Mr Blasberg
9:00 am

WHEN RICHARD MET GIANNI: Appreciating Avedon’s Seminal Versace Moment

18/11/2014, From Elsewhere


Versace’s Spring 1993 campaign was a ground breaking example of fashion photography. For the Gagosian Gallery, I penned this text as a tribute to the seminal photographer, Richard Avedon. 



“I can remember that shoot like it was yesterday,” pronounces Naomi Campbell, about the Spring/Summer 1993 Versace campaign, which was lensed by the groundbreaking Richard Avedon, and was photographed in November of 1992, in New York City. “I know it was a long time ago, but even in that moment you knew you were creating something special.” In the history of fashion photography, special may be an understatement. The campaign, which imagines the 1990s supermodels as glamorous female warriors trudging through a graying desert adorned only in their decadent Versace, remains one of the most memorable—and most emulated—series of fashion images. “It’s an absolute surrender to glamour,” Glenda Bailey, editor in chief of Harper’s Bazaar, says of the campaign. “It is both powerful and sensual. It perfectly summed up the spirit of that moment, of the sort of powerful and sexy person that women still want to be.”

Gagosian Gallery is honored to show, as part of Paris Photo 2014, the thirty-two images by Avedon that record this collection. All prints are unique, and they are signed by the photographer. This particular grouping is special as it was one of the few times that Avedon printed his photographs in color, although many of his images were reproduced in vivid hues within the many magazines with which he worked during his lifetime. This series is one of the best examples of the sheer ambition and scale of Avedon’s legendary campaigns with Gianni Versace. (In addition to Campbell, other 1990s supermodels featured in the campaign include Linda Evangelista, Shalom Harlow, Kristen McMenamy, Kate Moss, Nick Moss, Stephanie Seymour, Aya Thorgren, Christy Turlington, and Yvette .)

Avedon, the lifelong New Yorker with an exacting eye, and Versace, the flamboyant Italian fashion designer known for his baroque flair, may not have seemed likely collaborators. But, says Bailey, when they came together lightning struck. “They both had this tremendous energy. They were unbounded in the passion for all things beautiful. They were indulgent in the passion and the freedom to enjoy the moment.” She recalls Versace at the dinners he would throw in his Milan mansion after his fashion shows, picking up a guitar and leading a sing-along. “And Avedon created the party too. He had a fabulous sense of humor, and both of them had the energy to create a special world. These pictures represent the perfect experience of absolute joy and beauty.”

It appears that everyone on set that day felt like they had experienced a creative epiphany. Seymour says it’s one of her most memorable photo shoots, and she still recalls how Avedon would incorporate a special narrative into each shot. “Before each picture, Dick would get us all together and describe the ‘story’ and what parts he wanted us each to play. That’s why all the pictures turned out so dramatic.” Campbell remembers what it was like on that set too, “That was a major production. We would be dressed, we would be positioned one by one, and then they’d have to set up the sand and the set, then he’d adjust that beautiful Avedon lighting that he was so famous for,” she says. Further, Campbell jokes that only Avedon could get her off the telephone, “You won’t believe this, but for him I would turn my phones off. He would come into the dressing room and sit down next to you, he wanted to know what was going on. He would tell you funny stories from the past and make you feel comfortable.”

Warmth, and the ability to make a woman feel confident, were qualities that Versace and Avedon had in common. After all, a remarkable aspect about this series is how the pictures can evoke the spirit of a fashion brand, beyond the clothes themselves. According to Bailey, “It was about taking the clothes off. He could sell the spirit of the lifestyle without even showing the clothes, and that says as much about the brand as keeping the clothes on. Only Avedon could get that.”


1:48 am


03/11/2014, Fast + Louche

Jeez Louise, people take costume parties seriously nowadays. It’s like New Years Eve and a wedding rolled into one, all the build up for a single evening and all this time and energy spent on an outfit you’ll only wear once. That is, unless, you’re like me and you find yourself recycling outfits year after year. (For a few years, I’d do anything that involved a smoky eye. Pirate, Aladin, etc.) Or worse: that you can put together a costume without having to go shopping. Take, for example, my first costume of the season, which was a leather daddy bike dude – I knew the Zana Byne leather harness I wore to the Met gala when the them was Punk would come in handy sooner later.

This year’s dress-up season started with my friend Sarah Hoover’s birthday, ran through Halloween, and ended with the LACMA Art + Film gala in LA. I’m not sure why Sarah insisted on a costume party; I can only assume it had something to do with the white Alaia dress she wanted to wear and it only being appropriate to do so if it was under the guise of an angel costume. (I personally preferred Tom Sach’s costume that night: Pervert.)

Halloween this year fell on a Friday, which would be convenient if Halloween was a one-night only event. No longer, my friends. Now it’s more like Halloween. Alison Sarofim’s annual Halloween bash at her townhouse in New York’s West Village was on the 26th, which meant Joan, Lazaro and I had to scramble for our ensembles. ‘Where’s Waldo’ seemed like a fitting look for me, she whipped together a ninja outfit she picked up at a Ricky’s, and Lazaro borrowed one of the four Mexican wrestling masks I have in my closet. (Don’t ask.)

The next day I had to travel to LA for some shoots – like I said, Where’s Waldo was on the nose for me –  which meant I could make it for my friend Kate’s fabulous annual fete on the 30th and then the Trick or Treat’ers at my friend Jacqui’s the next day. I must say this with humility: Dasha and I killed it with our costumes this year. We went as the distressed couple from the Roy Lichtenstein comic strips, though we really have the nice people at MAC to thank for our dotted complexions. (Thank you, Cynthia and Tiffany!) The night ended with the two of us rolling around on the bathroom floor in fits of giggles trying to de-dot ourselves, which was probably why I was too pooped to go for it on the actual Halloween. I guess you could say I blew my Hallow-wad early because on the night of the 31st, I was lazy, wore a boring mask, and was in bed before midnight.

Finally, in the spirit of dressing up, the following night was the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s annual Art + Film fundraiser. That costume was easy: The navy blue Fendi tuxedo I have in the back of my closet. Kate, Dasha, Eva and the rest of the girls were turned out in Gucci ensembles. The evening celebrated Quentin Tarantino, who was rather reserved during his remarks, and the artist Barbara Kruger. Her video montage was awe-inspiring (I’m going to see if I can find it online and post it here), and her speech was touching. I thought she was an appropriate coda to my week of dressing ridiculously. After all, in high school, I had a picture of one of her famous works pinned to my bedroom bulletin board. It said: “I shop, therefore I am.”


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10:01 pm


26/10/2014, Fast + Louche

Nicky 6 Nicky Hilton is one of the most punctual people I know. Almost annoyingly so. That probably has something to do with the fact that her sister Paris is one of the least punctual people I know, but also with the fact that Nicky knows her way around her closet. (And by closet I mean the bedroom she converted into a walk-in erogenous zone of fashion.) I’ve teased her about this before: If she could apply the astute organizational skills that she has applied to her closet and get ready to international politics, the world would be a much better place. This fall, she published a book of her handiest style tips, 365 Style, and I asked her about writing the book, debunking her style, and her favorite style goofs. Why did you want to write this book, Nicks? I’ve always loved fashion since I was a little girl. I was always exposed to it as a teenager growing up in New York City, and I did the occasional modeling gig. From there, I started designing handbags, did a jewelry line and some clothing collections. But the actual idea for the book was born a few years back when I started becoming active on my social media. People started writing me on my Facebook and Twitter – even back on my MySpace – to ask me fashion advice. Men and women of all ages asking me what I think they should wear, what I thought of their outfits. So that’s what’s in this book? The book covers everything from how to be smartp and a smart shopper to what to wear to break up with a boyfriend. It is also sprinkled with fashion tips, tricks and funny fashion anecdotes. What were the questions you were asked most often? I get asked what my favorite article of fashion is. And I say ballet flats. They are chic, go from day to night and they’re comfortable. I know some people think that dressing up or dressing well can be stressful, but I love things that are versatile. You and Paris were exposed to, let’s say “the good stuff” from an early age. But I’ve been shopping with you at the malls, you know your way around a bargain. Tell me: What are some basics that my friends back home in Missouri can get? I’m obsessed with American Apparel’s bandage skirts. They’re like my secret weapon. They’re under $30 and come in every color of the rainbow. I pair it with everything from my vintage tees to Alaia. I also think every girl looks instantly polished in a nicely tailored blazer. A classic blazer looks good on any body type. You and I have been friends for years, and we’ve both had some hits and misses when it comes to getting dressed. (Don’t make me break out the pictures.) Do you have any regrets? What were there? Paris and I in matching red satin Marc Bouwer gowns from the VH-1/Vogue Fashion Awards quickly comes to mind. Don’t look up the picture, don’t put it on your site. And I went to this tanning salon phase, which was… Let’s just say I was living in LA and everyone was doing it. And I’d like to think I was a lot less orange than most of my contemporaries. I’m always impressed by girls like you who can walk and dance and run in high heels. When did you get your first pair? What are the secrets to not getting disfigured feet by wearing them all the time? My mother bought me a pair of mini high heels when I was about 14. I think they were under half-an-inch, but I loved them and felt so grown up when I wore them. As I’ve matured, I realized that footwear is key if you want to have a fun night out of dancing. Uncomfortable shoes can ruin a night and send me right back home. And that’s not what I want to do. What’s your favorite place to go out in New York? I’ve grown up in hotels so naturally I’m a big fan of hotel life. I love lounging in hotel lobbies and bars. They’re cozy and comfortable. I would say some of my favorites in New York are The Greenwich Hotel, Bowery and The Carlyle. Did you have fun writing this book? Do you think you’ll do another? I had a blast writing this book. It was so fun to relive all these fun fashion memories. I loved the process of going through all my storage and collecting photos. If you need any really, really embarrassing ones, don’t forget I have a quite a few. Slow down, Derek. I have some pretty good ones of you too. Two can play at this game!


nicky 4

   Paris, me and Nicky at a party in New York. (Perhaps if she had written this book earlier, I wouldn’t have worn a turban.)

7:25 am


15/10/2014, Fast + Louche
YouTube Preview Image


Want to feel old? Baz Luhrmann’s first Chanel No 5 video, the one starring a fresh Nicole fluttering around Paris in pink marabou feathers and ending up in the arms of Rodrigo Santoro, came out more than a decade ago. Well, Baz is back, and instead of Nicole he brought Gisele with him. His updated film, which you can watch above and runs a little over three minutes, is very Luhrmann-esqure. There’s a bit of Moulin Rouge (cabaret set, dramatic musical number) and a pinch of ‘The Great Gatsby’ too (glitz, glamour and a gorgeous aerial shot of a convertible drive into Manhattan), but with some modern muse elements thrown in. Here, Gisele is not just a gorgeous girl who’s the lust interest of a gorgeous man, but she’s also a working mother. Who knows how to surf like a goddess and has invested in some serious beachfront real estate.

Chanel hosted a party for Baz this week in New York. It being Chanel and it being Baz, though, this was no minor production. They built a sunken cabaret theater in the middle of Chelsea (conveniently enough, two blocks from my apartment), complete with velvet banquets, a stage and every handsome cater waiter in New York City. Baz introduced the film in what was definitely an unscripted but super charming stand up routine in which he heckled his wife and lauded Gisele. Then, he left the glitzed up posse to their own devices. Which for me meant a bad kids table in the corner that meant repeatedly asking waiters for more caviar and tequila, and sneaking cigarettes when they weren’t looking. (What? It’s French company.) I was sat between my New York wifey, Lauren Santo Domingo, and my St Louis sister, Karlie Kloss, and what was a revolving table of our bonkers pals. Lily Allen went behind the bar to make us drinks when the aforementioned handsome wait staff were bogged down. We teased Vladimir for being so eligible and his sister Julia for being the hottest Momma at the table (and lets say there was stiff competition). Poppy was just being Poppy. We dismantled the table decorations and flower bombed other tables. And ultimately the night ended up with us swinging Baz and his wife around until the wee hours.

PS. Mom, if you’re reading this, I promise I was just holding that cigarette for someone else.

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5:20 am


03/10/2014, Fast + Louche

Maybe it’s Global Warming, but we’re sitting here in October and I’m convinced it’s still summer time. Or maybe in addition to the fact that I haven’t unpacked my fur coats yet, a sense of fun and frivolity has trickled well past August. I had a wonderful time this season in Paris. The week started off with our Gagosian show of Peter Lindbergh’s photographs at the gallery on the rue de Ponthieu. Peter had organized a dinner the night before the opening, and the ladies came out in full force: Amber Valetta, Charlotte Rampling, Diane von Furstenberg. Peter has made a career out of making women look – and feel beautiful – and the show is a testament to his influence not just in the world of photography but also how we interpret beauty. (If you do anything today, Google his pictures for Harper’s Bazaar of Amber Valetta as a fallen angel in New York. They’re magical.) The rest of the week was predictably fashionable: Givenchy’s show was one of my favorites, well worth celebrating with Riccardo Tisci and the girls at an empty bar afterwards. We danced till we were sore and as we left had the bright idea to climb a giant horse lamp and pose for a group shot. Karl Lagefeld posed a picket for his Chanel show, which was, as always with him, on trend. (Because, speaking of Global Warming and pickets, did you see my previous blog post on my weekend of political activity?) Another highlight of the week was the convergence of the art world and the fashion industry with the techies: Marc Newson hosted a dinner at Azzedine Alaia’s house for Jony Ive to celebrate the launch of the AppleWatch. This marks the third time I’ve seen this fancy wrist ornament, so I’m starting to feel like I own the thing already. This dinner was fun: Pat McGrath and Cara Delevingne kept on moving our table to combine with others nearby until, by the end of the night when Rossy de Palma and Blanca Li took the stage with Salma Hayek, we had morphed into this disfigured mega table. The bottles of vodka Marc had brought with him helped things. The week ended for me with a DJ set by – get this – Paris Hilton. Paris had played at Carine Roitfeld’s party earlier in the week, but I was late and I missed it. So, the least I could do was stuff myself in a nightclub on my last night in Paris. Left Paris with a bang, and a fist pump.

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10:32 pm


21/09/2014, Fast + Louche

I must admit on Friday, when I looked at my weekend schedule, it did look like a daunting weekend: Starting on Saturday morning with the 57th Annual German-American parade down Fifth Avenue, then a conference at the United Nations on global gender equality, and then a Sunday morning march to raise awareness on Global Warming and the long list of other assaults humanity has placed on the country. But then, what’s the point of living in New York if you’re not participating in all the things that this town has to offer? Isn’t the point of being in the middle of action is to get some actin?

Anyway, the parade was legitimately unexpected. I was headed on a stroll through Central Park and I suddenly found myself surrounded by men in lederhosen. (Or was it my German ancestors steering me to the mother ship?) But who doesn’t love a few vintage Volkswagen’s, like my mom owned in the 60’s?

The trip to the United Nations was a different affair: My friend Emma Watson, the actress and newly minted activist, had told me about her participation with the ‘He For She’ campaign awhile back. What an impressive young woman she has become. At the conference, which was designed to get men more involved in the gender equality movement, Emma made a speech that received a standing ovation – from the United Nations assembly! Woop, woop, go Watson! (You can read Emma’s moving speech HERE, and please do check out the campaign HERE. If you’re a boy, be sure to sign the #heforshe Commitment. I did!)

And then on Sunday, there was the People Climate March, an international effort to raise awareness on environmental issues. A little fun fact: I was born on Earth Day, April 22nd. So I’m a sucker for an environmental cause, and when all my pals had (surprisingly successfully) organized for us to join the march on Central Park West, I was happy to sign up too. There was a great deal of flak about the march, which wasn’t entirely unfounded: Many of my fellow marchers looked like they thought they were headed to Burning Man, not a discussion on climate control, and for an environmental cause there was an awful lot of flyers being passed out. But there is no denying that climate change has become perhaps the biggest issue facing our – and future – generations. So instead of people moaning and leaving nasty comments on my Instagram, we need to look into ways to reduce our harmful effects on the environment. Which I hope this march did in some small way.


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5:12 am


12/09/2014, Fast + Louche

It’s hard to believe that we’re already back in the swing of things, welcoming another month of fashion shows. It seems like only yesterday I was in the middle of the Nevada desert for Burning Man. (Or maybe it’s just that the hangover from that experience has only now worn off.) Yet, there I was in the early days of September, figuring out how to be in a dozen different places at the same time. Adding to the already grueling schedule of fashion week this season were two non-fashion sanctioned events. First, on the even of the collections, Rachel Feinstein organized a performance festival in Madison Square Garden. Rachel, one of the most important contemporary artists working today, had erected three site specific public works in the park, and in the closing days of the exhibition was inspired to host an evening of culture and delight. She didn’t disappoint. It was a balmy, beautiful with ballet performers, Jarvis Cocker, Lil Buck and Kalup Linzy, my favorite performance artist. (For more from Rachel on the works in the park, read an interview I did for Gagosian’s NOW here.) My other fashion week diversion this season involved a cross country flight and a morning in Cupertino, California, that could only be described as a religious experience. It was the Apple experience, the launch of the new iPhone 6 and the AppleWatch. It was like going to geek church. The entire room was packed, on the edge of their seats, hanging on every one of Tim Cook’s words. Not that it was all geeks: Proving Apple is still on the cuff of cutting edge technology and design, cultural influencers like Gwen Stefani, Chris Martin, Dr Dre, Will.i.Am and Puff Daddy were all piled into the front row and just as intrigued. In the end, these diversions only reinforced how inspiring fashion week is for me and for the rest of the creative communities. I sometimes find myself wondering what the relevance of fashion week still is, why every six months the industry spends million of dollars on 14 minute shows. And then I realize that these shows are like the laboratories of ideas, one of the many rituals we have as a creative community to influence each other. (Did I tell you Miley Cyrus is an artist now? Scroll down.) The interplay between art, technology and fashion is now to intrinsically linked that it felt right to seamless move between the worlds, from fashion show to art opening to Apple launch. Though, I will say this: Fashion people know are much better when it comes to open bars and goody bags. And that, after all, has always been my favorite part of fashion week.


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6:03 pm


02/09/2014, Fast + Louche

We’ve all heard the saying that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. But no one believes that. What happens in Vegas ends up on security footage to be used against you in a court of law. But, where such a saying could actually apply is Burning Man, an outdoor festival of outward artistic expression that erects in the Nevada desert every summer with the single law that all forms of self expression are legal. People pitch tents and create fantastical artworks — and then after a few days of dancing and merrymaking, burn it all down and pack everything up, leaving only a trace of memories in the white sandy dusts. This was my first time at Burning Man, but immediately I felt it was a sacred place. A place where imaginations run wild and fantasies come true.


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8:41 pm


14/08/2014, Fast + Louche

Heaven knows I don’t need a reason to go home. This blog has as many pictures of Karlie Kloss at a European fashion week as it does on the Blasberg family farm in Hillsboro, Missouri. (In fact, whenever I need a little peek of life back on the farm, I look at the Polaroids that she took at my 30th birthday. Check them out.) So it was a non-issue when my friend Lily Allen told me that she was opening for Miley Cyrus in St Louis. Yea, I’ll be there.

And so it began. I arrived in my hometown after a tranquil, peaceful few days in Aspen with some friends. In Aspen, the air was crisp and we went mountain biking at the break of dawn and hiked at dusk. (Want to see me in Spandex? Check out my Instagram. But you’ve been warned: I am actually wearing Spandex.) So it was a with a clear head that I turned up in St Louis. Well, it got messy immediately! What? I had to show Lily a good time. We met in the Grove on Manchester, kicked back a few drinks, commandeered a designated driver (safety first, kids) and ended up at a dance club in East St. Louis. Many hours later, I got home just about when my pals in Aspen were getting ready for their morning ride. On a wee bit of sleep I woke up, I fed the chickens (no, really, scroll down for images) and then I met my parents for lunch. That afternoon, my mother made me mow the lawn — never too old for chores in the Blasberg family, apparently — and then my friends Lauren and Erin joined Lily at the Scottrade Center for her performance with Miley. I hadn’t yet seen Miley’s show, so I made the mistake of inviting my ‘rents too. Although we were watching from backstage, I did wonder what was going through my parents’ head out in the audience when Miley came out in dollar bill unitard with a mouth-full of cuss words and riding a giant hot dog. (Me? I loved it.) An extra special thanks to Miley for tossing me a plush toy on stage – where did she get it? She doesn’t know — which now holds a place of honor on my parents’ banister.

What else did Lily and I do? She checked out the University City Loop and did some thrift shopping (her favorite purchase was a child’s ice skating costume, duh) and bought an awful lot of novelty socks from the hemp store. She tried toasted ravioli, which is a St Louis delicacy (not sure why they’re called that because they’re just fried ravioli, nothing toasted about ‘em), Imo’s pizza (my favorite) and I hauled her to Ted Drewe’s, which is the best frozen custard in the entire world. And since you’re never too old to learn new things, she introduced me to Seoul Taco, which was all sorts of cheesy and delicious. And played with Monster, my long lost puppy.

When Lily and Miley left, things resumed to my Missouri normal. I visited my Uncle Fred and Aunt Tina in Hillsboro, and brought my friend Lauren’s little girls with me because I know they like to pick wild flowers. We drove to the Lake of the Ozarks, so I could blow the dust of my water skis and eat my beloved sweet potato fries at the offensively named Big Dick’s Halfway Inn. (Calm down! It’s a small motel that was started by a fat guy called Richard. Promise.) I made a video of my 60-something-year-old aunt doing a baton twirling routine on her back lawn (GO TO MY INSTAGRAM IMMEDIATELY, IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THIS!). My dad showed off some of his news toys: He got a four-door Wrangler, which only irks me because he knows it’s always been my dream car; and a Harley Trike, which is essentially a children’s tricycle on steroids.

On a more somber note, I left St Louis in a conflicted state. Ferguson, MO, is a town on the north side of the city, and what has happened there has been tough to watch. (Google it if you don’t know.) St Louis is spread out, so my hometown community has been spared from the riots and looting in Ferguson. But to see a place that you love deal with so many issues — political, social, even the simple devastating act of a heartbroken family — is tough. Local politics is not my bag. I don’t want to get on a soap box here and be one of these annoying people who think they know how to fix every problem. (Anyone else tired of seeing those videos and talking heads? Sheesh.) But I will say is that I pray and I hope that the conflicts and anger that are plaguing the place I come from come to peaceful resolution soon. St Louis is a special place. Trust me.


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9:12 am


04/08/2014, Fast + Louche

I first met Riccardo Tisci, Givenchy’s artistic director, the same way many other people in the fashion community did: Through his longtime friend, MariaCarla Boscono. (MariaCarla and I have been friends since I was in college, when I lived in the dorms and she lived in Williamsburg. But that’s another story for another time.) MariaCarla and Riccardo are like siblings for the same Italian family. They tease each other, they love each other, they speak so quickly in so many languages that the only person that can understand them is each other. MariaCarla was a champion of his when he was a struggling designer  of his own namesake collection, and was always an ardent supporter of his talent. Turns out that she had good instinct: When Riccardo took over the house of Givenchy in 2005, he revitalized the fashion house from a sleepy French brand into an international powerhouse. (It wasn’t easy at first, as he readily admits. His early reviews weren’t the best. But today he is one of the most influential designers working in fashion.) Which is all to say that he’s done a lot in his first four decades on this planet. We celebrated his 40th birthday this weekend on the Spanish island of Ibiza. Like his designs, the party was a contradiction: It was rough but still romantic, it was (very) late but still light. Titans of film, fashion and art all turned out for his party, as did his mother, his eight sisters, friends from his childhood, and of course a couple of supermodels. We’re talking about you, Kate and Naomi. It was a special night — and morning — and I wish him another four decades of fun, fashion and wonder.


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