Mr Blasberg
8:38 am

From Gagosian’s NOW: A Q+A with Rachel Feinstein on her new public works, midlife crises and the time the dog ate her art work

04/08/2014, From Elsewhere

So, what am I working on NOW? Happy you asked. Earlier this year, I started collaborating with the Gagosian on original texts about our artists, shows and upcoming exhibitions. This week, we released one of my favorite interviews yet: Rachel Feinstein. The Miami-born artist has played muse to many (including her husband, painter John Currin; and the designer, Marc Jacobs, for whom she has both designed fashion show sets and appeared in his campaign), and it’s clear in this interview why.

feinstein folly

A pirate’s ship zooming through the sky. A cartoon house balancing precariously on the edge of a cliff. A squat rococo hut. These three structures by Rachel Feinstein, together titled Folly, debuted this month in New York City’s Madison Square Park. 

Derek Blasberg: I looked up the word “folly” in the dictionary and it gave me five definitions: the state of being foolish, an absurdity, a costly undertaking, a theatrical review, and a whimsical structure built as a conversation piece. Which definition do you think best sums up your new works?

Rachel Feinstein: All of them! I like all of those things. The word “absurd” is good because, for me, a folly doesn’t serve any real purpose. It’s not as though someone is going to live in these houses, or that this ship will go into water. All art is basically absurd, in that its only purpose is to enrich life and to give pleasure—not to do practical things like feed or clothe. The concept of Folly has its origins in mania and excess, in the times when kings and queens built ornate fantasy structures, like Egyptian pyramids or Roman temples, which were intended primarily as decorative objects.

DB: Do you believe that modern society retains those elements of folly?

RF: When I look at those fantastical structures I sometimes wonder, “Are we at that point today?” That’s what I liked about having these baroque, rococo sculptures in Madison Square Park. They add whimsical pleasure to the city. There aren’t a lot of true pleasures left in New York. This town is about capitalism, making money, pushing oneself, striving for the next challenge. But in Madison Square Park, I see people enjoying life and being happy. I wanted to do something that would make people smile. Sure, there are deeper meanings to my work and to my inspirations, and if people see them that’s great. If my work causes people to reflect on childhood or on mortality, that’s wonderful. But if they just want to look at something pretty while they’re eating lunch, that’s cool too.

DB: The baroque aesthetic has been a longtime influence for you.

RF: It really began in 2000, when I took a trip through Bavaria, Germany, and I saw the real thing for the first time, as opposed to the Florida version of baroque that I saw when I was growing up. Let me tell you, Liberace and America’s version of rococo is totally not what it’s about. It’s not gold yucky “elegance.” Baroque is meant to show you so much decadence that it reveals the presence of death at every turn. It’s frightening. The highest and most frightening forms of rococo and baroque still exist in palaces and hunting lodges around Bavaria.

DB: Like King Ludwig’s palace, which I remember so well because it was the basis of the Disneyland castle.

RF: Yes, but King Ludwig’s palace was in itself a Disney version of real Baroque palaces like the Nymphenburg Palace. Growing up in Florida, I was familiar with the façade. I saw Disneyworld as a magical and amazing place from far away, but I also saw what it looked like up close, and I saw what was behind the façade. I remember thinking, at a young age, “This is all bullshit. This is all fake, and I don’t believe it.” You see that in my work too, there’s a front and back, and that’s purposeful. When I was in college, I was obsessed with duality in fairy tales, and how good and evil exist in opposition, like old and young; the yin and yang of life. Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about Carl Jung. He said that when you hit middle age—which is where I am, and I’m freaking out about it—you have to rebirth the second half of your life, and live in the opposite sex to that in which you lived for the first half.

DB: Does that mean you would live the rest of your life as a man?

RF: It’s interesting. In my home life, I am very girly, and my husband [the painter John Currin] is very masculine. But in both of our professional lives, the roles are different: I’m a sculptor, which is more masculine, and I use tools and saws and fiberglass resins. John is more feminine; he uses soft brushes and pretty paints. So, according to Jung, I have to become more masculine at home and then more feminine at work. He says that in order to continue life and not look back, a person has to change how they live by moving forward differently into the second half of your life. Which makes sense.

DB: Do you think there’s something feminine about the follies?

RF: Maybe. The concept did come from doing a set for a women’s fashion show. In 2012, I did the set for a Marc Jacobs show. He called out of the blue and asked if I wanted to do it, but said I only had two weeks. So, I just started googling things I liked. Since I was supposed to make a set, I researched Picasso’s work for the Ballets Russes. Dalí did some sets too, so I found pictures of those. At the time I was also working on a show for the Gagosian in Rome, and the inspiration for that was Roman ruins. Marc had said, “Do whatever you want, I just don’t want fairy tales.” He wanted sad and melancholy. No princesses. Then, that’s where Folly began. I had been drawing objects, cutting the drawing up, and then gluing it back together. In creating the work, I could realize these small paper objects as large metal structures for the first time.

DB: Is creating the miniatures your favorite part of the process?

RF: The history of miniatures is interesting. “Follies” began when certain kings and queens would commission renowned architects to make incredible dollhouses. It happened to coincide with the crumbling of the aristocratic world. For example, Marie Antoinette would relax by becoming a shepherdess in Petit Trianon. I think people can escape into miniatures. I’m a bit like that. Whenever things start to get funky in my life, I’m like, “I’ll just sit here and make a little house out of white paper.”

DB: Were you like that as a child?

RF: Every artist is influenced by their childhood, whether they’re embracing it or denying it. Everything comes from that formative period. To be honest, I always think that artists have no new ideas after they enter adulthood, and they spend the rest of their lives making what they subconsciously discovered as a child. When I was little, I would sit in a little closet in my parents’ house in Miami building things. I was always a sculptor, always using cardboard and hot glue, and being messy and cutting things. On the other hand, John always loved paint and the sensuality of painting. Your personality is really formed in your childhood. In fact, that reminds me, I won an award when I was ten for making a sculpture out of tennis shoes. I had found all these old ’70s sneakers and I arranged them into this big tower, and my school entered it into a statewide competition at a youth fair. I won first prize. It was a real honor and it was going to get sent to the national competition, which was in Washington, D.C., and the winner would get to meet the president, Ronald Reagan at the time. So, I took it home and put it by the door—and my dog ate it! Devastating. I didn’t have time to make a new one and I never entered the contest.

DB: And you never got meet Reagan?

RF: No. Unfortunately!

DB: What drew you to Madison Square Park? I like the idea of grandeur and imagination living in a small green patch in a concrete jungle.

RF: John has a studio near there, and after I was asked by the Madison Square Park Conservancy to come up with a proposal I would sit there and just watch people. I need to live with something for a while to get the best ideas. When I saw an aerial map of the park, I was inspired. All of the paths are curved, there are no straight paths in the park. They look so whimsical, like some rococo pattern that reminded me of the porcelain table setting from an eighteenth-century wedding.

DB: Were there any hurdles in the realization?

RF: Yes, with a public work you have to work with engineers, and there are rules and regulations about sharp edges and low ceilings. Could people hurt themselves? Is this safe? I thought a lot about Alexander Calder because he was an engineer and a sculptor, and he didn’t have to put up with people telling him what and how to do things. He’s the genius of geniuses when it comes to public art and keeping the work within his own vernacular. He did it all. He even did the welding himself.

DB: I live in Chelsea, and my office is on the Upper East Side, which means I have to walk through Madison Square Park to get to the subway. I want to tell you that these sculptures have aesthetically enriched this journey.

RF: I love standing in the park and listening to what people say about them, and what they see in them. That’s the best thing in the world and it makes being an artist the best thing in the world. I would never want to be a celebrity. No way. When your work can speak for you, when you can be a silent and anonymous person on the street while something you created provokes a response from a compete stranger? There’s nothing as good as that.

DB: So, you go to the park and do a little eavesdropping.

RF: Yes, and I love it. I especially like it because it’s not a typical art gallery crowd. I’ve heard construction workers review them, and I just love when kids say “Look, it’s a pirate ship!” or they’ll run over and try and turn the wheel in the little house. That’s the cool stuff that I was hoping for. I also want to figure out how to stage live performances within the sculptures. I’m not a performance artist and that’s not what I do, but wouldn’t it be great if there could be a sort of open mike night, where people come and perform, inspired by the piece? My kids call Rococo Hut the Puppet House, so wouldn’t it be great to do a puppet show in there?

DB: Would you want it to be a children’s show, or a show of all kinds of artists? For example, could you imagine incorporating performance work from Kembra Pfahler or Marina Abramovic?

RF: I want it all, I want the crazy naked people and maybe some balloon makers. Animal party costumes? Sure, why not?

DB: When I look at your work, I sometimes think of this stupid art joke: “If it’s not baroque, don’t fix it.”

RF: That’s a good one. That reminds me of Ingmar Bergman’s movie Fanny and Alexander (1982), which John and I always talk about. The movie is about a brother and a sister who live in a beautiful gold, chintzy, ridiculously baroque house, where the fire is always roaring and a governess with an enormous bosom takes care of the children. The father dies unexpectedly of a stroke, and the mother is afraid of being alone, so she marries the local bishop and moves the family to his austere home, where he lives with his whole family. The kids are freaked out and no one gives them any love, and the whole mood of their new house and their new life is very minimal and cold. John and I joke that that’s how we feel in the art world. There is so much minimalism and frigidity, and then there’s us. We’re the opposite.

DB: So, a better bad joke for you is: “I’d rather be baroque than rich.”

RF: But the real baroque. Not the Liberace baroque. Give me the Nymphenburg Palace and I’d feel pretty good.

Rachel Feinstein’s Folly, which includes the pieces Flying ShipRococo Hut, and Cliff House is on view daily until September 7, 2014, in Madison Square Park at 23rd Street and Broadway.

For more from NOW, go to

1:02 pm


15/07/2014, Fast + Louche

Paris hosted the of haute couture shows again last week. And, as in seasons before, the holes left by the various couture labels whose high fashion business has dwindled in these less-than-stellar economic times have been filled by a long list of other chic and fabulous happenings. Like what? Miu Miu presented their resort collection (one of my favorite of the season, very mod, very girly, lots of navy blue) and then hosted a lavish dinner and private Jack White concert. Nearly all of my girlfriends hosted parties for their various fashionable enterprises: Eugenie Niarchos had a cocktail party for her line, Venyx; Noor Fares had a party for her eponymous jewelry collection; Bianca Brandolini and Alexia Niedzielski collaborated on a bikini collection. French Vogue hosted a dinner and dance party – Cecile Cassel lead the charge, and was fabulous – that may well become Paris’ version of the Met ball.

Of course, there were the shows too. Dior’s show was held in a specially constructed bubble of walls made of white orchids (Diorchids, we wondered?) and started with elegant, voluminous gowns before moving onto decadent fur coats and long, minimalistic evening jackets. I won’t soon forget Giambattista Valli’s show, especially the long, oversized evening dresses at the end. And this was one of my favorite Chanel shows in recent years. In a preview with Karl Lagerfeld, he showed that the materials were actually a specially created form of concrete embroidery. Only he can combine concrete and couture, and finish the show with a pregnant bride that looks as chic as ever.

Not that anyone needed an excuse to come to Paris in the summer, but the girls were out this season. I’ll never forget Jennifer Lopez marching into the Versace show in her all-white one-legged evening dress. Or, should I say glowing in? Emma Watson looked fabulous at her couture appearances, mixing ladylike lace at the Valentino show with androgynous tailoring when she joined us at the Givenchy table for the French Vogue party. I fell hard for Dakota Johnson too, the future star of the Fifty Shades of Grey franchise, who was in town for the Chanel show. (So was Jared Leto, hubba hubba.) Dakota was staying at an apartment near me, and the two of us bonded with our mutual buddy Emily Ward over the eating and drinking habits of the locals. But perhaps the most unexpectedly wonderful mashup was me, Alexa Chung and Mos Def, tablemates at the Prada dinner. Thanks, Miuccia!

Another cultural delight is visitin the art shows in Paris. The Robert Mapplethorpe exhibit at the Grand Palais was astounding. It closed the week we were there, and the art gods were smiling on me that I managed to see it in its final days. As I paced the galleries, I thought how impressive it was that he managed to find pieces of heaven in what may have looked like hell to everyone else. The Gagosian’s Le Bourget venue, which is just outside Paris, has a fabulous show called ‘An American in Paris’ on, the centerpiece of which is Jeff Koons’ Balloon Swan (Red), which my friends stared at for a few hours wondering if it was playful or sexually graphic.

But my favorite part of couture week was doing what I love to do in Paris: Being a tourist. Like going on the ferris wheels and the swings at the carnival in the Tuilleries, strolling the streets of Paris, shopping the soldes, drinking hot chocolate at Cafe Flore, and sweating out the hot chocolate while dancing at tiny, most likely unsafe dance halls. It’s my favorite city and my favorite week of the year.
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Captions, from top: A stroll in the Tuilleries; Karlie Kloss at the French Vogue dinner; me and Jared Leto at the Chanel show; looks at the Dior show; Grace Coddington and Marc Jacobs at the Miu Miu show; me with Mos Def and Alexa Chung at the Miu Miu party; even the puddles in Paris are chic; fanning out with Emily and Dakota at Le Montana; Jennifer Lopez making her grand entrance; Kendall Jenner, Harry and Peter Brant, Jamie Bochert, Kim Kardashian and myself at the French Vogue party; Joan Smalls and Anja Rubik; Jourdan Dunne on the Versace runway; Daria and me at Kaspia; Alice Dellal and Poppy Delevingne at the Chanel show; the view from the Grand Palais on a summer’s day; Jean Paul Goude and Glenda Bailey at the JPG show; the scene at French Vogue’s dinner; me, Joan and Karlie posing off; Miles and Lily at Silencio; the Brant boys; Jamie at the Givenchy table; Cecile Cassel killing it; Vanessa Traina and Alexander Wang; Natasha Poly giving me a cold shoulder and a sexy back; Jeff Koons’ Balloon Swan (Red) at the Gagosian Gallery in Le Bourget; a detail of the Koons piece; a wall of portraits by Robert Mapplethorpe at the Grand Palais; Mapplethorpe’s self portrait; having English breakfast tea on a rainy Paris afternoon; Bianca and Carine at the Miu Miu party; Dior’s wall of white orchids; Douglas Booth at the Prada party; Isla Fischer and Sunrise Ruffalo; Jack White performing; Gemma Atherton; Kristina O’Neill at Kaspia; Daria and Kristina having a laugh in the Marais; backstage at Giambattista Valli; Franca Sozzani with Eugenie; Noor Fares; Kendall Jenner and Marjorie Gubelmann at the Chanel show; Jamie and her friend Sofia; Uma Thurman and Miuccia Prada; exiting from the Dior show; an unexpected air show at Le Bourget; Langley Fox, Daria Strokous and Leigh Lezark at Silencio; fun at the fair; wishing Patti Wilson a happy birthday; a night with the boys, Paul, Alessandro, Riccaro, Dani, Kevin and Seb; me and Paul Aziz on the swings; me and Miuccia Prada; Caroline and Dakota

4:10 am


11/07/2014, From Elsewhere

It was a somber finale here at the haute couture shows in Paris. As I was recovering from four days of fabulous fashion and fetes, word came from Morristown, New Jersey, that Eileen Ford, the founder of Ford models, had passed away at the age of 92. To say that Ms. Ford, with her husband Jerry, changed the face of fashion is an understatement. Their modeling agency, Ford, was founded in the 1940s and revolutionizing the industry. Cosmetics contracts, cancelation fees, the word supermodel: The Fords did it all. Six years ago, I met with Eileen and Jerry at the University Club in Manhattan for a story in V magazine. (Jerry passed away in 2008.) By then, she could have passed as anyone’s sweet, sassy grannie. But I could still see the steely reserve that made her an icon in the industry behind the twinkle in her eye. Here is that story. 


Time magazine once said that Eileen Ford, the iron-fisted matron of the modern modeling agency, ‘was part pit bull, part den mother – and all business.’ Today, at a spritely 86-years-old, the founder of Ford likes to think of herself more maternal than canine (“I don’t like pitbulls anyway,” she says when reminded of the quote. “Couldn’t I have been a bijon with a bite?”). Delicately sat on a couch in Manhattan’s University Club – which she prefers as it’s, “across the street from my hair dresser, down the street from Escada and around the corner from Michael’s” – Mrs. Ford is perfectly coiffed and buttoned up in grey slacks and a navy cardigan with white knit piping; always within arm’s length is Jerry Ford, her husband of nearly 7 decades, business partner, protector and person she calls “the other half of my life.” These two people, both now frail yet fervent, changed the face of fashion. Literally. This industry has a habit of lauding its major players – so and so redirected fashion with a new cut or a fancy coat – but Jerry and Eileen Ford completely overhauled their industry, and the porcelain and lean features from which fashion hangs. Cancelation fees, collecting payment from the client and the model, weather permits fees and fitting fees – all of these were Ford initiatives. “Girls used to have to try on endless dressing for nothing,” Ford says in horror. The way Ford treated her models blurred the line between mother and manager. She redefined what it was to be an agent. As Time magazine put it, “She takes sugar and space and everything nice, and turns it into cold hard cash.”

DB: I’m told you modeled as a young woman, Mrs. Ford.

EF: Yes, for one month of the summer, for two years, when I was in college.

DB: I imagine its changed since then.

EF: Yes, today a model is paid. A lot! I got $5 an hour, which my father thought was a terrible sum of money for a girl, outside of being naughty. We carried hatboxes with our makeup and things. One was so proud to have a hatbox with an agency’s name on it.

DB: How did you get switch to the booking side? I read it started as a hobby for two girlfriends of yours.

EF: It was no hobby – it was a full time job. I needed money! Jerry was away in the Navy during the war, and when he came home he could go on a football scholarship to Notre Dame or play professional football for the Los Angeles Rams. However, I upset all those plans by getting pregnant. The agencies then were ridiculous, just terrible. No one got to the right place at the right time, and if you asked for a blonde you were sure to get a brunette. If going to college did one thing for me it got me organized. We had no money – he was 20 when we got married, and we were living with my mother and father.  So I started booking two models, each paying me $65 a month. It was 1946, so that was a sum of money. And then more models asked to come on board. Jerry, who had never booked in his life, started when I was pregnant. In those days you were supposed to stay in the hospital for 10 days after you have a child, but I was kicked out after five cause I tied up the nurses’ switch board booking girls from bed.

DB: Did you have any idea you would spend the rest of your life doing that?

EF: How could you? When you’re young you never look at the future. But everyone was unhappy with their agencies, so everyone came to us. We’d sit in the garden of my father’s business, at Lexington and 29th Street, with two phones. Daddy finally got fed up with us tying up his lines too, so we found our own offices on 2nd Avenue. We sold our car to pay the rent.

DB: Ford famously became a family affair. Were the models looking for a den mother?

EF: Sort of. They wanted a manager too. Some of them didn’t like it; like Naomi Campbell, who left us – four times. Christy Brinkley told us recently when she stayed with us she would come down in her pajamas and say she was doing laundry. When she’d get to the kitchen she’d change into her night clothes, put her pajamas in the oven, and know we’d be asleep when she got home. The models ate with us, they stayed with us, I would teach them manners if I needed to. We would go to the Met Museum and lectures, and to the country on the weekends. We were the same age at the beginning, don’t forget. We’d eat together, drink together, stay out all night together. We had a great time – but we’d average 4 hours of sleep a night!

DB: Surely there was at least one wild girl. Was Gia ever with you?

EF: Once, for about four days. Dick Avedon called us; we told him we didn’t want her, but he promised she was totally reformed. The first thing she did was not show to a booking, so I told her not to come back. She told me that she was in a car giving her dogs a ride or something – I have no sense of humor about that sort of thing.

DB: Indeed, you had little patience for misbehavior. You were mom, manager and booker.

EF: And their friend. If a girl found herself in trouble, I helped them, got them into rehab or off whatever they were on. I just found a letter from a model which said she never thanked me for saving her life. She had overdosed, and when I couldn’t get her on the phone I had the superintendent break her door down and shove her into rehab.

DB: Were you an active scouter?

EF: I’m still an active scouter. If I see someone today I’ll speak to them.

DB: You had a theory: “bones and body, body and bones.”

EF: I said that a long time ago. It’s still true, but now I want to amend it to include one other thing: she just has to be born to do it. It’s instinct. Jerry says, “God made models. But he made very few good ones.”

DB: What about personality?

EF: Let me ask you one question about that: Naomi Campbell?

DB: Hey, she definitely has a personality!

EF: She has had a few personalities. She could be a sweet as pie on minute — but you put up with so much more now than I could. I’ve always said we’ve raised a lot of people’s children.

DB: Do you think you defined generations of beauty?

EF: I think I verbalized it. I didn’t make a new look – Christian Dior made a New Look. But I have a good sense of fashion; I could put people together.

DB: Some of your competitors, notably John Casablancas, criticized your tenacity.

EF: Oh, if he said something unkind about me I said a lot more unkind things about him. More than he could think of. It’s such a different mentality, that French-anything-goes view. I loathed that, and I made no secret of it.

DB: Who are some of the photographers you loved to work with?

EF: Dick Avedon. When he used my girls it was a dream come true.

DB: And your favorite girls?

EF: From the beginning: Mary Jane Russell, we adored Suzy Parker; Jean Patchett was our Babe Ruth, the first one to hit it out of the park. And I liked other people in fashion too – editors Eugenia Shephard and Sally Kirkland.

DB: Do you know the girls working today? Do you know Gisele?

EF: We’re going to see Gisele next week, but I’m talking about the ballet. That’s as close as we’ve gotten. The only one I’ve met is Chanel Iman, and I think she’s a darling girl. We’re really out of it.

DB: Maybe you deserve a break.

EF: Don’t forget, I’m 86. But we’re still interested in the industry. I still check in and send my bookers presents. This has been mine and Jerry’s lives. Actually, it’s been our life. Cause we’ve only had one together. And it was this.




1:55 pm


28/06/2014, Fast + Louche



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It’s funny what you miss when you leave home, isn’t it? One of the reasons I was so desperate to high tail it out of St Louis after high school was because I was tired of long country rides, having to drive a car everywhere, fried food, long conversations with strangers, people who actually listened for an answer when they asked, ‘Howareyou?’ (That’s my pet peeve about New Yorkers, by the way. People who think ‘Howareyou’ is the same as ‘Hello.’) Now that it’s nearing a decade and a half since I left home, though, these are the very things I look forward to most when I come back to Missouri. Driving to my uncle’s farm in my Dad’s Jeep with the music up and the windows down and a fresh Imo’s pizza in the back? Heaven.

Last week started with my nephew and godson Will’s second birthday. It had a Cars theme and a bouncy castle, the latter of which had a 150 pound weight restriction, which only made me want to get in there more. (And, for the record, I did. No children were harmed.) And it ended at my Uncle Fred’s house in Hillsboro, which is a particular point of Blasbergian pride. Fred built the house with his own two hands with local woods and rocks. So what it took him three decades, looks fabulous now. He suffers from a disease called Ataxia, which we are still finding more information about, which limits him from some of our favorite countryside pastimes, like hayrides and flower picking and dips in the pool. But something tells me he’s happy that his hard work has brought joy to so many of us.

From St Louis, I figured I might as well hop up to Aspen for an event Chanel was doing for their Paris-Dallas collection. (That show, in Texas, was one of my favorite Chanel moments. For my diary from Karl Lagerfeld’s country western couture, click here.) I had never been to this picturesque town — truth be told, I’m a better waterskier than I am snow bunny — but I found it super charming. The people were nice, even the ones with recently plumped faces. And I was able to show off my equestrian skills. Not to mention I got to wear my favorite cowboy shirt and cashmere bandana in a non-ironic way, for once. I wonder if there were any other cowboys on the Rio Grande Trail who had a Saint Laurent kerchief around their neck?

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10:03 am


16/06/2014, From Elsewhere, General

Little known fact about me and Alexander Wang: We were both interns together at Vogue in the early 200o’s. Schlepping around Conde Nast wasn’t our only shared experience, however. Does anyone else remember Mango, the SNL character from the late 1990′s that could bewitch anyone with his odd (booty shorts? greasy hair?) charms? Alex did, and so did I, which is why I jumped at the chance to make a cameo appearance in a comedic film that Alex commissioned, which heralds the return of Mango. Chris Kattan is the man behind the Mango, and he’s without a doubt a comedic genius. Need a teaser? Check out the blooper reel.

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But now, for the entire Mango opus. (Go ahead and scroll to 5:42 to find my mom’s favorite part of the video, when Mango asks, ‘Derek Blasberg, why are you everywhere?’ Which seems to be a particular anthem of my mother too.)

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11:19 am


03/06/2014, Fast + Louche

Oh, Riri, what are we going to do with you? I have fallen in and out of love with Rihanna since she first hit the Pop music scene. (Though, her song, SOS, still gets me going on a dancefloor.) I would follow her on Instagram and then unfollow her. (But since she shut that down, don’t need to worry about it anymore.) Last night, though, I decided I liked her. She was both badass and adorable in her speech at the Council of Fashion Designers of America Award, and looked both glamorous and tacky. Her gown was made of a completely sheer club glitter mesh. Most importantly, she gave me the best line from a fashion party ever: To describe how she uses fashion as her defense mechanism, she gave the line: “She can beat me, but she can’t beat my outfit.” Genius! More about the awards? John Water, the film director and cult figure, was an amazing host. He was cynical and fabulous. Congratulations to my friend Joseph Altuzarra who won the Womenswear Designer of the Year award. Public School took home the award for menswear, and The Row went home with the award for Accessories. Another highlight was the reemergence of Mango, the SNL star of my childhood (more on that in another post), who my friend Kristina coerced into taking a picture with Anna Wintour. And meeting Ruth Finlay, the head of the Fashion Calendar. She received The Board of Directors Tribute Award, and the video that preceding her award, which chronicled her seven decades (yes, seven decades) in fashion brought a tear to more than a few people’s eyes in the audience. Which can’t be easy in a room full of fashion people.

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Captions, from top: Me with Mango and Alexander Wang; Rachel Zoe and Marc Jacobs; Blake Lively, Michael Kors and Heidi Klum; Naomi Campbell and Tyson Beckford; Chrissy Teigen, Vera Wang and Rachel Roy; Raf Simons, the recipient of the International Award; Dree Hemingway, Jamie Bochert and Gia Coppola; Mango and Anna Wintour; Hanne Gaby and Alana; Anja Rubik; Andrew Rosen and Diane von Furstenberg; Karen Elson and Lance; Leigh Lezark, Olivier Theyskens and Caroline Trentini; John Waters on the mic; the Traina sisters with Jack and Lazaro from Proenza Schouler; Will and Trey Laird with Scott Sternberg and Jessica Joffe; Tim Coppens, the winner of the Swarovski menswear award, with Daria Strokous and Tom van Dorpe; Joseph Altuzarra and Christopher Kane; my sweet Karlie; Stefano Tonchi, Giovanna Battaglia, Karlie and me; Joan Smalls with the Brant boys; Ruth Finlay with Tim; me, some Brant boys and Joan at the Boom Boom Room

4:14 pm

I Cannes If You Cannes: Glitz, Glamour and a Supermodel Birthday on the Riviera

27/05/2014, Fast + Louche

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My favorite part of the Cannes film festival had nothing to do with the city of Cannes. The festival, now in its 67th year, has become perhaps the most famous of the international film festivals. It is the stilettos and ball gowns to Sundance’s Ugg boots and fur coats. Though, for all the glitz and the glamour that it brings, it’s also adopted some less chic elements, like pushy sponsors, crowds, creepy old men and so many closed streets. Which is why the best bits are often in the other cities that dot the French Riviera. Like Monaco, which is where Nicolas Ghesquiere held his first resort collection for Louis Vuitton, appropriately inspired by the colors and plaids associated with the Grand Prix, Monaco’s most famous sporting event. Prince Albert and Princess Charlene, the sitting heads of Monaco’s famous royal family (Albert’s mother, Grace Kelly, was the basis for the critically panned film that opened the film festival a few days before) where the hosts of the affair, and joined us in the audience. As did the royal members of Ghesquiere’s fashion family, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Jennifer Connelly. But it was the town of Antibes that saw the most action of the Cannes film festival because that’s where two of the week’s biggest events take place: Vanity Fair’s annual dinner, which this year was cohosted by Giorgio Armani, and then a week later the AMFAR gala. Both take place at the famed Hotel du Cap, which is perhaps the world’s most glamorous hotel. It’s gilded, marbled and expensive as hell, and sits atop a long drive that leads down to an infinity pool overlooking the Mediterranean that looks like it fell out of an Old Hollywood film. During AMFAR’s festivities, this drive was decorated with Damien Hirst’s gold plated mammoth skeleton, which went for $15million at the live auction. The night after AMFAR, Topshop’s Sir Phillip Green hosted an appropriately glamorous finale: Naomi Campbell’s birthday party. The supermodel showed up in a fluorescent green, beaded and lace Versace minidress, and was lead in a chorus of Happy Birthday by Robin Thicke. Afterward, the party moved to a club called The Billionaire, which would be tacky in any place besides the Riviera. Because perhaps only there, tacky can be chic.

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Captions, from top: The view from the top of Antibes; Natasha Poly and I at the Vanity Fair dinner at Eden Rock; Jean Pegozzi’s inflatable orgy; me and Dasha in Antibes; Daria Strokous playing by the stairs; Karlie Kloss at Pegozzi’s; Milla Jovovich posing at Richie Akiva’s party; Karlie and Rosie Huntington-Whitley at AMFAR; Carine Roitfeld and Irina Shayk at AMFAR; me and Rinko at the Louis Vuitton show; Liya Kebede in the show; Nicolas Ghesquiere takes his bow; Elizabeth von Guttman and her fashion wifey Alexia, with Carine; Lui Wen at LV; A royal guard in the Monaco palace with Pat McGrath and Sara Maino; Nicky Haslam and Peggy Seigal at VF; Pegozzi, Sofya and Dasha at Eden Rock; boys being boys: The Brants and Brett Ratner with me at VF; Suki on the dancefloor; Sofya, Dasha, me and Fabiola Beracasa at VF; a charming beach pier in Antibes; the Russians at a Garage magazine party; when me and Riley Keogh met Conchita Wurst; the Hirst dinosaur at Hotel du Cap; Naomi Campbell on her birthday; a garden in Antibes; Jessica Chastain in the du Cap elevator after AMFAR; me and Paul Aziz; Milla and Chris Tucker; Stefano Tonchi, Edward Enninful and Riccardo Tisci at Naomi’s birthday; the Hotel du Cap at night; me and Jessica Chastain; Julia Roitfeld in the AMFAR fashion show; my friend Amalyne; when I tried to steal Natasha’s diamond necklace; Robin Thicke performing at AMFAR; Jourdan Dunne at AMFAR; Kati and Adrian; Margherita Missoni on the AMFAR runway, which raised more than $3million; Karlie and a fellow giraffe; feeling left out when Lara Stone and Karlie started smooching; Vlad and JT at Eden Rock; Sir Phillip Green with Naomi and her Studio 54 birthday cake.

4:49 am


19/05/2014, Observations


There are other people who knew Louise Wilson, the beloved and well respected fashion professor at London’s Central Saint Martins, better than I did. People like Stella McCartney, Christopher Kane and Jonathan Saunders, the British designers who she mentored. Or someone like Alexander McQueen, who she famously found as a student and helped scoot on his way to becoming a fashion legend. But in the many times that I was graced with her company, I was impressed with this woman who could command a room and inspire generations of creative young people. She was feisty and she was direct. She pushed people to their limits. Don’t just take my word for it, though. In the wake of her passing yesterday (she died in her sleep at the age of 52), someone passed onto me some encouraging words, originally written by Brian Buirge and Jason Bacher, that she had posted on a bulletin board in her office. I shall republish here as a most appropriate legacy.


And here, an interview she did for Nick Knight’s ShowStudio

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9:13 am


12/05/2014, From Elsewhere

This year, the Gagosian Gallery published a special edition Frieze newspaper. It’s an exciting venture that has unprecedented access to some of the art world’s most important contemporary artists, including Ed Ruscha (who’s work is the focus of the Gagosian booth at the Frieze Art Fair), Urs Fischer, Glenn Brown, Jeff Koons and Dan Colen. Richard Prince himself contributed his own prose. I wrote several pieces in the paper, including the one excerpted here on the opening of the Met gala. (See my Met gala pictures here.) I spoke to Harold Koda, the bigwig at the Costume Institute, about Charles James, the tortured genius that is the focus of this year’s show, and about Anna Wintour, who the costume center has been recently renamed after. And for good reason, according to Koda. Be sure to pick up a copy of the newspaper at any of the gallery’s outposts around the world, and at the fair. And, as always, for more information on our artists and upcoming shows, go to GG newspaper 1 Met-Gala-2014 Anna-Wintour Before Frieze, this week will be about fashion. On Monday, May 5th, the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s newly renamed Costume Institute will hold a star-studded opening for their show Charles James: Beyond Fashion. The gala, hosted this year by Bradley Cooper, Sarah Jessica Parker, Aerin Lauder, Oscar de la Renta, Lizzie and Jonathan Tisch, and Vogue’s Anna Wintour, has become known as the party of the year. High fashion teams up with Hollywood, all in the name of fundraising for one of the country’s most important museum resources for the decorative arts.

The real star of Monday night, however, is a man who’s name has been, until now, only familiar to fashion historians. Charles James (1906 – 1978) was the preeminent fashion designer of the mid-twentieth century, dressing high-society ladies in complex, revolutionary ball gowns and convertible separates. According to the Costume Instituttes’ curator in charge, Harold Koda, James’s skill transcended that of a fashion designer. “No one worked like he did. His constructions, his clothes, are outside of traditional fashion. He was an artist.” Indeed, the name of the show, Beyond Fashion, came from a title the designer chose for his unpublished, unfinished autobiography.

Thomas P. Campbell, director and CEO of the Met, agrees: “James considered himself an artist, and approached fashion with a sculptor’s eye and a scientist’s logic.” Before he died, James was aware his legacy would be the artistry of his designs – as opposed to just a name stitched on a fashion label – which is why he directed so many of his pieces to academic institutions, namedly the Brooklyn Museum, which kept in its permanent collection many of his most breathtaking gowns (worn by such clients as Austine Hearst, Millicent Rogers, and Dominique de Menil), until the Metropolitan acquired the collection in 2009. (James has been the focus of two large-scale retrospectives: at the Brooklyn Museum in 1982, and at the Chicago History Museum two years ago.)

In his professional life, however, James vacillated between celebrated artist and fashion’s ultimate pauper. His last studio was a derelict room in New York’s Chelsea Hotel, where he worked until he died amid much more meager circumstances than he knew at the height of his career. (This show features some partically completed works that were discovered there posthumously.) He was famously difficult to work with, despite receiving many awards for his work and retaining a top-notch clientele. “Hubris? Yes, he was known to be an egomaniac in many aspects of his life, and as a business partner, he was a nightmare,” Koda explains. “But he really approached the making of clothes as an artist. He would look at designs for decades. There are certains designs that he began in 1929, that he finished in the ‘50s, even after he closed his house. That’s truly exploring a concept.”

The show opens to the public on May 8 in a recently refurbished and renamed space of the musum: the Anna Wintour Costume Center. Naming the gallery after the legendary Vogue editor and current artistic director of Conde Nast was a no-brainer, according to Koda. As a Met trustee since 1999, and a chair of the Costume Institute gala since 1995, Wintour has raised more than $125million for the institute alone. “We have always been able to count on the support of one person, and that’s Anna,” Koda says. “We’re here because she is.”

GG newspaper 3

10:47 pm


06/05/2014, Fast + Louche

My thighs are aching and it’s not even 10pm and I’m already in my pajamas. Is this what a marathon runner feels like? Too bad my exhaustion is not from running 26 miles, but rather talking for 72 straight hours. Phew. What a weekend. It started with a birthday party my friend Tico threw me at his house and ending with the Met ball in New York. I’m happy I took some pictures because I might not remember it all otherwise.

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Captions, from top: Annie, me and Karlie at my birthday; Naomi at the Met; Olivier, Rosie, Joan and Rita at their table; Katie, Tabitha, Alexa, Harley and Karlie enjoying some sushi; Lily and Kristen Wigg, funniest woman ever; the world’s most glamorous couple, tom and Gisele; Toni and Jourdan; forever the hostess with the mostess, Lauren Santo Domingo; Kate and Stella on the red carpet; Jessica Pare fitting in perfectly at the lobby of the Carlyle Hotel; Katie, Lazaro and Carine; Tom Sachs and the birthday cake he made me; Atlanta, Jen, Laura, Sarah, Rebekah and Shoshanna looking like a tough girl gang; Dan Colen and Evan Yurman; Samantha, Marjorie and Jamie; the trumpets announcing the dinner; Jessica Hart from the back; Bernard and Matthew; Tico and Colby, my birthday throwers; Kate, James and Nicky; Karen and Tabitha and their trains; Max, Alex, LSD, Ryan, Caroline and Vanessa proving black is still the new black; Eugenie at dinner; Carolyn Murphy giving me over the shoulder; Zoe Kravitz, a lady in red; Jessica and Stavros; Arizona on her way out of the museum; Mr Testino in his tails and decorations; Brooke Candy on the roof of the Standard Hotel; Margherita and Coco; Blake Lively and Bee Shaffer taking the train into dinner; me and Taylor Swift