Mr Blasberg
11:54 am

A SUPERMODEL’S LIFE: THIS IS GISELE

08/11/2013, From Elsewhere

When God created Gisele, he broke the mold. To be in her presence is to be intoxicated. That face, that body, the energy, the joy of life: They just don’t make ‘em like her. So, when WSJ. Magazine asked me to interview her for the cover of the Innovators issue, I said yes with the giddiness of a schoolboy who found his father’s stash of dirty magazines. I stopped by the shoot in LA when she was carooning with Daft Punk, who I could tell had big smiles on their faces even through their trademark masks. And afterward we shared a green juice and talked about how she went from a bombshell in a bra to the world’s most successful supermodel.

 

 

GISELE BÜNDCHEN MAYbe the most powerful model in the world—but that’s not what she prefers to call herself. “I’m self-employed,” says the 33-year-old Brazilian. “[Modeling has] always been a business.” This year, she topped ‘s list of highest-paid models for the seventh year in a row, beating out the likes of Kate Moss and Miranda Kerr by tens of millions of dollars. The magazine reported that she made $42 million, though she rolls her eyes at the figure. “Who are they speaking to when they come up with these numbers? Not my accountant, that’s for sure.” Whether the number strikes her as high or low, she leaves unsaid.

How did Bündchen, who was scouted at a shopping mall in her native Rio Grande do Sul when she was 14, rise from mere model to multiplatform business tycoon? Selectivity, she says. After becoming the most in-demand face and body on the runways of Paris and Milan in the late 1990s—in 1999, put her on the cover and declared “The Return of the Sexy Model”—she developed a knack for taking exactly the right steps in her career at exactly the right times.

High risk yields high reward, and nothing was more risky than her decision to sign with Victoria’s Secret in 2000, making her one of the first in her field to bridge the once-taboo divide between luxury fashion editorials and commercial work. It was a canny maneuver that proved light-years ahead of the rest of the fashion industry, though such high-low blurring has since become the norm. After Bündchen signed with Victoria’s Secret, it ballooned from a prosaic bra brand into a lingerie powerhouse with a world-famous fashion show—ultimately helping to net her a reported $25 million per year. (She wore the company’s famed Angel wings for the last time in 2007.) She inked lucrative deals with luxury brands such as Chanel and David Yurman. Anne Nelson, her agent since she was 17, says that in Brazil, “she is a god.”

These days, Bündchen is picky about which jobs she takes not because she’s cultivating an image but because of domestic obligations. In 2009, she married Tom Brady, quarterback of the New England Patriots, and is now mother to Benjamin, 3, and Vivian, 8 months, and stepmother to Brady’s son, 6-year-old John Edward Thomas, from his previous relationship. “When you’re by yourself you only make decisions for yourself. But when you have a family, you’re making decisions for your whole family.” She now turns down multimillion-dollar jobs if they require her to leave the country or have obligatory personal appearance days in the contract.

When asked to describe how she manages the roles of wife, mother and supermodel, she offers a metaphor: Ginga, the basic back-and-forth swaying step of Brazilian martial art capoeira. “You’re always trying to balance everything, but it can’t be 100 percent all the time. Sometimes when you are a great mom, you’re not so great at your job. And then when you’re good at your job, you’re not so great of a mom or a good wife. It’s a dance that never stops. But it’s beautiful. I’ve never been happier.”

Bündchen’s packed days are meticulously organized on her iPhone with the Cozi app, which synchs the entire family schedule, from kids’ play dates to her press appointments to Brady’s football practices. Every single hour is accounted for and each family member is color-coordinated: She is purple, Brady is blue, and when the whole family needs to be at the same place, it’s in red. “I know what everyone is doing every second of the day,” says Bündchen.

Most mornings start around 6 a.m. Before heading either to her home office, where she works on her own fashion and accessories lines, or to a modeling job, she spends time with the children. (The couple has homes in Boston, New York and Los Angeles.) Vivian comes with her to photo shoots. “If I’m with my kids, I’m not answering my phone. You can’t reach me. With my husband, too. If I’m at work, then I’m at work. If I’m with you, I’m with you. I am in that moment, and there is nothing else.” The family prefers dinner at home, and Bündchen and Brady are rarely seen out at social occasions. One exception is the annual Met Costume Institute gala in New York City, where they are consistently one of the glossiest couples on the red carpet.

While work and family commitments dominate Bündchen’s schedule, she says her trick to keeping it together is her hour. “It’s important to me to have some time for myself. So one hour a day is mine. It may have to be at 4 a.m. or whenever the kids are napping or not home, but it’s in the schedule. I read a book. I meditate. I make something. I need to nourish myself in order for me to give to everyone else.”

 

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11:32 am

WHEN HALLOWEEN BECOMES HALLOWEEK: COSTUMES IN TWO COUNTRIES

01/11/2013, General

Halloween ain’t what it used to be. I can remember when I was growing up back home in Missouri it was a small street affair. The year I remember most vividly was the one I made my own King Tut mask out of cardboard with magic markers and accessorized with my mother’s fake gold jewelry. I walked around with my equally budget-ly costumed friends’ suburban St. Louis neighborhood carrying pillow cases and cheap orange plastic pumpkins that we filled with candy. But we had to work for it: Did anyone else have to tell jokes at the doors to get the sweet stuff? That’s Missouri for you. No such thing as a free lunch. Or a Halloween candy.

When I first moved to New York, I realized that this holiday is a much bigger deal. Making one’s own costume? Pff. People in New York don’t even do their own makeup. (Poor Pat McGrath. The makeup artist gets harassed to do everyone’s faces. Which is why I just showed up a part with my makeup and made her do it on the spot. More on that later.) Nowadays, it’s even worse. Or better, if you’re into dressing up and public drunkenness. Halloween has become Halloweek, an entire week of parties. Some are intimate and private and others are sponsored and promotional.

There’s an equation to the amount of fun I have on Halloween that’s proportionate to what I’m wearing. Namely, how good my costume is will affect how fabulous I feel whilst out with friends. (But, wait, isn’t that always the case on any night in New York?) This year, I was happy because I didn’t have to think about it. Last year, I had been proactive and bought a train conductor’s uniform but didn’t get to wear it because of Hurrican Sandy. (It’s hard to believe it’s been a year since that fateful week. It feels like yesterday, and read my Sandy blog post here.) So, that’s one costume, done. And my other costume I found when I was cleaning my closet when I was home in Missouri this summer: A fabulous black tuxedo with tails that was very Eddie Munster. Done, done.

Now, on to the extravaganzas. In New York, Alison Sarofim owns Halloween. Her annual party is always on the top of everyone’s list and she doesn’t mess around when it comes to themes. This year it was French Polynesia, which is why she was wearing a giant leaf all night. It was divine. I, unfortunately, couldn’t partake in the theme because of the aforementioned left over costume from last year, but I’m sure one day they’ll have lots of trains in French Polynesia. Marjorie Gubelmann brought my favorite Texan, Lynn Wyatt, who had on my leopard print than all over New Jersey combined. I spent most of the night sat between Pat McGrath, who looked divine in colorful makeup and orchid hair, and Joan Smalls, who somehow managed to look drop dead sexy whilst wearing a polyester hot pink monster costume with a polyester hot pink wig. Pat touched up my makeup through the night, and she had better not send me an invoice. We sat on a couch and held court. Hi, Valentino! Hi, Craig McDean! The highlight? A selfie with Woody Allen. Most people who come to Halloween parties not in costume are spoil sports. But Woody can do what Woody wants.

A few days later I had to come to London for a story, but I was happy to see that my mates in London had finally realized the joys of a costumed holiday. Or maybe it’s that the Brits need no excuse for fancy dress parties and public drunkenness – whatever the case, I was happy to discover that there was a lot of Halloween options in the British capital. UNICEF did a big ‘do where my friend Lily Allen performed. Hats off to Lily Alien, which was her costume. Painted herself green and even managed to find a green Chanel bag to accessorize the package with. That black tuxedo came in handy in London because I went as Derek Munster, the perfect companion to my friend Dasha Addams. Again, even with white face and a black polyester hair, Dasha looked divine. Who are these girls?

Captions, from top: A selfie with Woody Allen; Lily Allen as Lily Alien; the hostess with the mostest, Alison Sarofim; Bernard Smith and Joan Smalls; Elizabeth Saltzman and Patrick Cox in London; Valentino and Giancarlo Giammetti; Marjorie and Lynn; Petey Brant; Camilla al Fayed and Dasha; Jenna Lyons and Courtney Crangi; Atlanta de Cadenet; a very charming Camilla; Tabitha Simmons and RJ King; George Barrett and Pixie Geldof; Jessica Diehl; Sofia Sanchez and Alex de Betak being very creative as Guns N Roses; Harley Viera Newton, another hot dog on the street; Noor Fares and a friend; a martini and a piggy; Carlos Mota as a bird of paradise; Jean Pegozzi; Joan, me, RJ, Pat and Tabitha; Aimee Phillips; rolling with Joan; when I felt really dirty at the end of the party; Alison in action; Dasha, Lily and me at the end of a long London night
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11:24 am

ONE NIGHT ONLY: GIORGIO ARMANI BACK IN NEW YORK

25/10/2013, Fast + Louche

The piers on New York’s West Side Highway are dreary. Some are half sunk into the Hudson River, others are sanctioned off my chain link fences and rusty locks. But leave it to Giorgio Armani to turn a stretch of concrete that juts out from 15th Street into one of the most glamorous venues in Manhattan. That’s what happened last night when the designer, still handsome as ever at a spritely 79 years, kicked off his One Night Only celebration with a retrospective, fashion show and late night dance party.

Ricky Martin. Those two words are enough to put a pep in my step. But the Pop star wasn’t the only bold faced name that came out to support the Italian fashion icon. Hilary Swank, Renee Zellweger, Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorcese are only some of the people that made their way down the champagne colored tunnel to the fashion show and party. (It was the first time Leo’s lady friend Toni Garrn had watched a fashion show.)

What was so remarkable about the traveling exhibition and fashion show – despite the fact that it lasted more than half an hour, one of the longest fashion shows in recent fashion history – was the unparalleled glamour. Yes, Mr. Armani redefined what it meant to be a red carpet designer, but in the annals of fashion history what most of us associate with the designer is the rounded shoulders of his menswear and his introduction of the female power suit. In my head, Jodie Foster, who wore Armani to collect more than a couple accolades, and a couple of Oscars too, will always be linked with the rigid modernism that we have come to associate with the Armani brand. And I even told Mr. Armani he should send a couple of things to self proclaimed pantsuit aficionado Hilary Clinton when she makes this presidential run in 2016.

But what Mr. Armani (we dare not call him Giorgio to his face) told me before the gala when I stopped by the Armani showroom on Fifth Avenue he was most proud of with this show and exhibition is the more creative looks that he has put together. Remember that iridescent space aged spiky crystal ball ensemble that Lady Gaga wore to the Grammy’s a few years ago? We’re talking about that stuff. In this existing exhibition there are monochromatic embroidered and embellished jumpsuits and traffic cone orange crocodile column dresses. These are the pieces from the designer’s fantasies, which he was so kind to bring into our reality.

Following a vernisage of the exhibition, we meandered down the plush carpeted pier to take a seat for a fashion show of the greatest hits collection of his first decade in the couture business. After dominating the ready to wear market and branching into accessories and home (Armani Casa is still one of my favorite shops), ten years ago he started the Armani Prive line, which became the incubator of his couture dreams. And it was all here, including the seaweed green collection from a few years ago, the Asian baton show from two seasons ago, and this season’s beige decadence, which my favorite couture show of the season.

The last stop on the One Night Only experience was the converted nightclub where Mark Ronson came back from DJ retirement to spin some records. I had a few drinks, but I can still remember a sick Amy Winehouse remix. There was risotto, of course, and other passed pasta dishes, but I made the rookie mistake of following the pretty ladies around the dance floor and forgot to eat, which explains why I’m typing this with one eye open this morning. Yet, a little headache isn’t so bad after a night like that. After all, if you’re going to do ‘hangover chic,’ make it Armani.

 

Captions, from top: Me and Ricky Martin; Roberta Armani and Douglas Booth; all the girls are here: Annabelle Dexter-Jones, Atlanta de Cadenet, Laura Love and Harley Viera Newton; Stephen Dorff and Caroline Winberg; the Brant boys; me and Toni Garrn; Daria Strokous has legs and she knows how to use them; BryanBoy and Jen Brill; one of the couture looks on the Armani runway; Emily DiDonato and Caroline; Isabel Lucas and Maggie Betts; Jeremiah Brent and Marjorie Gubelmann; James Penfold and Paola Kudacki; Sofia Sanchez, my parttime drinking partner of the night; Sasha Pesko and Vladimir Roitfeld; me and Mr. Armani before the show.
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7:05 pm

THE TWERKERIFIC MILEY CYRUS: IN PRAISE OF POP MUSIC’S NEWEST ICON

20/10/2013, From Elsewhere

Miley and me with some friends (from left: Karen Elson, Emma Roberts, Karlie Kloss, Cara Delevingne and Rita Ora) at the Met gala this year.

First, a warning: I’m a Miley Cyrus fan. At the base of her work, beyond the criticisms and the open letters, is a young girl who wants to show everybody a good time. And in these times of trials and tribulations, Miley, I appreciate that. So I don’t want to get into a debate on the feminist implications of her artistic expression, no matter how relevant they may be. (There’s a blog for that, but this ain’t it.) I have watched with a smile on my face as she has transformed from the Disney princess into a modern Pop icon. I was behind her on the haircut. I was behind her on the butched up, blinged out, bad ass bitch makeover. I was behind her on the Twerking. Well, not literally behind the Twerking. I’m not sure I have the balance to brace that.

All of this is to say that when Harper’s Bazaar sent me out to LA to do the cover story on my girl Miley for the October issue, I was in a taxi to JFK airport before we put the phone down. She is a defining icon of this generation, whether we like it or not. (Simmer down, Sinead.) So, behold my story with the one-and-only Miley.

Miley Cyrus is wearing an oversize sweatshirt and nothing else, curled up in an enormous trailer parked outside Soundstage 24 at Paramount Studios in Los Angeles. She’s just unpacked her “kit,” which is what the 20-year-old pop star calls the gym bag full of over-the-top, blingy, fabulous accessories that she brings everywhere. There are Chanel logo suspenders and belts, Versace Medusa necklaces and brooches, spiked stilettos, hats, and miles of shiny gold chains. “I never know when I’m going to be like, ‘Photo shoot!’ And need some weird stuff to whip out.” What if there’s a sudden swarm of paparazzi? Or worse: “What if I get to a photo shoot and the stylist just sucks? So I bring my own shit.” Cyrus, whose fourth album, Bangerz, is out this month, today is filming an MTV promotion—and, sure enough, when she’s dressed in a tight white crop top and tiny black shorts, she dips into her kit to layer on gold necklaces and a low-slung vintage Chanel chain belt.

It’s been a year since “I started trying to take over the world,” she says, unknowingly paraphrasing a comment that Madonna made on American Bandstand nearly three decades ago, when she herself was an over-accessorized twentysomething. (In 1984, asked by Dick Clark what her future plans were, Madonna responded, “To rule the world.”) It all began when the fresh-faced Disney star shaved the sides and back of her head, leaving a shock of platinum on top. “It changed everyone else’s life more than it changed mine,” Cyrus says with a laugh about her new ‘do. But she’s not kidding: Since wrapping the Hannah Montana series in 2011, the little girl who led a double life on a top-rated kids’ TV show has reemerged in the public sphere as a provocative pop sensation.

The new look apparently had been brewing for some time. Cyrus released the album Can’t Be Tamed during her final year as Hannah Montana. When the series wrapped, she semiretired. “I took off and I just wanted to party. I worked so hard, and I wanted to buy a house and just chill.” She moved out of the house she shared with her parents, the Southern crooner Billy Ray (he of “Achy Breaky Heart” fame) and Tish Cyrus, and in with her fiancé, Liam Hemsworth. “I was an adult when I was supposed to be a kid. So now I’m an adult and I’m acting like a kid,” she says. There are times when I’m sitting in my big ole house and I’m like, ‘I can’t believe I’m allowed to be here alone.’ ” (She and Hemsworth have been reportedly on and off and back on, but she declines to talk about their relationship. She will, however, say that she still plans on getting married. Eventually. “I definitely don’t have time to deal with a wedding right now. But I will at some point.”) She bought a car, a white Maserati with a Ferrari engine, and built a skate ramp in her backyard because she was too famous to go to the skate parks in her neighborhood. “I want my house to be the party house!” she says, flashing a big smile lined in bright-red lipstick.

On the point of partying, Cyrus brings up Justin Bieber, whose teenage rebellion is in full stride (as evidenced by the monkey incident and naked YouTube serenades). She wants to elaborate on the advice she recently gave him: “I’m not saying you need to take a break because you’re crazy. I’m saying you need to take a break so you can be crazy, and people aren’t going to judge you. You’re going to do dumb stuff from here on out. But do it in your own time. Do it safely. You can afford to protect yourself and still have fun.” She likens it to celebrities who get arrested for drunk driving. “Why don’t they just get a driver?”

Blinged out, blindingly platinum, and with that banging body on display, it’s clear that Cyrus is in the driver’s seat of her new image. Take the much buzzed-about music video for her hit “We Can’t Stop,” which shows her cavorting erotically with life-size plushy toys. “We’re in a world of selfies,” she says of the unconventional glamour shots in the video. “I told my label: ‘This is the first time I’m showing you what I’m bringing to the table as an artist. If this goes wrong, you never have to trust me again. I’ll be your little puppet. But if I’m right, then you know I’m on to something.’” In fact, she was on to something—the video racked up almost 11 million views on its first day on Vevo.com.

Her ability to twerk, a slang term for hip-hop’s brand of booty popping, debuted in the video too. Cyrus says she learned to twerk when she’d travel to Atlanta from her native Nashville and go to parking-lot dance-offs with girlfriends. They’d listen to music at tailgate parties and practice gyrating their bottom halves. “Not the country girls who are wearing the little frilled skirts and cowboy boots,” she adds. Suffice it to say, she’s not trying to tread on Taylor Swift’s turf. What’s Cyrus’s country niche? “There is no girl out there speaking on behalf of the country girls who are turnt up.”

While Cyrus is bristling with attitude, she’s kept her feet on the ground paved by her famous father. “My parents always had money, and I’ve always been around this industry, so I didn’t have my mind blown or become obsessed with being famous,” she explains. Before moving, at the age of 13, with her entire family to L.A. to film Hannah Montana, she lived on a 500-acre farm where the children could do whatever they wanted. Her new California life wasn’t that different. “When I was growing up, I didn’t even notice that I started making all this money. There’s something about new money that makes people change. But I never did not have [money]. So when I got it, I didn’t become obsessed with having it.”

She trusts her instincts, and runs with a discreet crowd. “The other day I saw that Lindsay Lohan was getting rid of, like, 80 of her friends because she wants to cut out the toxic people. I’m like, ‘Honey, you’re going to have to move out of this universe because everywhere you go there are toxic people.’?” Her best friend is her makeup artist, and most of her friends aren’t famous—and are boys. She likes when they ask to drive her Maserati, and she lets them.

Her makeover mentor and album coproducer is Pharrell Williams, who had two hits of his own this summer. (You’d have to be living under a rock to have missed his “Blurred Lines” with Robin Thicke and “Get Lucky” with Daft Punk.) “His philosophy is that it’s not what you’re wearing, it’s the way you wear it. It’s not about the music you’re making, it’s how you’re making it.” She says he encouraged her styling in the “We Can’t Stop” video too. “I feel like every girl is trying to have a beauty shot and prove that they’re ‘fashion.’ But I can be in white leggings and a white sports bra and I’m on a whole other level of shit that those girls don’t even get yet because they don’t know how to do it.” Cyrus calls Williams her “rock,” the one man she can trust with her music.

He is equally effusive about Cyrus, who left a lasting impression on their first meeting. “I remember saying she was different,” Williams recalls. “She was very clear as to what she likes. I kept thinking, ‘She’s got something.’?” What was it like to work together on the new album? “She has a crazy range like you wouldn’t believe. And I really like that she is expressing herself.” He’s not worried about her falling off the deep end either, like so many other child stars. “It has a lot to do with her parents and the way she was raised,” says Williams. “There’s a thing Southern people understand that’s hard to put into words.” Maybe it’s just that: Even though Miley’s a second-generation performer, the Cyruses still aren’t showbiz people.

To that end, she’s put acting on the back burner for now. “I don’t really care to do anything acting-wise,” she says. “I want to make all of my music videos so epic that it feels like I’m still involved with acting.” Hannah Montana may have burned her out. “I had to have [the producers] put sun lamps inside because I was getting depressed from a lack of vitamin D,” she says of the show’s last two seasons, after the franchise expanded into films and world concert tours.

Miley has dabbled in fashion too, but she wasn’t completely fulfilled. She inked a deal with Walmart in 2009, then became disillusioned when the line didn’t turn out as she’d hoped. “I went in there and saw, like, a puppy on a T-shirt. I was like, ‘This is not what I wanted.’ I wanted skinny jeans, I wanted to bless Walmart with jeggings!” (Walmart discontinued the line in 2012.) She says she loves jewelry and would consider doing that, when she has time: “Making real stuff with high quality. Not quantity. But not until I know I can give it 120 percent. I don’t want to just slap my name on something.”

All that’s left is Miley and her music. Which turns out to be the one thing in her life that’s not stressing her out. (In addition to her own reportedly rocky relationship, her parents separated and then reconciled this summer—another topic she’d rather not discuss.) “I’m someone who cares about the real things in life. There are things that are personal that stress me out, but my career? That doesn’t affect me. I know I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing.” She lifts her fingers, which are tipped with long dagger nails and stacked in gold rings, and pushes her platinum bangs out of her face. “I’m not scared of anything.”

Miley and Cara backstage at Marc Jacobs’ fall 2013 fashion show in New York
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12:10 pm

AN ITALIAN AFFAIR IN THE MIDDLE EAST: FASHION, DANCE AND DECADENCE IN DUBAI

13/10/2013, Fast + Louche, General

 The American version has the bob. But in Italy, they have an ethereal fall of long, blonde tresses. I’m referring to the editor of Italian Vogue, Franca Sozzani, a woman whose steely blue eyes, curly yellow locks and understated Italian glamour have reigned the Conde Nast publication for decades. Last week, she brought her brand of glamour to the cash-rich Middle East capital for a multi-tiered extravaganza of emerging fashion and traditional Italian entertainment. There was a fashion show, a Fashion’s Night Out-style party in the world’s largest mall, and then an outdoor – yet still air conditioned – black tie dinner with performances from celebrated Italian ballet dancer Roberto Bolle and the opera singer Vittorio Grigolo. Joining Franca were many of the Italian fashion industry’s biggest luminaries, including Donatella Versace, Roberto Cavalli, Dan and Dean from DSquared2, and Givenchy’s Riccardo Tisci. Tipping the scales on the ultimate in fashion glamour? The legendary Naomi Campbell.

 But first, I’m compelled to mention Mohamed Alabbar, the chairman of the Emaar Properties, who was Franca’s partner in this venture. This Dubai local – which are few and far between as only 10percent of Dubai’s population is actually from there – worked his way to the top of the corporate ladder to become the corporate head of this lucrative territory, and the man responsible for the world famous Burj Khalifa, currently the tallest building on the globe. It also holds the record for the fastest built, as well as the record for highest dining experience. On our first night, we ate at Atmosphere, the building’s restaurant at a mere 125 floors.

“Modern luxury is giving back.” That was Franca’s battle cry at this event, which combined her desire to expose new talent from the Middle East to the Western world as well as raise funds for Dubai Cares, the charity initiate founded by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum. So, on a sunny day (but aren’t they all?), we all met at the Dubai Mall, the largest in the world, for a show from designers from Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Nigeria, Ireland, Italy and Russia. (My favorites? Iteun Basi from Nigeria and Ireland’s Simone Rocha.) Then, a gala for 400 on the terrace: Vittorio sang and the fountains exploded, Roberto danced when the buildings in the distance were illuminated for effect. The tables were under the night sky, but individually air conditioned from below, which blew my mind. There was an auction too, which had a few akward moments: Turns out that even though they’re rich, the Arab people aren’t as showy with their public displays of philanthropy as we may see back in New York. Somehow, though, Vittorio managed to sell the sweaty shirt off his back for $40,000, which was added to a pot that topped a million dollars for Dubai Cares.

The night ended at the Armani nightclub with Roberto, Franca’s son Francesco Corrizzini and Vittorio all dancing without their shirts on while standing on the back of a banquette, Franca and the lovely Afef Jnifen flanking them with big smiles on their face. Naomi too showed some prowess for the dance floor, pulling a few moves with Roberto when we got back to the hotel. (Scroll down to the pictures below for evidence of this supermodel’s dance skills.)

My last few days were spent in the desert, which was a wonderful and surreal experience. Less than an hour from the luxury that was the Armani Hotel, the concert and steel world stops and there is nothing but sand as far as the eyes can see. The sun set into long pools of pinks and reds and blues and purples. I made friends with designers Louis Leeman and the boys from Aquazzura, who joined us in the desert, and we drank red wine and rode camels. After dinner, the obligatory belly dancer came out – but this one had a real smile on her face. She was good, she made us happy. (I’ve seen a few belly dancers in my days, and there really is nothing sadder than a belly dancer who is just calling it in.)

This was my first time in Dubai, and I left with an endeared impression. The people I met were fabulous and open-minded. They knew about art, fashion and perfume, the last of which I thought a few of them abused. Ha! I went back my hotel room energized – perhaps a little too much so. On my last night in Dubai, I couldn’t fall asleep before my 6am flight. (An avid reader of this blog will see that in the past few weeks I’ve crossed the Atlantic four times, so it’s not surprising that my poor body clock is a little out of whack.) So, I drew a bath and watched the sun rise over a city that didn’t exist when I was born. The light rose on buildings that glimmered with ambition and a new Arabic Dream. And I thought to myself, When am I coming back?

Captions, from top: Roberto Bolle during his performance on the terrace of the Burj Khalifa; me with Riccardo Tisci and Naomi Campbell; Franca Sozzani and Roberto Cavalli; Karolina Kurkova at the dinner; Vittorio TK during his opera set; Naomi, Riccardo and Roberto after the gala and outside the afterparty; Gianluca Passi, my tablemate; Afef Jnifen and Eva Riccobonno, the mistresses of ceremonies; Roberto taking Naomi for a dip; Mira Duma and Karolina Kurkova at Atmosphere, the highest restaurant in the world; Eva Cavalli at her impromptu birthday celebration; me, Roberto and Gianluca; Naomi, spinning us round and round; Eva at the Armani nightclub; an imposing view of the Burj Khalifa at night; on the drive to the desert for a sandy safari; dinner in the dunes; an onyx at sunset; the end of a perfect day; a belly dancer; me and a fire extinguisher, which I thought was the funniest thing to see in the desert; Edgardo and Erika rolling around in the sand; dancing in the dunes; the parking lot; a glorious morning in the Middle East
 
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5:03 pm

When Fashion Is More Than Dressing Up: The Ones That Got Away

12/10/2013, General

I could watch Anna Dello Russo and Giovanna Battaglia read the receipts at Barney’s. That’s how entertaining these two stylish Italian ladies are to me. So, put them together and ask them about longing for an article of clothing to bad they can taste it? Video heaven. That’s what my friends at Moda Operandi did as part of their ‘The One That Got Away’ series, which is a bunch of videos were some of my favorite ladies talk about a dress or a shoe or a fashionable somethin’ that escaped their clutches. Which, we learn here, happens very rarely in Anna Dello Russo’s case. Heaven help whatever gets in between her and an article of clothing.

Who else did Moda Operandi speak to about the the ones that got away? The have Poppy Delevingne being breathy and beautiful about a dress that didn’t make it; Karlie Kloss remembers the time she wanted to take something home from a Steven Meisel shoot; Caroline Issa left her heart — and more importantly, a chic dress – in Paris and still regrets it; and then there’s that quirky repeller of men, Lleandra Medine, who knows about losing lovely things. WATCH ALL THE VIDEOS HERE.

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3:26 am

FASHION IS KILLING ME: ROBYN’S NEW SONG IS THE SOUNDTRACK OF THE SEASON

09/10/2013, Fast + Louche, Observations

PLEASE NOTE: This is not a Taylor Swift song. There is profane verbage not intended for small children or to be played loudly in a work environment. Please consider your adult level of auditory enjoyment as well as your volume dial before pressing play.

Every fashion week, there’s a song that resonates in my head as the soundtrack of that particular season. Rick Owens, who’s show this year was one of the most memorable for a completely different reason (Google it!), introduced we fashion folk to the phrase “IMMA READ” several seasons ago. But this season, Robyn’s song, ‘Don’t Fucking Tell Me What To D,o” hit a note with me because of its anthem that the things those I love so much (“fashion” being first on the list) are all slowing killing me. Remember, I’ve just spent four days cooped up in bed with an infected esophagus. The other refrains that are killing Robyn in this song? Smoking, diet, heels, shopping, ego and a lack of sleep. Preach, girrl! All set to a dancy disco beat? Immediately added to my iTunes.

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4:52 pm

A JAM PACKED (AND SLIGHTLY PARALYZING) PARIS FASHION WEEK

04/10/2013, General

“Fuck you, fashion week!” Pardon my French, but I figured such language is appropriate considered I’m in Paris. The reason for my Francophilic hostility is that #PFW has left me in quite a state! Cold sweats, swollen lymph nodes, bronchitis: I’m in a full on fashion week fatigue over here. (And I would like to formally thank my friend Molly at Louis Vuitton for hooking me up with antibiotics. I’m sure you had a busy enough week with, you know, Marc Jacobs leaving two days ago. But I will get to that later.)

So, as I sit here at the swanky pad of a friend and count the minutes till it doesn’t hurt to swallow (please resist the temptation to make a joke here), I ponder the week that was fashion. Oh, wasn’t it divine? You know what, maybe it was worth a little strep throat. Whoever said fashion can’t kill you was wrong. But what a way to go!

This season started with a bang – and a bus. Or should I say a Wang and a bus? Alexander Wang celebrated his sophomore collection at Balenciaga with an MIA concert after dinner at Caviar Kaspia, which we went to via party bus. The chicest way I’ve ever gotten around Paris.

The next day I did something I never thought I’d do: I played hookie. I went to the Chateau de Balleroy, the late Malcolm Forbes’ legendary estate in Normandy, which is where Elizabeth Taylor went for balloon races and Prince Charles still goes to watercolor. I saw gardens, drank champagne, went on nature walks and felt fabulous. The end result was that, less than 48 hours later, when I was back in the fashion swirl, I had been reinvigorated and happy to be back.

What of this fashion whirlpool? Like most seasons, it revolved around Caviar Kaspia, this cold-kitchen restaurant on the Place Madelaine that serves, you guessed it, sturgeon eggs on a butter and salt filled potato. The place ain’t cheap, but that didn’t stop me from shoving myself onto a few other people’s expensive accounts. You say potato, I say I’ll split that potato. Vogue’s Elisabeth von Thurn & Taxis did a fabulous dinner for friends like Hamish Bowles, Lena Dunham, Delfina Fendi and Eugenie Niarchos at the recently refurbished Prince de Galles hotel. And I think it was Miu Miu’s party on the last night of fashion week, where I managed to cruise both Lady Mary and Quinn Fabray, that I probably got the illness I’m currently combating.

And what of the shows? I Tweeted, “Loved the Valentino show. It reminded me of an Edwardian Navajo nun. At a Renaissance fair. In the jungle. Set to opera music.” I also loved the oversized decadence that my friend Olivier Rousteing brought to Balmain. Hermes showed modern florals, and that put a smile on my face. Miu Miu was sparkled, and just the jolt that everyone needed at the end of fashion week, I mean fashion month. And I actually got a kick out of Karl Lagerfeld’s take on the art world for the Chanel show. The Grand Palais was tricked out in these hideous fake Chanel art works, and the show was filled with colorful tweeds, prints and swinging dresses. The makeup was fluorescent Pop. My favorite look was the one we all called Picasso’s Baby (the Jay-Z song of that name was the soundtrack of the show), which was the single male exit in the show, and had a scruffy artist toting around a quilted Chanel portfolio case. Please, introduce me to the young artist who carries his work around in Chanel. No, really. Go look up that guy.

The big news this season, though, was Marc Jacob’s departure at Louis Vuitton. What a somber show it was: All black, a retrospective at the Louvre, full of some his greatest hits (Sprouse graffiti and nothing else on Edie Cambpell opened the show, and there were masks and little tributes on all the looks.) He said afterward it was for the showgirl in all of us. Marc gave an indepth interview to WWD where he said that this was not an acriminous split with Bernard Arnault, the head of LVMH, who just happens to be the richest man in France. (He also said that people would probably speculate otherwise but, and I quote, “Whatever.”) Yet, just because it was a fond farewell doesn’t mean that we can’t mourn the passing of an era. Marc redefined that fashion house. He redefined what it meant to be an artist in the modern fashion industry. And though he will be missed, I can’t wait to see what he’s going to do next.

Andy, between Marc’s departure and this painful esophagus, I’m going to bed with a lump in my throat. The only saving grace: A surprise appearance from my mother, who flew through Paris for a night from St. Louis to Vienna. She’ll kiss it and make it all better. Let me know if I should send her over to yours, Marc.

Captions, from top: Harry Brant, me, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Peter Brant, Jr, after the Balmain show; Zoe Kravitz, Alexander Wang and MIA; Joan Smalls getting down in a one-woman VIP area at the Balenciaga party; say what you will about Kim Kardashian, but I was into the blonde; a stellar front row at Stella McCartney included her father, Paul McCartney, Jeff Koons and her husband Alishdair Willis; Dasha Zhukova, me, Matthew Moneypenny and Kristina O’Neill at the fashion canteen, Caviar Kaspia; Daria Stroukous, showing our driver a thing or two about posing; the finale scene at Marc Jacobs’ finale show for Louis Vuitton; Edie Cambpell’s body Stephen Sprouse bodypaint, which was the first look of the LV show; a pack of Brit blondes, Chelsea Leyland, Georgia May Jagger and Alice Dellal; Natalie Massenet, Kate Reardon, Erik Torstensson; Hamish Bowles, Lena Dunham and myself; Caroline Sieber at Caviar Kaspia; Magnus Berger and Andreea Diaconu; Rita Ora and Theophilus London at Carine Roitfeld’s party; Riccardo Tisci and a friend at Carine’s; me and Kate Upton; Leigh Lezark massaging those legs; me at Balleroy; a private concert in the music room; Becca Carson Thrash getting down; a picture window private in the garden; Kip Forbes on top of the pile; the front row at Giambattista Valli; Bip Ling and Hanneli Mustaparta outside Chanel; Dasha and Eugenie Niarchos getting a snack; Deanna and Mira Duma; me with Michelle Dockerty and Dianna Agron; Vanessa and Victoria Traina on the party bus; Balmain’s Olivier Rousteing at his afterparty; a group shot at Caviar Kaspia; Pat McGarth darting between shows; Vanessa Traina at dinner; Anna Wintour making a very stealth escape from the Chanel show; my Mommy at dinner with me. 
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1:09 pm

BIBS, BUBBLY AND AN IRREVERENT LINE OF STATIONERY: THE LAUNCH OF DEREK BLASBERG X PAPERLESS POST

29/09/2013, General
“If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.” This old adage is basically how my collaboration with sophisticated e-tailer Paperless Post came to pass. An avid reader of either of my books, Classy or Very Classy, will know that one of the hallmarks of a lady is a handwritten note. (And if you’re not an avid reader of either of my books, you had better get to a book store.) Along with not making sex tapes, being punctual and never being the drunkest girl at a party: Handwritten notes, preferably on one’s own stationery, was how a lady was supposed to communicate.

Then I started getting all these Paperless Post invitations and greetings. I was annoyed at first. “Write me a damn note!” I’d think. But then I tried it a few times. And shit, it’s so much easier. They link to your schedule and you can see who’s opened them and track your RSVP’s. Voila. Easy. After all, it’s the thought that counts. And the person who receives any sort of thoughtfulness will appreciate it, right?

Anyway, there are a few things that should still be reserved for pen and paper. Like, a love note. Or a suicide note for that matter. Wedding invitations too are an opportunity to wow someone with the size of your paper stock. I should also mention that my stationery can be sent via regular post too, in a collaboration called Paper by Paperless Post. Go to their website and have a gander.

So, my friend Karlie put me in touch with her friend Josh’s friend James, who with his sister Alexa, started Paperless Post. And we hit it off. Fifty meetings later and with only minor breakdowns, my first of what I hope will be many collaborations was born. I had a good time designing them: What do all my friends want to say to each other on a birthday card, but can’t really? “You don’t look a day over whatever age you want me to tell people you are.” What do my girlfriends really think when they’re doing a baby shower for another friend of theirs? “This kid is going to need all the help they can get.” And there are party themes too: Country western, Mexican, and so forth.

My next dilemma? How do we fete this collaboration? Well, my 23rd birthday party was one of my favorites: A few days before the big day, my friend Evan lent me his parents house in Tribeca and, at a loss for how to put together a real rager in a short period of time, I thought the best way to observe my humble Midwestern roots and my East Coast ambitions would be a hot wings and champagne party. (That party ended in fun, and bad press. Page 6 wrote that someone broke out a rifle. But eh, what can you do?) We revisited that party theme for this one.

Wings from Hooters and champagne from Veuve Clicquot, all set in the majestic venue of Hogs & Heifers. Ever heard of that joint? It’s in the Meatpacking District and one of the inspirations for the cinematic masterpiece ‘Coyote Ugly.’ My friend Rebecca had the good idea to park a blue pick up truck full of hay outside the place.

I’d like to think my buddies turned up to support me, but I’m no fool. Half of them were probably desperate to finally have an excuse to check out Hogs & Heifers, and the other half came out for the free champagne. But all of them were happy with the goody bags: They got some of my stationery, a Karlie’s Kookie and even some of my very own ‘haute sauce.’ After all, if you like and you want it, put a hot wing on it.

 

Captions, from top: Lauren Santo Domingo, me and Elisa Sednaoui leaning on the festive pick up truck; two examples of the stationery; me and Alexa Chung in Hogs & Heifers; Karlie Kloss and her biggest little fan, Cyrus; Lily Aldridge; two of my favorite musicians, The Strokes’ Albert Hammond, Jr and The Kings of Leon’s Caleb Followill ; photographers Inez + Vinoodh with Marc Kroop; me and Giancarlo Giammetti; Courtney Love and I; Marjorie Gubelmann, Tico Mugrabi and Samantha Boardman; Nicky Hilton and Jen Brill; some of the entertainment at the venue; Fiona Byrne of the Byrne notice and Josephine de la Baum; Mickey Sumner, me and Prabal Gurung; Michael Hess and James Hirschfield; Anne Dexter-Jones, Annabelle Dexter-Jones and me; Julia Roitfeld with her friend Remi; Matthew Moneypenny and Paola Kudacki; Cynthia Rowley, Jessica Seinfeld and Karlie Kloss; Genevieve Jones and Iman; two more examples of my stationery; and another two; the night’s entertainment; the night’s bouncer; me in the corner with Courtney

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5:16 pm

A FASHION WEEK HIATUS: MAKING TIME FOR THE MOSCOW BIENNALE

22/09/2013, Fast + Louche
I traditionally skip Milan Fashion Week. It’s a luxury to be able to do that, and I haven’t been able to do it every season. (Remember the time that super stylist Katie Grand convinced me to come with her for a 24 hour drunken rave in a garden that was once owned by Leonardo da Vinci?) But it’s just so nice to come home from London for those few days, take a few spin classes, have some green juice, and then show up in Paris rested and relaxed – when everyone else I had left in London looks haggard and annoyed. Fashion!

But this season, I did something different. I accepted an invitation from the artist Fyodor Pavlov-Andreevich to come to Moscow for the Biennale there. I figured, eh, I’m already in London and it’s not that far, so why not? And I was glad I did.

The first night I was there was when I was due to meet up with Fyodor. He was at the Artists’ Zoo, which was, literally, a zoo of artists in cages doing their own performance pieces. What was Fyodor doing? I found him in the basement, in his cage, completely naked with his head through a window and a nurse giving specific instructions to participants to put things (food, a whistle, etc) into his mouth. It was a project he had done with the Solyanke State Gallery, where Marina Abramovic is the patron. There was another artist singing traditional Russian songs while wearing nothing by a facemask made popular by Pussy Riot and standing on glass. Another artist turned a giant clock every minute, and did nothing else. They were each in their cages for four hours for seven days. Fyodor went another step and wore a lamb’s mask the other 20 hours of the day, even to bed and in the shower, for the entire week.

The Biennale itself was held in a building that centuries ago held the horse shows. We had a VIP tour of the show, which meant that many of the works were not set up yet, and none of them had ID’s on them. Which was mildly frustrating, but then we’re in Russia, a country steeped in old world traditions that is only now embracing the contemporary art market.

Song Dong’s large-scale piece of all the things his mother had hoarded in Communistic China was particularly powerful to me. And not just because I think my father is a hoarder. It brought to an artistic light the cultural disparities between the China I see today in luxury advertisements and the China before, which would keep broken terracotta plant holders and reupholster ribbed chairs with old jeans, because that’s all they could find. I was also amused by Peter Belyi’s work, which looked like a slide full of shit that was poring out of the Kremlin (insert all political commentaries here) and down the stairs. Alan Michelson did a video work of a merry go round, which made me smile. And I jotted down the name Aslan Gaisumov, a 22-year-old Chechyien artist that I think had some strong works and a promising future. But my favorite work was from the Iranian artist Farideh Lashai. It was called ‘When I count there is only you but when I look there is only a shadow.’ It was work that involved small postcards and a projected video that brought the work to light in small segments.

In the midst of all my art-ing, I did manage to find some time to get my tourism on. Without a doubt, the most memorable was sneaking backstage at the Bolshoi Ballet company, which only recently opened after a six year refurbishment to its pre-Soviet splendor, and watching the dancers warm up. They were like rubber people. I also roamed around Red Square to post some comically satirical comments on the anti-homophobic policies currently being passed in the Russian government on my Instagram account. (How can a country with such flamboyant buildings and male politicians who go topless and wear fur coats be so homophobic?) And we took a tour of the kremlin. Something that was truly memorable was the Soviet era propaganda statues in the Moscow metro. There were soldiers holding babies and milk maids holding guns – and everyone was gorgeous. It was like Bruce Weber had cast the statues in an Abercrombie & Fitch catalogue.

Just to chime in here: I am not one to make political commentaries. Like Andy Warhol, who was an artist who chose to speak on things other than politics, I’ve never been one to shove my political views down the throats of others. I’m not Tilda Swinton, who actually did that recently, when she went to Red Square to wave a rainbow flag. Though, I will admit that I was at first hesitant about going to a country that was so close minded. But then, as Fyodor explained, to not come to a country where there are gay artists living and working, would be to deprive them of their own outlet. So I went. I am proud I did. Even if I think these policies are morally backward and a complete embarrassment.

I spent an afternoon in the Tretyakov Gallery’s contemporary art space, which was filled with some Russian artists that I had never, ever heard of before. I find contemporary art to be a novel subject in Russia because, well, it’s a new idea. For so long, art in Russia was only considered Old Masters. Maybe a Picasso. Certain experimental ideas never made it behind the Iron Curtain and only now are finding their niche in the market. More on this later, when I talk about my friend Dasha Zhukova and her Garage, Center for Contemporary Culture. Two pieces caught my eye at the Tretyakov Gallery: Marc Chagall’s Over the Town (1918) and Kazimir Malevich’s Black Square (1915). The latter was one of my favorites, and had apparently created a sensation in the Russian art world because of it’s simple, minimalist aesthetic.

Now, on to Dasha, who you may remember from a certain profile I did of her in last year’s Harper’s Bazaar, appropriately called Queen of the Art Scene. I admire her and her Garage for helping foster a relationship between new Russia and the contemporary art market. This week, she opened a show for the American conceptual artist John Baldassari called 1 + 1 = 1. It was his commentary on the commentary of other masters. (You can read more about the exhibition on The Garage’s website) But what I found more impressive than the show itself was the reception it received. The place was packed with young, eager, fabulous young people ready to soak up, well, art. The art world. The Garage’s contemporary space is a Shigeru Ban-designed pavilion, which the at organization is using until their permanent space, which will be designed by Rem Koolhaus, is completed. They’re located in Moscow’s Gorky Park, which would be like someone in New York opening a new contemporary art space in Central Park. To say I’m impressed and excited for Dasha is an understatement.

On my last night in Moscow, I had dinner at a collector’s house to see how excited Russian’s cultural elite is about contemporary art. The house was fantastic: a Richter in the office, two early John Currin’s in the bedroom, and so forth. And following dinner, Fyodor took us to the apartment of the performance artist German Vinogradov. It was not what I expected. It was in a rough part of town and up a filthy walkup tenement. He opened the door and the first thing I noticed were feral cats, and the second thing I noticed was an unpleasant stench. I asked the artist where he slept, and he told me where we were sitting. In the room there were tubes and metal plates and a chandelier made of a child’s bicycle wheel. But it was one of those moments when you tell yourself to just embrace the unfamiliar. And I’m glad I did. (I also had to embrace the unsafe since one of the features of his ‘noise performance’ was the sound that lit blowtorches make when they’re shoved into plastic tubes.) His performance was unconventional, but it was divine. He used water drops and firecrackers and he hit hollow tubes and knocked crystals against wind chimes. It was not what I had signed up for, but it made me feel happy. And, for me, that’s what good art does.

Captions, from top: Russian art, personified: Alberto Giacometti and Vladimir Lenin, at a private residence; John Baldassari and Dasha Zhukova at the Garage; a Baldassari work at the Garage; the exterior of the Bolshoi Ballet; me in the Tsar’s Box at the ballet; a dancer warming up at the Bolshoi; the Mondrian exhibit at the Tretyakov gallery; Fyodor at dinner, trying to eat through his mask; the Garage’s director Anton outside their temporary space; a kitty; the golden onion domes inside the Kremlin; Song Dong’s work at the Biennale; an Alex Schweder work at the Solyanke State Gallery; the archives in the Garage office; the darkened scene at German Vinogradov performance; Red Square at night; Olya, Mira and Vika at the Garage; the Kabakov’s The Ship of Tolerance; art in the Moscow underground; a view of the interior of the Bolshoi; me in the metro; the exterior of the Kremlin; a handsome Soviet statue in the metro; rubbing the lucky rooster in the metro
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