The beautiful, blushing bride
The first time I met Margherita Missoni we were both just kids. Students, actually. There was a mutual friend who had invited me to have dinner with an Italian friend at (it seems so cliché now) Cipriani’s Downtown, who turned out to be Margherita. She was studying at Columbia at the time, and she was homesick and a little gloomy and very cold. She was wearing two pairs of long underwear under her jeans. She has since told me that her mother knew she was sad at the time because she stopped asking her to send her clothes. Well, we ended up having fun that night. And for a few nights, months, years after too. In the decade (actually, it’s been more than a decade, which is terrifying) since that chilly, fateful evening, Margherita has become more than a good friend and partner in crime. She’s like a little sister, someone I’ve watched turn into a mature, smart, beautiful woman. I’ve seen her transform from philosophy student to actress (I’ll never forget her performance in The Maids with Maria Carla Boscono at the Lee Strasberg Institute) to hardworking member of the family dynasty. So at her wedding in her hometown in Italy earlier this summer, I was beaming with pride as she floated down the isle to wed the equally charming and devastatingly chic Eugenio Amos. The wedding was a fairy tale. It was, quite literally, the wedding of Margherita’s dreams, and like so many other people, I was honored to be able to watch it come true.
The Spiceburns (a fictional Pop trinity that Eugenie and Tatiana made up when they were at Burning Man with Marge) were part of the wedding party
The man behind the dress Giambattista Valli, with the woman behind the shoes, Charlotte Dellal
Dasha and Lauren and their slices of wedding cake
Josephine and one of the hundreds of butterflies that were released at lunch
Mario with Vlad and Stavros
Pillow talk with Eugenie
The happiest and most glamorous couple in Italy at their reception
Dasha, Vanina, Oly and Neville at the circus
Two icons looking very iconic: Carine and Anna
Stefano and Francesco
Coco and Lauren
Vanessa, Lazaro, Jack and me
Patrick and Hamish on the dance floor
Charlotte, truly in her element
Giovanna on one of the painted hay bails
Me and the little sister I always wanted and was so lucky to find. Congratulations, Marge!
Full disclosure: The first time I ever met Gwen Stefani was in 2001, when I was a freshman in college, at the afterparty for the VH1/Vogue Fashion Awards. (Remember those, anyone?) It was at The Park on 10th Avenue and my brother was with me. She was wearing the wide-gage fishnet stockings, cargo pants, wife beater tank top and pointy toed boots that John Galliano had designed for Dior, and she standing on the patio on the second floor. Feeling a little tipsy, my brother, who is truly a lifelong No Doubt fan and only dated blondes who would entertain his SKA music preference, went up to her and asked for an autograph. We didn’t have paper or anything, so we found a pen and presented her with a pack of Marlboro Lights, which she laughed at (at us?) and signed. I still cringe every time I think of this.
Point of the story: I have been a Gwen fan for more than a decade. Since No Doubt’s 1995 record Tragic Kingdom, to be exact, though in the pre-internet world the record didn’t make it to Missouri till about 1997. (I’ve crossed paths with Gwen a few times since then, and I’ve told her the story of the brother and the nicotine autograph and she just laughs. Thank goodness.) Which is why I was so enthusiastic about seeing her again for Harper’s Bazaar’s September issue cover story. I’ll include that and some of Terry Richardson’s fabulous pictures below, but after the two of us finished dishing on her style choices – few women have done more for platinum blondes and red lipstick since Marilyn Monroe – we started talking about her new album, Push and Shove, which I can’t wait to get my hands on. So I thought anyone who is as a devoted fan of the Gwen songbook as I am would find some of these thoughts interesting. And then, for the rest of us fashion folk, check out the full article below.
On the new record’s sound: “It’s really upbeat, which is surprising, it’s kind of a combination of everything we’ve ever done. It has that reggae thing in it, it has a lot of 80s sounds, it’s very happy and upbeat, but it’s confessional too. My last records and my solo stuff were not to be taken too seriously. They were dance records. They were, like, silly. They’re not about being deep, but [this record] is a little deeper. This is more like a No Doubt record. I think it sounds like us. It sounds so much like us, but fresh. In a new way. I definitely think it’s the best work we’ve ever done. I’m sure everyone says that about a new record and I am always like, my favorite thing is whatever I’m working on. But it’s true: this is my favorite thing.”
On being nervous about releasing a new record: “Yeah, I’m nervous. I haven’t put a record in a long time, and there’s so much passion that you put into it. And then all of a sudden, it’s out. This is the best part because no one has heard it, because you’re so proud of it and you love it, and no one has criticized it. I’m really excited for the people I know who have followed us and are supporting us. They’re going to love it. If I love it, they’re going to love it.”
On getting back into the groove: “I would be with the baby all day, do the baby stuff, and the fashion stuff, and all the stuff that I do, and then at 4pm I would go to the studio and say, ‘Let’s write this record.’ Before, when we would write, we’d stay up all night. But now, it’s like, how do I force myself to write? What do I write about? I mean, I’m married. Know what I mean? So weird. Then, when we wrote the first song, which is called Undercover, it was like, oh my god, we can do it.”
On writers block: “To be honest, by this point in a career, it’s hard to get inspired. You’ve already sort of done it all. [When you’re starting out] you don’t have that house, and you don’t have that car. There’s ambition. Look, we had to fight for it, and all that desperate-we-want-to-do-it-so-bad is what made it so good. It’s really an inspired record.”
On being shocked by No Doubt’s early success: “We weren’t working towards fame. That’s what’s weird. We were working toward playing shows and getting more shows, but not because we ever thought we’d break through. We were in a scene that we thought would never go mainstream. The idea of getting on the radio was beyond all possibility. This is in the middle of grunge, remember. I’m sorry, but why would that happen? It was Nirvana. And then it just got on the radio. And then Tragic Kingdom came out and we went on tour and we never came home.”
On writing lyrics now: “Do I write in a diary? Not now. I used to have journal, of course I did. But now with the kids and stuff, it’s like, when? I don’t have time to go to the bathroom, let alone do a journal entry. This was the first time I wrote with someone else, besides when I did my solo stuff. [Tony Kanal and I] just sat on the couch and we actually wrote lyrics together. Normally, I would write all the lyrics, but I couldn’t do it. I needed someone to go, ‘What about this?’ I needed someone to push me. Piece it all together, torture torture torture, and then we’d have the whole string of the song, and then I’d just have to write the lyrics. Which was a whole other thing: what am I going to write about? But, interestingly, even though I have so many blessings in my life, there’s always something to complain about. That’s life.”
On the last song that made it on the album, Undone: “The last song we we wrote was a song called Undone. I had gone to London and I said I’d go work on it, and they were like, ‘She’s not going to do it, she doesn’t work on anything when she’s not here.” But I got to London and one night when the kids were at the their grandparents’, and I was looking at old videos, watching Garbage videos, and the stuff you do when you have the luxury of that time. And I said, I’m going to pull that song out. I did it. I wrote the words. I got back to LA and they were like, ‘What? You did something?’ That turned out really good. We didn’t struggle over it. Sometimes it just happens.
On the color pink: “You know, I’m feeling pink again. Ten years ago, when I did pink the first time, I was like I never want to see that color again. It represents girls. It’s like I had that line in ‘Just A Girl’: Take this pink ribbon off my eyes.”
On the song, Just a Girl: “When I wrote that, who knew? Who knew! I can remember sitting on the my bed, and my sister was on the phone, I’m at my parents, it’s three in the morning, and I’m writing this song. It’s so weird, right? I didn’t even think anyne would ever hear that song, let alone it become a hit. Recently, we just did some small impromptu acoustic things, and we did that song and I was wondering,’How is this song going to work now? Am I the other girl that I used to be? But it totally still works. Obviously, I’m not that girl anymore, but it still works.”
From Harper’s Bazaar: Never Just a Girl, Gwen Stefani. By Derek Blasberg. Photography by Terry Richardson
Halfway through my lunch with Gwen Stefani, she does something that I never thought I’d see her do in public: She shuffles her feet under the table and kicks off her shoes—peep-toe stiletto ankle booties. “Oh, what’s the point?” she says in her distinctive Southern California drawl. “You can’t see ‘em anyway.” For a girl whose personal style has been deftly calculated and copied for two decades—trends she can take responsibility for include belly shirts, bindis, and even adult braces because “I always told myself when I got rich, that’s the first thing I’d do”—this was an unexpected moment of fashion fatigue.
When she divulges her day’s schedule, however, it’s clear why her booties were benched. Before meeting me for lunch, she’d dropped off her older son, Kingston, six, at school and reviewed mixes for No Doubt’s latest album, Push and Shove. After we’re done talking (and after she chats with Charlize Theron on her way out of the restaurant about the benefits of bald heads, which I’ll get to later), she collects Kingston and takes him to a costume shop to create a Spider-Man wardrobe. “He just discovered superheroes, and he’s obsessed,” Gwen says. “It was like when I discovered Marilyn Monroe: ob-sess-ed.” Next she has a fitting, will put her kids to bed, and then head to a night shoot for the video for “Settle Down,” the first single off the new album. That’s just Monday. On Thursday, her husband, Bush front man Gavin Rossdale, comes home from an East Coast tour and plays the Staples Center in Los Angeles; then they’ll pack up Kingston and his younger brother, Zuma, four, and board Rossdale’s tour bus for a family road trip to Las Vegas.
“It’s, like, the real deal, dude,” she says. “It’s superfun being a mom, but it’s hard too. Finding that balance between work and family is the hardest thing I’ve ever done—by far.” But to be perfectly clear, those bare feet are no indication that she’s slipping in the sartorial department. (The toes are perfectly manicured in a fire-engine red polish.) In fact, the 42-year-old is still fit, fabulous, and glamorous, boldly sporting her signature accessories: platinum hair and scarlet lips.
“I’ve always been a girl who loves to dress up,” says Gwen. “I already put my makeup on twice today: I put it on to take my kid to school, and then I went home, washed my face, and put it on again to have lunch with you.” She even wears it at home because “I like to make my husband like me more,” she says, laughing, “and he likes it when I’m wearing makeup.”
Gwen recalls how she felt when, at the age of 25, she spent eight hours in a hair salon in Long Beach getting her coveted white-blonde locks. “It was like I’d unlocked the key. I remember feeling like, ‘I have arrived. This is me. Finally.’” The red lip came when her grandmother gave her a crimson lipstick when she was in high school. “I remember sitting in my ghetto, beat-up Honda Prelude and putting on that lipstick in the rearview mirror and being like, ‘Uh-huh, I like that. That’s the shit right there.’ I never stopped after that.”
Earlier this year, Gwen arrived at a party at Stella McCartney’s L.A. store wearing a killer black sheer-paneled jumpsuit. Of that particular ensemble, she says, “I came home and it was hanging in my bathroom, and I was like, ‘Yes.’ I wondered if it was going to be too much, but when I put it on, it was the perfect amount.”
While she is (no pun intended) no doubt proud of her physique, it’s not Gwen’s favorite topic of conversation. “I hate talking about my body [all the time]; it’s ridiculous,” she says, referring to the number of times someone has asked how to get her six-pack abs. “There is no secret: You just have to eat healthy, work out, and torture yourself!” Jumping around onstage for a few hours for thousands of screaming fans is great cardio, and she says she hits the gym when her hectic mother-of-two schedule allows. “But it’s more for my brain than it is for my body.” Not that it’s all about mental health. On how she stays sample-size: “I like to wear clothes too much, so I try to keep focused.”
Other questions she’s tired of fielding are those about hair maintenance. “Do you think Marilyn Monroe had to talk about this?” she asks, smiling. “Well, I heard she did hers with a Q-tip every 10 days, so I try to follow Marilyn’s rule.” I mention that she’s never been photographed with dark roots, and she points to the houndstooth fedora she is wearing. “And you’ll never see me with roots either.”
When No Doubt was just starting out in the late ’80s, rehearsing in a studio that Gwen and her brother built in their grandparents’ house with bandmates, she wasn’t able to spend much time on girly stuff. She was one of the boys, taking shifts driving their first tour bus—a vehicle that got so greasy from the guys’ unwashed hair, she couldn’t see out of the windows. “I did my own makeup, my own costumes; I did everything myself. I didn’t even know there were stylists.” She made many of her now iconic music-video outfits, though she admits that she used a glue gun as much as a sewing machine. “I remember there was a point when all the guys were sitting around eating pizza, and I finally said I needed some help. So I got an assistant, but guess who he was? A roadie. He took my first Prada dress, which Gavin had bought for me, the first designer piece I ever owned, and he washed it, and it came back this big,” she says, indicating Barbie doll—size with her fingers.
Gwen is, in a word, chill. She is a well-liked, scandal-free member of the Hollywood glitterati. As we leave lunch, she bumps into Charlize Theron (“Hey, girl,” is Gwen’s greeting), who has just shaved her head for a role in Mad Max: Fury Road, and has no problem teasing her about the look. “You’re insane—you’re like a skinhead!” Gwen says. “I’m so jealous.” Theron compliments her on what she’s wearing and mentions that her baby, Jackson, lives in one of the onesies that Gwen designed for her Harajuku Mini clothing line.
Think about it: We’ve never seen Gwen falling out of a nightclub; we’ve never seen her mug shot; even on morning school runs, she is a rock-star mother. Gwen lets out a Valley Girl giggle when I say how unaffected she is, then gives an interesting explanation: While her onstage persona is a jumping, screaming extrovert, in her real life she is, in her own words, “passive. I was never a rebel.” She credits that to her relationship with her strict Roman Catholic parents, who she lived with, unbelievably, until she was 25. “When I started dating Gavin, I was still at my parents’ house. Yeah, it’s a little weird,” she says with a smile. (She had a midnight curfew when she went to the prom with Tony Kanal, her bandmate and then boyfriend.) “My mom calls me a peacemaker. I want everyone to be happy. But I have a superbig opinion on everything artistic that I do. I know what I like and I know what I hate—that part of me isn’t passive.”
Gwen insists that fame and gossip don’t affect her. “That someone would say something untrue or bad about me doesn’t bother me. It’s like water off a duck’s back.” This attitude applies to everything from best-dressed lists to rumors that her marriage is falling apart. “None of that stuff matters. There’s something in me, being this passive person, that those kinds of things don’t upset me. I know they can say anything; they can just make something up. But what are you going to do? It’s not part of my reality, so it’s okay.”
This resilience also comes from the fact that the band was never seeking fame, she says. She was always in it for the music. “We didn’t even do it because we were trying to make it. Now everybody wants to be famous. It doesn’t even matter what you do,” Gwen says. “Let me tell you how that first record happened: My boyfriend had broken up with me and I was devastated, so I wrote all these songs. I didn’t even know I could write. I was just a girl who was in love with this guy, then suddenly I’m a songwriter, and I’ve gotten you back so good. I went from being nothing, from being an ordinary, nerdy girl, to having power.”
Guncle Derek with Lulu, Cody and Stella at the Amangasett Farmer’s Market
Well, that’s the end of my summer. While August is technically not over for another week and a half and there’s a good two weekends before the start of fashion week (which signals the end of all forms of relaxation), I’m booked out on weddings in San Francisco and Paris for the next two Saturdays. That means this week was my last chance to head to the beach, which I was only too happy to do. Not that it was all holiday all the time: One of my goals this summer was to try and learn to surf, which I proudly can say I did (emphasis on the “try”). And I also spent a lot of the week acting like a human horse/floatation device for all of my friend’s children who came to the beach with us. (I officially feel old since so many of my friends have breathing, speaking, asking, crying children. I’m a full time Guncle now.) Though, I must admit, I did manage to squeeze in some adult time too, catching the Kills concert at Surf Lodge in Montauk on the last night. I’ll put some pictures from that gig on this post, but first enjoy a series of shots of some of the cutest kiddies in the whole world.
Cody in her summer whites climbing her sand mountain
A wander to the water in Southampton
Lulu working that juice box
Eloise and her mommy, Meredith, in Montauk
That’s me and Corey of Corey’s Wave going out to ‘hang ten.’ (Do people even say that any more? I’ll never make it as a surfer, will I?) Corey was the best. Extremely patient and, well, a miracle worker since he got me up on the board on my first day. Though, I’m sure my natural athletic ability helped matters
I went method with my surfing. And my flip flop wearing. Look at the state of my feet after a week on the Montauk rocks and my Havianas
Sometimes Stella joined me on the surf lessons, though she ultimately decided looking for starfish was more gratifying
Although I grew up in Missouri, a place where one’s wheels can say a lot about a person, living in New York made me forget about car culture. That is, until, Evan showed me his 1967 Chevy
Lauren and her little man, Nicolas
A girl who matches her flippers to her floaties? Cody’s adolescent accessorizing skills were impressive, to say the least
This is the sort of sign that I love finding in the Hamptons, because they only exist in towns like the Hamptons where some people are so insanely unaware about how rude they are
The lovely Ku-ling with her sleepy Lulu
A sunset over Sagaponack
All these beautiful babies, and then one lucky bitch. (Sorry, I couldn’t help myself!) This is my friend Samantha’s pooch, Lucy
A very mischievous looking Miles in East Hampton
A beautiful beach day in Southampton
And finally, the Kills performance in Montauk. I was very impressed with how Alison matched her dye job to the sunset
Nate, Dree and me stormed the stage. (After hanging out with babies for a week, I couldn’t but wonder when I’m going to be too old for that kind of thing)
Hanna, Alison and Cory at the Surf Lodge
Me, Mark and the Kills on my last night in Montauk
Sunset on my last night in Copenhagen
First, I’ll say that I did not go and see the famous mermaid statue when I was in Copenhagen. I made that mistake back when I was a teenager and I came to this town. It’s only about two feet tall and you can’t even touch it. While I knew that would be a disappointment, something that was unexpectedly impressive on my most recent visit to the Danish capital was the people and the fashion. I was just here for Copenhagen Fashion Week, and I’m still reeling from all the beautiful, blonde, blue-eyed people I met. And I’m not just talking about the fashion people; the people walking down the streets, waiting for buses, minding their own business were outrageously attractive. Wonderful to look at, but terrible for my self esteem.
It was a fairly quick trip: Only four days of fashion. And there were some shows that I was particularly impressed by. Anne Sofie Madsen, who worked with McQueen in London for several years, did a fabulous show of directional, subversive club dresses; the Wood Wood show, which, much to my amusement, started at 1145pm, was some of the best street clothes I’ve seen anywhere; and I loved the Bruuns Bazaar show because it was simple, clean and perfectly wearable. Soulland was a mens label I loved so much I’ve been harassing the Danish Fashion Council girls to find out where I can get my hands on some of the stuff here in New York.
Not that my entire trip was fashion shows. I’m still a tourist at heart, which meant I made stops to at the State Museum to see their Matisse show, and of course I couldn’t leave without a trip to the Tivoli Gardens and a few twirls on some of the amusement park rides. (Fun fact: The Tivoli is the secondly oldest amusement part in Europe, dating back to 1843. Take that, Six Flags!) There was also dancing, dining, drinking and more. Have a look at some of my snaps from my Danish fashion week diary.
The fairy godmother of Danish fashion, Eva Kruse, with the grandfather of British fashion, the legendary Colin McDowell.
A gorgeous little girl and her puppy: Everything and everyone was so ridiculously perfect in this town.
The Anne Sofie Madsen show’s finale
Love magazine’s Anders Soelvsten Thomsen, the first Danish friend I ever had and who I met back in the early 2000s when we were mere club kids, with me at the Bruuns Bazaar show
Nadja Bender, Lindsey Eixson and Caroline Brash Nielsen at the finale of the Designers Remix show
My friend Jakob Hedberg, a Swedish art director I met when he worked with us at Vmagazine. He has his own magazine based in Stockholm now, as you can see here. The title is a bi-annual that says everything about Swedish fashion, though soon it will expand to include all of Scandanavia
The finale of the Wood Wood show, one of my favorites of Copenhagen fashion week
Anne Christine Persson, my tour guide and all purpose Danish liaison for the entire week. She was tall, blonde, gorgeous and, much to my amusement, always wore high heels. In the morning, on cobblestones, just standing around a cocktail party. And I can appreciate that in a woman
Look, even the graffiti in this town was beautiful. This was written on the wall of a bathroom in a nightclub
The last look at the Soulland show, which was one of my favorites. Who wouldn’t love a navy trench coat covered in buttons? Yes, please
The State Museum’s Matisse show was small, but concise and impressive
Hans Christian Andreson, the children’s poet and one of Denmark’s greatest historic literary exports, is decorated throughout the city. In the Rosenborg Garden there’s this wonderful memorial statue, which I loved not only because of the beautiful way it has aged and the posing, but also because HC looks so stylish. IHe knew how to work 19th century fashions. Look at that cravat!
The Tivoli Gardens. Oh, how I loved this place. It was like a more historic, more sophisticated version of Six Flags, but with smaller rides and fewer obese people with mullets and fanny packs
A children’s parade in the Tivoli
This is Heidi Hardgrove, another lovely lady from Copenhagen fashion week who, much to my surprise, was born in Missouri. Just like me. (Sadly, since she lived in Denmark since she was three, spoke Danish, and had been involved in several bizarre accidents including saunas, wrist braces and falling down stair cases at underground porn parties, the similarities ended there.) She’s here with Fabian Hart, my new favorite German fashion person
This is me and Anders trying to be really creative. Bear with us
And finally, perhaps my strongest memory of Danish fashion week, a scene from one of the parties. These beautiful people know how to have a good time, and at one party, held in an abandoned house-turned-boys-insane-asylum, that meant swinging upside down from the windows. Well, it was memorable, Copenhagen. See you next season!