1. The “Free” Time
In New York if I have a free hour, I feel like a failure. In Paris, I feel like a success.
2. Its National Pastime
People still window-shop in Paris because so many stores are closed on Sunday. And, honestly, they dress up to do it. No one I know there shops for clothes on the Internet.
3. Now Is Later
“Rush” to a New Yorker means “by this afternoon.” To a Parisian, it’s “sure…later.”
4. Cliches Rule!
Loving Paris because of cancan boots, Victoire de Castellane’s amazing Dior jewelry, the music of Edith Piaf, or the Moulin Rouge sounds clichéd, but you come to realize it’s exactly what attracts the French as well. They just won’t admit it.
5. Living the Fantasy
I love walking my dog and stopping to buy a baguette. I know you can do it on any street in New York, but the Eiffel Tower isn’t in the background.
In the fashion world, creative director Riccardo Tisci is a bit of an intellectual. But his insights about women and clothes are brilliantly easy to follow. He presides over a legendary French haute couture house, yet Tisci has never been one to bow to tradition. The 36-year-old favors a much edgier, more austere, and darkly romantic cast to his designs.
What do you think women want from clothes now?
Much more sensibility and sensuality. You should respect your body but have the courage to make a statement. Dress like you have something to say.
What do you like about designing?
Couture lets you express yourself with complete freedom, so that you find an identity as a designer. And then you can apply the most successful elements of it to the ready-to-wear line.
What are your solutions?
Fashion should be a positive transformation of the body.
How can women create a personal style?
Make clothes your own. It’s not as if you’ve never left the house with mixed emotions. Why can’t your dressing reflect that? Smart fashion doesn’t displace your wardrobe, it adds to it. Smart fashion crosses all boundaries.
Alber Elbaz is a pragmatist. “Fashion isn’t an intellectual exercise,” he says. “It’s about creating something desirable. Trying to be cool or trendy doesn’t work. It’s more vital to be relevant to women’s lives.” And it’s that philosophy that has made the Lanvin designer so beloved.
Here are a few style pointers that are both inspirational and instructional.
1. Wear the type of clothes that let you be who you really are. Women are powerful; their strength is internal. They need a wardrobe that lets them be themselves instead of who some designer thinks they should be. That’s why there is a return to practical clothes, and when I say that, I don’t mean boring.
2. Choose comfortable fits. We are living in a time when women can literally buy their own body – but I am not advocating that! So that made me think that I should work like a plastic surgeon, to highlight a woman’s assets by adding color and draping. A woman can move freely in her clothes instead of being trapped in them.
3. Take a high-fashion approach to lower-priced clothing. It’s about maintaining an attitude about style than spending a lot of cash. Wait for the piece that satisfies you instead of searching for a bargain.
4. Trust the mirror. Stop long enough to look in the mirror and it will reveal what’s right for you. It’s a subtle but important point. If you’re shopping and like how you look in a hot-pink outfit, enjoy the moment. Enjoy the desire to buy it. Trust your intuition, not someone else’s standards.
5. Fashion is instinctive and sensual. Learn to love what you wear. It should feel like eating chocolates…without the calories.
6. Respect your age. Nothing is more appealing than someone who embraces her maturity. What really turns me on is a woman who respects change and the passage of time. So please, never look back.
7. Find your colors. Clothes should match a woman’s presence – her figure and coloring – and when you discover a shade that works well for you, wear it! The right color gives your power, no matter what it is. When you see Tilda Swinton standing before you, for example, and take in that physique and that presence, you can’t just pull out a baby blue dress. When we dressed her for the 2008 Oscars, we knew this woman deserved something out of the ordinary.
1. She proudly hails from Belgium: “I miss the innocence and sense of freedom there.”
2. She was discovered after she’d already walked the runway: “I started walking in shows for Dries Van Noten and Olivier Theyskens when I was studying at the Academy of Antwerp. One day in Paris when I was 21 years old, the modeling agency IMG New York invited me to come to New York. That’s when my career really kicked off.”
3. Don’t expect her to remember your name: “I’m jealous of people with natural social skills. In the beginning of my career, I mixed up so many names. You meet so many new people every day! Once, I was at a party and I thought Ben Stiller was a hairdresser.”
4. She has a thing for architecture: “I studied architecture before beginning my modeling career, and I think that has helped me stay focused. Modeling, you end up in the most amazing places, and I’ve really been able to appreciate each city through an architectural eye.”
5. She has scars on her ears: “I used to have Spock ears, but I got them corrected when I was 6 years old.”
6. Modeling isn’t all parties and fancy clothes: “Luxury is a very bendable concept. Everybody thinks that glamour makes life easy, but in the end, the fashion world is a very tough school. Fantastic, but tough.”
1. The most important thing is to sleep well. Try to have sweet dreams and no recession nightmares. You have to find out if your husband is telling you to spend less during the crisis as an excuse. Never use the word cheap. Today everybody can look chic in inexpensive clothes (the rich buy them too). There is good clothing design on every level today. You can be the chicest thing in the world in a T-shirt and jeans – it’s up to you. Don’t use expensive clothes as a screen for your personal doubts. Be proud of yourself and not only because you wear expensive designer clothes. They are great, but lots of people are happy without them. Don’t play the victim: It’s too easy. You come first, the clothes later. Reinvent new combinations of what you already own. Play with it. Improvise. Become more creative. Not because you have to, but because you want to. Evolution is the secret for the next step.
2. The T-shirt can be impeccable, and the jeans, too. (The body has to be impeccable as well – that helps a lot.) If it’s not, buy small sizes and less food. To reinvent a newly impeccable you in the most modest of outfits, don’t skip on makeup, and be sure to have flawless skin and hair. That will have more impact than expensive clothes. Dress for yourself.
3. Buy only because something excites you, not just for the simple act of shopping. That’s a little childish. Going from shop to shop is, perhaps, today considered a form of cultural anxiety. There are more constructive and intelligent ways to spend your time.
4. One gets easily tired of violent prints and wild colors. And if you consider yourself a wallflower, then you better look in another fashion direction. In the city, bright colors and bold prints don’t look so great. So if you must wear them, wait for your holiday.
5. Life should not be a fashion show. Only the girls in the shows have to wear unfinished prototypes. What you see later in the shops are safe – or safer.
6. Don’t wear what you question, wear what you think is right for you.
7. Look at romantic styles: They make for an easy look, although they can be boring. You may look like a confused person if you wear things without being 100 percent convinced that they are perfect for you and your life.
8. Black, like white, is the best color! They both look great with added color touches like red.
9. Is your life that flat you need a new lift all the time? Some people would call you superficial, but as your doctor, I say: Try to look a little deeper into yourself. Fashion is important, but it’s not the only permanent booster. Change your hairdo. Reinvent your look. Start at the beginning. Look at yourself honestly, and don’t ask me to tell you what you want to hear.
10. Better a split personality than no personality at all. It means there is enough personality to split in two, but it doesn’t say which is the most interesting. Forget the “economic times” and think about what is right for this moment in your life. There is a certain kind of glamour that is terribly dated.
Many designers live for fashion. Arguably that applies to no one more than John Galliano, the designer of his own label and the brilliant mind behind the couture and ready-to-wear labels of Christian Dior. John embraces the future and is passionate about moving it forward. He brings extravagant fashion fantasies to life; his shows make you feel as if you were experiencing fashion history. Mary-Kate went to a show in Paris recently in a Buddha-themed garden of golden ponds, gilded statues, and impossibly beautiful men and women sprawled out on throw pillows and lounges – it could easily have been the set of a new techno Lawrence of Arabia film. As the soundtrack pounded, models vogued onto the runway, posing for the audience and dancing in the fountains. And the clothes, when one remembered to look at them, were breathtaking. A Galliano show is an experience. Born in Gibraltar, raised in London, trained at the iconic Saint Martins fashion school, and now based in Paris, the designer has made his name synonymous with fashion. We’re not his only fans – Kate Moss, Charlize Theron, and Linda Evangelista call him when they are in need of something decadent. When we met up with John in Paris, he told us about his fervent search for inspiration all over the world.
Because you’re considered one of the most influential fashion designers working today, we want to know how you’re constantly inspired.
I am influenced and inspired by life, by the people I meet, people I work with, and people I aspire to and hope to meet – people like you! I read, I go to the movies, listen to music – I am just the same as everyone else, only I am always looking for inspiration, looking to create. I am always searching, always on the quest for beauty, for ideas and a muse to seduce me.
How do you find references for your collection? I read somewhere that you go on adventurous inspiration trips around the world. Do you like to travel?
I love travel. I’ve always been obsessed and very curious: Travel indulges this. Each collection is different; we go to different countries, cultures, but as much as that; we are open to find different characters. You can’t say where or when inspiration will strike, but you can encourage it.
Have any of your travels been more extravagant or more memorable than others? How do you integrate these trips into your collection?
All of my trips have been memorable in difference ways, for different reasons – for where you went, who you met, who you went with, and what you saw, as well as for the end result. The collections are the memories, mood boards, postcards of the adventure brought to life!
Each one of your looks is so completely different – how do you decide what character to play each season?
I make an effort. I can’t lie – this is my seasonal curtain call, the fashion designers’ red carpet, if you like, and it’s all for me! You girls know you only get one chance to make a first impression, so I want to, have to, look my best! But as well as it being a photo op, this is in a way a chance to finish a chapter of my life, to celebrate what I have just been immersed in, to say hello and goodbye. I think the most crucial thing about what I wear is that it enhances and complements the spirit of the muse, the inspiration and the icon that I am accompanying up the runway. It’s a bit like method acting – I have to immerse myself in the world of the character we are creating so that I can believe and understand and empathize with them, and so the collection has integrity. I blame it on working in the theater as a stagehand while I was at Saint Martins – it’s all about the right entrances and exits, and I was the best ironer at the National Theatre.
Is it rewarding for you to be as well known as your designs? How much are you aware of your own personal iconography?
I feel very fortunate to be at Dior, to be in Paris, to have met the people I have and to be continuing the legacy of such a fashion revolutionary. I love designing, I love creating fashion. I don’t really think of myself as famous. You girls are famous, you girls are in the public eye. I am happy to be there as the guy that dressed these girls. The clothes are the stars, not me.
What is the relationship between spectacle and fashion? And theater and fashion? Do you have any favorite plays or theatrical events?
I love going to the theater. It is there to tell a story, to dress a character, to be your armor, your uniform. Fashion should empower you as much as it dresses you – it should make you a femme fatale one moment and a romantic the next. Fashion is there to transport you – it’s escapist and seductive. You have to be a showman at heart in this business.
I love the romance in your show. Would you consider yourself a romantic?
Absolutely. I am a real, true romantic at heart. Always. That’s what it’s all for, isn’t it?
You also play a lot with historical periods and eras gone by. Which eras do you identify with most? And which historical figures?
I love plundering the past and the decadence of days gone by. I also love the ‘20s as much as I love the ‘30s and ‘40s. I love so many eras; there is so much to be excited by. I love Great Gatsby style, Brassai, Cartier-Bresson, as well as looking at the jazz era, or further back to other Belle Epoque eras. If I could host a fantasy party, it would mirror Truman Capote’s infamous black-and-white fancy dress soiree. I would invite him, Marie Antoinette, Napoleon, Lord Nelson, Oscar Wilde and all his dandies, Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci as well as Andy Warhol, Leigh Bowery, and Picasso, Diana Vreeland, Jackie and JFK – as well as all my mates today, Kate [Moss], Gisele, people with style, people who made a mark, people with panache. I’ll have to think who I would set you two with!
How would you define personal style? Who do you think are the women and men that look good right now?
My own style is ever changing and ever evolving. But I am lucky – I now have Galliano Homme, so I am really spoiled for choice! The phrase “I have nothing to wear” doesn’t exist now – I design it!
Is that why you started your label?
It’s me. I am a chameleon; so it’s impossible to describe my look; it changes too much. And who do I think looks good? Basically people that are themselves and are great at it! Style is conviction, that is the secret. I think people should have fun with fashion, should enjoy wearing beautiful clothes – but also not save everything for best. Fashion is there to be enjoyed, to be indulged – to wow in. Don’t save it for Sunday best only. Get it out of the tissue paper and be sensational every day.
What do you find to be the most beautiful part of a woman’s body?
That all depends on the woman: her smile, her eyes, her neck, her curves, her joie de vivre.
You have vocalized your appreciation for the female form in the past – do you have a muse?
A muse is ever evolving, ever changing, ever elusive. The perfect woman is out there, and she is many things, many moods, many women. But the one I am chasing is ever evolving, so I must travel the world to catch a glimpse of her. I am on a lifelong quest to inspire her, dress her, seduce her. A muse is a strange, elusive, exotic thing that cannot be caught. She is a free spirit that I hope to keep up with, hope to delight.
How has your own life influenced your aesthetic?
I think you have to be influenced by everything and be reckless enough to gamble all or nothing to follow your dreams. You have to believe in what you do as much as love it. You only get a short life, so take chances, follow your dreams, and go where the winds of fate blow you. I have been a gypsy of life and blessed with luck, I am always ready for the next chapter.
Can you remember the moment that you knew you wanted to work in fashion?
I was always going to be designer – I am just lucky I get to do a job that is not a job but more a way of life, that gets me out of bed, keeps me awake, alive, excited, and young! Fashion is what I eat, sleep, dream, breathe!
Do you think Dior would be pleased with what you have created and accomplished with Dior so far as if he were alive today?
This is what I want to bring to Dior: beauty, seduction, romance, and rebellion. You have to push fashion forward – we are all constantly moving forward. Time waits for no man, so you have to embrace the future and dress for it.
What is fashion’s place in modern culture? Is it expression, is it practical?
Fashion is an expression of the now, yes. Sure, it is one part practical, as we are all wearing clothes, but it is also a business of creating dreams, art that you can wear. It is escapist and indulgent; it is a snapshot of society today.
STYLE: MINIMALIST ELEGANCE
It’s not just her looks - the cut-glass cheekbones, the body that’s somehow eternally nubile - that have made Charlotte Rampling a sex symbol into her sixties. It’s her unflinching, gray-eyed stare, alternately defiant, imperious, chilly, seductive, commanding. In a word, challenging - an adjective Rampling uses a lot. Her roles? A concentration camp survivor reunited (sadomasochistically) with a guard who once tortured her in the 1974 film noir classic The Night Porter; a woman compellingly in love with a chimpanzee in 1986’s Max My Love; a middle-aged sex tourist who goes to Haiti in search of young callboys in the 2006 indie Heading South - every one, challenging. Posing nude alongside photographer Juergen Teller for a 2004 Marc Jacobs ad in her fifties? Challenging. Dressing in monastic, androgynous garb by minimalist masters like Ann Demeulemeester, Jil Sander, and Rampling’s longtime friend Yohji Yamamoto? Challenging. And, like the gaze, utterly alluring.
ELLE: Many of your films have been considered shocking. Do you think of yourself as a provocateur?
CR: I didn’t set out to do that at all, but I wanted to show the undercurrent that lives within people - not just the fun, but what actually makes us do certain things. The inner, unconscious world, the one we’re not directly in contact with or in control of - that’s the one I try and privilege. When I started to do entertainment-type films, I just didn’t feel I was in my place. My road was to be a more tricky, more marginal one.
ELLE: Your onscreen persona is often cold, elusive. Does this reflect who you really are?
CR: No, not in real everyday life, but creative people delve into the underworld of themselves, and things come up that they’re not in control of at all, and that’s what you use. A painter may paint violent, bizarre pictures - he probably won’t seem like that at all, but that’s his shadow side, the way he needs to express himself.
ELLE: You once said that getting what one wants from men is about having a certain magnetism, and that you knew you had it.
CR: Well, it’s really a preposterous statement. [Laughs]
ELLE: Yes, fabulously so.
CR: I said that when I was very young. But…if you are a really good-looking woman and you use your looks intelligently and you use your intelligence intelligently, men cannot, will not resist that.
ELLE: You asked our photographer specifically not to heavily retouch your photos.
CR: It’s not that I like my face better with age. Not at all. I liked it better when I was younger. But whatever it looks like, I want to live with it because that’s my living experience. I want to go right through the end with that kind of attitude.
ELLE: What’s your thinking about onscreen nudity?
CR: If there’s nothing particularly interesting about the fact that you’re naked - if you wear nakedness like you wear clothes - then there’s something very, very alluring about that. A naturalness with your body and an un-complexed attitude - that is very beautiful on a woman, even if she doesn’t have the so-called perfect body. Who cares about perfect bodies?
ELLE: In the ’60s, you had a very exuberant, sexy look.
CR: Well, I was experimenting with all sorts of colors, styles, shapes, feels. There was such an explosion of different styles, especially in all the minidresses, the miniskirts. Everything that was “mini” I leapt into. I felt great in it. There was this incredible sense of freedom.
ELLE: When did your current look develop?
CR: Actually, through my husband [now-ex, Jean Michel Jarre], who was wearing a lot of Yohji Yamamoto’s clothes. At the time, I was still just wearing odd, funny, funky things, colorful things, not a particular style - but I got very fascinated by this whole architectural style that Yohji had. It was something I went really seriously into, still am. I loved the idea of these suits that aren’t cut the way Dior or Chanel would cut a suit - they’re unusual, off-center, but still exquisitely tailored. It’s a Yohji trouser suit - it couldn’t be anyone else’s. And there’s no hype around Yohji. That’s also what I loved, because all the fashion hype can get overpowering.
ELLE: Do you find that that kind of clothing has a certain physicality - does it make you walk or sit differently?
CR: It does. And it took quite a long time to get used to. I never saw many women doing it because it’s quite a difficult way of being, actually, Yohji.
ELLE: So what’s your day-to-day look?
CR: Jil Sander slacks - I love the fabric, the cut. A shirt or T-shirt, a cardigan, and a sort of soft jacket. [Yves Saint Laurent designer] Stefani Pilati gave me two beautiful men’s jackets, so I wear those a lot. And I live in lace-up shoes. I’ve probably got 20 pairs.
ELLE: Why so masculine?
CR: I just don’t seem to be able to dress in a girly way. I guess I really am an androgynous person.
ELLE: Says the sex symbol!
CR: Well I just feel that femininity is who you are. It depends on how you feel, say, when you go out in the morning. Do you need to add touches to your femininity? I don’t feel that I do. But other people would probably say, “Well, oh, God. She looks a bit plain.” But if that’s the way I feel good, as just me, Charlotte, going out for a day, then that’s fine. There’s nothing else that’s needed.
The Ellements of Personal Style
FOREWORD BY MARC JACOBS
For me allure is appeal. It’s something you’re drawn to, something that you can’t look away from. It’s something that offers magnetic, almost magical visual stimulation - in both fashion and life. And I think that, on a certain level, my concept of allure is quite similar to Diana Vreeland’s. Though in manner we’re quite different - at the base of both what I do and what she did is this absolute passion for the attraction and allure of certain people, places, and things. It motivates and drives us. And it can be something that looks so terribly wrong to someone else. That has a kind of irony and perversity. I think probably that’s what I love most about Mrs. Vreeland: her ability to see how someone unconventionally beautiful could be so much more fascinating and alluring than your typical beauty. Or to see and be able to appreciate someone deeply eccentric. To find beauty in imperfection, in flaw, to go against the common popular opinion of what is good, what is right. That kind of challenging eye, and the ability to find beauty in anything, that was what was so extraordinary about her. From what I know of her, Mrs. Vreeland was highly unusual in her ability to do that, to see that kind of beauty in other people, to have an almost perverse passion for things that weren’t common or typical. Or conversely, to have a passion for something exactly because it was so very common and typical. It’s quite a paradox in a way, something unique and extraordinary could be alluring to her, and something mundane and banal could be alluring as well. And she could see both of those. I think that is what her brilliance was.
I was probably a teenager when I first became aware of Diana Vreeland. I don’t know exactly when it was, but I became very interested in fashion when I was about twelve years old or maybe even younger. As a young New Yorker, I had this voracious appetite for anything that had to do with fashion. I read magazines and quickly became interested in the history of fashion and the history of costume. And in that world there was no way not to know who Diana Vreeland was. And then, I first saw her personally out at some party. I saw this figure. I saw what she looked like, and I had seen her name printed everywhere. Maybe it was at the Met during the St. Laurent exhibition. Or maybe it was at Studio 54, or it was with Halston. So then, of course, because of what she looked like and because of how she was revered in the pages of the magazines I read, I became curious to know who she was and what she did. I became very interested in looking at old issues of Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue and seeing her work as a fashion editor. And then I realized that I had grown up on Vogue magazine, the old Vogue, which was really her fantasy and, in a real way, was her.
Her behavior just was so legendary that to me she was almost like a character out of a fairy tale. And in that sense, she was a huge inspiration to me. Maybe not directly, but I just felt: what a charmed life to be able to see beauty, to work with beauty, to interpret, to be inspired by beauty every day. She was the perfect example of the kind of character that was always appealing to me. The idea of taking your passion for what inspires you and creating something new out of it - it’s what we do really. So in that respect she was very inspirational.
Diana Vreeland’s place in the history of twentieth-century fashion is amazing. She became an icon. She became both the archetype and the stereotype of what it means to be a fashion editor, to make these proclamations, to dismiss the old and announce the new. If you look at the movie Funny Face, for instance (which I’ve seen a million times), there is a character based on Diana Vreeland, who’s the sort to take the girl who works in the bookstore and elevate her to the cover girl of Vogue. And although it’s used for comic effect in the movie, it was really the sort of “fashion first” attitude they were talking about - the frivolity, the grandiosity, the decadence, hedonism, arrogance of fashion. I think all of that became kind of charming in Mrs. Vreeland’s hands.
I think no one has ever been like her. There have been many strong characters, but there’s never been another Diana Vreeland. Anna Wintour is certainly as strong an editor, if not a stronger editor, in her own way as Diana Vreeland was in hers. It’s up to each person to forge her individual path. I don’t think anyone should ever want to be “the next Diana Vreeland” in the way that she way. But I think the spirit of discovery, the celebration of something unique and new that feels very actual for the time you’re living in, that’s what makes a great editor. Mrs. Vreeland pioneered that kind of discovery and celebratory approach. And I think that it lives in every great editor. Whether it’s a love for rock and roll, a love for art, a love for culture, whether it’s a love for celebrity, a love for health. What it is - it’s this super, super voracious appetite that all great editors have, and that they then use to stimulate their own creativity.
That’s what she did with the images in this book. She used all these amazing images as a catalyst for her own creativity. There’s just so much in here. You can open to any page. I have in front of me, and I just opened to a page of Mick Jagger by Cecil Beaton. And again, that’s exactly what’s always thrilled me so much about Mrs. Vreeland: whether it was a dress or Mick Jagger’s lips - the sex appeal of Mick Jagger - she could see the beauty of the dress and the beauty of this rock star. She could see the newness of him, the same way she’d see the newness of a silhouette. There’s another picture, a photo of an eye-lift operation by Elliott Erwitt. I mean the foresight of seeing the importance of plastic surgery! I think that’s very indicative of Mrs. Vreeland’s ability to see something so far before anyone else. And it’s fascinating that she includes this is some ways gruesome image in a book about allure. Mick Jagger and the eye life are two good examples, two very different examples, of the paradoxical or perverse side of allure. Allure doesn’t have to be something pretty or attractive. It’s also something fascinating. Good or bad - you can’t look away.
There are so many wonderful people working today who possess the same kind of allure you see in this book. I tend to always reference people I know and have had relationships with, working relationships or friendships. I find contemporary artists such as John Currin, Elizabeth Peyton, Ed Ruscha, Jeff Koons, and Richard Prince to be terrifically alluring. And I find their art alluring. And then other creative people like Sofia Coppola - really so many people. I also find great allure in places like Paris, St. Bart’s, New York City, and London. There are many things I’ve experienced that have that allure that keeps me going back, keeps me listening or watching the work of these people. It is the same thing that keeps me interested in everything. I find it inspirational. It is the allure of people, places, and things that inspire me and my teams to do what we do.
I know that there are things in this book that might make some people sort of scratch their heads - but the thing is, I kind of get it. First of all, any book that someone edits or a collection of pictures is just like a collection of clothes: it’s her vision. That’s probably one of the greatest qualities Diana Vreeland had: vision. Nothing seems timid. It all seems right. Her voice and her vision were very, very clear. I could be totally wrong about this - but I don’t believe she was a very linear thinker. I think she was probably turned on by and inspired by many different things. And since I’m also a nonlinear thinker, I can understand that. I understand why one picture is next to the other, and I understand why they’re all included and why they’re all valid in one book from this woman. I think she trusted herself. To have that kind of trust was not just a whim, but a true impulse born of her sensibility. It’s so unapologetic. There’s nothing that requires an explanation. The reason these images are all alluring is because she believed them to be.