It’s funny what you miss when you leave home, isn’t it? One of the reasons I was so desperate to high tail it out of St Louis after high school was because I was tired of long country rides, having to drive a car everywhere, fried food, long conversations with strangers, people who actually listened for an answer when they asked, ‘Howareyou?’ (That’s my pet peeve about New Yorkers, by the way. People who think ‘Howareyou’ is the same as ‘Hello.’) Now that it’s nearing a decade and a half since I left home, though, these are the very things I look forward to most when I come back to Missouri. Driving to my uncle’s farm in my Dad’s Jeep with the music up and the windows down and a fresh Imo’s pizza in the back? Heaven.
Last week started with my nephew and godson Will’s second birthday. It had a Cars theme and a bouncy castle, the latter of which had a 150 pound weight restriction, which only made me want to get in there more. (And, for the record, I did. No children were harmed.) And it ended at my Uncle Fred’s house in Hillsboro, which is a particular point of Blasbergian pride. Fred built the house with his own two hands with local woods and rocks. So what it took him three decades, looks fabulous now. He suffers from a disease called Ataxia, which we are still finding more information about, which limits him from some of our favorite countryside pastimes, like hayrides and flower picking and dips in the pool. But something tells me he’s happy that his hard work has brought joy to so many of us.
From St Louis, I figured I might as well hop up to Aspen for an event Chanel was doing for their Paris-Dallas collection. (That show, in Texas, was one of my favorite Chanel moments. For my diary from Karl Lagerfeld’s country western couture, click here.) I had never been to this picturesque town — truth be told, I’m a better waterskier than I am snow bunny — but I found it super charming. The people were nice, even the ones with recently plumped faces. And I was able to show off my equestrian skills. Not to mention I got to wear my favorite cowboy shirt and cashmere bandana in a non-ironic way, for once. I wonder if there were any other cowboys on the Rio Grande Trail who had a Saint Laurent kerchief around their neck?
Little known fact about me and Alexander Wang: We were both interns together at Vogue in the early 200o’s. Schlepping around Conde Nast wasn’t our only shared experience, however. Does anyone else remember Mango, the SNL character from the late 1990′s that could bewitch anyone with his odd (booty shorts? greasy hair?) charms? Alex did, and so did I, which is why I jumped at the chance to make a cameo appearance in a comedic film that Alex commissioned, which heralds the return of Mango. Chris Kattan is the man behind the Mango, and he’s without a doubt a comedic genius. Need a teaser? Check out the blooper reel.
But now, for the entire Mango opus. (Go ahead and scroll to 5:42 to find my mom’s favorite part of the video, when Mango asks, ‘Derek Blasberg, why are you everywhere?’ Which seems to be a particular anthem of my mother too.)
Oh, Riri, what are we going to do with you? I have fallen in and out of love with Rihanna since she first hit the Pop music scene. (Though, her song, SOS, still gets me going on a dancefloor.) I would follow her on Instagram and then unfollow her. (But since she shut that down, don’t need to worry about it anymore.) Last night, though, I decided I liked her. She was both badass and adorable in her speech at the Council of Fashion Designers of America Award, and looked both glamorous and tacky. Her gown was made of a completely sheer club glitter mesh. Most importantly, she gave me the best line from a fashion party ever: To describe how she uses fashion as her defense mechanism, she gave the line: “She can beat me, but she can’t beat my outfit.” Genius! More about the awards? John Water, the film director and cult figure, was an amazing host. He was cynical and fabulous. Congratulations to my friend Joseph Altuzarra who won the Womenswear Designer of the Year award. Public School took home the award for menswear, and The Row went home with the award for Accessories. Another highlight was the reemergence of Mango, the SNL star of my childhood (more on that in another post), who my friend Kristina coerced into taking a picture with Anna Wintour. And meeting Ruth Finlay, the head of the Fashion Calendar. She received The Board of Directors Tribute Award, and the video that preceding her award, which chronicled her seven decades (yes, seven decades) in fashion brought a tear to more than a few people’s eyes in the audience. Which can’t be easy in a room full of fashion people.
Captions, from top: Me with Mango and Alexander Wang; Rachel Zoe and Marc Jacobs; Blake Lively, Michael Kors and Heidi Klum; Naomi Campbell and Tyson Beckford; Chrissy Teigen, Vera Wang and Rachel Roy; Raf Simons, the recipient of the International Award; Dree Hemingway, Jamie Bochert and Gia Coppola; Mango and Anna Wintour; Hanne Gaby and Alana; Anja Rubik; Andrew Rosen and Diane von Furstenberg; Karen Elson and Lance; Leigh Lezark, Olivier Theyskens and Caroline Trentini; John Waters on the mic; the Traina sisters with Jack and Lazaro from Proenza Schouler; Will and Trey Laird with Scott Sternberg and Jessica Joffe; Tim Coppens, the winner of the Swarovski menswear award, with Daria Strokous and Tom van Dorpe; Joseph Altuzarra and Christopher Kane; my sweet Karlie; Stefano Tonchi, Giovanna Battaglia, Karlie and me; Joan Smalls with the Brant boys; Ruth Finlay with Tim; me, some Brant boys and Joan at the Boom Boom Room
My favorite part of the Cannes film festival had nothing to do with the city of Cannes. The festival, now in its 67th year, has become perhaps the most famous of the international film festivals. It is the stilettos and ball gowns to Sundance’s Ugg boots and fur coats. Though, for all the glitz and the glamour that it brings, it’s also adopted some less chic elements, like pushy sponsors, crowds, creepy old men and so many closed streets. Which is why the best bits are often in the other cities that dot the French Riviera. Like Monaco, which is where Nicolas Ghesquiere held his first resort collection for Louis Vuitton, appropriately inspired by the colors and plaids associated with the Grand Prix, Monaco’s most famous sporting event. Prince Albert and Princess Charlene, the sitting heads of Monaco’s famous royal family (Albert’s mother, Grace Kelly, was the basis for the critically panned film that opened the film festival a few days before) where the hosts of the affair, and joined us in the audience. As did the royal members of Ghesquiere’s fashion family, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Jennifer Connelly. But it was the town of Antibes that saw the most action of the Cannes film festival because that’s where two of the week’s biggest events take place: Vanity Fair’s annual dinner, which this year was cohosted by Giorgio Armani, and then a week later the AMFAR gala. Both take place at the famed Hotel du Cap, which is perhaps the world’s most glamorous hotel. It’s gilded, marbled and expensive as hell, and sits atop a long drive that leads down to an infinity pool overlooking the Mediterranean that looks like it fell out of an Old Hollywood film. During AMFAR’s festivities, this drive was decorated with Damien Hirst’s gold plated mammoth skeleton, which went for $15million at the live auction. The night after AMFAR, Topshop’s Sir Phillip Green hosted an appropriately glamorous finale: Naomi Campbell’s birthday party. The supermodel showed up in a fluorescent green, beaded and lace Versace minidress, and was lead in a chorus of Happy Birthday by Robin Thicke. Afterward, the party moved to a club called The Billionaire, which would be tacky in any place besides the Riviera. Because perhaps only there, tacky can be chic.
Captions, from top: The view from the top of Antibes; Natasha Poly and I at the Vanity Fair dinner at Eden Rock; Jean Pegozzi’s inflatable orgy; me and Dasha in Antibes; Daria Strokous playing by the stairs; Karlie Kloss at Pegozzi’s; Milla Jovovich posing at Richie Akiva’s party; Karlie and Rosie Huntington-Whitley at AMFAR; Carine Roitfeld and Irina Shayk at AMFAR; me and Rinko at the Louis Vuitton show; Liya Kebede in the show; Nicolas Ghesquiere takes his bow; Elizabeth von Guttman and her fashion wifey Alexia, with Carine; Lui Wen at LV; A royal guard in the Monaco palace with Pat McGrath and Sara Maino; Nicky Haslam and Peggy Seigal at VF; Pegozzi, Sofya and Dasha at Eden Rock; boys being boys: The Brants and Brett Ratner with me at VF; Suki on the dancefloor; Sofya, Dasha, me and Fabiola Beracasa at VF; a charming beach pier in Antibes; the Russians at a Garage magazine party; when me and Riley Keogh met Conchita Wurst; the Hirst dinosaur at Hotel du Cap; Naomi Campbell on her birthday; a garden in Antibes; Jessica Chastain in the du Cap elevator after AMFAR; me and Paul Aziz; Milla and Chris Tucker; Stefano Tonchi, Edward Enninful and Riccardo Tisci at Naomi’s birthday; the Hotel du Cap at night; me and Jessica Chastain; Julia Roitfeld in the AMFAR fashion show; my friend Amalyne; when I tried to steal Natasha’s diamond necklace; Robin Thicke performing at AMFAR; Jourdan Dunne at AMFAR; Kati and Adrian; Margherita Missoni on the AMFAR runway, which raised more than $3million; Karlie and a fellow giraffe; feeling left out when Lara Stone and Karlie started smooching; Vlad and JT at Eden Rock; Sir Phillip Green with Naomi and her Studio 54 birthday cake.
There are other people who knew Louise Wilson, the beloved and well respected fashion professor at London’s Central Saint Martins, better than I did. People like Stella McCartney, Christopher Kane and Jonathan Saunders, the British designers who she mentored. Or someone like Alexander McQueen, who she famously found as a student and helped scoot on his way to becoming a fashion legend. But in the many times that I was graced with her company, I was impressed with this woman who could command a room and inspire generations of creative young people. She was feisty and she was direct. She pushed people to their limits. Don’t just take my word for it, though. In the wake of her passing yesterday (she died in her sleep at the age of 52), someone passed onto me some encouraging words, originally written by Brian Buirge and Jason Bacher, that she had posted on a bulletin board in her office. I shall republish here as a most appropriate legacy.
BELIEVE IN YOUR FUCKING SELF. STAY UP ALL FUCKING NIGHT. WORK OUTSIDE OF YOUR FUCKING HABITS. KNOW WHEN TO FUCKING SPEAK UP. FUCKING COLLABORATE. DON’T FUCKING PROCRASTINATE. GET OVER YOUR FUCKING SELF. KEEP FUCKING LEARNING. FORM FOLLOWS FUCKING FUNCTION. A COMPUTER IS A LITE-BRITE FOR BAD FUCKING IDEAS. FIND FUCKING INSPIRATION EVERYWHERE. FUCKING NETWORK. EDUCATE YOUR FUCKING CLIENT. TRUST YOUR FUCKING GUT. ASK FOR FUCKING HELP. MAKE IT FUCKING SUSTAINABLE. QUESTION FUCKING EVERYTHING. HAVE A FUCKING CONCEPT. LEARN TO TAKE SOME FUCKING CRITICISM. MAKE ME FUCKING CARE. USE FUCKING SPELL CHECK. DO YOUR FUCKING RESEARCH. SKETCH MORE FUCKING IDEAS. THE PROBLEM CONTAINS THE FUCKING SOLUTION. THINK ABOUT THE FUCKING POSSIBILITIES.
And here, an interview she did for Nick Knight’s ShowStudio
This year, the Gagosian Gallery published a special edition Frieze newspaper. It’s an exciting venture that has unprecedented access to some of the art world’s most important contemporary artists, including Ed Ruscha (who’s work is the focus of the Gagosian booth at the Frieze Art Fair), Urs Fischer, Glenn Brown, Jeff Koons and Dan Colen. Richard Prince himself contributed his own prose. I wrote several pieces in the paper, including the one excerpted here on the opening of the Met gala. (See my Met gala pictures here.) I spoke to Harold Koda, the bigwig at the Costume Institute, about Charles James, the tortured genius that is the focus of this year’s show, and about Anna Wintour, who the costume center has been recently renamed after. And for good reason, according to Koda. Be sure to pick up a copy of the newspaper at any of the gallery’s outposts around the world, and at the fair. And, as always, for more information on our artists and upcoming shows, go to Gagosian.com Before Frieze, this week will be about fashion. On Monday, May 5th, the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s newly renamed Costume Institute will hold a star-studded opening for their show Charles James: Beyond Fashion. The gala, hosted this year by Bradley Cooper, Sarah Jessica Parker, Aerin Lauder, Oscar de la Renta, Lizzie and Jonathan Tisch, and Vogue’s Anna Wintour, has become known as the party of the year. High fashion teams up with Hollywood, all in the name of fundraising for one of the country’s most important museum resources for the decorative arts.
The real star of Monday night, however, is a man who’s name has been, until now, only familiar to fashion historians. Charles James (1906 – 1978) was the preeminent fashion designer of the mid-twentieth century, dressing high-society ladies in complex, revolutionary ball gowns and convertible separates. According to the Costume Instituttes’ curator in charge, Harold Koda, James’s skill transcended that of a fashion designer. “No one worked like he did. His constructions, his clothes, are outside of traditional fashion. He was an artist.” Indeed, the name of the show, Beyond Fashion, came from a title the designer chose for his unpublished, unfinished autobiography.
Thomas P. Campbell, director and CEO of the Met, agrees: “James considered himself an artist, and approached fashion with a sculptor’s eye and a scientist’s logic.” Before he died, James was aware his legacy would be the artistry of his designs – as opposed to just a name stitched on a fashion label – which is why he directed so many of his pieces to academic institutions, namedly the Brooklyn Museum, which kept in its permanent collection many of his most breathtaking gowns (worn by such clients as Austine Hearst, Millicent Rogers, and Dominique de Menil), until the Metropolitan acquired the collection in 2009. (James has been the focus of two large-scale retrospectives: at the Brooklyn Museum in 1982, and at the Chicago History Museum two years ago.)
In his professional life, however, James vacillated between celebrated artist and fashion’s ultimate pauper. His last studio was a derelict room in New York’s Chelsea Hotel, where he worked until he died amid much more meager circumstances than he knew at the height of his career. (This show features some partically completed works that were discovered there posthumously.) He was famously difficult to work with, despite receiving many awards for his work and retaining a top-notch clientele. “Hubris? Yes, he was known to be an egomaniac in many aspects of his life, and as a business partner, he was a nightmare,” Koda explains. “But he really approached the making of clothes as an artist. He would look at designs for decades. There are certains designs that he began in 1929, that he finished in the ‘50s, even after he closed his house. That’s truly exploring a concept.”
The show opens to the public on May 8 in a recently refurbished and renamed space of the musum: the Anna Wintour Costume Center. Naming the gallery after the legendary Vogue editor and current artistic director of Conde Nast was a no-brainer, according to Koda. As a Met trustee since 1999, and a chair of the Costume Institute gala since 1995, Wintour has raised more than $125million for the institute alone. “We have always been able to count on the support of one person, and that’s Anna,” Koda says. “We’re here because she is.”
My thighs are aching and it’s not even 10pm and I’m already in my pajamas. Is this what a marathon runner feels like? Too bad my exhaustion is not from running 26 miles, but rather talking for 72 straight hours. Phew. What a weekend. It started with a birthday party my friend Tico threw me at his house and ending with the Met ball in New York. I’m happy I took some pictures because I might not remember it all otherwise.
Captions, from top: Annie, me and Karlie at my birthday; Naomi at the Met; Olivier, Rosie, Joan and Rita at their table; Katie, Tabitha, Alexa, Harley and Karlie enjoying some sushi; Lily and Kristen Wigg, funniest woman ever; the world’s most glamorous couple, tom and Gisele; Toni and Jourdan; forever the hostess with the mostess, Lauren Santo Domingo; Kate and Stella on the red carpet; Jessica Pare fitting in perfectly at the lobby of the Carlyle Hotel; Katie, Lazaro and Carine; Tom Sachs and the birthday cake he made me; Atlanta, Jen, Laura, Sarah, Rebekah and Shoshanna looking like a tough girl gang; Dan Colen and Evan Yurman; Samantha, Marjorie and Jamie; the trumpets announcing the dinner; Jessica Hart from the back; Bernard and Matthew; Tico and Colby, my birthday throwers; Kate, James and Nicky; Karen and Tabitha and their trains; Max, Alex, LSD, Ryan, Caroline and Vanessa proving black is still the new black; Eugenie at dinner; Carolyn Murphy giving me over the shoulder; Zoe Kravitz, a lady in red; Jessica and Stavros; Arizona on her way out of the museum; Mr Testino in his tails and decorations; Brooke Candy on the roof of the Standard Hotel; Margherita and Coco; Blake Lively and Bee Shaffer taking the train into dinner; me and Taylor Swift
First, a little background: The Brown Shoe Company is based in St Louis. And as a self appointed cultural mayor of the Midwest city, it was my duty to go downtown last night to celebrate the company’s 100th Anniversary of the company, which was one of the very first to join the New York stock market. (I wasn’t the only one from the Lou who was down there either. Nelly, of St Lunatics and ‘Hot in Here’ fame, was also in attendance.) But what I didn’t expect at the bash was the performance from Jennifer Hudson. The Academy Award winning American Idol semi finalist waltzed onto stage singing, and by the end of her performance had the entire room gobsmacked. This was no cocktail fair. Effie White was back, and she brought the place down. I was in the DJ booth when she started, so I managed to sneak over to the side of the stage to steal this video. Doing St Louis proud!
If I had to make a list of my least favorite things, these three would be on the top: sunburns, large groups, and lines that snake through metal barricades. But perhaps the thing I like the least – and something that my therapist (if I had a therapist, that is) would have a field day with – is missing out. So, when my friend Poppy Delevingne invited me to celebrate her bachelorette party, or hen party as the English call it, at the Coachella music festival, I vacillated on the subject. I’ve never done Coachella before. All those girls in tiny denim shorts and boys with farmers tans, a large portion of which seem to be under the influence of some mind altering substances? Not for me. But, I rationed, is this my one chance to experience Southern California’s largest outdoor music festival? After all, every year I get a little older, and no one wants to see the creepy old dude rocking out in the back of the lawn.
So, I went. And I’m happy I did. My first and most likely last Coachella experience was a rewarding one. It combined the joys of celebrating the last few moments of unmarried bliss of a close friend with the enjoyment of some of Pop music’s biggest acts. Beyonce made a surprise appearance when her sister Solange performed. Pharrell wore the hat. Again. I fell in love with Lorde. Again. Outkaste was pretty good. Calvin Harris was really good. Alexander Wang’s party had a set from Iggy Azaela, followed by Major Lazer; Jeremy Scott’s party was in Frank Sinatra’s old Palm Springs pad and I had a dance off with a freshly bobbed and blonded Zoe Kravitz. And, oh, my friend’s bachelorette party was like the adult version of my favorite high school pool party: We ate too much, drank spiked punch, played on inflatable animals in the pool, unintentionally stole each other’s sunglasses, and didn’t get enough sleep. In fact, I plan on recovering from the weekend just in time for Poppy’s wedding next month.
Captions, from top: Cara, Poppy and Sienna at the bachelorette party; Alexander Skarsgaard and me; sunset in Palm Springs; Michael Polish and Kate Bosworth; a live set from Major Lazer; Rosie, Fergie and me; nightfall at the festival; Poppy’s crown, which I stole (sorry, Poppy); me and Kate; Michael, Noah and Alex; Conrad and his girlfriend with Petey, Gabriella and Gaby; poolside giggles; Cara about to leap on an inflatable; Caroline de Maigret at Alex’s party; Lily and Poppy showing off their locks on the dancefloor; Rita Ora at Frank Sinatra’s house; and a final shot on the way home
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.