Mr Blasberg
8:00 am


31/08/2013, Derek of the Day, General

I’ve never hard such a response to a pair of sandals. The simple, three-stripe, navy blue Adidas flip flops I ordered on Amazon in the spring as my go to summer footwear had quite a reaction on my social media. And the comments ran the gamut. Some said they were ugly, passé, skewing too grunge; others said they were chic, classic, comfortable.

For me, they’re all of that and so much more. The sandals are most importantly extremely nostalgic. In case I needed to remind my dear reader, I fancy myself a closeted jock (remember when I played soccer on the V team?) and these were the sandals that I wore to countless games and tournaments when I lived back in Missouri. Nowadays, these sandals are probably the only thing that both me and my brother, an accountant who lives in Texas, both have in our wardrobes. And, if I may be so bold, these little pieces of plastic go with everything: With jeans and a T-shirt, with a bathing suit, with khaki trousers and a button down. I’ve worn them to cocktail parties and spin classes. Well, to be honest, maybe I’ve worn them too much. (Not that the people at Another Magazine would agree with me. They love them too.

Finally, these bad boys are a little bit of gender equality. Remember the fuzzy, fur lined sandals that Phoebe Philo did at Celine? Why can the chicks get by with a comfortable and stylish slide? So, these are the mens version. And so much cheaper.


9:51 am


28/08/2013, General

I have a confession: I have never had a manicure. There’s a few reasons for this. One is that I’m too cheap. I grew up in Missouri and paying people to trim your nails is considered rather decadent. Another reason? When I was little I saw a 20/20 episode that investigated the dangerous, fatal germs in nail parlors. That stuck with me. Anyway, my friend Nicole Richie got wind of this, and with her friend Simone Harouche, they gave me my first buff and polish this summer. Nicole is hysterical. Not because she tells good jokes or is good at physical humor or anything. What gets me in stitches is her dry wit, arrogant pronouncements and the weird, amazing, ridiculous things that just fall out of her mouth. So, I can safely say that my first time was certainly memorable. And not just because it was caught on tape. Does that make this a cuticle sex tape? (PS. We did another video too, so get ready for that post.)

7:51 pm


12/08/2013, Observations

An avid reader of this blog will know that I travel quite extensively. And even though I manage to work in quite a bit of socializing (and drinking) while I do it, most of it’s for work. Which is why I’ve tried to spend a bit of quality time away from my computer on this last bit of summer, before we get thrust back into the fashion week swirl. But there are a few things in this world that make me want to flip open this laptop. Jay-Z is one of those things. So is Marina Abramovic. And certainly, so is Taylor Swift. So, when a friend of mine forwarded me this video of Jay-Z’s ‘Picasso’s Baby’ set to Taylor Swift’s ’22,’ I knew I had to come out of holiday mode, if even only for this post. (Last month, I posted my take on the concept of Jay-Z’s making of the video, which I missed because I was in Paris reporting on the haute couture shows, but I was still moved to discuss because it reminded me of Pop art and Pop music mashups of yester decades.) I have made no secret of my affection for Ms. Swift and her sweet country songs. So, the idea of Jay-Z’s music video laid over her track, ’22,’ the tale of young female adolescence, which I probably also have more affinity for than a grown man should, put a giant smile on my face. Have you seen it? If not, check it out here:

12:54 pm

Two Killer Kookies and 21 Candles: Happy Birthday, Karlie Kloss!

03/08/2013, Fast + Louche, General


You can take the girl out of St Louis, but not the St Louis out of the girl! Karlie Kloss, whom I refer to as my leggy little sister since we grew up so near each other in America’s great Midwest, had a big birthday this week: She (finally) turned 21! Though, she often jokes that she’s 21 going on 41 since she started working when she was 14, turning up in a Calvin Klein show on an exclusive New York fashion week appearance the same week she started high school in Webster Groves, Missouri. Despite logging in more frequent flyer miles than even I can count in the past seven years, she has maintained a sweet charm that has made her one of the most popular ladies in the business.

So, just how popular? Let’s get back to this birthday, which we celebrated with a fete I oragnized at the recently refurbished Paramount Hotel in Times Square. Her best buddy Jourdan Dunn, who turned 21 on the same day she did, showed up with Cara Delevingne and immediately hit the dance floor. Tyra Banks turned up and turnt it up, and so did Karlie’s pals Joan Smalls, Cynthia Rowley, Emma Watson, Lauren Santo Domingo, Giovanna Battagalia and Harry Brant. But the guests of honor were the rest of the Kloss Klan. Her mother and father were there, as was all three of Karlie’s sisters (Kariann, Kristine and Kimberly), as were her grandparents. And yes, Grannie Stella hit the dance floor after Karlie blew out the candles on her birthday cake. Oh yes, that birthday cake. The birthday girl spoiled us when we wheeled out two giant Karlie’s Kookies.

For more pictures, head over to Vogue’s coverage of the big night. 

Captions, from top: Karlie and her balloons; Cara, Karlie, Jourdan and me; Joan striking a pose on the dance floor; the fashion designers Prabal Gurung and Cynthia Rowley; Francisco Costa between two Klosses; Jenke and Giovanna; Lauren; Josh; Chanel Iman; Karlie and her grandparents; the entire Kloss Klan; Harry, Karlie and Lauren; Karlie’s cakes (kakes?); Harry; Chris Bollen and Patrik Ervell giving Cythia a seat; Cara, Jourdan and Karlie on the dance floor; Karlie and Jourdan having a dance off; me with the girls; Tyra and Karlie, getting their smize on.

9:19 am


30/07/2013, Fast + Louche, General

Natalia Vodianova looks like an angel. Her beauty is ethereal, her seduction is sweet. But just because she has the grace of a swan doesn’t mean that she’s not kicking beneath the water. To wit, her Naked Heart Foundation is an international philanthropic powerhouse, largely because of the work that she single handedly has done. Nearly 10 years ago, she founded the charity to build playgrounds in underprivileged villages, first in her native Russia and now abroad. She has hosted galas around the world, in New York, London and Moscow. Her most recent stop was in Monaco, and I was only too happy to support my friend on yet another of her successes. Not that it took much convincing. Three days on the Riviera, with a ball and Russian ballet at the Opéra de Monte-Carlo? Fiiine, I’ll go.

The fashion was tiptop. Natalia wore custom-made Christian Dior haute couture. Princess Caroline of Monaco was in Chanel haute couture. The other princess of Monaco, Charlene, wife of His Serene Highness Prince Albert, was in Atelier Versace couture. And the men too turned up in their Riviera best. My favorite? Eugenio Amos, husband to Margherita Missoni, who’s striped double-breasted jacket hit the 1960’s theme on the head. (Margherita, nearly nine months pregnant, looked divine in her Missoni creation too.) Even Harvey Weinstein cleaned up nice, blushing when the master of ceremonies, James Corden, smooched on him during a smoke break.

‘Twas a night to remember. Maestro Valery Gergiev conducted the orchestra, Diana Vishneva of St. Petersburg’s Mariinsky Orchestra took the stage for a breathtaking ballet, and all was under the artistic direction of the adorable Vasily Barkhatov. The highlight of the live auction was when Novak Djokovic bid on a private tennis lesson with his rival Rafael Nadal. We ended in the casino, myself on the arm of Camilla al Fayed, who with Harvey Weinstein commandeered a roulette table.

I am not a new witness to Natalia’s charitable efforts. I was at the launch of the Naked Heart Foundation at Diane von Furstenberg’s studio in 2004, and all of her subsequent Love Balls. [I profiled Natalia recently for the Wall Street Journal too, and we discussed her charitable efforts]. But this night left something so sublime in my memory. It harked back to a decadent and, dare I say it, royal time of long ago. In the name of a charitable spirit, we celebrated Russian culture. The event raised more than $4million for the Naked Heart, which is a sum that will do great service to children around the world. Mario Testino, who was at these festivities too, gave Natalia the nickname SuperNova. And in this weekend, it was clear to see why.

Captions, from top: Natalia at the Hotel de Paris in Monte-Carlo; the Kaiser and I, me and Karl Lagerfeld; the Monaco royal family with the patrons of the evening, including Natalia, Antoine Arnault and Lagerfeld; Camilla and Mario in the casino; James Corden and Harvey Weinstein showing some sweet love at the Love Ball; Margherita and Eugenio; Antoine, Natalia and Mario on the terrace; Alexandre de Betak and his fiancé, Sofia Sanchez; the ceiling of the Opera; Monaco’s harbor at sunset; Camilla and I at a dinner that Mario hosted for Natalia the night before the ball on a friend’s boat; Camilla and I; my friend Tatiana’s dog, Daphne, getting ready for bed; Noor Fares showing one of her faces; Eugenio, Tatiana and Andrea at dinner; Caroline and Karl in conversation; Astrid Munoz striking a pose before dinner; Natalia, spreading the love; Ulyana Sergenko; Sofia waiting for her cards; Harvey, Natalia and Camilla, at the Love Ball’s after party


9:00 am

Soccer, Showers and a Sunset: A Perfect Saturday

22/07/2013, General

Here’s a secret: I’m a secret jock. No, really. I was the 2000 Missouri Scholar Athlete back home, and I graduated with a doctorate in athletics from my high school. My favorite sport was soccer, and the opportunities for me to show off my (relatively) good ball handling skills (let it go, you perverts!) are few and far between. Which is why I was so happy when V magazine entered the Adidas Fanatic Tournament this weekend, held on Pier 5 under the Brooklyn Bridge. We got flossy uniforms and had a sunny day and gorged on hot dogs and Heineken’s after our games. All that in short shorts. A perfect Saturday.

So, how did we do? We won two games (suck on that, Opening Ceremony and Steven Klein’s assistants, which are the two teams that we beat) and lost one. Which isn’t bad considering we only had one practice and the last time I touched a soccer ball was this time last year. And I probably won’t touch one again till next year.

While we didn’t win the championship, it wasn’t for lack of glamour with our cheering section. Karlie, Joan and Sigrid all made the trek to Brooklyn to whoop it up for us. As did Karlie’s Terrier, Joe, who we had to smuggle in. We needed a mascot, didn’t we? At the end of the afternoon it rained, and I mean it RAINED. Drenched. I was on my bike and on the Brooklyn Bridge when it came down. Not that it really mattered since I was already soaked. It was a pre-shower shower. But the cherry on the sundae of my Saturday was a brief relief in the storm, when the clouds parted and I found myself almost entirely alone on the Bridge, glistening in the rain water and the sweat of the city. The bad part of the day was that it had to end.

Captions, from top: The V team on the sidelines; the Brooklyn Bridge in all its glory; me and Joan Smalls; Joan, Sigrid and Karlie are quite the cheerleaders; the red shirts; Joan, me and Karlie on the sidelines, and please note the battle wound; V takes the field; supermodel competition from Jacquelyn, who played on The Last Magazine team; Karlie and Joe; me on the field; the long bike ride home.
3:28 am


11/07/2013, Observations

Jay-Z, live, with Marina Abramovic at the Pace Gallery in New York

Last night, I want to sleep pissed off. Umm, was I the only person in the entire world that didn’t know that Jay-Z was going to pull a Marina Abramovic at the Pace Gallery in New York? The king of hip hop performed for six straight hours yesterday, and if the images I saw (which were mainly on Instagram, and on nearly every single one of my friends’ feeds) were to be believed, not only did he interact with Marina in a Pop music salute to her The Artist is Present performance piece, he threw down with the audience too. No really, from artists to fashion editors to assistants to socialites to whoever: Everyone knew Jay Z was going to pop up at Pace, apart from me. (Not that I mind. I’m in Paris! So, na na ni na na.) The kids over at Dis magazine compiled some Vine videos of Jay and Marina rocking out, which you can find here.

I was obsessed with this performance that I didn’t see. Although, the reviews have been a mixed bag. While mostthought it was a clever performance, some  thought that Marina was diluting the purity of her own work by collaborating with a Pop star and, likewise, some people thought that Jay-Z had no part trying to conform his art into someone else’s. But to those people I say: Shut up! To be honest, I’m not particularly invested in what other people have to say on the internet. (The only blog you should listen to is this one, dammit!) What I thought was so marvelous about this performance was how it collided these two worlds: hip hop and performance art. Not that they hadn’t met before: Marina isn’t unfamiliar with the worlds of hip hop, after all. I blame Givenchy’s Riccardo Tisci for that; I have a picture of him with Ciara and Marina on my desktop because it makes me smile. Not to mention we’ve seen Jay-Z and that wife of his at art fairs and galleries around the world. I remember two years ago at Art Basel Miami there was nearly a riot when word spread that they were at the Gagosian stall.

Jay is following in Kanye’s tracks into the world’s of avante garde art. And I must concede that it’s not like Jay completely left his comfort box here. The best comment I read on the internet? “If Jay-Z is an artist because he lip synced a song for six hours, then Milli Vanilli deserves an entire retrospective at the MOMA.” But I must celebrate Jay for sparking this discussion at all. That he entered a hall of performance art with Marina, the Queen, to me is feat enough.

It reminded me of another cultural collision, which I was also not physically present at. (Though, for that one I had a much better excuse: In 1979, I wasn’t born yet.) David Bowie performed on Saturday Night Live with the performance artist Klaus Nomi, which may be an uncommon name to some of my readers. If so, Google it! I didn’t know about this particular SNL performance until I went to the Bowie exhibit at the V&A earlier this year with my friends Jack and Lazaro from Proenza Schouler. They featured clips, which I thought were fantastic: There is Bowie, dressed in a purple military jacket and tight pencil skirt, with Nomi and Joey Arias; in another more fantastic clip, there is Bowie dressed up like, well, it’s hard to explain – maybe a pie-shaped tuxedo wedding cupcake? It took some digging, but I found the clips and will imbed them below.

What I find inspiring in any artist, from Jay to Bowie and Marina to Nomi, is the willingness to try something new. I don’t want to say push the envelope, because that expression irritates me. To push the envelope is to try and get by with something that someone shouldn’t, like when kids play the Penis Game on the school bus. (Please tell me you know the Penis Game. If not, back to Google!) I don’t think Jay and Marina were doing that. They’re trying new experiences with new people who want to see new things. I can’t say Marina’s biggest fans are card carrying members of Jay Z’s fan club. I can’t say Jay Z’s fans know Marina’s last name, much less how to spell it. But for six hours one afternoon in New York, they got together, shared ideas, and created an international buzz that is still reverberating. And that, my friends, is the power of art.



9:38 am


10/07/2013, Observations

Despite the naysayers, the haute couture has continued through credit crunches and international recessions. And good thing too because, as Daphne Guinness has been happy to tell me, “the couture is the laboratory of the fashion arts.” As the shows dwindled off the schedule, we’ve seen other parts of the industry rally: Now in Paris, between couture shows, myself and other editors take time to see the Fine Jewelry appointments (Diamonds! Cartier! Rubies! Van Cleef! Bvlgari!) that we sometimes don’t have time to see during the ready-to-wear shows. Also, many designers show their resort collections, and there is time to see the menswear shows too. (Which reminds me: Christopher Kane and J.W. Anderson, if you’re reading this: My shirts have better been ordered.)

What I find so interesting about the couture shows now is the casting. Here’s some insider info: It’s just not worth it for the big girls to do the couture shows anymore. Unless you’re on an exclusive and flights and boarding are paid for, or else you already live in Paris or are here for a job, the cost of coming to Paris and paying for a nice hotel is more than what you would make walking in the half dozen fashion shows on the schedule. So, if a big girl has two options — one to come to Paris and break even, at best, or do a catalogue job somewhere else — she’s going to take the money and run (as opposed to runway. Har har har.) What this situation has created, however, is an opening on the catwalk for fashion’s new faces to showcase their stuff. Which I think is so ironic because the couture shows really should be the upper echelon of design. So, for many of these girls, it is sink or swim. Figure out how to wear this $100,000 gown or go home.

I asked my friend Douglas Perrett of the blog Confessions of a Casting Director about this phenemonon and he agreed. And he also picked out his favorite new faces from the haute couture shows. Think of it as supermodel tryouts. These are the girls who made the first cut, and I’m looking forward to seeing who will be back for training in the fall. The ready-to-wear fashion shows are just around the corner, ladies. Suit up!

Sasha Luss: Sasha was born in Russia in 1992 but didn’t start modeling until 2007. Her big break came more recently in 2013. The 5’10 model has done campaigns for Chérie ma Chérie, Badilo, Tate, Bohemique & Furla.

Valentino Haute Couture Fall 2013

Ashleigh Good: Ashley was born in England in 1992 and later moved to New Zealand with her family where she was discovered while waiting at a bus stop on the way to her job at a local coffee shop. Her big moment came when she booked an exclusive for Givenchy in Fall 2012. 

Christian Dior Fall 2013 Couture by Raf Simons

Pauline Hoarau: Pauline was born in Reunion, France in 1994. In 2011 she placed in the top 7 for the World  Finalists at the Elite Model Look Contest. Since then she has been featured on the cover of Elle Italy and Elle France. 

Elie Saab Haute Couture Fall/Winter 2013

Kayley Chabot: The 5’11 model was only 13 when she was signed to her first agency. Now, at 17, she has begun to enter the spotlight after walking in critical shows such as Alexander Wang in SS13.

 Elie Saab Haute Couture Fall/Winter 2013 

Nicole Pollard: The 18-year-old model was born in Brisbane, Australia and seems determined to stay connected to her home country despite making it big elsewhere. Her first modeling experience came during Sydney Fashion Week in 2011. In 2012 she was named the face of Perth Fashion Week. On a much larger scale, she has scored two exclusives with Dior- including Raf Simons much-anticipated first collection in FW12. More recently she has appeared in the SS13 Dior campaign. 

Armani Privé Haute Couture Fall 2013   

Elizabeth Erm: The Estonian 5’10 model was born in Tartu in 1993. She was discovered at the age of 17 at a local mall. Her breakout came in FW13 when she opened for Lacoste.

Valentino Haute Couture Fall 2013

Tessa Bennenbroek: This 6’0 Dutch stunner is both new and mysterious. After a playing a pivotal roll during the haute couture season in the likes of such legendary designers as Elie Saab, Versace, and Armani, we are sure to be seeing a lot of Tessa. 

Atelier Versace Haute Couture Fall 2013 

with additional reporting from Caroline Mason

10:13 am


05/07/2013, Fast + Louche, General

I didn’t know what was happening with the weather here in Paris: it was sweaty one day, and freezing the next. (Conveniently, on the freezing night, there was a Fendi party. So my girlfriends had already borrowed fur coats and I didn’t need to lend mine to anyone. Being a gentleman is tough work!) But while the weather was rather unpredictable, the haute couture fashion week was expectedly divine.

On the scale of divinity, the highlight of the trip was the dinner that Valentino and Giancarlo Giammetti hosted in honor of Anna Wintour at Wideville, the designer’s chateau outside Paris. I have been to Wideville a couple of times, but one never gets tired of the glitz, the glamour, or the old world romance of one of the world’s most marvelous designers. Cocktails on a terrace, sunset walks through the rose garden, dinner in a converted barn, and dancing in a one-night-only discothèque. Actually, it’s a normal night out for Val and Giancarlo.

But, of course, this week the focus was the shows. Some people lament the dwindling presence of fashion shows on the haute couture schedule. But perhaps that is because they are scared that if more and more designers drop out of the haute couture schedule, the day may come when we won’t have this extra reason to come to Paris twice a year. I enjoy the lazier schedule because it gives one time to breathe, or rather inhale the excellence of couture. For example, Naomi Campbell opening the haute couture shows with her infamous trot in the first look at the Versace show was just the punch one needs to be reminded of the importance of high fashion. Later that night, Naomi joined a dinner at Azzedine Alaia’s house, where the designer cooked a three-course meal in honor of Christian Lacroix’s appointment at the house of Schiaparelli. That was a nice reminder too.

And what of the other shows? I was partial to the knitted eveningwear, an interesting paradox that Raf Simons did at Dior, and I heard none other than Jennifer Lawrence, who had flown in for the show, saying the same. Giambattista Valli did a fabulous white lace passage that looked like a garden in a cloud of heaven. Valentino looked to insects for the first half of their presentation, and then exterminated them with bedazzled glamour. And Karl Lagerfeld sent Erin Wasson out in a tiered wedding dress that made my eyes melt in a dilapidated theater he had built in the Grand Palais.

I haven’t had a Fourth of July celebration in about seven years since the couture shows always fall on the American holiday. But, luckily, this year I wasn’t alone: I welcomed Fourth of July with some fellow Americans in Paris – Karlie, two Traina sisters and the divine Alex Wang – at Chez Julien.

On the night before the Chanel couture show, Bazaar’s editor-in-chief, Glenda Bailey, and myself stopped in at Karl’s studio, where he showed us a picture he had taken of Erin wearing nothing but the boots from the couture show. Not that they were just any boots: he called them stir-up shoes because they were anchored to a belt so that the soft, comfortable leather wouldn’t slouch. That moment reminded me of why I loved the couture shows so much: Not just because I had an audience with the Kaiser, but also because it reminded me that at a couture show, the most impressive details are the ones that you can’t see.

Captions, from top: My spot at the head of a table at Valentino’s dinner for Anna Wintour, which was just a little intimidating; Baz Luhrmann leading Karlie Kloss down the stairs and into the rose garden at Wideville; Valentino in his garden; Emma Roberts and Mena Suvari at Versace; me and Azzedine Alaia, a fashion legend; Riccardo Tisci at Wideville; Karl at work; Naomi on the Versace runway; Milla and Catherine Baba; me and the host with the most, Giancarlo Giammetti; Erden and Christopher Kane, two English designers who came down to Paris; The best actress at the Cannes Film Festival, Lea Seydoux, and Christian Louboutin; Naomi at the Versace party; Baz and I; Nicky Hilton at the Valentino show; Vera Wang snapping me; Tatiana Santo Domingo and Eugenie Niarchos at the Valentino fete; Giancarlo with Natalia and Franca; Erin Wasson’s bridal dress at Chanel; Lizzy, Elizabeth, Alexia and Harry in the backseat; Three Missoni’s: Margherita, pregnant with her first son, and her grandmother Rosita, who founded the family dynasty; Bianca Brandolini and I have a laugh at the launch of Eugenie’s jewelry collection; Giambattista Valli flanked by Eugenie and Noor Fares; my friends Mattia and Jessica Diehl; Alexa at Chanel; Rose McGowan at the Fendi dinner; Kristina O’Neill and Carine Roitfeld at the Chanel show; the view walking into the Dior show; Hanne Gaby leading the pack at Giambattista’s show; Bianca and Giamba; me and Hamish having a nightcap at the Meurice Hotel bar; the divine Lady Amanda Harlech in Karl’s studio; the view of Wideville; Chez Julien’s tribute to the Fourth of July: A vintage issue of French Playboy; my fellow Americans in Paris: Karlie, Nessie, Alex and Toto.

5:13 am


04/07/2013, From Elsewhere

Luis Venegas makes me smile. He’s a rare thing in the worlds of fashion, publishing and transvestites: He is genuinely happy. He publishes several magazines from his native Spain with the intention of spreading joy and smiles and good cheer. It’s the reason why whenever he asks me to contribute to anything he’s working on, I say yes without hesitation. (Last time we worked together, I interviewed Chloe Sevigny for the Candy cover story, which you can read here.) Not that our most recent collaboration took much convincing: Interviewing Jared Leto for the cover of Candy magazine to accompany Terry Richardson’s photographs. After all, who hasn’t been a fan of the part time actor, most time singer and full time hearth throb? Feel free to reminisce on your own Jordan Catalano fantasy here. And when you’re back, check out my chat with Leto.

Derek Blasberg. So, Jared, do you think you make a beautiful woman?

Jared Leto. I don’t think so! Ha! But I do think Rayon [the character Leto played in the film Dallas Buyers Club] was beautiful on the inside. And I think she wanted to be beautiful, and that’s how I felt when I was in character. But I never felt like I made the best woman – which was funny because I always thought I would.

DB. I would have thought so too because, well, you’re very pretty.

JL. It doesn’t matter how much weight or muscle you lose; the hardness of your jaw, your shoulders, it’s more than obvious masculinity. I so wanted to be beautiful because, and this is something that I think the character thought, if you’re beautiful, you’re loved. So I don’t think I made the most attractive woman, but I certainly tried my hardest.

DB. Tell me more about Rayon.

JL. She is a male to female transsexual, and she was a wonderful, strong woman. The film takes place in 1985, the beginning of the AIDS epidemic in the United States, and she lives in Dallas just as it is hit by this plague. This part and this film seduced me. This is the first film I’ve made in half a decade, Derek. I was waiting for a character that really spoke to me, and a story that was really powerful. This was it.

DB. What was it like to dress in drag?

JL. High heels are tough. I lost 30 pounds dressing in drag.

DB. How did being in your costume make you feel?

JL. I felt good! It was different for me because it wasn’t just putting on a dress. I had to work out the part in my mind too. I wanted to bring to life a character who was a real life, living person – not just a caricature of a cross dresser. I think sometimes people confuse that sort of character as a joke, or they confuse a transgendered individual as “just a drag queen.” But I will say that I took to the high heels pretty quickly!

DB. Apart from the heels, what other physical parts of the character are the most memorable?

JL. Well, I waxed my entire body, my eyebrows included. That was certainly transformative.

DB. But this isn’t the first time you’ve changed your appearance for a part. You lost 25 pounds for Requiem for a Dream and I remember when you gained almost 70 pounds for Chapter 27.

JL. The tricky thing about extreme weight loss or weight gain is how much it affects you on the inside, not the outside. Altering your shape that much changes your behavior, the way you think. It changes how you laugh and how you move and how people look at you. It’s a double-edged sword, the internal and the external, and it’s not always a lot of fun.

DB. What was it like to go out as Rayon?

JL. As soon as you wax your brows and lose that much weight and you’re walking through a hotel lobby with your high heels cling clanging, you can’t help but draw attention. When people change their gender, they make a real statement. You surprise and confuse people, and I had to deal with that. I went out in drag and lived in that character to do research, and in the process I fell in love with Rayon. She had a heart of gold.

DB. Were you ever surprised when researching the role?

JL. In New Orleans, where we filmed the movie, I met a wonderful 13-year-old girl who was more than six-feet tall and was so gentle, and so sweet. She had been living as a woman since she was 7, going out in Bourbon Street dressed in her sister’s clothes. She opened a side of life I had never seen before. And there was a woman called Kalie, who was a tremendous help to me in LA. I spent the initial formative first days of prepping for this part with her, talking about the difference between transgendered people and transvestites, and the concept that these are real people and not a lifestyle. She taught me a lot. That’s what I liked about this film: I learned.

DB. What first drew you to this part?

JL. The challenge. The script. The role. The director. All of those things. It was impossible to say no. To reach that far inside myself – or outside myself, depending on how you see it – it was something I hadn’t explored. I found that exciting.

DB. It’s been a change of pace to the other stuff you’ve been doing these past few years: Being a rock star.

JL. That’s why I haven’t made a film in so long. We’ve been touring the world. [My band] 30 Seconds to Mars has been on a phenomenal adventure, with more success that we could have ever imagined. We sold out the O2 Arena and the Wembley in London, played the biggest shows of our lives. We got in the Guinness Book of Records for the longest tour ever. I have the plaque in my bathroom.

DB. How was balancing those two worlds?

JL. The hardest challenge was time. Time to do it all and do it well. I loved what Andy Warhol said: “Labels are for cans, not for people.” So now I try and do whatever I’m attracted to. If you have a desire, just go for it and fucking do it. A long time ago I gave myself permission to live like that – to act or design, or do music, or technology. It keeps life interesting.

DB. What do you hope will be the reaction to this film?

JL. I hope that people in that community see on the screen something that is true and honest. Something that is authentic, that comes from a really pure place. It also shares this tragic but inspiring story about how difficult it was when this plague started depleting these communities.

DB. What will you take from this part to your daily life?

JL. I haven’t worn much makeup since 2006. I used to wear a lot of eyeliner.

DB. You mean guyliner, don’t you?

JL. Yes! Maybe I grew up loving The Cure too much. Although, can you love The Cure too much? But, what I learned from this experience was less about the look and more about tolerance and understanding. I can be very intense and very work-oriented, and not too socially graceful.  But there was a gentleness to that part. There was something open about Rayon that I’ve tried to carry on. There was something really fragile and approachable about her, and I hope those sides of her continue to exist in me.