Hat Hair

The waiter will not leave us alone, it’s like he wants us to keep ordering shit. I mean, really? What more could we order - appetizers, main courses beverages and desserts have all been pushed down our throats (basically). Does he expect us to start from the beginning again? And why would we do that? It’s not like things aren’t already bad enough. What is the deal with this silence? The staring… oy! What else can I do? He is good in the eyes, but not a lot of content behind them. 

Conversations remain in the air, floating in space, like those three bouncing balls in the text-message field when someone is allegedly typing an answer…except the answer never comes. By the way, why is that? What happened to my answer? Did it mistakenly end up in someone else’s phone and now they’re really confused wondering if they had dinner plans at 8pm that they completely forgot about? Let’s hope they didn’t, because they’re NOT in for a treat. Anyway. Back to this thing… where to go from here? 

This is that turning point, where I basically know what’s gonna happen, and there are only two options, with one outcome. Option A is that I will go home with the boy, screw his eyeballs out and then never see him again, or option B; in which he plays the prude, goes home and I never see him again. Either way, the ultimate outcome is: I never see him again. That’s totally fine, after all, can you imagine raising kids with a non-talking being? That would be complicated. “Honey, did you feed the baby?”. Text-message bouncing balls. The horror! 

He is good to look at though. Those eyes just won’t stop staring, they’re big and translucent and bright, and I really wish they could talk to me. Those eyes actually feel very much alive, they feel as if they have so much to say. They could fill two slots of the David Letterman show. Not just one of those tiny in-between interviews he does with boring physicists who are releasing some boring book about saving the planet. No one cares about saving the planet, Al Gore knows all about that. Ask him! I mean, I care about saving the planet, but I just try not to be too scandalous about it. 

Oh my God, I just realized I think I left the stove on this morning! Shit I hope the cat didn’t burn to death! Oh my God, what does that mean in terms of killing the planet? Wait… gas doesn’t kill the planet… does it? Oh I should bail on this botched date and go turn the stove off, can you imagine the electric bill? I mean gas bill. Oh, who cares it’s al the same, it comes in a bundle and no one looks at that damn thing, it’s all in auto-pay. “oh, put it in auto-pay and we will give you a discount.”. Bullshit! I don’t think anyone has ever gotten anything from putting anything in auto-pay. I certainly didn’t. I haven’t checked either, but I am sure I haven’t. 

This is one of those cases, like when I go to the supermarket and I buy plums that look really pretty and purple and shiny and big. I imagine they’ll taste like a little piece of heaven, and I don’t check the price because, well, they’re plums! How expensive can fruit be, right? And then I get to the register and the lady rings up the plums and my six purple pieces of heaven add up to somewhere north of 40 dollars. For plums! I go crazy on her, it’s absurd! “Are these plums made of Gold?” I say - she just stares at me and says “I don’t know, you’re the one who put the plums in a bag and then in your shopping cart” all while raising those big fat eyebrows in a uniform motion with the shrug. Oh these people! And who reads signs anyways? Also, you should be able to just throw shit in a bag, scan everything with your phone and walk away, check out lines are the worst!

Oh my Godddd - he’s staring at me again. And the waiter is waiting. For WHAT? Oh, thank God, it’s the check, he is waiting for my signature! Somehow the check had magically been filled out with tip and everything, God bless. He went with option B, I can’t blame him, I had a bad case of hat hair tonight anyway, that’s what happens in the winter, you get hat hair and your dates are ruined by it. No one gets lucky in the winter, because of hat hair.

try

6:15
wake up and it feels strange
on the wrong side of the bed
coffee spill denotes nothing will change

time to try something different
wear clothes inside out

9:15
underestimated
undervalued
unapreciated
work sucks

time to try something different
put a smile on that frown

12:15
lunch is cold
scream for silence
turn the table 
make a fuss

time to try something different
burn the past
open the door to the future

time to try something different
forget insecurity

2:15
the clown is pursuing drama
that train left the station

time to try something different
time to make it new

4:15
fire the boss
yell at a deaf man
just to make sure

time to try something different
pack the bags with air
go on a mission

7:15
cat's out the window
let him go

time to try something different
wake up
shake up the world

Model by Day, Rocker by Night

SAINT LAURENT MODEL BY DAY, SUNFLOWER BEAN BAND MEMBER BY NIGHT, MODEL/MUSICIAN JULIA CUMMING IS ONE TO WATCH.

PHOTOGRAPHY BY HEDI SLIMANE DURING THE FITTING IN SEPTEMBER 2014 IN PARIS

INTERVIEW BY GABRIEL RUAS SANTOS-ROCHA

Despite having just graduated from high school, model Julia Cumming already has two seasons as a Saint Laurent exclusive under her belt. As if that wasn’t already a success story on its own, her Brooklyn-based band, Sunflower Bean, is a beacon of hope for old-fashioned rock-’n’-roll. Music has always come naturally to Cumming (her parents met in a band and her father taught her how to play bass), which is likely why Hedi Slimane was prompted to tear her away from the stages of Brooklyn to walk in his Paris runway shows. “It has been pretty amazing working with Saint Laurent,” Julia reported. “Hedi Slimane’s interest in supporting musicians who are starting out is really cool, and brings a different kind of genuine energy into the world of fashion.”

We talked with Cumming about rock in the digital era, her perceptive views regarding the state of the music industry—and why she might like to travel back in time to the mid ‘70s.

What’s your band’s creative process like? Do you start writing new songs while you’re touring or is there a special time for that?
“For me and Nick and Jacob, playing is our favorite thing in the world to do. So we play together every day—rehearsing and writing when we find parts we want to expand on. Nick usually brings in some riffs and we all work with them, turning it into a collaborative thing.”

The internet has been a great vehicle for your music. Do you intend to move into more traditional formats in the future? Shall we expect an “album”? Maybe even Vinyl?
“The Internet is a gift and a curse (I could talk for years about that), but there is something really special about a physical release. We intend to release our first EP in the beginning 2015, hopefully on vinyl.”

As a young artist in the music scene, how do you view the industry today?
“The music industry has changed so much in the age of online piracy, and I think it’s trying to figure out how to survive in a world where it’s almost impossible to profit off of record sales. It just means that if you’re trying to be a musician now. you really have to do it for the love of it, because the days of huge advances and tour buses are just gone. But everything moves in cycles, and you have to be thankful and excited for the moment you’re in. As long as I’m surviving and making art that I’m excited about, it’s all good.”

Did you have an idea of what the music industry would be like—how was your perception different from the reality of the job?
“Everything seems more glamorous than it is. The music industry is a business, and a business is a business is a business!”

The video clip for “2013” was shot entirely with iPhones—we’re interested in the concept!
“My friend Kyle Hiedacavage is a totally amazing artist who I’ve always admired, and we basically sent him the song and he came back to us with the concept for the video. He wanted to shoot it all on iPhone cameras, which was perfect because we had no budget. I bought a fog machine for 100 bucks, and we just went for it. I think Kyle’s interpretation was spot on. It captures the moment, the year, how we were feeling at the time, all while kind of speculating about the future.”

The thought behind “2013”, of science expanding life and changing things at a fast pace, is a bit daunting. Would you want to be able to extend your life to be 1,000 years old?
“I don’t think I would want to extend my life to be 1,ooo years old. I guess it depends on what the quality of life would be like. It’s also nice that you have this kind of short moment where you are alive, you know? It forces you to make the most of it, and to take chances.”

One of our favorite Sunflower Bean tracks is, “I want you to give me enough time.” We’re curious to know what it’s about!
“This song means something different to me than it does to my bandmates. I feel like it’s talking about audience members in Brooklyn that go to shows and make up their minds really quickly about bands without really listening long enough to form opinions.”

 Does music influence your sense of style, fashion-wise? What is the connection between the two, in your opinion?
“I’ve always loved glam rock… Acts like Gary Glitter and T-Rex have been my favorite since I was a little kid. I used to have a tape with Alice Cooper music videos that I watched over and over again until it broke. So those images are burned into my brain and have affected my whole life—my style included. I love going a little overboard and trying to find where elegance and over-the-top meet, especially on stage. I feel centered when I’m wearing an outfit that I love and one that represents myself.”

Is there a period in fashion that you’re more interested in?
“I don’t know if I could name just one period, but I obviously love the early-mid seventies. I used to say that if I could exist at any time I would like to be 16 in 1973, living in London.”

How did modeling come about for you? Had it always been a desire of yours?
“I think modeling is a kind of performance and a form of expression in a way. When I became interested in clothes as an early teenager, fashion imagery started to mean more to me. But I never really thought it was something I could end up actually being involved in.”

Can you compare the experiences of being on stage performing with your band versus walking in runway shows?
“Playing in a band on stage and walking in a runway show are very different. Fashion and music are definitely intertwined, but an art form like rock-’n’-roll offers total freedom, asking you to dress up the parts of you that are ugly and weird and you put them on display.”

Judging by the different avenues that you’ve pursued throughout the years, it seems that you’re not afraid to try new things.
“I love to try new things. You only get one chance in this world (at least until we find out if we can live to be 1,000). I just really enjoy making art and want to try to explore it all the ways I can.”

-------------------------------

Interview originally published on CR Fashionbook on Nov, 17th 2014 

Top Agent

The visionary Eileen Ford created in 1947 the concept of the modeling agency as we know it today. Tough and workaholic, the businesswoman, who passed away this past July at the age of 92, had only one regret: not signing Grace Kelly to her agency

By Gabriel Ruas Santos Rocha

The designer Yves Saint Laurent once said that “a good model can advance fashion ten years”, but a good modeling agency and managing skills have proven to advance an entire industry. Eileen Ford, who passed away, last July at the height of well lived 92 years was the sole creator of the modern day modeling agency. Mrs. Ford’s modeling agency went on to become the biggest modeling agency in the world, representing a roster populated by some of the most famous and recognizable women in the world. Cheryl Tiegs, Christy Turlington, Jerry Hall, Verushka, Naomi Campbell, Twiggy and Christie Brinkley were only a few in that lucky list.

It all began when Eileen was Pregnant and unable to find someone who would hire her. Mrs. Ford began assisting some of her friends who were models in the mid-40’s as their secretary. Eileen organized their schedules, negotiated jobs, chased after payments and by word of mouth became an agency, at a time when modeling agencies weren’t really established. Modeling wasn’t viewed as a serious profession and Eileen Ford helped evolve modeling from a mostly part-time, poorly paid hobby into one of the world’s most glamorous occupations, turning girls next door into multimillionaire celebrity supermodels. When Eileen’s husband, Jerry Ford, returned from war and resume his studies for business at Columbia University he found great potential in what his wife was doing. Jerry cemented the business and took care of the business while Eileen managed and scouted the girls. They were a perfect fit and became an instant hit.

In their first year, the Ford’s accumulated over 250 thousand dollars and by 1966 Forbes reported they were making an average of 100 thousand dollars per week, becoming the most successful agency in the business. That did not happen by chance. Ford had introduced the voucher system, which would guarantee models their earnings even if the client hadn’t yet paid the agency. Models at that time were paid by the hour, at very low fees. Eileen argued that models should earn their paychecks per day, type of work and according to the extent their images were exploited by the clients. This new practice was the page turner, influencing the way advertising works and remains today the lifeline of the business.

The typical Ford model was tall, thin and predominantly blond, with wide-set eyes, beautiful eyebrows and long neck. Very rarely her girls were shorter than 5’7 a cut-off height which luckily included the gap-toothed Lauren Hutton. Ms. Hutton became the highest paid model in the 70’s and alongside Evelyn Kuhn, one of the first two Revlon contract models. In a recent interview with Eileen, she corrected me: “That was not the first contract”! She was firm, and sharp, referring to Yardley’s of London. That was the first ever exclusive contract, designed by Eileen and Jerry so that a model, in this case the iconic Jean Shrimpton, would exclusively represent and endorse a specific brand, securing higher fees and better exposure.

Beauty however, was not everything. Ford demanded the highest level of professionalism from her models, putting them on strict diets and firing those with a taste for partying. Eileen famously used to say “Models are a business, and they have to treat themselves as a business.” Mrs. Ford took models in to live with her and her family, in her home and was adamant about having all the girls sit with the family at the dining table. Models were required to do chores around the house and go to bed at specific times in order to learn about professionalism and respect. “It was my first experience with a dishwasher” Monique adds, “I had no idea how much soap to use, it ended up in disaster, the foam reached all the way to the dining room” she completes with giggles. Anne Anka, then known Anne de Zogheb, recalls how disapproving Eileen was of her relationship with the singer Paul Anka, who she was married with for 38 years. “She thought, ‘Show business, that’s trouble’, but I think she eventually came around.”

Eileen’s hospitality was the first sign of model housing, now largely established for every agency across the world. At the time however, it was a way for her to keep a closer watch at her girls and make sure they were behaving according to good moral standards and staying away from harms way. Supermodel Renee Simonsen recalls “They took me in and made me a part of their family, and I know that the protection of Eileen saved me a lot of [bad] experiences in the modeling business, she was a tough lady with high moral standards, but she had a big heart”.

Ford reigned the industry alone until the late seventies, when the ‘model wars’ ensued with the insurgence of John Casablanca’s Elite and Wilhelmina Models. These were some of the agencies that came on strong, attacking and luring away some of Ford’s top talents. Eileen would not stand and let her business be taken from her. To her defectors, Mrs. Ford would send copies of the bible with passages about Judas highlighted in red.

It was again, time to innovate. She opened offices across the globe, from Europe to Brazil and soon enough established the first worldwide model search. The ‘Ford Supermodel of the World’, became the largest scouting network and modeling competition, making Ford the biggest agency on the planet.

With that, the supermodel factor was born and many successful models owe their careers to this model search. Victoria’s Secret Angels Adriana Lima and Chanel Iman as well as the actress Malin Ackerman and top models Elsa Benitez and Liliane Ferrarezi are probably the most recognizable names from that group. This vast scouting network helped Ford to branch out and establish a more global look.

Mrs. Ford might have been tough as nails, as some will say, but all who worked for her share their memories with fondness. “They were so nice and decent, like a big family; we shared our good times and also went through difficult times together” explains Patty Sicular, who worked for the Fords as an agent for over three decades and currently runs the Legends board at Trump Models, current agency to most of those iconic Ford models who left with Patty after Eileen departed the business for retirement in 1995. “If you worked with Eileen and Jerry you were on your toes, and as hard as we worked, Eileen and Jerry always worked harder, they were in the office when we arrived and still there when we left.” Concludes Mrs. Sicular. “Eileen wielded her power towards the electrician that came in to repair a light switch to the CEO of General Motors” recalls Ms. Beverly Johnson, “I had never seen a woman with that much power and it was intoxicating to my young mind. Eileen is responsible for shaping me into the celebrated fashion model and savvy business woman I am today.” Concludes Ms. Johnson, the first African American model to appear on the cover of American Vogue, in 1974, and today owner of a hair care line.

Ms. Johnson’s first interview with Eileen did not go well. “’Too fat’, those were the two first words Mrs. Ford said to me.” But Ms. Johnson was determined to join the most powerful modeling agency of the time and came back two weeks later, this time she was in. Eileen however didn’t always made the right choices. Among names that were rejected throughout the years, Marisa Berenson and Grace Kelly stand out – she admitted publicly later that not signing the future Princess of Monaco was her biggest professional failure.

--------------------------------------

This article appeared originally in Vogue Brazil, September 2014


According to Law & Order

All I knew about Brooklyn when I moved to New York from Brazil six years ago was that Brooklyn was, according to "Law & Order", a dangerous part of town with shootings and bodies dumped in the river. I also knew that Miranda (yes, from Sex and the City) once had to make the painful decision to move there in order to afford a better lifestyle for her child. Apparently, real estate was booming, she could buy an entire house for the price of a Manhattan shoe box and the neighborhood was really blossoming. That was what I knew, the little information that television had fed me.

That was certainly not what I found when I actually crossed the river for the first time. Let's face it, Brooklyn could be a scary place if you don't know your way around. "Could" being the operative word. What many people fail to realize is that Brooklyn is not a neighborhood, it's a borough, and it's an enormous one. Williamsburg alone is the most densely populated neighborhood in New York city, with over 135 thousand people. And that is only a small part of Brooklyn. This borough didn't used to be a part of New York City, Brooklyn was its own entity up until a century or so ago. If Brooklyn was still an independent city, it would most likely be one of the largest in the United States. 

The most gentrified portions of this borough look like Anywhere-Else, Manhattan; if you ask me, except with a very, very young and artsy crowd. This is not to set anyone apart, it's just a fact. After SoHo and the East Village kicked out their young artists due to rising real estate prices (lofts turned into luxurious apartments, among other things), this is where they came to rest. So yes, Brooklyn, or at least parts of it, became a refuge for New York newcomers, young families and artists of all different cultural walks of life.

And so it is, Williamsburg, being the closest neighborhood, right off the first stop of the L train, becomes expensive and gentrified and people once again flee further. Dumbo, Bed-Stuy, Park Slope, Greenpoint, Carroll Gardens are all other names that have become as regular as SoHo and Chelsea in day to day conversations. It's the nature of the beast, the never ending evolution of the city that never sleeps. All along Bedford Avenue, Havemeyer, Metropolitan and Roebling you see the signs of change. From one month to the next, the store front that was empty gives place to a 16 Handles, a Walgreens or a bespoke tailor shop. The thing about Brooklyn though, is that somehow years later, it still retains some of it's original character. Whether it’s the old cobble stone streets in which Truman Capote used to take walks on, in Brooklyn Heights or the ever changing skyline of Manhattan, once depicted so brilliantly in “Moonstruck”; it’s all still there.

The place in which Barbra Streisand was born now may be the home for Winona Ryder, Mary Louise Parker or Maggie Gylenhall. The same streets in which Woody Allen have walked on have evolved and are now home to fancy restaurants which attract Manhattanites who would normally never be caught in another borough unless it was to go to the airport. The latest in a string of many, is the Italian nuveau cousine Antica Pesa, which has been known to attract Madonna and Harvey Weinstein. Roebling Tea Room is however, still one of the gems of the area; great food, proper portions, fair price and all of it in a very chilled out setting. But don't be fooled, there are many other restaurants to explore. 

If your taste is for farm to table, organic, gluten free (very specific) pizza, then Wild is your spot, and it does not disappoint. If all you need is a sandwich to kick starvation, then run to the newly opened The Sandwich Shop; there, the Tokyo Breakfast Sandwich or The Mexican are quite popular. At Reynard, the fabulous food is hosted in a great room that includes an indoor/outdoor garden with an option for a communal table. If you thought this proposition could not be cooler, think again. Reynard is a part of the super hip Whythe Hotel, with rooms that have some of the most beautiful views of New York City and a rooftop bar that really lights up at dusk.

The lively local scene is not only on swanky hotel rooftops. Not too far from the edge of the neighborhood is Brooklyn Brewery; Brooklyn's own beer brand, and a very popular too. Easy to find in almost any tap all across New York. If you're feeling adventurous, why not take a tour of their facilities and drink a pint with your friends at the end? From there, a great way to continue the night exploration is to head to one of the local music venues. Williamsburg Music Hall, Union Hall and The Rock Shop are some of the main venues in Brooklyn that have launched many bands into stardom, including Grizzly Bear, Tanlines and Sleigh Bells.

The Nitehawk Cinema is the place I look for when I am craving a midnight session of classics like Scarface or Trainspotting on the big screen. All that movie action takes place while chomping down some food and drinks, served by a friendly wait staff. That's cool, and you can only find it in Brooklyn. What's also cool is going to Brooklyn Bowl, to bowl and drink and listen to quality live music, which depending on the day, could be salsa, or classical; you take your pick.

Another local specialty gem is the Mast Brothers Chocolate factory. This local staple makes delicious dark chocolate unlike anything you've tasted before. Exported to hundreds of Manhattan retailers who crave their beautifully wrapped delicacies, some of the most popular flavors include Sea Salt Chocolate and Spicy Chocolate.

It was also in Brooklyn that I rediscovered one of my favorite daytime activities: the flea market. That's one thing I "knew" before I moved here; I knew Brooklyn had great flea markets. But where to find them? Well, my favorite outdoor choices are the Fort Greene Flea, or once the spring hits, I like to head over to the Williamsburg Waterfront to enjoy the Williamsburg Flea Market on Sundays. At that same spot however, you can enjoy the taste-bud tantalizing “open air restaurant” concept of the Smorgasburg on Saturdays, which honestly, is a top weekend choice.

My idea of Brooklyn thankfully has evolved. Since I moved here I have come to see Brooklyn as it really is. Here is a place filled with diversity and options for entertainment. And if the Central Park is the lung of Manhattan, then here you will find the breathtaking lusciousness of Prospect Park. The island of Manhattan exists gigantic in its microcosmos, while Brooklyn vibrates in constant and unexpected evolution. My vision of Brooklyn is no longer that limited idea created by television. My source of information today comes from my own experiences, in which every corner, every week, equals the opportunity to encounter a world of new possibilities.

------------------------------

Article appeared in Onne Magazine, October 2014

Pioneering an Industry

Many things have been said about modeling agencies over the years, but what most people don’t know is that it took one woman to create an entire industry. Eileen Ford, who passed away last July at the height of well lived 92 years, created along with her husband, the late Jerry Ford, the modern day modeling agency. Mrs. Ford’s modeling agency went on to become the biggest modeling agency in the world, representing a roster populated by some of the most famous and recognizable women in the world. Cheryl Tiegs, Christy Turlington, Kristen McMenamy, Jerry Hall, Verushka, Naomi Campbell, Twiggy and Christie Brinkley were only a few in that lucky list. Many of Eileen’s creations, whether they were models, beauty standards or forms of conducting business, remain in practice today. “Eileen Ford always made me think of the Queen of England… The fashion business was her Royal Court.” Shares Veronica Webb, one of Ford’s most successful models; who adds “She was a great businesswoman who created a dynasty.”

 

And the dynasty commenced when Eileen was Pregnant and unable to find employmemt. Mrs. Ford began assisting some of her friends who were models in the mid-40’s as their secretary. Eileen organized their schedules, negotiated jobs, chased after payments and by word of mouth became an agency, at a time when modeling agencies weren’t really established. “There were model agencies, but one of the owners would go to jail, and I thought a different kind of agency was needed – one you could trust” She told an interviewer in 1988. In the 40’s modeling wasn’t viewed as a serious profession and Eileen Ford helped evolve modeling from a mostly part-time, poorly paid hobby into one of the world’s most glamorous occupations, turning girls-next-door into celebrity supermodels. When Eileen’s husband, Jerry Ford, returned from war and resume his studies for business at Columbia University he found great potential in what his wife was doing. Jerry formalized the agency and took care of the business while Eileen managed and scouted the girls.

 

By 1966 Forbes reported they were making an average of 100 thousand dollars per week, becoming the most successful agency in the business. Ford introduced the voucher system, which would guarantee models their earnings even if the client hadn’t yet paid the agency. Girls were getting paid within sixty days after their jobs now, when before, they would not see their money until sometimes a year later, if they were lucky.

 

At that time girls were paid by the hour, at very low fees. Eileen argued that models should earn their paychecks per day, type of work and according to the extent their images were exploited by the clients. This new practice was the page turner, influencing the way advertising works and remains today the lifeline of the business.

 

Eileen Ford had an eye for what the industry clamored for. Ford Model Sheila Finn explains “When I walked in the [Ford] office for the first time, Eileen told me that in six months I would make enough money to pay for a Jaguar in cash”. And Mrs. Ford was right, as Ms. Finn went to become one of the most successful models in the 60’s. Eileen had the uncanny ability to see beyond the pretty girl who stood in front her and envision a star, it was her part to turn the plain girl into that phenomenon she envisioned. And she always did. She defined what the standards of beauty should be like based on what she believed to be the best form for a model. The typical Ford model was tall, thin and predominantly blond, with wide-set eyes, beautiful eyebrows and long neck. Evelyn Kuhn, one of the first two exclusive Revlon contract models, alongside Lauren Hutton is proof of that vision. “This contract changed and educated the whole industry” claims Ms. Kuhn. However, Revlon was not the first contract ever created; that was Yardley’s of London, created so that a model could exclusively represent and endorse a specific brand, securing higher fees and better exposure. Those contracts, created by the Fords, became and remain the most sought after deals in the industry by any model. The Revlon’s of today can be found in established brands such as Estee Lauder, Lancome, L’Oreal and most famously, the lingerie behemoth Victoria’s Secret. If you are a model and have a contract, you know you made it.

 

Eileen Ford demanded the highest level of professionalism from her models, putting them on strict diets and firing those with a taste for partying. Mrs. Ford took models in to live with her and her family at her home and was adamant about having all the girls sit with the family at the dining table. Models were required to do chores around the house and go to bed at specific times in order to learn about professionalism and respect. “It was my first experience with a dishwasher” Monique Chevallier explains, “I had no idea how much soap to use, it ended up in disaster, the foam reached all the way to the dining room” she completes with giggles.

 

Eileen’s hospitality was the first sign of model housing, now largely established for every agency across the world. At the time however, it was a way for her to keep a closer watch at her girls and make sure they were behaving according to good moral standards and staying away from harms way. Supermodel Renee Simonsen recalls “They took me in and made me a part of their family, and I know that the protection of Eileen saved me a lot of [bad] experiences in the modeling business, she was a tough lady with high moral standards, but she had a big heart”.

 

For several decades Eileen Ford represented the world’s most prominent models and raised the profile of the business, which also became a recruiting ground for Hollywood. Since the 50’s with Suzy Parker all the way through the 90’s, Ford launched the careers of some of the most successful actresses of today. Kim Basinger, Rene Russo, Brooke Shields, Sharon Stone and Ali MacGraw are some of the most successful cases, in which high profile modeling careers leveraged an even greater acting career.

 

Ford reigned the industry alone until the late seventies, when the ‘model wars’ ensued with the insurgence of John Casablanca’s Elite and Wilhelmina Models. These were some of the agencies that came on strong, attacking and luring away some of Ford’s top talents. Eileen would not stand and let her business be taken from her. It was again, time to innovate. She opened offices across the globe, from Europe to Brazil and soon enough established the first worldwide model search. The ‘Ford Supermodel of the World’, became the largest scouting network and modeling competition, making Ford the biggest agency on the planet.

 

With that, the supermodel factor was born and many successful models owe their careers to this model search. Victoria’s Secret Angels Adriana Lima and Chanel Iman as well as the actress Malin Ackerman are probably the most recognizable names from that group. This vast scouting network helped Ford to branch out and establish a more global look. Before that time there were only a shy few models that stood out, including Naomi Sims, Dalma Callado and Beverly Johnson, who became the first African American on the cover of Vogue. Ms. Johnson used to spend most of her time in between castings at the Ford office, observing everything. “I had never seen a woman with that much power and it was intoxicating to my young mind. Eileen is responsible for shaping me into the celebrated fashion model and savy business woman I am today” Ms. Johnson explains.

 

All who worked for Eileen share their memories with fondness. “They were so nice and decent, like a big family; we shared our good times and also went through difficult times together” explains Patty Sicular, who worked for the Fords as an agent for over three decades and currently runs the Legends board at Trump Models, current agency to most of those iconic Ford models who left with Patty after Eileen departed the business for retirement in 1995. “If you worked with Eileen and Jerry you were on your toes, and as hard as we worked, Eileen and Jerry always worked harder, they were in the office when we arrived and still there when we left.” Concludes Mrs. Sicular.

“They always say, ‘How did you make it as a woman?’” Eileen shared in an interview to the newspaper Women’s Wear Daily in 2010. “I never had any trouble doing anything as a woman. I did it because I had to, and it worked.”

 

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Originally published in Harper's Bazaar Thailand, September 2014

8 Teenage Films Inspired by Literature Classics

If you’re a film buff like me and an enthusiast of your teenage decade (like most people are), what do you do on a rainy weekend? Do you pull out a Shakespeare classic for a light read or do you dust off that old DVD from your collection for an afternoon on the couch with some snacks? If you went with the latter, you’re probably part of the 85% (totally made this percentage up, but seems about right) who would do the same. Here’s your perfect excuse (if you needed one) for some guilty-pleasure teen movie watching: films inspired by literature classics. This is a great way to get the best of both worlds. I took the liberty to expand a bit and included not only films from the 90’s - my decade - but some other gems that spilled out into the early 2000’s. Enjoy!

 

1. “Cruel Intentions” (Roger Kumble, 1999)

Inspired by: Dangerous Liaisons, Pierre Choderlos de Laclos

 

By far, my favorite film in this list. Sarah Michelle Gellar – a.k.a. “Buffy” (to me, at least), stars in this adaptation of the French classic alongside Reese Witherspoon, Ryan Phillippe (swoon) and Selma Blair. The plot of the movie revolves around two stepsiblings who get a kick out of manipulating people and toying with their feelings. In the original piece, it’s a couple of ex-lovers who heat up the French aristocracy. If you want to take a step further, also watch the 1988 film “Dangerous Liaisons” which remains one of my favorite films of all time.

 

Side note: The soundtrack of “Cruel Intentions” also remains a staple in my music library, definitely worth a trip to iTunes in case you never listened to it. In my opinion, it’s a landmark of that time.

 

2. “She’s All That” (Robert Iscove, 1999)

Inspired by: Pygmalion, George Bernard Shaw

 

There was a time in which the definitive teen heartthrob was Freddie Prinze Jr. Girls wanted to date him and boys wanted to copycat him (to get the girls). The plot here is simple: Zack, your average jock, places a bet with his friends that he can turn Loney – the school nerd – into a hot dateable chick. Of course he ends up falling victim to his own tricks, much like Henry Higgins, in ‘Pygmalion’. This play was also the inspiration for the movie “My Fair Lady”, starring Audrey Hepburn

 

3. “Easy A” (Will Gluck, 2010)

Inspired by: The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne

 

Not only is this awesome movie inspired by The Scarlet Letter, but it also makes use of it in the plot: the book is part of the school’s syllabus. In the movie, as in the book, our lead character is humiliated and accused of being too… open minded.

 

4. “10 Things I Hate About You” (Gil Junger, 1999)

Inspired by: The Taming of the Shrew, William Shakespeare

 

This movie single handedly elevated Heath Ledger to superstardom. Here, Ledger brings life to Patrick, the rebellious school kid who’s every girl’s crush. In this loose interpretation of “The Taming of the Shrew” the heart of the story remains the same. Bianca is in love and wants to start dating, but is not allowed until her temperamental older sister kicks her love life into gear. A fun film to watch on any lazy day, and it never gets old.

 

5. “Clueless” (Amy Heckerling, 1995)

Inspired by: Emma, Jane Austen

 

I bet you didn’t see this one coming. Believe it or not, “Clueless” came straight from the pages of a Jane Austen book into the streets of Beverly Hills. There were some serious adaptations to make the story fit the 90’s, but the basic plot remains the same: a rich spoiled girl who loves to get involved in match making. Many names of the original Jane Austen book were used in this classic 90’s movie.

 

6. “She’s The Man” (Andy Fickman, 2006)

Inspired by: Twelfth Night, William Shakespeare

 

When Sebastian goes to London, his twin sister Viola takes the opportunity to dress like her brother and replace him in their new school, all of that in order to fulfill her dream of playing soccer with the boys. In Shakespeare’s original story, Viola loses her brother when their ship sinks and pretends to be a man in order to get help. The Duke asks for her (his) assistance to confess his love to Olivia, but it all goes wrong. Olivia falls in love with Viola (dressed as a man, obviously), and Viola falls in love with the Duke. Sounds like something I’d get myself into.

 

7. “Romeo + Juliet” (Baz Luhrmann, 1996)

Inspired by: Romeo & Juliet, William Shakespeare

 

This is the most literal adaptation in this list. The only difference is that even though the film retains the original dialogs and a lot of the poetic language, here the story is given a much more vibrant setting, in the streets of the 90’s; ridden with gangs, guns, drugs and wild parties. The chemistry between Leo DiCaprio and Claire Danes is effervescent and remarkable and made us all dream of having a love affair as intense theirs was.

 

8. “Get Over It” (Tommy O’Haver, 2001)

Inspired by: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, William Shakespeare

 

In the classic Shakespeare play, four teenagers get wrapped up in a love ‘square’, thanks to the magical works of faeries and elves. Here the magical beings are set aside and the film focuses on one of the parallel plots from the original play. The reference becomes more evident when all four leads, including Kirsten Dunst’s character, take part in their school’s play, which is, roll drums… “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”.

 

Ladies & Gents: Interview with Leilani Bishop

Leilani Bishop is a household name in the modeling industry. In the nineties she became known as that healthy, smiley, surfer girl that had the all American look which the all American designers had been looking for, for so long. She became a hit in campaigns for brands such as Tommy Hilfiger and graced the pages and covers of magazines such as Vogue and Allure. The model broke boundaries and even graced the cover of the top selling record Live Through This, by the grunge band Hole, fronted by none other than Courtney Love.


After enjoying years in the spotlight, traveling around the world and collecting experiences as a model, Leilani moved back home, to her native Hawaii, where she had the bright and unique idea of starting her own line of fragrances. Unlike most famed models, Leilani took the longer route, built the company from scratch, over much work and investigation.


Leilani Bishop Fragrances is now an established and unique business in a somewhat overcrowded industry. But that doesn’t seem to worry the model turned fragrance “designer”, she’s as calm about her business as she’s always been about her career as a model. Bishop tackles one task at a time, with an ease that can only be credited to a Hawaiian upbringing. Here, the entrepreneur shares a little of her story with us.



What brought you to the idea of creating your own fragrance line, versus putting your name on a mass-produced product, like most top models and celebrities have been doing lately?


I wanted to own and create something, I love to be involved and like being able to have a say in every aspect; control freak or entrepreneur, it is a fine line! I also wanted to capitalize on my own image and persona instead of yet again representing someone else's company, and wanted to do it on my terms so if it worked I could build a company around the line.


How complicated was it to get from the idea to the actual development of a product? 


    It took longer then I thought it would. I also learned a lot about myself and the way I operate. I have streamlined myself quite a lot from the minute I started this project 8 years ago. I am much more efficient, but still was not easy breaking into a world that is very traditional in the way it operates.


I did some research on oil fragrances and it doesn't seem like there are many, if any, of known brand options available, most known brands opt for alcohol based, spray fragrances. The companies that do make oil scents don't have an appealing image and seem to try to mimic other known brand scents. Even though the idea to use oil as a fragrance is not a new concept; your entire concept is certainly innovative. From the bottle, to the roll-on, to the idea of making oil fragrances a more appealing and elegant item. Did you feel that lacking I mentioned and did those factors contribute in your decision making?


     Yes! All of those aspects were a huge part of what motivated me in my decision-making. I am slightly obsessed with the Victorian age, every little thing they used down to toothpicks were elegant and made of beautiful materials. I wanted a woman to have an experience not only with the scent but with the entire image the item represents, from the beauty of the package to the sensation of rolling it on and the clean light scent of the oil.


How extensive was your research when putting together the concepts for your company and about how much time did it take you from the first time you had the idea to your actual first bottle of your own fragrance?


    It was an extensive process that spanned from start to launch seven years. I was living in Hawaii when I conceptualized the idea and so that was probably why it had a slow start. It took a while to break into the trade side of everything as it is a small industry and not many cater to small companies. I did not do much research as to what was wanted or needed though; only research on how things were executed.


In your website you teach the customer how to apply your fragrance. One would think that wearing perfume would not require instructions, but after reading the points you make in the website we wonder how could we have gone all these years without that knowledge. Where did you learn such information and was this an important differential fact you wanted to offer your customers?


    It was a conversation that came about between me and a girl that was working with me, Piper. We were discussing the differences of oil versus spray, pros and cons, and the act of rubbing your wrist together came up. Piper has extensive perfume background and has worked at big perfume houses and she enlightened me on that myth; "rubbing it in" is really destroying the fragrance. It got me interested and so we thought the consumer should be enlightened as well have a sensibility about the elegance of wearing fragrance and how, if applied incorrectly can ruin the experience entirely!  Also if applied correctly can provide fun and intrigue from start to finish!


I know you took inspiration from sensorial memory to create these three scents. Are you interested in releasing more scents in the future and perhaps even expand to men's fragrances too?

        

    Yes, I will be releasing more scents, these too will have sensorial memory but of a different vein, and yes I would love to develop a men’s scent. My husband keeps bugging me so it will happen for sure, I’m just not sure when.


Being a top model I am sure you are always aware of the latest fashion trends and how those ebb and flow over the years. Are there "fragrance trends"? And if so, would you be influenced by them in your business?

     

    Yes, there are definitely fragrance trends and since I am always reading and curious about other businesses and want to know what is working, I am sure I am probably influenced. Yet, I have in my mind several ideas for future products and do not really care if they are "on trend" as I am confident in my Brand.


You are currently working with single note scents; have you given thought to adding elements to those or combining new ingredients for future products? Or is the single note an important part of your company's mission statement?  

        

    Single not scents are not part of my mission statement, yet they are the foundation of the company, I believe. I will definitely be mixing scents though and actually am doing a project that will be out next fall, which will combine a couple of my favorite scents.


Can you give us a hint of what that project entails?

This is a candle/scent project I am doing for a new boutique hotel in South Beach, which will be opening in the Fall of 2014.


What do you feel, differentiates you the most from the other major fragrance lines? What makes you proud about your product?


    It is a niche product that feels more like a high end fragrance brand, I love that it stands on it's own and does not feel mass produced, it has a unique quality that intrigues people before they even get to the scent as well as being Made in America. I could go on...I am so proud of my product.


How did your modeling career influence your business?

    

    Do you mean did the contacts I made help??  For sure, I love being able to work within my industry and be supported by those I admire. [It is] such an amazing feeling. Also being self-employed all my life gave me the hustle I needed to start my own business.


Would you consider "designing" a fragrance for a big name brand in your own standards of making perfume?


    Absolutely...would be great to have those resources to work with!


Where would you like to see your company in ten years from now?


    I would like to have expanded my fragrance line to include more oils and high-end fragrances that include special projects and collaborations with artists as well as adding a line of skin/beauty products including candles and perhaps even a small capsule collection to go with each season. Ten percent of the net will go towards supporting women and special projects.

Unusual Names and Number One Hits

Madonna and Lady Gaga occupy colossal space in the cultural spectrum.  One is named after a saint, the other after a Queens song.  Few would question the impact these artists have had on pop music and, frankly, like Prince and others before them, their high-octane names can’t hurt their evolutionary power.  So, why can’t these women get along?   

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Both of them have been the topic of a much discussed feud.  The first one, a staple in pop culture for over 30 years.  The second one, a more ambiguous but equally explosive presence in the pop scene.  But let’s fact it: Madonna is a tough act to follow.  While Madge is the reigning Queen of Pop, there seems to be a general consensus that Lady Gaga is after her throne.  Whether a dethroning is underway or not is not the point. Their unique and explosive impact on our lives makes them kindred artistic spirits. 

Madonna is a tough act to follow because she ignited conversations many moons ago, and has continued to do so year after year. Raising awareness to hot topics like women’s rights, gay rights, political and religious freedom, and among many other things, above all, freedom to express yourself, in any way you’d like; Madonna pushed buttons.  From the start, Madonna climbed to the top of pop culture’s Pantheon and there was no argument, she was a phenomenon, she was the Queen of Pop.

Decades later, when Lady Gaga came on the scene, she was too admittedly greatly influenced by the works of the pop diva.  But there hadn’t been anything as fresh and groundbreaking as Madonna in all that time. There hadn’t been anyone willing to expose their creative insanity in order to ignite controversy, bust open taboos, and once again challenge tired social mores. 

And even though Madonna’s fan base is huge, there are new kids on the block (no pun intended) who have no concept of what the material girl has done for them, kids who don’t understand the difficult fights she was instigating.  Somehow, she made it unscathed.  But she was the first one, and perhaps that is why she was able to push the envelope every time and still come out a winner on the other side.  She was selling records and concerts, but she was also changing lives along the way.

Like Madonna, Lady Gaga aims to reach a wider audience, even though it doesn’t seem like her work translates as well.  Her approach at times too far out and on the verge of desperation, she seems to be stuck within her “monsters”, the majority of them members of the LGBT community, like me.  But she is, unquestionably, breaking new ground, blowing apart boundaries and educating an entirely new generation.  Let’s hope her monster base expands along with her message.  

Elton John greatly criticized Madonna, instigating brawls in the media.  But why?  What is the goal of this man, who did too, revolutionized thoughts and invited discussions.  Shouldn’t he know better and just let artists do what they do best, and let them continue to create thought provoking work in whatever way they please?  And I will go even further now.  If there is a feud between Madonna and Lady Gaga, shouldn’t the two of them also know better?  It’s not about who came first or who is the Queen of Pop, but it’s about their work and the message they are trying to convey.

Even though many will argue that we should not have to deal with a “message” and just be able to enjoy the music and have fun, there is still a message. The goal of these women is in great part to affect change, to make people think in a broader spectrum and to open their minds to different possibilities; each of these women in essence have proclaimed these same goals.  They talk about inclusion and acceptance of others, so why aren’t they more accepting of each other, since they are both working towards the same objectives?

Madonna will not lose her throne. Lady Gaga will eventually have to refresh and find new ways, because the regurgitation of ideas passed will get tired. Madonna has remained a staple in the cultural consciousness because she so cleverly reinvented herself and addressed topics from different perspectives.  She has kept it fresh.  Along the way, she made it possible for me and many other people I know to be who we are and to be proud and vocal about it, with no fear of consequences.  Lady Gaga’s staying power remains to be seen.  Each generation needs its muse and it is in this spirit of cultural evolution that I sincerely hope Lady Gaga has the same lasting impact on the new kids that Madonna has had on me.

There is still a long way to go in this world, but it’s greatly because of people like Madonna and Lady Gaga that we are able to evolve openly and accept each other as beautiful and flawed human beings that we are.

 

Master Class

It is pure delight to listen to someone very accomplished share their life experiences. That is why an old episode of Oprah’s Master Class really interests me. The other night I was struck by something that was said on that show. It was not a novel idea or something that I didn’t already know, but something I hadn’t really heard so clearly said by someone so successful, like Goldie Hawn. The main point was that we should always pay it forward, no matter how much or how little we have in life. We each have our blessings, in different shapes and forms. That was it. Simple concept, right?

 

What went on to be discussed, and what I pondered extensively, was that most people in the world today are obsessed with their own lives. It’s all about “will I get a promotion? Where can I park my car? How can I cross the street faster? How can I make more money?” So on, and so forth. People spend a great deal of time obsessing about how to get ahead, rather then actually doing something that’s good for the person standing next to them or to the world as a whole.

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In the movie Pay It Forward (Warner Bros. 2000), a young boy comes up with a concept that for every generous act done to him, he must pay forward with three generous acts to three different people, and tell each one of them, to do the same for three others. A simple concept that could make peoples lives that much better and as a ripple effect create a psychic change in entire communities and then possibly in the world. Somehow that concept did not catch on.

 

Most people make lame excuses instead of paying forward. “I don’t make enough money to make donations, why should I give money to this cause when it’s the government’s job to take care of this issue?” And it goes on, one after the next. But the point here is not how much money can you give back, or how much time you have to dedicate to doing volunteer work; it’s how do you behave in society, in your daily life? How do your daily actions affect the world that surrounds you? And then maybe, depending on who you are, what job you have and how much money you make, what type of bigger contributions can you make to the betterment of the world?

 

I have worked with many successful models and artists in the entertainment industry. Over the years I have come across many generous souls who have contributed to a plethora of causes. I have also met many who simply go through life as if it was a party, with no consequences and no interest in doing anything for anyone else. One of my most inspiring muses is one of my most loyal clients, a successful model who has always worked extremely hard for obtaining success. Proportionally at the same time, this girl has always taken a portion of her time (and her earnings) to apply towards charity, volunteer work and political lobbying to change the roots of the problems. Her goal, from the very start, when nobody knew her name, was to achieve fame so that she could leverage change. She had made a conscious decision that if she was going to give up university to a life of globetrotting under the spotlight, then it better be worth it. She has, to some extent, accomplished all that.

 

The story illustrates that we must always give back. We must always pay it forward, in any scale that we can. It’s from those little acts, of holding the elevator to the person who is running a little behind to making a five dollar donation to a homeless shelter (or whatever else interests you) or giving a lecture on what you’re an expert on to those who wish to learn. A little help goes a long way in our world today. 

 

People who give something back and share their fortunes with the world, generally live a much happier and fuller life. What I didn’t know when I was younger and I know now, is that by giving myself to others I find real fortune. Happiness lives in honest altruism. The idea that I could go through life not giving anything in return for all the good that came to me is daunting. 

 

My dreams truly blossomed and concretized after I started giving myself away to others and also discovered I could learn and let my life be enriched by each and every one of these encounters. There is so much we can learn from day to day life, but it takes an open mind to see it and an open heart to understand it.

 

The real master class is not on Oprah Winfrey’s network, it is all around us.

 

 

From Grit to Glam

Not that long ago the Meatpacking District, a web of cobble stoned streets, was the sole source of meat products for New York businesses – whole skinned cows and other animals literally hung from hooks on the streets.  Fueled by crack, in the evening the area became a lurid labyrinth of pathways and hiding places for transsexual prostitutes seeking an extra buck or two.  The merchandise of the morning wasn't that different from what was available in the evening; meat in large quantities for a low rate.

Around that same time West Chelsea, a sea of empty warehouses and abandoned industrial businesses, had little but the Roxy, a drug-fueled gay disco, and dirty streets.  Then came the art galleries and real estate developers.  Then came Films, fashion shoots and TV shows, like Sex and the City, which made a walk through hookers and junkies to get to a lofty apartment seem rather glamorous.  Once again, fashion and film forge the founding of the latest hot neighborhoods.

Since the early development of the High Line, the now famous park that occupies abandoned railroad tracks and that cuts through these two now visually striking neighborhoods, these   Summoning the expertise of the word-famous designers and architects; fancy hotels, galleries, residences and restaurants sprouted deep roots in the area. One after the other, block-by-block, cleaning up what was once a secluded and blighted area – a true real estate metamorphosis has occurred.

 The focal point of the area is the The Standard.  From the top of this sleek and sexy hotel, New York City looks like a playground.  You can sip drinks among Marc Jacobs, Alessandra Ambrosio, Lorenzo Martone and Anna Wintour, while gazing down at Diane Von Furstenberg’s glass-encased loft apartment - one that has become a New York landmark, much like the designer has become a fashion legend.  Rumor has it that in the morning you can spot Ms. Furstenberg having breakfast while still in her nightgown, sitting in her dining room, which stands underneath an impressive diamond shaped glass dome.

The Standard however, is not only famous for it’s penthouse bar, but also for its pool parties, which are now a second club, known as Le Bain.  There, you can simply undress and enjoy the evening while sipping drinks in the pool in the company of local luminaires like Terry Richardson and Paz de la Huerta.

The seductive nightlife of the big apple is not complete however without two of the most popular nightclubs in town: Avenue and 1 Oak.  It was at Avenue that Lindsay Lohan allegedly got in a fight with the blonde Tiffanny Mitchell over The Wanted’s Max George. The brawl resulted in yet another arrest for Lindsay, who once again denied everything.  Lohan somehow managed to get herself back in that club even after being banned after some indiscreet tweets about Justin Timberlake.  At 1 Oak, the scene is less dramatic, but never less flashy.  Rihanna has been known to celebrate a couple of her album launches at the spot alongside fellow musicians like Jay-Z. It was also at 1 Oak that Donald Trump held a bash to celebrate his modeling agency’s fashion week success.

With the rich and famous, fashion comes hand in hand, and the area does not disappoint.  From the Meatpacking District all the way up among the galleries, a cadre of some of the most exclusive designers in the world have set up shop in the vicinity.  Balenciaga, Comme des Garcons, Alexander McQueen, Yigal Azrouel, Moschino, Helmuth Lang, Tory Burch, Christian Louboutin, Maison Martin Margiela and Carlos Miele are only a few of the shops worth visiting.  For a unique experience, why not try the department store Jeffrey’s, which has one of the most renowned shoe departments in town.   Or, stop by a Scoop sale for fancy jeans and hip t-shirts.  After all, a good designer bargain is never a bad idea!

Since most of the shopping is done by foot, a stop to refuel the energies seems more than called for.  Whether it’s for a lunch, a mid-day snack or a celebratory dinner, some of New York’s most celebrated restaurants are in the area; the menus here no doubt indulge any palate.  From a good steak at the biergarten of The Standard Grill to the innovative Thai Cuisine of Sea you can find it all.  At Pastis you can have French and at Buddakan you can have Chinese.  But if the mood is for some American contemporary all you got to do is take a walk up 10th Avenue to try the tasteful delights of The Cookshop. If a simple slice of pizza is what’s called for, don’t you worry, because Artichoke Pizza is right around the corner with its award winning pies.

The most important part of this area remain – sometimes secreted - within the giant warehouse spaces, which once used to host heavy machinery, grains and pieces of meat and now have given room for multi-million dollar pieces of art.

The art galleries of the area remain the heart of the cultural trading life in this city. The Gagosian Gallery, David Zwirner and Pace Gallery are among some of the most important outposts for art in the world.  Representing artists like Jeff Koons, Cindy Sherman, Cy Twombly, Francis Bacon, Julian Schnabel, Roe Ethridge, Dan Flavin, Chuck Close, Willem De Kooning, Pablo Picasso and Ed Ruscha, these galleries are an international force.  Put on your walking boots and allow yourself to go from door to door in every block between 9th and 11th avenues from 19th street all the way up to 27th and experience contemporary art, free of charge, like nowhere else.

Even though this may not be the most celebrated neighborhood for its residences, some of the most famous people you know now reside here.  Whether it’s in the classic London Terrace or in the ultra modern glass buildings by Richard Meier, Jean Nouvel or Shigeru Ban; a fascinating residential occupation took place over the last decade. This neighborhood currently hosts names like Nicole Kidman, Julianne Moore, Hugh Jackman, Olivia Wilde and Katie Holmes, all of which can be seen calmly strolling around at any given time during the day or the night.

The most remarkable and breathtaking feature this area still holds true – the Hudson River, which bathes the west side of Manhattan in full splendor.  To sit at a bench on the Highline and watch the sunset from above is one of the most rewarding and relaxing activities one can choose to do at the end of a day.  And believe me, many New Yorkers do, why don’t you give it a try too?
A Bite off the Big Apple

New York is a glamorous and gritty maze of dichotomy: from the Chanel-suit-wearing ladies of Park Avenue to the leather-wearing divas of downtown, there is huge gap.  The cultural (and financial) divide between the creative caldron that resides in Brooklyn and the refined and established richness of the West Village is increasingly apparent.  From Harlem to the Upper West Side, the distance is not long, but the differences are vast.

This complex labyrinth of opposites actually propels the machinery of the city and is, in fact, what makes New York City great.  New Yorkers remain creative, independent and powerful as always, continuously imbibed with the alchemy generated from its diverse population. This population, unlike any other I’ve seen, exudes camaraderie, compassion and colossal creativity.

Most New Yorkers have their favorite neighborhood and mine is SoHo.  From my abode I can observe all the greatness of this cosmic collection of counter culture.  Thousands of tourists walk these streets daily, searching for bargains on products not found in their native land.  Locals, who vie for sidewalk space, have learned to live in the midst of chaos.  Adding to the mix, are street vendors, paparazzi and hundreds of celebrities who aim to remain incognito.

Before moving here, I always thought SoHo was an unbearably messy and pretentious neighborhood.  Over time, I began to realize the charm hidden in its cobblestone streets and the historic cast iron buildings, which once were the homes and studios of virtuosos like Keith Haring, Maripol, Andy Warhol, Donald Judd and Basquiat. These same buildings have evolved into something a little more mainstream and now house every major fashion brand.  Prada, Chanel, Alexander Wang and Catherine Malandrino are only some of fashion giants that make of this neighborhood an economic gem of the fashion world.

Over time I have learned to navigate the side streets, away from the crowds, and to discover hidden treasures of the locals.  From restaurants to spas, from local brands to obscure cafes, everything here has a special feel and a unique story to tell.  Once again, opposites sit side by side, smiling – the tiny, family-owned Italian café is around the corner from the home of $1800 shoes and $6000 handbags.  I prefer the café – espresso anyone?

Sadly, but no less exciting, my neighbors are no longer famous modern artists (most of whom are no longer with us), but young models, actors and singers.  Claire Danes, Justin Timberlake, Tyra Banks and Adam Sandler are just some of the people with whom I share my favorite spots.  At Café Café I make my daily stops in the morning to grab some iced tea.  At Ground Support I can’t pass on a grilled ham & cheese and a soy latte made to perfection.  At night, a stop by Butter or Indochine for a meal remains a sure bet.  There, an encounter with Anna Wintour, Madonna or Fran Leibovitz is a strong possibility.

A recent addition to the neighborhood is the beauty clinic Erno Laszlo, named after the legendary dermatologist
who is known for his miraculous lotions and potions.  Dr. Laszlo had royal treatment during the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s – for it was in that time that he looked after the beauty of the queens of Hollywood’s silver screen.  Marilyn Monroe, Greta Garbo, Ava Gardner and Katherine Hepburn were part of a very select group to receive his attention.  For each of them he developed individual and secret formulas.  After nearly twenty years away from the public eye, the same team responsible for the celebrated Molton Brown has acquired the Erno Laszlo brand.  Inspired by Laszlo’s principles, this team hopes to restore the brand to what it used to be, a place in which its clients can expect the most exclusive treatment available anywhere, just like Marilyn did.

Perhaps one of the most talked about and sought after shops in the area is Treasure & Bond, part of the portfolio of Nordstrom. The appeal is its luxury items available for affordable prices in two gigantic floors.  Selling furniture, housewares, books and clothes for all ages, this store reserves all its profit for charity.  To make sure the wealth is distributed equally to those who in need, the charities change every six months

A stop for lunch is a must.  Along with 100 Acres and others, The Dutch is another new arrival and its American Cuisine doesn’t disappoint.  Starting with its freshly baked corn bread and onto fried chicken, every bite here feels like a little piece of heaven.

SoHo is also home to one of the cities most renowned and successful Japanese restaurants.  After more than twenty years, Blue Ribbon Sushi remains a favorite.  The absolute freshest fish make this highbrow restaurant one of the best.  Don’t be fooled by its discreet setting however, its permanence in this city is proof that the food is impeccable.

From dusk till dawn, breakfast to dinner, SoHo is imbued with so many magical qualities.  I have grown to adore this neighborhood.  Everything I need is only a few steps away and the word “subway” has vanished from my vocabulary.  SoHo proves to be one of the most perfectly evolved areas in town, maintaining its original character and charm, even as masses of tourists and wealthy developers make their way through the historic cobblestone streets.


--- This article was originally published in Portuguese in Parochi Magazine, in Brazil. ---
 
Deviled Eggs with Heather Graham
Perhaps it was the abundant steak tartare or the ever-flowing Grey Goose; regardless, the scene at the Clarkson in the West Village was very fun and social, sheer joy and camaraderie abounded. The crowd gathered to celebrate the New York premiere for the gut-wrenching film At Any Price, directed by the talented Ramin Bahrani.

As intense as this film is however, after the credits rolled in there was no somberness to these celebrants. The model Leigh Hoby walked in to a swarm of photographers who treated her like this film's featured star; which she is not. The real star in this picture is the unforgettable Heather Graham. And even though one was wearing white and the other one black, the similarities were rather compelling. Without skipping a beat, a group of photographers made sure to put the two together for a portrait. Perhaps a friendship will blossom? Zac Efron, Adrian Grenier and Dennis Quaid observed from a safe distance and chuckled cheerfully with delight. Nat Wolff was the life of the party, flanked by his pals Heather Matarazzo and Josh Radnor. Andie Arthur exuded sweetness in her long black gown and leather jacket, a look that seemed effortless but not many could pull off.

The night resumed smoothly and soon enough a dance-floor was requested - no Cinderellas in sight here! An expert was called into action. Amy Sacco gathered a crew in a swift wave of her nocturnal magic wand and in two heartbeats they were all at No. 8. The heat in the mezzanine went up as the group could not stop the dancing. From disco to rock n' roll, it all seemed to fit in the impeccable repertoire.

Peter Beard surfaced from a dark corner escorted by a tall and impressive man. "Where is Amy!?" - he interrogated. "I'm alive, and look at who I have with me!". Amy appears with the statuesque Native American model Jade Tenholder - a rarity in this world - who just broke into the scene. After much back and forth on whether Peter could take pictures of his new muse upstairs, it was finally decided: "I wanna shoot you in Mozambique, you are the best thing that happened to me this year!".

On that note the night came to a closing, after all, who needs any more than that?
Follow the Yellow Brick Road
Oz may be great and powerful, but does this Disney remix of the classic really need four premieres in one city!? Probably not. But perhaps when you have a variety of sponsors ranging from luxury fashion labels to shopping networks, you should. Since in New York anything is a good reason to party, I decided to follow the yellow brick road leading to one of these gatherings to see what the fuss was all about.

It was another cold winter night and what I found was a very warm and friendly room. Among beautiful Sports Illustrated swimsuit models of every height and ethnicity, I made my way through the crowd. And what a cheerful, star-studded crowd this was. Emmy Rossum seemed to have drawn most of the attention to herself, and that's understandable. The actress looked ravishing in a floral Oscar de la Renta number, which will hopefully be good omen for an early spring. Our leading man - and every person's favorite Swiss Army knife - James Franco, had to make a quick appearance as he dashed from one screening to another..

Some of the attendees made of this a family affair and brought along their children to witness all the magic that only 3D seems to bring to the screen these days. Richard Kind couldn't hide his excitement when leaving the venue with his girls; it was all very endearing to look at. Cynthia Rowley followed suit and was just another one in a group of fashion designers which also included John Varvatos. 

Now, this is not just another Disney affair, for when Salman Rushdie and Marina Abramovic show up, you know it is serious business. Disney delivered a great prologue to the fable we all came to know since we were children. They have updated a literature classic and still did justice to the unforgettable movie from 1939. This seemed to make Dick Cavett confused as he wondered if Judy Garland would also be making an appearance on-screen that evening. The comment was nothing but a good ol' joke, I'm sure.


But who needs one leading lady, when you can have three of the most ravishing Hollywood stars of our time? Rachel Weiss, Michelle Williams and Mila Kunis not only look great on screen, but they know exactly how to deliver entertaining performances. And that's what this movie is all about, an entertaining piece to be watched with a lot of pop corn on a Saturday afternoon. No need to over analyze it.

If you ask me, however, whether this digital extravaganza will stand the test of time, I would be inclined to say it will not. I doubt anyone will ever be able to produce another Oz movie that is as timeless as The Wizard of Oz.


Stayin' Alive with John Travolta
Every once in a while this humble writer is invited to join in on the fun with the Hollywood big league. “why?” you may ask, and the answer to that is very simple. My mother always said: “Honey, it’s not about how much money you make but the friends you have”. So, with some very important friends under my belt I move into the Hollywood party scene during awards season for some networking and some fun. But let’s be honest, mostly for the fun.

In a place in which orange trees grow out of living rooms and diamonds are as big as a baby’s head no excess is considered excessive. So what if I stepped on Penelope Cruz’s vitage Balmain dress and it ripped? It will most likely be in the trash bin tomorrow morning, along with the gift bags filled with all sorts of things you don’t really need.

The scene when you walk into this room is of camaraderie, there are no cameras in sight, some of the actresses aren’t even wearing their shoes anymore, they’re lounging in big white couches with their dates or their managers, always on the lookout for the funnest crowd to dance with. Could it be the comedy crowd, spearheaded by Amy Poehler and Paul Rudd, along with Aziz Ansari, Elizabeth Banks, Judd Apatow and Mindy Kalling? Or perhaps it’s the fashion crowd, in which old glam Valentino mixes in with nuveau luminaires Daniella Helayel and Zac Posen, who seem to love being sandwiched between Madonna, Ellen DeGeneres and Portia De Rossi. Madonna by the way has her make up artist within reach, a luxury that only the very top echelon can afford.  Every now and then she rushes to the edge of the dance floor where this handsome and happy latin man awaits with pads to dry her skin and retouch her lips. Now, that’s what I call luxury!

On the other side of the room things are getting interesting as Donna Karan walks in with Kelly Preston and John Travolta. They join in the fun with Bono and that heavenly creature that is Victoria’s Secret Angel Alessandra Ambrosio, now in a completely different outfit than she was wearing just a couple of hours ago. Her costume changes would put Cher to shame. With Bono and Alessandra deep in conversation, John does what he knows best and takes on the dance floor. Kelly and Donna, who seem to be best buds, follow suit. Laura Dern and Kate Walsh occasionally pop in but don’t linger, instead gliding  from one group to the next,  looking lovely with  curls which never seem to be out of place.

John and Kelly are like a young teenage couple, never losing sight of one another, until... “Stayin’ Alive” begins to blast from the speakers. Now, you may ask yourself, “was this arranged just because John Travolta was there?”. The verdict is still out per that issue but as if on cue, John and Kelly took center stage, repeating the dance that defined the disco era. I, along with the rest of the crowd, turned as fast as I could and copied the moves, the entire mass a perfect line of incredulous denizens. John seemed a bit bashful at the response, but was clearly loving every minute of it. Octavia Spencer was beside herself, was she really witnessing this? Selena Gomez, Taylor Lautner and some other teenage star which will go unnamed (At thirty I am far too old in Hollywood years to keep up with all these kids names)  seemed befuddled by the entire affair, disco is clearly a memory too distant for their young minds--“what is the commotion all about?” They took in a second or two and went back to chatting about their Instagram feeds -- of course. Homework is in order for these kids. 

The temperature rose and I needed to take a break for air, out through the orange trees and the piano and on to the patio, to join in the laughter of Ryan Seacrest and surprisingly, Macauly Culkin. Yes, remember him? That kid from “Home Alone” who went through all that stuff that no one cares about anymore? Yes, he was there too, along with Juliette Lewis and Jennifer Jason Leigh, which if you ask me, are pretty bad ass. A couple of Oscars walk by me heading towards the buffet, which reminds me: I haven’t eaten in hours!

 I took a seat at the communal table next to Princess Mia Thermopolis Herself, Anne Hathaway. Congratulations are in order, for her, and the stunning Natalie Portman, who sat beside her. Unsure of why I was congratulating Natalie so late in the game I just went with it, I’m pretty sure she did something of merit just that morning. She gets me.

 It’s nearly 4 AM and people have been dancing all night long;  cute couples -- both that came together and those that found each other on the dance floor -- are beginning to make  their fashionable exits one by one. Naomi Watts remains effortlessly chic, even when barefoot, accompanied by her gentleman of a husband Liev Shreiber who politely carries her shoes in one hand as the other proudly holds the hand of his wife. Another Naomi heads to the exit, this time Campbell, who remains very supermodel looking, without many smiles, perhaps only a few grins. No one cares, she’s Naomi Campbell.

People wait patiently in line for cars,  already laughing over the ghosts of dance-floor's past underneath heaters and sipping hot cocoa. It is just as lively out here as it is on the dance floor and  as I look around I realize: this evening was the ultimate episode of “Dancing with the Stars” except in this short instance of my life, they are all real stars.

Art is Sacred
 
 
Interview by: Gabriel Ruas Santos-Rocha

As the Tunisian youth rebelled against the system to fight for their rights and reclaim their country, one of their most beautiful and recognizable young faces was about to step into a public whirlwind of her own. Kenza Fourati would become the first Arab model to ever be featured in the best selling Sport’s Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. The significance was immediately established by the magazine, which added a political quote to Kenza’s introductory page. The response from the media around the world, and especially from her own country, was immediate. In the process, Kenza was to become one of the faces of that young revolution.

Already an active participant in her country’s political struggles, Kenza now had enough influence with the media to spread the word and make more room for Tunisian issues across the planet. Very bold and outspoken, the model was never discouraged by her critics, who often created negative facebook groups or used Internet forums that spoke out against her and her message. Kenza’s goal was clear - the model was going to use her success and public persona to benefit her country and raise awareness to what it has to offer the world, and to bring attention to the arts and fashion.

While working relentlessly on putting together her fashion line called By Kenz, (which will be launched in Tunisia during Tunis Fashion Week in 2013) the model discovered other ways to connect the dots and kill two birds with one stone. With a degree in French literature from Sorbonne as well as lengthy studies in filmmaking, Kenza has a lot more to share with the world than just her looks.

Gabriel Ruas Santos-Rocha: What lead you to the idea of bringing Tunisian artists to America?
Kenza Fourati: Pride probably. No one ever talks about my tiny country. Yet it is shaking the face of the world. And I’m not talking only about the Arab spring. When I walked around the Occupy Wall Street movements I noticed several slogans inspired by the Tunisian uprising. After revoking censorship, when the word became suddenly free, creativity erupted. New York is the conjuncture for artists. I have the duty to help building the bridge and exposing both of my worlds.

How do you expect to start bridging the gap between the East and the West?
The strongest weapon ever created is the Internet. There is no real geography anymore, just cultures to share. So I decided to launch a fashion blog this month that will also promote art and culture here and there.

How do you think Tunisia can benefit from the work you’re doing?
Tunisia is at an edge, it’s sculpting its destiny, its history; with the fundamentalists trying to establish dogmas everywhere. I want to expose people to new cultures, photography, etc.

Who are some of the artists who inspired you to start this work?
There are so many, but recently I met this young Graffiti artist called MeenOne, who is truly fascinating. First by the way he looks; he has dreadlocks. In Tunisia it is really rare to allow yourself to look “marginal”. People aren’t used to it and you are confronted constantly with harsh comments. Authorities will arrest you for questioning and so on. The irony is that it used to be people with long beards who looked suspicious. Then there is also the fact that he (MeenOne) grew up in a poor region of the country ruled by the extremists. Actually, his brother is a Salafist (Jihadist movement). MeenOne used to tag all over the country wearing a mask and after the revolution he showed his face, then he showed his work in an exhibit last June. The exhibit was considered an insult to the sacred. Some fundamentalists called for his death and it was his Salafist brother and the neighborhood he grew up in that ended up protecting him. I didn’t know him personally at that time, but I was stunned by what happened. For me, freedom is sacred above everything, and so is art. So, I started looking for an artist to work on an “Art is Sacred” theme for my website and my clothing line and came across MeenOne, and I found him to be extremely talented. I had no idea he was involved in the exhibit scandal at the time. I had already become obsessed with Graffiti when I went to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil and discovered Pamela Castro’s work.

And how will you bring that work over to the west?
First through my online platform, and later on I hope to bring it to another level and allow some awesome art to be physically shown here.

How involved were you during the Tunisian revolution?
When the turmoil intensified I asked my family for their permission to start publishing articles and videos connected to the subject and they allowed me to do it. They really are the brave ones because the danger was really for them. I got even more involved when my friend, who is an activist, got arrested and disappeared. His wife reached out to me and it was right at the beginning, on January 6th, 2011. I decided to stop everything that I was doing and only focus on the history that was being made in my country.

What about the revolution made you happy?
I felt infinitely proud. But I felt a kind of pride I had never felt before. Pride is a very individualist feeling, but back then it was a completely selfless collectively shared feeling of pride. I am quite moved and amazed by it. This revolution belongs to all of us. We are the revolution.

Were you ever afraid of any negative religious or political backlash due to your participation in these movements?
At the time, yes I was afraid of the political backlash my family could suffer. There was no question of religion at the time, but that problem came later and is actually very current today.

What do you still expect to see happening for your country?
Democracy is still unfolding. We are navigating through what is accepted and what is not, and having fundamentalists in power doesn’t help.

Do you feel that being a model was or still could be a problem for you in your country?
Yes, it sure is now, but it never used to be. I am extremely controversial in the country as its been getting more and more conservative.

Is there anything you think you would do differently in your career?
Last year I shot a cover for a magazine wearing a bikini and my body was covered by a Victor Hugo poem. I loved the idea and the poem preaching love and tolerance, but the magazine edited it in an aggressively provocative way and it delivered the wrong message. So yes, that would be the only thing I would do differently. I was too naive back then.

How about your clothing line? What are the links with Tunisia there?
First of all I am manufacturing my entire collection locally. People may not know that, but many of the great fashion houses like Giorgio Armani and Zadig & Voltaire make their products in Tunisia. So I will be using those same factories. The quality of my product is very important and my main concern. I will also be launching my first collection during Tunis Fashion Week in April of 2013.

Originally published on VAGA magazine.
Designing Woman
For my last Model Musing column with Look Books I had the opportunity to speak to one of China's rising stars, Tian Yi. A smart girl, Tian studied fashion and hopes to take full advantage of her modeling career to eventually go into creating designs of her own.

Have a read and enjoy getting to know this lovely girl by clicking HERE or simply read below.


Model Musing: Tian Yi

  Tian Yi is one of those girls who seem to have luck on her side. She was discovered by her agency on the modeling website models.com by pictures she submitted. Since then her career path was paved with bookings for top fashion magazines and designers. 
From the established brand names, Vogue and Bazaar to the edgy i-D and 10 magazine; the editorial goes hand in hand with the work Tian has been showing on the runway. Valentino, Yves Saint Laurent, Prada and Marc by Marc Jacobs are counterbalanced by rising stars like Alexis Mabille, Phillip Lim, Dries Van Noten and Rad Hourani. Graced this season with the campaigns for Vera Wang and Sephora, Tian’s path in this industry seems to be heading in the right direction and one that will keep her in the center of what she loves the most: fashion. 
Tian has been given the opportunity to see from the inside how it is to create an entire collection and bring it to the runway, an experience that will surely be helpful since she would like to soon start focusing on launching a collection of her own.
Here Tian picks her favorite modeling image and tells us why it’s so special.
Why do you love this picture?
Because I was happy to be able to work with a great team and these fabulous girls!
Who were the other models in this shoot?
It was me and five other girls: Liu Wen, Xiao Wen, Lindsey, Marie and Daria. They were so nice to me and I has really happy to be able to work with them.
Who took it? Were you excited to work with this photographer?
Inez and Vinoodh . Of course, so excited and I had the opportunity to learn a lot from this shoot!
How long was this shoot?
A day and a half, because i had to leave early on the second day to finish my school exams.
What direction did the photographer give you?
They just let me be myself and were very nice.
What was it for?
It was for the cover of Vogue China’s September issue.
What were you wearing?
I was wearing Louis Vuitton and a huge hat on the cover. I also wore a beautiful skirt for the editorial inside the magazine, I loved it!
What about this profession makes you the happiest?
The opportunity to travel around world and see a lots of different cities and also I really enjoy the opportunities to make new friends, eat some delicious food that I never tried before, that’s the most fun and cool part!
What have you learned from your career that you consider truly valuable?
I learned to be patient. Sometimes you have to wait a long time for things to happen, but you have to be patient and you will have an opportunity to show yourself. You have to be patient about your career.
What advice would you give to aspiring models?
I would tell them to just be themselves and be confident, that is it; and welcome to fashion!
Do you see yourself doing something else in the future?
I love dressing up for the big fashion houses and I love fashion; in the future I would love to be a designer for one of those great brands. 
What were some of the challenges you conquered as a model? 
I’m more confident when I talk to people, I’ve also learned to be comfortable outside of my comfort zone. I actually love when I have challenges to face.
Tian Yi is represented by Fusion Model Management


From Tunisia, with Love.
This week find out more about the Tunisian model who is planning on turning the tables for some Tunisian artists in the New York art scene.

Follow the link or read below.




Model Musing: Kenza Fourati

A product of the world famous Elite Model Look competition, Kenza Fourati was the first Tunisian to enter the competition. Even though she comes from a very progressive family, Kenza’s parents had a hard time understanding how modeling could be an actual job and were afraid of what the future of her daughter could turn out like being in such a different cultural environment. After long hours of discussion it was finally agreed that Kenza would go to Paris to give it a try. 

From fashion publications like Vogue, L’Officiel, Elle and GQ to the top selling pages of Sports Illustrated, Kenza has climbed to the top echelons of the industry and has embraced the world with an open mind.

Currently living in New York city, Kenza is working on launching her own fashion label while working on her most bold and heartwarming project; an online community to bridge the cultural gap between the Middle East and the Western world through art.


Was modeling a dream for you or did it just happened by chance?

Well, it was so uncommon (in Tunisia) that I really never thought of it for half a second, it was all a happy accident.

What were your most remarkable experiences as a model?

All my “first times”; my first show, my first fashion week, my first casting, my first time in front of the camera, with the responsibility of a crew working around you. Then you understand it’s more than fun, it’s a job and you have to be the best you can.

Is there anything that bothers you in this business?

The lack of control; I’m a control freak, but this job is really like George Berkeley’s quote, “To be is to be perceived”, and that s very frustrating!

What have you learned from your career that you consider truly valuable?

At a young age I understood you have to be your very own knight in shining armor. I can be in an alien place alone and I can handle it with no fear. Thanks to modeling, I know now that I am a capable person.

What advice would you give to aspiring models?

Don’t loose sight of who you are. You will meet tons of people who will judge you and project all kinds of fantasies on you but at the end, you are the only one who truly knows who you are.

What were your biggest challenges as a model?

Coming from an Arab Muslim country with no real visibility of the future and as a model to keep it true to who I am.

What is you favorite modeling image?

A portrait taken by Cedric Buchet for Vogue Paris, I find it to be very powerful.

Were you excited to work with him?

I have always loved his work and I loved how he perceived me. Not only is he an awesome photographer but he is also a great guy.

Where was it taken?

We shot in the middle of the road in Chinatown in New York. I’m 5’11 and was wearing sky-high heels and a see-through top; let me tell you, there was a lot of staring happening!

Who was the stylist?

Julia Von Boehm. I work very often with her, she has the most incredible energy and speaks (what seems to be) two thousands languages.

Any wardrobe malfunctions in that shoot?

I was freezing, so that’s a malfunction to me!!

What was the theme of the shoot?

The diversity of faces in France: Black, White, Beur (North African origins), ...

Illustrated Legacy

Great voyeur of the creative effervescence of fashion in the 20th century, the illustrator Antonio Lopez now has a posthumous book and exhibition which displays his trajectory and puts him back at the top of the fashion pyramid.

Written by Gabriel Ruas Santos Rocha

There is no doubt that there are many important and talented fashion illustrators throughout the history of art. Unfortunately, many of them forgotten with time. The Puerto-Rican Antonio Lopez is one of them. Left in the shadows for years, the time has arrived for his name to be brought back to the limelight. The homage is made by the publisher Rizzoli, which releases this month “Antonio – Fashion, Art, Sex & Disco” and invites us, by way of the book, to embark the world of fantasy and glamour of the greatest voyeur of the creative bacchanal that took place between the 1960’s and 1980’s.

In his drawings and photographs, seductive creatures and brilliant minds which walked the fashion world: from the designer Roy Halston and the pope of Pop Art Andy Warhol, to the top model Pat Cleveland. All of them, at some point hit by the innovative look of the duo of artists. Yes, duo, because behind Antonio’s name, we highlight his partner in crime, Juan Ramos. He was the one who kept the creative forces on track and made sure that their ouvre was seen by the audience and caused the desired impact.

The aforementioned impact is the epicenter of this 304 page tome, edited by the brothers Mauricio and Roger Padilha – the same who created “The Stephen Sprouse Book”, the best-selling art book of 2009. “Us both were very inspired by the work of Antonio and we hope the future generations can witness the magic of his art” says Mauricio.

The illustrations of Antonio, who died in 1987, were made into cover of magazines, fashion editorials, advertising campaigns and even runway shows. His visionary imagination influenced, for instance, designers like Anna Sui, Norma Kamali and his personal friend Karl Lagerfeld. It was in Lopez that the now fashion Kaiser found the necessary strength to step away from under the shadow of the then rival Yves Saint Laurent and shine as a fashion designer in Paris.

 Antonio Lopez, his muses and his illustrations.

Antonio Lopez, his muses and his illustrations.

What the book does now is not only tell the complete story of Antonio, but it also places us in the center of the work of the duo. Lopez and Ramos lived surrounded by their posse, day and night, and the fame of some of these characters, along with these two artists made a cabaret out of life. Among their friends were Jerry Hall, Jessica Lange and Grace Jones.

During three decades the work of the duo transcended all medias and no longer only existed in paper but in the collective consciousness and daily life of fashionistas worldwide. “I don’t believe there will be another person capable of surpassing his talent as an illustrator and use it to translate the social climate of his time” affirms Roger Padilha.

There will also not be another person who will influence the masculine wardrobe like Antonio. The introduction of colors, fur and shine into men’s wardrobes can be credited, in great part, to this genius of fashion. Always dressed like a peacock, he used to catch the attention of the media and made the color fever one of the reasons why men’s magazines were created. After all, it was necessary to supply for the demand from the battalion of men who were being inspired by the singular visual of the illustrator.

“He still influences the fashion industry. In fact, he influences us too. Antonio lived his work, and to him, there was no separation between professional and personal life. We try to behave the same way”, say the authors, who for over 20 years have run the PR agency MAO, in New York.

It’s in this same city that, until October 6th, the greater audience will come to know the legacy of Antonio Lopez. The exhibition “Antonio’s World” will take place at the hyped The Suzanne Geiss Company, in Soho. The exhibition spans three decades of the illustrator’s work, transformed in an installation as impressive as his work.

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Article originally featured in Harper’s Bazaar Brazil, September 2012

The Best There Ever Was
Here is my latest article for Look Books, on the superb book Antonio - Fashion, Art, Sex & Disco. The book was edited by Mauricio and Roger Padilha, of MAO PR, for Rizzoli and is a must read. Read below or view the original by clicking here.


Antonio Lopez

Antonio Lopez’s name may sound foreign to you, or it may ring a bell or two, but you still won’t be able to place it. Maybe you won’t have heard of it at all. The brothers Mauricio and Roger Padilha hope to set the record straight with their book, Antonio - Fashion, Art, Sex & Disco (Rizzoli, 2012).

Antonio Lopez is one of, if not the most, famous and influential fashion illustrator to ever cross the earth. His world was inhabited by some of the world’s most brilliant and seductive creatures; from Halston, Karl Lagerfeld and Andy Warhol to Pat Cleveland, Jessica Lange and Jerry Hall. They were all struck by the innovative eye of Antonio Lopez. Alongside his lifelong creative partner, Juan Ramos, Antonio was able to give flight to his dreams and visions of beauty. Juan made it all possible, he put order to Antonio’s passion and gave it direction.

The importance and influence of this creative duo in the fashion and the art worlds, lives on and cannot be denied. For over three decades the work of Lopez and Ramos had transcended medias and hadn’t lived only on paper but in the collective conscience and daily life of fashionistas throughout the globe. Antonio and Juan put art and fashion side by side for the first time through the innovative and bold approach in their work, and soon enough there wouldn’t be a single living being who wasn’t touched by the end result of their creative efforts.

Antonio’s illustrations were featured on magazine covers, fashion editorials, advertising campaigns and even came to life on the runway, as clothes. Their visionary influence touched the likes of Anna Sui, Norma Kamali and Karl Lagerfeld. Those who crossed their paths would not leave their side and every day was treated as if it was an opening night at the most seductive club in town; life for these beautiful children of the world was a cabaret.

After creating the best selling art book of 2009, The Stephen Sprouse Book, the brothers Padilha took time to work in this remarkable book, that will transport you to a place in which everything that is beautiful, is possible. Here is what they have to say about their book.


How do you choose your subjects among so many interesting and enticing things to write about in fashion? 

Mauricio: Our motivation for the book, as with our previous tome on Stephen Sprouse, was to acknowledge and credit the work of an influential artist who seems to have been forgotten over the years. Antonio Lopez was one of the most famous and influential artists in the fashion world during the 60s, 70s, and 80s but it seemed that while his influence is still around, knowledge of him or his life was not prevalent.

Is this book also an homage to Juan Ramos, seeing as he was so present in Antonio’s life and work?

Roger: Absolutely. In the first chapter of the book, we very clearly state that "Antonio" was actually the work of two men working side by side. Antonio Lopez and Juan Ramos met at F.I.T and worked together for 25 years. While Antonio was the genius illustrator, Juan was the one who directed the drawings and worked on the business end of things. Juan Ramos was integral to Antonio's success and they both made a decision early on to just publicize Antonio solely, but everything really was a collaboration between the two of them.

What do you hope to achieve with this book?

Mauricio: Growing up, we were both so inspired and awed by Antonio's work and we hope that future generations will get to experience the magic of his art. 

Roger: We also wanted to showcase Antonio as an artist and not just as a commercial illustrator. Aside from the illustrations, Antonio was a master photographer, a stylist, and also responsible for discovering many of the world's most famous faces such as Jerry Hall, Grace Jones, and Jessica Lange. He influenced many designers such  as Karl Lagerfeld and Norma Kamali and his influence is still being felt today.

Were there ever any difficulties when doing research for this book? I can imagine there was pretty vast material available...

Roger: Not too many. We were lucky to befriend Paul Caranicas who holds the rights to the Antonio Archives many years ago and he trusted us and knew that we were going to be respectful of the truth. Also, Juan Ramos outlived Antonio for 8 years and during this time he (among other things) organized the archives so we didn't have too much trouble identifying subjects or finding the most iconic images. The one difficulty was the vast amount of materials available to us. Everything Antonio did from a finished work to a doodle on a napkin was exquisite so it was difficult to edit down what we wanted to put in a book. We had 304 pages which we jam-packed with images but honestly we could do 10 books with the amazing work that is in the archives!

Does Antonio have any influence in your daily work?

Mauricio: Yes. Antonio lived his work. There was no real separation between his social life, personal life, and work life--it was all one and the same. And we to a certain extent behave the same; when you love what you do, you don't want it to end after you leave the office!

There was a fearless and daring quality to Antonio's work, who in your opinion has been doing the same thing over the past fifteen years?

Roger: There are so many talented people such as Marc Jacobs, Karl Lagerfeld, Rick Owens, the women behind Rodarte, Carine Roitfeld, Steven Klein; but they are all very specific and working within one field. There doesn't seem to be so many people who work in various medias doing the same thing. Maybe Madonna...

By breaking boundaries and pushing the envelope with his work, do you believe that Antonio was also a strong influencer in fashion and a trend setter?

Both: Absolutely! You tell us after seeing the book!