Paul McCartney was sat next to a friend of mine at lunch over the holidays and said to her how thankful he is every single time he finds himself on the island of St Bart’s. And further, any idiot who complains about being there, which was the in thing to do for awhile, was a wanker. So, who am I to argue with a Beatle?
Yes, I ended up in St. Bart’s again this year. I wasn’t sure I would, and I’m certainly not complaining about it. But I spent some time wondering if I should try something new. Palm Beach? Aspen? Los Angeles? New Year’s Eve is a good time to get away in fashion because, well, everyone takes off. It’s hard to work, even if you want to. And after nearly half a decade going to the same place, I debating a change of scenery. Then, when I was in St. Louis for Christmas, I realized: If it’s not baroque, don’t fix it.
Like McCartney said, St. Bart’s is heaven. The island is small, the weather is wondrous, the food deliciously European, and the surf is beautiful. (But, spoiler alert: Ain’t nothing cheap on this island.) My favorite thing to do on St. Bart’s is what my friend Dr. Samantha Boardman, she of the website Positive Prescription, and I call The Hike. It starts behind her house on Flamands Beach and twists and turns through the cliffs and mountains behind Colombier Beach, which is arguably one of the most magical places anywhere. One of the highlights of this particular trip was a drive over to a new venue on the other side of the island for a new hike. It’s a place called Grand Fond, and it reminds me of where poets in Ancient Greece would have imagined the sirens would sing. The coast was jagged, rocks shooting out and the waves crashing out and creating giant sprays and temporarily tepid pools. One of the formations has been unofficially labeled as The Wash Machine because the tide continuously beats against it. The merciless power and beauty of nature, in full effect.
This was a more sedate New Year’s bash. (In years past, Roman Abramovic would host a lavish bash that would have the Black Eyed Peas, or Gwen Stefani, or Kings of Leon perform.) This time, Tico Mugrabi and Mike Fuchs did a dinner at Taiwanna, which was revved up when McCartney did an impromptu countdown at midnight. For me, the next few hours were a bit of a blur. I know we went to see Jimmy Buffet sing Margaritaville in town, and I did dance with some new friends at a nightclub. But still, the next day I did The Hike.
This season, I had some marvelous brushes with transportation devices. There was a Mini Cooper that I borrowed from a friend, and left outside, top down, during a downpour. (It was towed away. The way I told my friend: Do you want the good news or the bad news first? The good news is that I didn’t drown. The bad news is that your car did.) And then there was the Waverunner that nearly drowned me. After growing up on the Lake of the Ozarks, I thought I had mastered those things. But they ain’t got waves in Missouri like the do in the Caribbean. Found that out the hard way.
Toward the end of the stay, when my jeans were getting a bit tighter, I realized I needed to step up my athletic game. My friend Dasha took me paddleboarding, which I didn’t excel at. (Scroll down for proof.) But something I was better at was kicking the ball around with some of her Russian friends at the stadium on the island. I realized, though, that Russians don’t mess around when it comes to football.
The holidays ended and it was a rough reentry to the real world. Because, as anyone who lives above the Bible Belt and West of the Rockies can tell you, America is in the Polar Vortex. So, here I sit at my kitchen table, pouring through my pictures from paradise. The sea and the sun seem like they are so close, but also so far. Happy new year!
Captions, from top: The view from Grand Fond; my room had hooks where I’d hang my white jeans and pink pants because I knew I’d have to put them at the back of the closet when I came back to New York; me and Marc on New Year’s Eve; the fireworks outside the Rosen’s house; French Vanity Fair’s Virginie Mouzat, Jean Pegozzi and Katie Lee; Paul McCartney takes the mic for the New Year’s Even countdown; the Brant Brothers, now official staples of St. Bart’s; Gabi and Charlie Rosen with their lady friends Roni and Gabriella; Peggy Seigel and Samantha; Vito Schnabel and Alberto Mugrabi on the puddle jumper; Russian Christmas; me and Dasha in a Mini Cooper I nearly ruined; a Jetski that nearly ruined me; a daily reminder that I was lucky to be avoiding the Polar Vortex, if only temporarily; a field on the Grand Fond side of St. Bart’s; Jessica and Samantha on the top of Grand Fond; some of the rocks on the bottom of the cliff; my feeble attempt at paddleboarding; the view from atop The Hike; Dasha on the pitch; Dasha and I after our football match, looking wore down yet rugged.
Last year, I teamed up with my friends Classy Cat and Drunk Pussy to help illustrate holiday etiquette. Not much has changed since then: The holidays are still a time of merriment, etiquette is still important, and cats still rule the internet. So, without further ado, behold ‘The Eticats.’ (And for more, scroll down to see some hilarious bloopers and outtakes.)
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
Oh yes, it’s that time of year: Holiday party time. It’s easy to complain about these moments of forced celebrations, but the holiday party may be one of the few things that I’m not jaded about. I like eggnog and layering clothes and being social and getting presents. Decorating, though, isn’t my strong suit. But that’s why I’m buddies with Bronson and Celerie, uptown design darlings who have collaborated on The Holiday Workshop, a one of a kind, residential retail experience at 19 East 75th Street. Holiday decorations include fully decorate bespoke holiday trees with Mongolian sheepskin tree skirts and thousands of hand painted lights (with proceeds benefiting East Harlem School), red lacquer wreathes, vintage table top items and glasses, engraved julep cups, handmade stationery, and more stuff that will make people feel fancy. Bronson will also be offering his popular Arrowhead Farms cocktail mixes and salad dressing. Celerie is retailing her furniture line from Henredon and the space is beautifully decorated with Celerie’s pieces accented by Bronson’s designs and curated tabletop items — it is a warm and enveloping space. Shoppers can purchase the entire “look” or the individual items. Here, I chatted with Bronson about the collection.
The holidays are coming. Tell me: Are you excited by the prospect of holiday parties, decor and merry making? Or is it all so daunting now?
I am always excited this time of year. Everything and everyone look their best and people are in the mood to party. Why should it be daunting? If you’re worried about the holidays, you’re either over-committed or you’re under-staffed. Edit your schedule and prioritize. If you’re giving a party, either prepare everything ahead of time, or staff up. Your guests are there to see you smile. Give them what they’re there for, along with a stiff drink, and everything will be fine.
I like to think I’m decoration-ally challenged. What are some simple things that someone like me can do to spruce up their place for the holidays? (I used to have a two feet, pre-lit Christmas tree. But I lost it under my bed or my couch.)
Lighting. If you don’t have time for a tree or simply cannot find it under the bed (try looking next to your box of summer speedos), invest in some Christmas lights. Better yet, get bistro lights. The bigger bulbs feel vintage and European at the same time. String the lights across your mantle, ceiling, entry, the mirror you use to take your selfies – wherever – to give an added warmth and glow to your space and your life.
Talk to me about the townhouse uptown: How did you find the space? What are some of the favorite things you have in the shop?
Celerie and I knew we wanted to set-up the holidays this year in a real home. So my dog, Cat, and I set out on foot to find a townhouse. The space is filled with vintage and antique finds and holiday decorations from Poland, Antwerp, Paris, Mexico City, Arkansas, and hundreds of yards of tartan from Scotland. My favorites are the vintage barware and decanters, the selection of complete holiday dinner table settings (one of which you can buy here on Moda Operandi) an original photograph of Winston Churchill, and the custom malachite tree skirt we fashioned for our Chinoiserie inspired Christmas tree. Of course the bespoke trees, sales of which benefit East Harlem School, are the biggest seller.
You started by providing a service: interiors and events, right? When did you transition into products, and was that an organic transition? What else do you have in the pipeline?
I have been decorating homes at Christmas for special clients and friends for nearly 10 years. Last year, I opened the shop during the holidays so that we could do this for more people. I’m committed to doing everything I can to motivate and encourage people to throw parties, to celebrate happy moments, to drink a little too much.
Allow me to help on that last one. Cheers! Speaking of, I’m excited about your holiday party this year. How long does it take to plan and execute your fete?
It varies. Sometimes all the ideas come out in a cascade, and I just have to hope I’m able to write them down. Other times, it takes me weeks or months. The Seven Swans a-Swimming party was a snap. Eight Maids a-Milking took a little more time. Ten Lords a-Leaping should’ve been easy, but it was the first year I hadn’t done it at home, so I had to make a lot of changes to make it work at The Lion. I’ve not decided one thing about this year’s party. But it’ll come.
Much to my dismay, last year I got there just after the go go boy holiday elf dancers did their set. Biggest regret ever.
Can we please not use the term “go go boy” ever again? “Prancing elves,” or even “dancing elves,” are more accurate, not to mention less gutter-sounding.
Noted. I’ll keep it out of the gutter. [Eds. note: Please see above picture of a prancing elf playing a bagpipe.] So, what have been some of your more festive party favors?
Well, my general feeling is that the guests are the favors. And this has been born out by the number of relationships that have begun (or ended) at my parties. We had the milkmaids who served tequila from prosthetic breasts two years ago. We also had a minotaur that year. And a miniature billy goat. The cheerleaders last year were inspired by the mash-up of Express Yourself and Born This Way that Madonna did in her MDNA show. I’m a big believer in the Jello shot too.
And, last question and I’m sure it’s an annoying one: Favorite party ever? (As a guest and as an organizer?)
All the ones that I’m invited to.
All images from The Holiday Workshop: 19 East 75th Street.
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.
I’m down here in Miami for the Art Basel festivities (check back this weekend for more pics and goss) and last night at a dinner for Louis Vuitton, Cindy Crawford showed up and put every other hussy at the Raleigh Hotel to shame. At one point, when the legendary hair dresser Oribe turned up, she did this sexy shimmy in her stiletto heels — in the sand — that left me gobsmacked. Not that this was the first time that I’d spoken to Cindy. I caught up with my fellow Midwesterner in the issue of V that’s on stands now for a fashion story where she cavorted with the handsome Clemente in the woods in Brooklyn wearing menwear. The story is reprinted here, as well as a sultry video from the photo shoot. (Click here to see the full story and more of Sebastien Faena’s glorious pictures of Cindy.) In our interview we talked about everything from West Coast dinner time to Harry Styles, but the part that I think was more pertinent is when she says that she’s a better model today than she ever was. Last night, there wasn’t a man who would have disagreed.
There’s a reference in modeling that captures a certain era: “B.C.,” as in “Before Cindy.” Cindy Crawford ignited the fashion world when she appeared on the cover of Vogue at the tender age of 21, with her killer bod, signature birthmark, and otherworldly appeal. Originally from a small town in Illinois, she would go on to become one of the most super of all the supermodels, a muse to Gianni Versace, and a household name, with her stints as MTV’s House of Style host and spokeswoman for Revlon and Pepsi.
The multi-hyphenate model, now 47, is still in demand in front of the cameras, and has launched her own multimillion dollar businesses too—making her more alluring than ever. Cindy told us that she feels like she’s a better model now—and by the looks of these photos, we’re inclined to agree with her.
What’s it like to be back in New York?
CINDY CRAWFORD When I arrived and got to the hotel I walked to a little market to get some things for a protein shake the next day, and I was reminded of the city’s energy, that buzz. I lived in New York for 15 years. I miss it sometimes. It’s very different from my life in Malibu. You don’t walk in Malibu…or else people think your car is broken down! In L.A. you go to dinner at 7 pm and in New York you go to dinner at 9 pm. But then in the Midwest it’s 5:30 pm.
That’s right, you’re a Midwestern girl. I’m a Midwestern boy. Maybe life in California is a mix of the people from the East Coast with the laid-back lifestyle of the middle of the country.
CC I grew up in a small town in Illinois where you never locked your door. I didn’t even have a house key. Midwestern people like us are nice, sometimes to a fault. You smile at strangers. But then you go to New York and everyone is hustling and in a hurry with their heads down. I love New York, but it’s a city of excesses. Too much of everything…the good and the bad. There are great restaurants, but you don’t know where to eat because there are so many choices! It was perfect for my 20s, when I was working so much, but I wouldn’t have known how to raise kids in an apartment.
Speaking of your kids, my assistant is obsessed with Harry Styles and she told me he came over for an impromptu pizza party with your daughter. What happened there?
CC Oh, that? [laughs] He stopped by to say hi when my kids and I were making pizzas. My kids were doing their own little pizzas and they couldn’t slide them off the pan. Harry goes, “Well, did you put down enough flour so they wouldn’t stick?” And my husband says, “How in the world do you know that?” and my little girl chimes in, “Oh, he used to work for a bakery, Dad. Everyone knows that.”
And started blushing, I bet.
CC Are you kidding? My daughter is twelve. That was bigger than her birthday!
Your kids are gorgeous. I know one of them did a Versace kids’ campaign. What are your thoughts on them getting into the family business?
CC That opportunity felt organic. I worked for Versace a lot in my career and I knew Mert and Marcus were the photographers and Donatella would be there. That’s a dream team. So I figured if she ever wanted to do it this would be a good experience, and it was. We had to drive three hours to the shoot and she had to miss a friend’s birthday party, and then we had to wait in the trailer for three more hours because they shot Gisele first. At the end, she thought, “This is boring.” And I said, “This is work.” It was a good lesson. If she wants to do it, I’m a good guide. I can help her make good decisions, but now I think she’d rather be an actress.
How do you reflect on that supermodel era?
CC What a wonderful time for me. That was a fun time to be a model. It was a lot of focus on fashion and how all these worlds were colliding. MTV was bringing music and fashion and television together. It felt really fun, and we were all really busy and really making money.
Do you ever use that word, “supermodel”?
CC In a tongue-in-cheek way, maybe. At first I found it silly. Do we change into capes and tights in phone booths? But with anything, the more you hear it, the more it seeps into your language. What it means to me is that before us models were more two-dimensional—mostly nameless faces on magazine covers. We were the tipping point. Some girls before us, like Twiggy and Lauren Hutton, were making the shift. But what was unique about our group was that there were five of us and we were all very different but looked good together. Is it five or seven? I never know who to include. Depends on who you ask, I guess. It was a moment when it felt fresh and different and new.
Were you aware of it in the moment?
CC If I had to label my supermodel moment, I would say it was that Versace show when Naomi, Linda, Christy, and I all came out together. We had just done the George Michael video for “Freedom,” and George was in the front row, and we came out skipping and holding hands. It felt like the stars had aligned. But then the next day we were all on another plane going to another city to do another job.
Did you ever want to slow down?
CC I remember thinking, What am I going to do when I’m 25? Or 30? Or 40? We kept pushing the sell-by date.
Are you still gratified by the job now?
CC I’m not doing it every day anymore. At this point in my life I’ve done more photoshoots than I can count, so I like something new. I’ve had people say on a shoot, “This is so Helmut Newton,” and I think, No, not really. I knew Helmut. The part of modeling I like is telling a story with an image. Modeling is a skill, and you become better at it the more you do it. Understanding clothes and lights and your face and angles…you don’t lose that, even though other things come into your life.
More so than the others, you managed to brand yourself. Was that intentional or was it clever management?
CC In the beginning it was more like, why not? I’ll try MTV, that sounds cool. But my agents were telling me not to do it. They said I could make more money doing other jobs. But they were wrong, and House of Style opened a lot of doors. When I did Playboy, it was a big deal because I was also in Vogue. I trusted Herb Ritts, which is why I did it. So those things worked out in my favor, and it gave me the confidence to go and do other projects—but not everything worked out! I did a movie that was successful for me personally, but not successful in many other ways. Choosing to do my exercise video was the beginning of making deliberate choices to do my own projects that were authentic to me, and that led to my skin care line. That was a really hard decision, because I had been with Revlon for a long time. But it was time for me to do my own thing, and now it feels like I have a real business. I love that.
You’re a business tycoon!
CC I had my whole modeling career, which was about learning the business. For the last 10 to 15 years, I’ve been building a business.
But the businesswoman still knows what to do in front of the camera.
CC I’m a better model at 47 than I was when I was 22, although I wish I still had the body I had at 22! Ah, youth is wasted on the young.
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