel, the concert and steel world stops and there is nothing but sand as far as the eyes can see. The sun set into long pools of pinks and reds and blues and purples. I made friends with designers Louis Leeman and the boys from Aquazzura, who joined us in the desert, and we drank red wine and rode camels. After dinner, the obligatory belly dancer came out – but this one had a real smile on her face. She was good, she made us happy. (I’ve seen a few belly dancers in my days, and there really is nothing sadder than a belly dancer who is just calling it in.)
This was my first time in Dubai, and I left with an endeared impression. The people I met were fabulous and open-minded. They knew about art, fashion and perfume, the last of which I thought a few of them abused. Ha! I went back my hotel room energized – perhaps a little too much so. On my last night in Dubai, I couldn’t fall asleep before my 6am flight. (An avid reader of this blog will see that in the past few weeks I’ve crossed the Atlantic four times, so it’s not surprising that my poor body clock is a little out of whack.) So, I drew a bath and watched the sun rise over a city that didn’t exist when I was born. The light rose on buildings that glimmered with ambition and a new Arabic Dream. And I thought to myself, When am I coming back?
Captions, from top: Roberto Bolle during his performance on the terrace of the Burj Khalifa; me with Riccardo Tisci and Naomi Campbell; Franca Sozzani and Roberto Cavalli; Karolina Kurkova at the dinner; Vittorio TK during his opera set; Naomi, Riccardo and Roberto after the gala and outside the afterparty; Gianluca Passi, my tablemate; Afef Jnifen and Eva Riccobonno, the mistresses of ceremonies; Roberto taking Naomi for a dip; Mira Duma and Karolina Kurkova at Atmosphere, the highest restaurant in the world; Eva Cavalli at her impromptu birthday celebration; me, Roberto and Gianluca; Naomi, spinning us round and round; Eva at the Armani nightclub; an imposing view of the Burj Khalifa at night; on the drive to the desert for a sandy safari; dinner in the dunes; an onyx at sunset; the end of a perfect day; a belly dancer; me and a fire extinguisher, which I thought was the funniest thing to see in the desert; Edgardo and Erika rolling around in the sand; dancing in the dunes; the parking lot; a glorious morning in the Middle East