Mr Blasberg
7:11 am

TOM FORD DISCUSSES JOYS OF MOVIEMAKING, FRENZY OF FASHION, NON-SMELL OF COCAINE AT STUDIO 54

26/01/2014, From Elsewhere

I’m often asked who’s been my favorite  interview of all time. It’s a long list, but the name that always pops to mind is Tom Ford. And that’s for a variety of reasons: He’s handsome, he’s polite, he’s seductive, he has that special thing when he talks to someone it feels like he’s looking into your soul and you’re the only person in the entire world.

I remember the first time I interviewed Tom. It was for the London Sunday Times. He had just opened the Tom Ford store on Madison Avenue in New York. It was during a chubbier phase in my life when I was wearing bowties. (Don’t get me started.) And after his legendary tenure at Gucci, where he redefined modern sexuality, I had to ask: “So, what do you think is sexy now?” Without missing a beat, he said, “I think bowties are really sexy right now.” I blushed like a school girl. Since that moment and in the numerous interviews we’ve had since, I’ve been hooked. Hooked on Tom Ford.

Another reason Tom is the ultimate interview? He goes there. In the below interview, which I did exclusively for 10magazine, he didn’t hold back. We were asked to discuss movies – which we did: His first movie was the Wizard of Oz; he liked Great Gatsby, which isn’t a surprise – but as with any chat with him, things veered into hedonism. Like, that smell of cocaine that really isn’t a smell but you can definitely smell it? (That was an anecdote from Studio 54, which we get to eventually.) He’s also not the biggest fan of Honey Boo Boo Child. Above all else, though, he loves making movies, especially the writing process when it’s still in his mind and everything is perfect and before the real world fucks it up. All this and more. Happy reading!

Tom Ford and I at his store opening in London.

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TOM FORD: “I’m warning you, I’m so comfortable with you I may have a hard time making the effort to answer the questions properly. It takes a lot of energy to think of an answer that’s going to mean something.”

DEREK BLASBERG: “But you’re a pro. And we’re talking about film, which you know a thing or two about. I’ll go easy on you. What’s your earliest cinematic memory?”

TOM FORD: “The Wizard of Oz. When I grew up in America, they only ran it once a year. I was probably three. It was a big deal. We had color television by then because I remember seeing it in color. And I remember my parents telling me that day, ‘Wow, tonight there’s this great movie coming on – The Wizard of Oz.’ We watched it and it terrified me.”

DEREK BLASBERG: “What! How?”

TOM FORD: “The wicked witch? The flying monkeys? And the little dog, too! The witch melts at the end! That’s terrifying.”

DEREK BLASBERG: “I thought you were going to say you loved it, and you’ve dreamt of sequined red shoes ever since. Are you still scared of that movie?”

TOM FORD: “No, I watch it now and enjoy it. By the way, we couldn’t have had The Great Gatsby without The Wizard of Oz.”

DEREK BLASBERG: “You’re the first person I’ve heard make that comparison, but it makes sense. I’ve found that Gatsby has become such a polarizing film.”

TOM FORD: “Everything is divided these days. Some of my friends hated it and some loved it. I loved it. I thought the casting was good, I thought the drama was good. I thought it actually told the story of the book in a more accurate, intense way than the one with Robert Redford. I saw it in 3-D. The layers and layers of camera work it took to make that is impressive. And I loved the way he always uses contemporary music in his films because it gives us, today’s audience, the same rush that a 1920s audience would have had while listening to jazz, which was totally new at the time. That’s not a new trick because he’s used it in every one of his movies. But, let’s stop this. I don’t want to review Baz Luhrmann’s film because I wouldn’t appreciate him reviewing my clothes.”

DEREK BLASBERG: “As a film-maker yourself, when you watch a film, can you detach yourself from a director’s point of view?”

TOM FORD: “I always dissect it. My emotional life is absorbing what’s happening, but I am also very aware of the shots and the cutting and the clever use of something or the depth of field or the shifting. I won’t name films, but sometimes performances that people think are so spectacular are actually the result of innovative sound design or editing.”

DEREK BLASBERG: “Can a film be technically terrible but still great?”

TOM FORD: “Oh, absolutely. Sometimes those are even better. Like ‘Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!’”

DEREK BLASBERG: “Don’t kill me, Tom, but I’ve never seen that film.”

TOM FORD: “What? How can you call yourself a self-respecting homosexual and not have seen this film?”

DEREK BLASBERG: “I know!”

TOM FORD: “It’s not even an old 1940s movie that people of your generation don’t watch any more! Marc [Jacobs] has done collections based off of it. I’ve done collections based off of it. Shoots based on it. Let’s go on YouTube right now. [Tom gets his computer and plays the trailer for the film.] Now, aren’t you dying to see that? It’s shocking you don’t know it.”

DEREK BLASBERG: “I told you I was embarrassed!”

TOM FORD: “[The director] Russ Myer is a genius. The camera angles are inspired and it was so innovated for its time. Even though it was made as kitsch, camp send-up, it’s still great. It was on the dawn of pop, just as Warhol and Lichtenstein were blowing up.”

DEREK BLASBERG: “What other films would you consider works of genius?”

TOM FORD: “I could pick genius films from every period for a variety of different reasons. If I had to pick a decade it would probably be the 1930s. Most of my favorites that I would watch over and over again would be from the 1930s and early 1940s. I like Hitchcock, too.”

DEREK BLASBERG: “What about that particular time period is so amazing? The silhouette?”

TOM FORD: “The silhouette? Derek, not everything is about fashion.”

DEREK BLASBERG: “But I thought that with you it would always come back to the fashion. Designer first, director second?”

TOM FORD: “I know I’m not giving you a tight answer. Let me think this through. There was a moment when I was shooting my film that really hit me – I was watching Colin [Firth] and Julianne [Moore] together in the scene when they have their fight. We shot it over two or three days. While I was watching them on the monitor, I could remember sitting in my bed and writing exactly what I was looking at. Right there were the things I had made up in my head actually happening. Here was this woman walking through this door exactly as I had written it. Saying exactly what I had written. Dressed exactly as I had imagined. So while we can say everything in these movies didn’t really happen, they did happen! Someone filmed them. They happened. They occurred because actors and other people made them happen. They existed. One of the reasons I love Los Angeles so much is that it only exists in the world of film. Am I making any sense? [Silence.] Ha! All the films that create an imaginary life and only actually happened on film were real, are real, in some capacity. And this imaginary world of film is part of my life and my culture, so it’s hard for me to say, ‘Yes, I was inspired by this film to do this dress.’ Yes, there are particular dresses in particular films that, while I’m watching, I go, ‘Fuck!’ and I get up and I get out a piece of paper and say, ‘That shoulder looks great again’, or ‘Oh, it’s time for that waist again.’ But there is a giant file in my head of this alternative universe where thousands of films and women exist, and they are as real to me as the women I know in the real world. Now am I making sense?”

DEREK BLASBERG: “Yes, and I understand. I’ve fallen in love with people in movies, too.”

TOM FORD: “Nowadays, though, it’s not people in movies. We still live in a world of parallels. As a lot of people have fewer real-life friends, they try to connect with unreal ones. Maybe they’re online friends, or maybe it’s watching The Real Housewives. That’s why there is this fascination with the minutiae of other people’s real lives. The Housewives are now the women that live down the street that the mothers in the neighborhood would gossip about. They just don’t live down the street any more; now, they live in New Jersey or Texas, or wherever those shows are filmed. But you’re fascinated because you don’t really know your next-door neighbor any more. You watch them intimately because other people’s lives are fascinating.”

DEREK BLASBERG: “So it’s in the films of the 1940s that you find your friends and inspiration?”

TOM FORD: “Yes. The chic people from the 1940s are my friends. My parallel life is Barbara Stanwyck in 1942. Henry Fonda. That’s where I am. I’m hanging out in the desert with those crazy girls [from Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!’] and I’m still drinking and smoking and maybe doing some drugs. But, ‘Honey Boo Boo Child’ is not my friend.”

DEREK BLASBERG: “You said in film that you are gratified when something you envision comes to life. Do you have the same experience when you design a collection?

TOM FORD: “I have it at the fitting before the fashion show. The way we work today is really weird. We don’t work like Yves [Saint Laurent] used to work. Couturiers used to buy a bunch of fabrics that they liked and put them in the closet and when they were ready to design a new collection they would go in that closet and say, ‘Oh, that pink taffeta looks pretty. What’s going to look good with that? Orange chiffon? Okay. That one.’ It was built organically. The way we do it today – even at the highest level of design – is that you sketch something for the leather factory and off they go. You sketch your tops and your shoes and whatever else, and off they go. You have an idea of how it’s going to come together, but it’s all done compartmentally – and then 10 days before the show, it happens! And then it’s luck. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it all arrives and the shoes look wrong with the skirt and the shoulder pads look off. So the great moments of ‘wow!’ are in the fitting. When a girl puts it on and she walks across the room and it works. That’s when you get it. Besides, during a show, I’m not out there watching it. I’m sitting backstage and worrying, ‘Shit! Did the lighting cue work? Is the music on time? Where is that girl? Is she dressed? WHY ISN’T HER SHOE ON?’ And then after the show, I step out and think, ‘Fuck. Was it terrible? Was it good?’ And then I’m thinking, ‘Fuck, if it’s bad, how is it going to sell? If it’s good, what am I going to do next season?’ Actually, now that we’re talking about it, I can tell you I get depressed – no matter what – for two or three days after a show.”

DEREK BLASBERG: “What do you do in the depressing days?”

TOM FORD: “Well, in the old days at Gucci and Saint Laurent, where I worked less hard than I do now and I didn’t own the company outright, I took to my bed. Always. And just kind of slept for two or three days. In the new world, I have to drag myself here to the office and go through the collection with the merchandisers and make sure the pricing is right and the showroom looks beautiful and alter anything I can at the last minute before the buyers come in. Then I’m working on the next collection. It doesn’t stop.”

DEREK BLASBERG: “Well, how are you going to make another movie with that schedule?”

TOM FORD: “I’m dying to make another one! I naïvely thought, ‘Yeah, I can make a movie every two years and do women’s collections and men’s.’ But I was wrong. Maybe this August I’ll deal with it. I have options. I have a couple of books I’ve started adapting. I thought I haven’t made another movie because I haven’t had the time. But the reality is I haven’t found the right project. It’s like when you’re first in a relationship and you have sex all the time no matter what you’re doing, no matter how tired or busy you are. But then a few years in, it’s, ‘We’re not having sex because I’m really tired and I’ve been working too hard.’ That’s bullshit. You’re not having sex because you’re just not having sex, and then you rationalize why. Maybe it’s not that I don’t have the time. Maybe it’s that I’m not making the time because I’m not inspired.”

DEREK BLASBERG: “What’s your favorite part of that process of moviemaking?”

TOM FORD: “Writing. I loved all of it, but writing was the most satisfying because it doesn’t exist yet. So, when you write ‘She was the most beautiful woman in the world’, she really is. Then the actress could come in and she’s bow-legged and we have to shoot from the knees up. Reality rarely lives up to the imaginary perfection. As you write it, it’s perfect. You’re not up against a budget problem or the fact that it’s supposed to be snowing and you’re shooting in the summer and the heat is melting your fake snow.”

DEREK BLASBERG: “That’s when you still have a fantasy.”

TOM FORD: “That’s when it’s perfect. That’s when it’s in your head. And, of course, in your head everyone loves it, because it’s so perfect.”

DEREK BLASBERG: “Do you miss writing?”

TOM FORD: “Of course I do. It was the most fun I’ve ever had in my entire life. There were some moments at Studio 54 that were pretty fun, but this topped even that.”

DEREK BLASBERG: “Oh, Tom, tell me about Studio 54.”

TOM FORD: “Every now and then, when I hear a certain song, I remember having a vodka tonic in a glass and a bottle of poppers in my nose and jumping up and down on the dance floor, and it’s so clear in my memory.”

DEREK BLASBERG: “I don’t have that sort of triggered memory from music. I get that from smells. Like, if I smell CK One, I think about being in love with the wrong people in high school.”

TOM FORD: “Well, if I smell poppers, I think of the late 1970s. Studio 54 reeked of poppers.”

DEREK BLASBERG: “Really?”

TOM FORD: “Yeah! There was a very definite smell to it. Poppers, alcohol, cigarettes. Cocaine doesn’t really smell, but that’s kind of in your mind, so it smelled like coke, too. It was fuelled by coke. The whole place was coke. No one was mopey because the whole place was on drugs.”

DEREK BLASBERG: “Have you seen any of the films about Studio 54?”

TOM FORD: “Yes, but none of them capture it. When you look at the photographs you see a wood floor, but I never saw the floor when I was there. It was dark and there were neon lights that glowed. You just saw flashes and had smells and knew people. Nothing has ever truly captured that. Baz Luhrmann came the closest to it in his party scenes in Moulin Rouge, and in Gatsby, too. That’s what it was like. My memories of 54? There is Brooke Shields over there with Michael Jackson. Over there are two guys fucking. And there is a naked person wrapped in Saran Wrap dancing. And that’s Princess Grace. I couldn’t get enough of it. Marc Jacobs can tell you about it, too, because his boyfriend at one time owned Xenon, the rival club. We used to go back and forth between Studio and Xenon because they were both in Midtown. Then you’d go downtown to the Mudd Club. The Mudd Club was new wave, a more glamorized version of punk. It was way downtown, which used to be a drag. But Studio was open until dawn, so when Mudd Club slowed down and you had done so much coke you didn’t care and you had tons of energy, you would go back uptown. And then you slept all day. You’d paid some guy down the hall to write your term paper and you’d go to class at 4pm and hand it in. Then you went home for a nap and woke up and did it all again. Took a ‘disco nap.’ Those still exist, don’t they?”

DEREK BLASBERG: “Yes. I’m familiar with the disco nap. But I hate this feeling that I missed everything, Tom.”

TOM FORD: “No, you didn’t! Your generation had something equivalent.”

DEREK BLASBERG: “I guess we had the Beatrice Inn. Everyone compares it to Studio 54.”

TOM FORD: “I don’t ever go to New York! I go once a year for the Met Ball for 24 hours.”

DEREK BLASBERG: “Why don’t you like New York?”

TOM FORD: “I loved New York when I was young and single. Maybe I don’t like it now because the only time I go is for work. I don’t like making performances. I don’t like signing perfume bottles at stores. I don’t like that stuff. Maybe that’s why I don’t like it.”

DEREK BLASBERG: “You prefer LA.”

TOM FORD: “Totally. I prefer it because you can get in your car. You can be really anonymous in LA.”

DEREK BLASBERG: “I grew up in Missouri with cars and yards and dogs, and I miss that.”

TOM FORD: “I love to be able to get in my car and go somewhere. I like those 20 minutes all alone to listen to music and be by myself and get my thoughts together and be alone before I get somewhere.”

DEREK BLASBERG: “I like being able to change in a car.”

TOM FORD: “Well, a car is a giant handbag! You don’t have to carry anything anywhere; it’s all in your car.”

DEREK BLASBERG: “We’re getting off topic, Tom. We’re supposed to be talking about the movies.

TOM FORD: “I love film, Derek, but what I love about real life is that it’s a movie you can only see once.”

Tom Ford and I at a dinner in London. I was getting an earful.

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For more from Tom, check out: www.tomford.com

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6:22 am

WHAT HAPPENED AT THE COUTURE SHOWS IN PARIS? GLAMOUR, GAGA, RUNNING SHOES AND BUTTERFLIES

24/01/2014, Fast + Louche

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This week in Paris was cold, damp and grey. But wasn’t it gorgeous?

The disparities between seasons in the haute couture are vast: One is held in July, the peak of summer and when Paris is teeming with tourists and sunshine. The other in January, when the town is decadently empty. Each is remarkable in their own way, and as I reminisce on this past week I am fashionably fulfilled.

Since she has returned to the couture schedule two years ago, Donatella Versace has kicked off the festivities with her Atelier Versace fashion show. This year, she had a little help from her doppelganger Lady Gaga, who sat front row during the show and then next to her at dinner. (All in all, I counted the former Stefani Joanne Germanotta in no less than three ensembles throughout the evening.) Gaga herself, with a good measure of Grace Jones, was the inspiration for the show, which was dripping and draped in sumptuous fabrics and crystals and hooded in sheaths in long, blown out hair. A few days before the show, Donatella decided to throw a dinner. What she lacked in time for planning she made up for in spontaneous glamour. I was sat opposite Gaga and D.V., who cuddled like school girls with their matching black strapless Atelier dresses and long blonde locks. Gaga took selfies with Karlie Kloss, Mario Testino mugged with Azzedine Alaia, and Riccardo Tisci held court with the rest of the Italian contingency, including Italian Vogue’s editor Franca Sozzani.

The following day saw the launch of the revamped Schiaparelli label with an early morning show that drew fellow designers like Alaia, Jean Paul Gaultier and Pier Paolo and Maria Grazia from Valentino. Carla Bruni and Elle McPherson were there too. The show provided us all with a joyous, whimsical start to the day. The new designer, Marco Zanini, explained that not a single machine touched these completely handmade clothes, though they still reeked of modernity: even the finale bride wore a cropped pantsuit and veil. The shoes, all flats with plumps of feathers on the toes, made me regret ever telling a woman to put on a pair of high heels. Then there was Raf Simons’ haute couture show for Christian Dior, which was held in a specially constructed igloo structure in the Musee Rodin. The show was soft, flowing and full of holes in the fabric — but not in concept. The emphasis was on whites, which felt very modern and light in the confines of the space, with some navy blue thrown in. I was particularly taken by the off-the-shoulder dress that Stella Tennant wore in the show, as well as a white layered dress that draped away from the body in front, but created a perfect landing for some embroidery on the back. Later that day was Giambattista Valli, the gregarious Italian living in Paris, and his sixth couture offering. As is often the case with him, he turned to his garden for inspiration, with a flowering collection of short, strict dresses and long gowns. My favorite ensemble was a split gown worn over cigarette pants.

Tuesday was an iconic day, meaning it included two of the industry’s biggest icons: Chanel and Giorgio Armani. Chanel’s show was sequined and pasteled and sparkled within an inch of its life. The emphasis was on the waists, which were cinched and teeny tiny. Karl Lagerfeld also introduced an unexpected element: haute couture running shoes held together by lace ribbon laces. Mr. Armani this season turned again to two of my favorite things: Hollywood glamour and champagne, though in the case of the latter I mean the color more than the bubbly. He followed his show with a sit down dinner for about 400 of his closest friends which, in true Italian style, didn’t end till well past midnight. (Speaking of champagne, I must have had too much because I left my hat at dinner, and only by the grace of Armani’s stellar PR team did I get it back.)

The last day of couture started with Margiela. If you’re not familiar with the brand, start Googling. The mysterious house of Martin Margiela is a fashion industry favorite because of his unique, intellectual take on the seemingly unfashionable world around us. One of the first Margiela shows I ever went to had jackets made entirely of Pic pen caps – but it still looked like the most elegant thing we had ever seen. This season, we saw tops that were embroidered to look like couture tattoos, patchwork wrap tops in Frank Lloyd Wright fabrics and, my favorite, a pair of giant cuffs in the shape of sequined eyeballs. Jean Paul Gaultier followed with a new commentary on burlesque butterflies, which included a cameo from Dita von Teese herself. And finally, there was the Valentino show, which had everyone enraptured in its ethereal glamour. It was if the models were nymphs and they had emerged from a place in the woods were beautiful things are born. Even butterflies, which I had heretofore only associated with Mariah Carey, were reinterpreted as fanciful fashion candies. Florence Welch, who wore a green coat full of colorful embroired butterflies, said it was so beautiful she wanted to weep.

So, the two biggest trends? Trainers and butterflies. Who would have guessed? When Givenchy’s Riccardo Tisci (who no longer shows on the couture schedule, though still does couture pieces for clients) was announced as the new designer at Nike, it should have been a clue that sportswear was coming back. But no one saw the trainers at both Dior and Chanel coming. It is funny how the fashion zeitgeist works, isn’t it?

Scroll down for more pictures from the haute couture.

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Captions, from top: A subtle shot from the Versace dinner with Gaga, Donatella, Franca, me and Mario; Lily Allen and Karl after his Chanel show; Anna dello Russo and Carine Roitfeld perched in the front row of the Margiela show; Tilda Swinton with some Asian fans, with a priceless expression on her face; Lindsey Wixson following her turn on the Versace catwalk; Stella Tennant in the opening look at the Schiaparelli show wearing a Stephen Jones pirate hat; the fries at Brasserie Lipp, served best with their chicken; Giorgio Armani and Afef Jay at his dinner; Gaga and Donatella looking like twinsies at dinner; my menswear moment at the Saint Laurent show; Hamish Bowles and Elizabeth Debicki, the breakout actress from the Great Gatsby, at Armani’s dinner; Florence at Valentino; me with Balmain’s Olivier Rousteing and Joan Smalls at dinner; the embroidered tattoos at Margiela; Caroline Seiber at Giambattista Valli’s show; Alexander Wang, Vanessa Traina and Kate Bosworth at dinner; Donatella and Riccardo at dinner; Andreea Diaconu on the Versace runway; Joan at the Gucci documentary screening; a carousel in the Tuilleries, which I sadly didn’t get a chance to ride; the Chanel finale; my favorite look at Giambattista Valli; Tilda; WSJ. Magazine’s Kristina O’Neill with some undressed fashion patrons at the JPG show; Catherine Baba, Roland Mouret and Ellen von Unwerth at the Sidaction gala; the violinist virtuoso Rae Chen and the Chinese actress Ziyi Zhang at the Armani dinner; Lily and her chips at Lipp; Andreea Diaconu showing off her favorite Acne coat; Gaga taking selfies with Karlie; Lauren Santo Domingo, Joan, Florence and me at the Gucci party

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9:08 pm

LAST WORD BLASBERG: GIORGIO ARMANI ON MOVIE, MUSES AND PANT SUIT POLITICS

16/01/2014, From Elsewhere

For my new column in V magazine, appropriately called LAST WORD BLASBERG, I interviewed a titan of this industry: Giorgio Armani. The guy is an icon, and he’s not afraid to show it. Why learn English when you’re the king of Italian fashion? We talk about New York, muses and his fellow pantsuit aficionado Hilary Clinton. 

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Welcome to New York!
Giorgio Armani
 I love it here. It’s a city in continuous, constant evolution, with inexhaustible energy.

Do you remember your first time?
GA
 How could I forget? It was 1979; I came to collect the Neiman Marcus Award, which was a big deal for an Italian at the time. I was just starting out, and when I arrived my idea of New York was entirely based on films. For me it was a city of pure fantasy, made up of black-and-white images.

Which films?
GA
 Mostly the films of Fred Astaire, but also Mean Streets by Scorsese. I fell in love immediately. I like how it changes from one block to the next. Then there are the people, an electrifying mix of humanity that you can’t find anywhere else.

Are you an uptown or downtown person?
GA
 My style is perhaps uptown, but the New York that I like is downtown: chaotic but alive and in ferment. I’ve always found the concepts underlying the American Dream fascinating: tenacity, a sense of responsibility and liberty, full belief in what one does. These are values and thoughts that I too have always been inspired by in pursuing my own dream. So it’s no coincidence that in America my dream instantly garnered support.

Do you like any other American cities?
GA
 Los Angeles, Sunset Boulevard. It is such an immense city, so different from European ones. It is the cradle of cinema and the type of glamour that dreams are made of.

Since starting your label, have you ever worn a suit designed by someone other than Giorgio Armani?
GA
 No, I’ve only ever worn my own clothes. It’s a natural choice, don’t you think?

Do you have a muse?
GA
 Many. Certain garments are created especially for some of them, like the decidedly eccentric dress I designed for Lady Gaga. But I shouldn’t name names when it comes to my muses. I would forget someone and I wouldn’t hear the end of it…

OK, let’s talk about dead people then. What historical figure would you like to have designed for?
GA
 As a designer, the past has never attracted me. I admire historical figures, in particular the emancipated women of the 1920s, like Zelda Fitzgerald. But I am more interested in dressing modern women.

Who’s the first person that you think of when you think of a modern woman?
GA
 Cate Blanchett. Cate is truly modern, both fragile and strong, glacial and sensual. Hers is a unique elegance, because it is genuine.

The thing I admire most about you is that you have reached that stage in your career when you don’t have to humor fools or do anything you don’t want to. You are the king. To me, being in charge is the ultimate luxury.
GA
 I haven’t really thought about it. I think that it’s a stage that you arrive at unknowingly and you act accordingly. Like when you move from adolescence to maturity, one day you are no longer a boy but a man. That’s all there is to it. I have always been a man of action.

We’re communicating through a translator. Do you think you ever will learn English?
GA
 Never say never. But at the moment I grant myself this little luxury of not learning English. Not speaking it grants me the electrifying feeling of being a foreigner in transit. I like this.

Any American phrases you particularly like?
GA
 I like “hands-on.” It sums up my sense of pragmatism. You have to be hands-on to have success.

How do you stay so physically fit?
GA
 I believe in the motto, “A healthy mind is a healthy body.” I exercise consistently. For me this is essential. A balanced diet is undoubtedly another secret to keeping fit. And then there’s work, which keeps not only the body but also the mind fit.

Retrospectives tend to make the public feel nostalgic. Do you feel that?
GA
 Nostalgic celebrations create melancholy, and melancholy is not part of my makeup. My exhibition is not designed to be a commemoration but a gift to the people of the Big Apple who have always followed and supported my style. For this reason I didn’t just want to offer them a great parade, but also show the eccentric side of my fashion. I always look to the future and the new challenges that are waiting for me. The past is made up of lessons already learned and errors that won’t happen again. Nothing more.

Looking back, is there any particular Armani design that you’re most proud of?
GA
 It’s difficult to choose. I’m linked to certain things I did at the beginning, like the soft and completely embroidered male suit. It encapsulates my concept of the eccentric, only slightly theatrical and infinitely exquisite.

Speaking of suits and the American Dream, what do you think of Hillary Clinton?
GA
 I like her decisive and feisty manner. I like her self-assured and determined way.

She’s a self-described pantsuit aficionado. If Hillary were president, what do you think she should wear to the inauguration?
GA
 I love a strong woman in a suit, although a powerful woman today doesn’t need to wear trousers to succeed. An authoritative appearance helps though, and let’s just say Mrs. Clinton looks good in pants. So, yeah, she’d look great in a soft and sophisticated Armani pantsuit for that inauguration ceremony.

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4:19 pm

NEW YEAR’S EVE AT AN OLD HANGOUT: ST. BART’S

08/01/2014, Derek of the Day, Fast + Louche

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Paul McCartney was sat next to a friend of mine at lunch over the holidays and said to her how thankful he is every single time he finds himself on the island of St Bart’s. And further, any idiot who complains about being there, which was the in thing to do for awhile, was a wanker. So, who am I to argue with a Beatle?

Yes, I ended up in St. Bart’s again this year. I wasn’t sure I would, and I’m certainly not complaining about it. But I spent some time wondering if I should try something new. Palm Beach? Aspen? Los Angeles? New Year’s Eve is a good time to get away in fashion because, well, everyone takes off. It’s hard to work, even if you want to. And after nearly half a decade going to the same place, I debating a change of scenery. Then, when I was in St. Louis for Christmas, I realized: If it’s not baroque, don’t fix it.

Like McCartney said, St. Bart’s is heaven. The island is small, the weather is wondrous, the food deliciously European, and the surf is beautiful. (But, spoiler alert: Ain’t nothing cheap on this island.) My favorite thing to do on St. Bart’s is what my friend Dr. Samantha Boardman, she of the website Positive Prescription, and I call The Hike. It starts behind her house on Flamands Beach and twists and turns through the cliffs and mountains behind Colombier Beach, which is arguably one of the most magical places anywhere. One of the highlights of this particular trip was a drive over to a new venue on the other side of the island for a new hike. It’s a place called Grand Fond, and it reminds me of where poets in Ancient Greece would have imagined the sirens would sing. The coast was jagged, rocks shooting out and the waves crashing out and creating giant sprays and temporarily tepid pools. One of the formations has been unofficially labeled as The Wash Machine because the tide continuously beats against it. The merciless power and beauty of nature, in full effect.

This was a more sedate New Year’s bash. (In years past, Roman Abramovic would host a lavish bash that would have the Black Eyed Peas, or Gwen Stefani, or Kings of Leon perform.) This time, Tico Mugrabi and Mike Fuchs did a dinner at Taiwanna, which was revved up when McCartney did an impromptu countdown at midnight. For me, the next few hours were a bit of a blur. I know we went to see Jimmy Buffet sing Margaritaville in town, and I did dance with some new friends at a nightclub. But still, the next day I did The Hike.

This season, I had some marvelous brushes with transportation devices. There was a Mini Cooper that I borrowed from a friend, and left outside, top down, during a downpour. (It was towed away. The way I told my friend: Do you want the good news or the bad news first? The good news is that I didn’t drown. The bad news is that your car did.) And then there was the Waverunner that nearly drowned me. After growing up on the Lake of the Ozarks, I thought I had mastered those things. But they ain’t got waves in Missouri like the do in the Caribbean. Found that out the hard way.

Toward the end of the stay, when my jeans were getting a bit tighter, I realized I needed to step up my athletic game. My friend Dasha took me paddleboarding, which I didn’t excel at. (Scroll down for proof.) But something I was better at was kicking the ball around with some of her Russian friends at the stadium on the island. I realized, though, that Russians don’t mess around when it comes to football.

The holidays ended and it was a rough reentry to the real world. Because, as anyone who lives above the Bible Belt and West of the Rockies can tell you, America is in the Polar Vortex. So, here I sit at my kitchen table, pouring through my pictures from paradise. The sea and the sun seem like they are so close, but also so far. Happy new year!

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Captions, from top: The view from Grand Fond; my room had hooks where I’d hang my white jeans and pink pants because I knew I’d have to put them at the back of the closet when I came back to New York; me and Marc on New Year’s Eve; the fireworks outside the Rosen’s house; French Vanity Fair’s Virginie Mouzat, Jean Pegozzi and Katie Lee; Paul McCartney takes the mic for the New Year’s Even countdown; the Brant Brothers, now official staples of St. Bart’s; Gabi and Charlie Rosen with their lady friends Roni and Gabriella; Peggy Seigel and Samantha; Vito Schnabel and Alberto Mugrabi on the puddle jumper; Russian Christmas; me and Dasha in a Mini Cooper I nearly ruined; a Jetski that nearly ruined me; a daily reminder that I was lucky to be avoiding the Polar Vortex, if only temporarily; a field on the Grand Fond side of St. Bart’s; Jessica and Samantha on the top of Grand Fond; some of the rocks on the bottom of the cliff; my feeble attempt at paddleboarding; the view from atop The Hike; Dasha on the pitch; Dasha and I after our football match, looking wore down yet rugged.

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8:38 pm

IT’S ONE VIDEO. FIFTY SIX SONGS. TEN MINUTES OF LAST YEAR’S NOSTALGIA.

06/01/2014, Fast + Louche, Observations

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I’m a sucker for nostalgia. I’m the guy that can spend hours leafing through an old Yearbook, or, more recently, stalking old friends from former lives on Facebook. (Maria Zemen, if you’re reading this, can you hurry up and join Facebook? Thankyew.) And in particular, music is something that can zing me back to a forgotten time. Hole songs remind me of when me and the aforementioned Maria crashed a concert as high schoolers in Missouri. The Moulin Rouge soundtrack reminds me of freshmen year of college. Any Johnny Cash song reminds me of Hillsboro, where my uncle Fred built the Blasberg Family farm. N’SYNC reminds me of experimenting with shitty hair highlights. Kyle Minogue reminds me of my year abroad when I lived in London and started my career in fashion. Ricky Martin just reminds me of being happy. Ha! Anyway, when I stumbled upon this 10 minute long music video of all the best songs of 2013, it reminded me of all the things I did (and a few of the things I didn’t do) in the past twelve months. Sit back, listen, and remember the year that was.

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10:20 am

HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS (BUT MAINLY PICTURES OF THE WORLD’S CUTEST BABY)

30/12/2013, General

st louis 1An avid reader of this blog already knows how proud I am of my Missouri heritage. I’ve posted about my summers at the Lake of the Ozarks, and when I’ve come home to St. Louis for the holidays. And who could forget that birthday party I had at the Blasberg Family Farm, and these Polaroids that Karlie gave me as a birthday present? So, with the holiday wrapped and as I look back at the pictures of my most recent stay in the family homestead, I’ve realized this most recent trip wasn’t about my favorite St Louis hotspots. No, I didn’t make it to Steak N Shake or Pasta House or Plaza Frontenac or Forest Park or the Science Center. I have a new muse back in Missouri: Little Will, my year-and-a-half year old nephew and god son. He’s blonde and blue eyed and adorable and can get by with everything. Mark my words: I’m going to spoil the shit out of this kid! And while I was home I took about a gazillion pictures of the little heart breaker. I will throw in some scenic shots and a picture of me in front of a wall of reindeer for good measure, but this year it’s all about this guy. Isn’t he perfect?

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Captions, from top: Will in a box on Christmas morning; Will continues his Christmas terrorizing; the sun set at Uncle Fred’s farm in Hillsboro; Christmas dinner at my friend Maria’s house, which has not changed since we first became friends in kindergarten; Will looking up to me; Will on the box; my mother with Monster and my Monster sweater; the sun rise at Uncle Fred’s farm in Hillsboro; Will still in the box

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2:19 pm

THE CATS ARE BACK: SOME SEXY FELINES TEACH HOLIDAY ETIQUETTE

23/12/2013, Fast + Louche, From Elsewhere, Very Classy

Last year, I teamed up with my friends Classy Cat and Drunk Pussy to help illustrate holiday etiquette. Not much has changed since then: The holidays are still a time of merriment, etiquette is still important, and cats still rule the internet. So, without further ado, behold ‘The Eticats.’ (And for more, scroll down to see some hilarious bloopers and outtakes.)

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4:40 pm

ZACHARY QUINTO IS TOM WINGFIELD: A CONVERSATION WITH THE ACTOR ON HIS BROADWAY DEBUT

16/12/2013, General

I was not a boy who watched Star Trek. When I was little, I was more into Tennessee Williams than I was science fiction TV dramas. But this fall in New York, those worlds converged when Zachary Quinto, who plays Spock in the recent big screen revamp of the cult TV show, began a run as Tom in one of my favorite Williams plays, ‘The Glass Menagerie,’ on Broadway. I was there when the play opened, and I’m happy to report that Quinto was an inspired choice for the part. Which was a bit of a relief. As any Williams scholar knows, this part was Tennessee’s most autobiographical. The choices that Zach made were poignant. And, for any of my Missouri readers out there, the bonus of this play: It takes place in my beloved St Louis. BELOW, my chat with the actor following his stellar performance. Go to vmagazine.com for more

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HOLLYWOOD DARLING ZACHARY QUINTO THRIVES ON THE SPICE OF LIFE, TAKING ON ROLES IN BLOCKBUSTERS ALONGSIDE BROADWAY PLAYS. AFTER OPENING NIGHT OF TENNESSEE WILLIAMS’S THE GLASS MENAGERIE, HE SPOKE WITH OUR EDITOR-AT-LARGE ABOUT THE BENEFITS OF VARIETY

Playing it cool isn’t the easiest thing to do, and to his credit, the stern severity and rigidity that Zachary Quinto brought to the role of Spock in the recent Star Trek revamp is a testament to the 36-year-old’s acting skills. However, luckily for us, seeing him play the part of Tom in Tennessee Williams’ 1944 play The Glass Menagerie allows the actor to show us his complicated side. The play takes place in St. Louis, Missouri (this writer’s hometown, as I’m happy to tell anyone!) and follows a few nights with an unconventional Midwestern family: Quinto’s character is an arts-minded youth with a crappy factory job who supports a complex and delusional mother (played superbly by Cherry Jones) and a homebound, socially awkward, slightly handicapped younger sister (Celia Keenan-Bolger). Any drama buff knows that Quinto’s is an important role, since, as the actor points out, this is Williams’s most autobiographical work. After seeing the play, we asked him what it was like to tackle the role.

How familiar were you with Tennessee and this play before you signed on to do it?
ZACHARY QUINTO
I came to this experience with an appreciation for Tennessee and his plays—but without any deep familiarity. I had read The Glass Menagerie and most of his other major plays, and I had seen a number of his works over the years. But I had never worked with any of his material myself until this production.

How did you prepare?
ZQ
 I read. A lot. There is no shortage of literature about Tennessee, often written by Tennessee himself. So I just dove into anything I could find about his life and his experiences. Tom Wingfield is the most autobiographical character in Williams’s canon, so learning everything I could about Tennessee helped me gain a point of access into the character.

You know I’m from St. Louis. Did you have to do any research on the city? My face lit up when The Jewel Box was mentioned. It’s my favorite place back home.
ZQ
Sadly, I have yet to make it to St. Louis. So all of my knowledge of the city is from books and pictures. It was such a difference place in the 30’s. Teeming with people from all over the country and the world, converging to gain some measure of accomplishment. It was full of possibility and life. I look forward to using the play as a point of reference when I finally get to travel there.

You do a convincing slightly-southern-mid-Atlantic accent. Was that difficult?
ZQ
The poetry of this play is so beautiful and well structured that a vocal quality and cadence merge within it over time. Being true to Tennessee’s roots and also his affectations was important. But so was making the distinction that Tom is his own person. I make vocal choices that hopefully support that distinction.

At its core, it’s a sad tale. Tennessee himself had a sick sister, which beleaguered him all his life. You have the final monologue, the last word on a failing American Dream. How do you cope at the end of a performance?
ZQ
Strangely, perhaps, I find myself exhilarated at the end of every show. There is catharsis in the journey of this play for me that allows me to feel a sense of gratitude each time we finish a performance. It is a sad tale on many levels. But it also contains such a universal sense of humanity; that there is a kind of communion between the company and the audience that becomes life affirming.

You seem to have hit a good rhythm between big production Hollywood fare and something more intimate and personal, like Broadway. Is that important?
ZQ
Diversity is key for me. I am always at my best when I am busy. And I like to immerse myself fully in experiences that demand different facets of my interests and abilities.

And how are you coping with the grueling schedule of being on Broadway?
ZQ
I try to set up a structure for myself that allows time for self-care. Being productive with my days and trying to be active. Taking care of myself. But, I also enjoying the social aspect of being on Broadway. It helps that I am a total night owl too.

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Captions, from top: a copy of the most recent revival of Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie; the cast; me and Zachary out in New York earlier this year

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7:00 am

DESIGN GURUS BRONSON VAN WYCK AND CELERIE KEMBLE UNVEIL THEIR OWN HOLIDAY WORKSHOP

13/12/2013, Fast + Louche

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Oh yes, it’s that time of year: Holiday party time. It’s easy to complain about these moments of forced celebrations, but the holiday party may be one of the few things that I’m not jaded about. I like eggnog and layering clothes and being social and getting presents. Decorating, though, isn’t my strong suit. But that’s why I’m buddies with Bronson and Celerie, uptown design darlings who have collaborated on The Holiday Workshop, a one of a kind, residential retail experience at 19 East 75th Street. Holiday decorations include fully decorate bespoke holiday trees with Mongolian sheepskin tree skirts and thousands of hand painted lights (with proceeds benefiting East Harlem School), red lacquer wreathes, vintage table top items and glasses, engraved julep cups, handmade stationery, and more stuff that will make people feel fancy. Bronson will also be offering his popular Arrowhead Farms cocktail mixes and salad dressing. Celerie is retailing her furniture line from Henredon and the space is beautifully decorated with Celerie’s pieces accented by Bronson’s designs and curated tabletop items — it is a warm and enveloping space. Shoppers can purchase the entire “look” or the individual items. Here, I chatted with Bronson about the collection.

The holidays are coming. Tell me: Are you excited by the prospect of holiday parties, decor and merry making? Or is it all so daunting now?

I am always excited this time of year.  Everything and everyone look their best and people are in the mood to party.  Why should it be daunting?  If you’re worried about the holidays, you’re either over-committed or you’re under-staffed.  Edit your schedule and prioritize.  If you’re giving a party, either prepare everything ahead of time, or staff up.  Your guests are there to see you smile.  Give them what they’re there for, along with a stiff drink, and everything will be fine.

I like to think I’m decoration-ally challenged. What are some simple things that someone like me can do to spruce up their place for the holidays? (I used to have a two feet, pre-lit Christmas tree. But I lost it under my bed or my couch.)

Lighting.  If you don’t have time for a tree or simply cannot find it under the bed (try looking next to your box of summer speedos), invest in some Christmas lights. Better yet, get bistro lights.  The bigger bulbs feel vintage and European at the same time.  String the lights across your mantle, ceiling, entry, the mirror you use to take your selfies – wherever – to give an added warmth and glow to your space and your life.

Talk to me about the townhouse uptown: How did you find the space? What are some of the favorite things you have in the shop?

Celerie and I knew we wanted to set-up the holidays this year in a real home.  So my dog, Cat, and I set out on foot to find a townhouse.  The space is filled with vintage and antique finds and holiday decorations from Poland, Antwerp, Paris, Mexico City, Arkansas, and hundreds of yards of tartan from Scotland.  My favorites are the vintage barware and decanters, the selection of complete holiday dinner table settings (one of which you can buy here on Moda Operandi) an original photograph of Winston Churchill, and the custom malachite tree skirt we fashioned for our Chinoiserie inspired Christmas tree.  Of course the bespoke trees, sales of which benefit East Harlem School, are the biggest seller.

You started by providing a service: interiors and events, right? When did you transition into products, and was that an organic transition? What else do you have in the pipeline?

I have been decorating homes at Christmas for special clients and friends for nearly 10 years.  Last year, I opened the shop during the holidays so that we could do this for more people.  I’m committed to doing everything I can to motivate and encourage people to throw parties, to celebrate happy moments, to drink a little too much.

 Allow me to help on that last one. Cheers! Speaking of, I’m excited about your holiday party this year. How long does it take to plan and execute your fete?

It varies.  Sometimes all the ideas come out in a cascade, and I just have to hope I’m able to write them down.  Other times, it takes me weeks or months.  The Seven Swans a-Swimming party was a snap.  Eight Maids a-Milking took a little more time.  Ten Lords a-Leaping should’ve been easy, but it was the first year I hadn’t done it at home, so I had to make a lot of changes to make it work at The Lion.  I’ve not decided one thing about this year’s party.  But it’ll come.

Much to my dismay, last year I got there just after the go go boy holiday elf dancers did their set. Biggest regret ever.

Can we please not use the term “go go boy” ever again?  “Prancing elves,” or even “dancing elves,” are more accurate, not to mention less gutter-sounding.

Noted. I’ll keep it out of the gutter. [Eds. note: Please see above picture of a prancing elf playing a bagpipe.] So, what have been some of your more festive party favors?

Well, my general feeling is that the guests are the favors.  And this has been born out by the number of relationships that have begun (or ended) at my parties.  We had the milkmaids who served tequila from prosthetic breasts two years ago.  We also had a minotaur that year.  And a miniature billy goat.  The cheerleaders last year were inspired by the mash-up of Express Yourself and Born This Way that Madonna did in her MDNA show.  I’m a big believer in the Jello shot too.

And, last question and I’m sure it’s an annoying one: Favorite party ever? (As a guest and as an organizer?)

All the ones that I’m invited to.

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All images from The Holiday Workshop: 19 East 75th Street.

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9:28 am

A CHANEL SHOW IN DALLAS? FRENCH STYLE MEETS SOUTHERN HOSPITALITY IS WORTH WRITING (AND RIDING) ABOUT

12/12/2013, General

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Horseback riding? Dolly Parton? Carrie Underwood’s anthem ‘Before He Cheats’? I’ve made no secret of my affection for all things Southern. Something new to add to the list: Karl Lagerfeld’s trip to Dallas, Texas, to present a special Chanel collection. It wrapped last night, and coming back to the real world has been difficult. Don’t take my word for it. I just received this email from my friend Giovanna Battaglia: “I miss the Dallas bubble where everyone wears chanel, everything is taken care of, and the only occupation is to learn cowboy dance moves while having Jell-O shots with the most fun group of people.” The Kaiser did it again.

Let’s discuss the important  element of any Chanel production: The showmanship. Yes, the clothes were great. (I’ll get to that in a minute.) But what a day! The first part of the evening was a screening of Karl’s latest short film, this time starring Geraldine Chaplin as the legendary couturier. It’s a touching film about Coco’s return following the war and a 17 year absence. Not that this was a typical screening: Everyone was ushered to their seat inside a vintage convertible and watched the film from there. Karl himself sat in the back of a mid century black Rolls Royce next to Anna Wintour. Andre Leon Talley sat shotgun.

When the credits came up, we all filed into the show venue, which was a barnlike amphitheater. Kristen Stewart, who was just announced as a new face of the brand, came in and couldn’t contain a smile, which was nice to see mainly because it doesn’t happen that often. And then the show began. What a show it was. Karl’s greatest skill is the ability to tap into something – symbols, culture, an era, a person – and flush out the best elements while managing to avoid being clichéd or obvious. Now, in a place like Texas, which is rich in visual texts (big bangs, big fringes, big belt buckles immediately come to mind), this can be especially difficult. Yet he managed to be both contemporary and referential. Yes, there were cowboy boots and fringe. But of course. However, there was never the impression that the show was costume-y or forced. Even if they convinced Linda Grey, the star of the TV show Dallas, to come back for to town for a victory lap.  It was a standout collection.

After the designer took his bow, the party began. In what was the size of an airplane hanger, the hottest and sexiest nigh club that ever existed in Dallas was constructed. Shame, then, that it only lasted one night. The mechanical bull was brought out; Hot Chip took the stage; professional line dancers taught us the paces, which probably would have been a better idea to do before we all guzzled cocktails; Lynn Wyatt, the most divine of Texans, held court with Karl. It was all of my favorite American things refined with a French saivoir faire. I cozied up to Karl when the model Edward rode the bull – check out my Instagram account for a video of that – and he asked if it was an authentic representation of Texan culture. I looked down at my beer and winked. It was the chicest incarnation of cowboy chic.

Our last stop was The Round Up, a gay line dancing bar (you heard me right) in the middle of town that has a sunken dance floor and enough boys who are boot scooting and boogying that even a novice dancer like myself can blend in with the moves. How much fun did I have? As I sit here and write this, my thighs are still burning. Who knew line dancing could be such good cardio?

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Captions, from top: Karl Lagerfeld near the bull pen; me getting lassoed by a couple of Chanel bags; the lovely Lily Collins; VIP seating for the film screening; Laura Love on the mechanical bull; Carlyne de Cerf, Sarah Nataff and Crystal Renn; Alexa Chung and Poppy Delevingne; Erin Wasson and her mother; me and a couple of ranch hands; Sofia Sanchez and Caroline de Magret; Jen Brill, Sarah Hoover and Mel Ottenberg; some of the 74 vintage cars at the drive in; music impresario Michel Gaubert backstage; Joan Smalls and Jacquelyn Jablonski during rehearsals; Alexa at the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts; Poppy at Dolly Python, a fabulous vintage shop; the return policy at Dolly Python; a weird piece of art outside our hotel; Angela Lindvall on the bull; Leandra Medine, local Texan Taylor Tomasi and Dani Stahl; Poppy and Alexa driving me wild; Lynn Wyatt and Jerry Stafford; the finale of the show; Giovanna with the Jell-O shots; Sigred Agren and Jacquelyn; Harley Viera Newton at the Round Up; Angela, Poppy, Kristina O’Neill, Rebekah and Sarah; me and Georgia May Jagger during last call
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