NO. 20 FALL 2019 10 A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS Tom Fordâ€™s life in Los Angeles.
18 6 TIPS FOR GOING TO A WEDDING ALONE Embrace being solo!
20 HITS OF SUMMER Check it our hits!
22 BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY Moulin Rouge! is reimagined on stage for a new generation
28 KIM PETRAS A new popstar is born!
38 REMEMBERING JAYNE The death of Jayne Wrightsman in April marked the end of an era.
44 RIDDLE ME THIS Rapper Jimothy is a refreshing enigma
TOM FORD’S LIFE MAY BE CENTERED IN LOS ANGELES THESE DAYS, BUT WITH HIS RECENT APPOINTMENT AS THE CHAIRMAN OF THE CFDA, HE’S FLEXING GLOBAL AMBITIONS FOR AMERICAN FASHION.
TEXT ROB HASKELL PHOTOGRAPHY ANNIE LEIBOVITZ
fficially, the rose garden belongs to Richard Buckley, Tom Ford’s husband. It’s the product of the only sort of deal that Ford—among the shrewdest businessmen in the history of fashion—would ever make, one whose terms were highly favorable to himself: Buckley could have his roses, and in exchange, Ford got to make every other decision on their new house in the Holmby Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles, which for more than half a century had belonged to Betsy Bloomingdale. Ford does not cede control willingly. “I can’t help but assert myself,” he says. “That probably makes
me very difficult to live with.” He blames his Virgo nature: precise, methodical, relentlessly observant, playfully naughty if he trusts you. (The designer Stella McCartney, one of his closest friends and another Virgo, says that any understanding of Ford and of their friendship begins with this astrological detail. The stylist Carine Roitfeld, his longest creative collaborator and another Virgo, concurs. So might have his late friend Karl Lagerfeld, a Virgo, too.) On a warm evening in June, the flowers are in abundant bloom. Buckley, a writer and Ford’s partner of more than 30 years, consulted a rosarian in Santa Barbara who
They excavated six feet and welcomed 10,000 earthworms, to the giddy delight of Jack, Ford and Buckley’s son, who turns seven in September. Ford has a penchant for orchids—flowers of heat and dark—but in fact it was he who arrayed the garden in a perfectly gradated spectrum, the way some obsessives organize their books or their apps. Red roses, which he can’t abide, crouch in the back. A few ambitious shrubs stand taller than the others, balancing on stakes. The asymmetry troubles him; symmetry is very important. It is not surprising to learn that his favorite rose, Koko Loko, is beige. “Beauty gives me great joy, but it also gives me great sadness,” Ford explains once we’ve returned to the living room. We sit so that I can see mainly the right side of his face—the side you will always see in pictures. He says that he has come to think of himself 12
as an image, a product, and over time you learn how to display the product at its most favorable angle. Kate Moss will give you only one side, he says. “When I see the rose, and I smell the rose, all I can think of is that the rose is going to wither and be dead. But that’s one of the things that endows it with its beauty. If it were permanent, you wouldn’t even notice it.” Ford has often spoken of his preoccupation with death, the clock incessantly ticking in his head, and he has also often spoken of his dependence on alcohol, a palliative for his natural shyness. (In May, he celebrated 10 years of sobriety.) Perhaps these two things above all—the morbid cast of his temperament, his brain’s constant thirst for dopamine—explain why, at 58, Ford is busier than he has ever been. The brand he launched only 13 years ago now earns
$2 billion in annual retail sales across men’s and women’s ready-to-wear, accessories, fragrance, cosmetics, and eyewear, a legitimate rival to 100-year-old French houses. The writer-director-producer of two films, he has another two in the works. And this spring, he succeeded Diane von Furstenberg as chairman of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, or CFDA. “I’ve always been somewhat dysthymic, you know,” he says. “I sort of operate at a slightly lower mood. I always felt that if you’re happy, you’re just stupid. I still think happiness doesn’t exist and that if we all didn’t expect it to exist, we would be a lot happier. Drinking and drugs fueled many of my most creative moments, and I had an incredible fear that once I was sober I would not be able to create. It takes some time to get yourself back. We shift our addictions, and
now my addiction is work, but it brings me enormous pleasure. And it keeps my mind from the fact that we are this tiny speck of a planet in the middle of an infinite number of other planets, and everything we have, what does any of it mean? Why do we struggle, why do we suffer? If I start down that road, it’s like, guess what? I think I’ll do something really important and choose the new lipstick colors for 2021.” Ford opened an office in Los Angeles 15 years ago, shortly after he and his business partner, Domenico De Sole, left Gucci Group amid a bitter power struggle with its new owners. At the time, he thought he was walking away from fashion altogether. He and Buckley owned a Richard Neutra house in Bel Air but were splitting their time between the West Coast and homes in London, Paris, and Santa Fe. Architecture has been a more
salubrious addiction for Ford, though lately he hopes to do some deaccessioning: The Regent’s Park townhome designed by John Nash is for sale, and so is the Tadao Ando– designed Santa Fe ranch (the ubiquitous rattlesnakes making it unwise with a young son). Earlier this year he bought a Paul Rudolph house on New York’s Upper East Side that had belonged to his hero, Halston—the only house that he would ever want in New York, a city he romanticized in 14
his early 20s but has lately avoided. Holmby Hills started off as a 1927 Mediterranean Villa, but in Bloomingdale’s tenure it was reimagined as high Hollywood Regency, an effusion of chinoiserie wallpapers, dark Chippendale furniture, and green silk swags. Ford has done a deluxe dial-down, unifying its jumble of styles, introducing his favored monochrome palette, and imposing a tactile minimalism of velvet and lacquer, pony and cashmere. “I love people’s houses that are
incredibly colorful and patterned,” he says. “But I can’t think in them. Color distracts me.” Buckley believes that, for a while, at least, Jack had a transformative effect on Ford’s relationship to color. “I think his fall-winter 2013 collection, with its clashing colors and patterns, was a direct result of Jack being in his life,” he says. “The thought of brightly colored plastic toys in his house was nothing Tom wanted to see, but it’s what children like.” Order has since been restored. “Now Jack tells people that his favorite color is black. At the Hammer’s K.A.M.P. in 2017”—an annual family fundraiser at the museum—“one artist asked the children to paint rainbows, and Jack painted arc after arc in black.” Ford wears a black suit, though he does not want to create the impression that he is overly formal at home. “I often feel like I’m dressed like I work in a shop, but I don’t have the energy, believe it or not, to put together
a new look,” he explains. “And I know what works on me. Black, brown, gray. White for tennis. And by the way, these pants have probably not been dry-cleaned in months. I wear the same things day after day, I take them off at night and hang them up on a thing that nobody uses anymore, a valet de nuit. I put my jacket on it, I flip my pants over it, I dump my pockets out, and then the next morning, I get up and Jack’s running around, and I’ve got to get him to school. And so I just put it all back on.” The house’s grisaille calm is offset by a sense of high stakes. The things that remain are great things, particularly the art: Andy Warhol, Franz Kline, Morris Louis, Lucio Fontana. Apart from a Cindy Sherman photograph and the toys tucked away in Jack’s wing, deep pink roses and wine-dark dahlias bring in the only color, just one or two of each in squat vases—Ford hates large flower arrangements. Critics of his second film, Nocturnal Animals, have asked whether
its main character, a gallery owner living in stilted isolation, now the freezer was stocked with 20 or so boxes of Popsicles, surrounded by trophies, is a stand-in for Ford himself. The the refrigerator lined in deep rows of Evian and Perrier and answer is yes. Hint Water and Diet Coke. “The idea of a childhood where “Making other people beautiful, the search for perfection, there’s just an endless supply of Popsicles! It’s tricky,” Ford the need to see women look like elegant beings—that drives says. “What I sell is happiness through a new pair of shoes, him,” says his old friend Elizabeth Saltzman, the fashion and of course that’s not really possible. However, we are mastylist. “But I think Tom suffers from a lack of freedom. You terial creatures. Jack gets a dollar a day. He saves that money, put yourself in your ad campaigns, and you’re no longer free. and no matter what he wants, unless it’s Christmas or his birWherever we go, women come up to him and say, Tell me thday, he has to buy it. It’s very cute: Whenever Jack’s done what color lipstick I’m wearing! Smell for the day, he has a chair next to his my neck—what fragrance is it? He’s bed where we sit, and I read to him at kind enough to pay attention. I think night, and I’ll go in later to make sure “Making other people he adores freedom but has so much everything’s OK. Tuck him in again. beautiful, the search for less of it. He likes quiet, and he looks Sitting in the chair will be whatever for quiet. But this is what happens to thing he has made that day, found that perfection, the need to see people who become larger than life.” day, been into that day, right there so women look like Ford recently took Jack to Dishe can see it. I remember doing that elegant beings—that drives neyland, and he was pleased to notice as a child with new shoes or whatever that, for a change, no one seemed to it was that I had bought that I was so Tom,” says a friend recognize him. They are likely to rein love with. Those material things can turn. But on most days he is wrestling bring you a sort of happiness.” with how to raise a child in the rarefied air of his life in Los The psychologist D. W. Winnicott called these transitional Angeles, in a milieu of movie stars and moguls. A few days objects—toys, dolls, blankets that make the absence of a before we met, he opened the refrigerator in the poolhouse, parent easier to bear. If Ford has one of his own, it’s the where typically there is a single box of the basic Popsicles Calder mobile hanging in the living room, the only artwork that Jack enjoys. On weekends at home, when there is no he could never imagine parting with. It belonged to Georgia staff, Ford and his son like to play Monopoly or float in the O’Keeffe, whom his grandfather introduced him to as a boy pool eating Popsicles. They have other simple rituals: Jack outside the La Fonda hotel in Santa Fe. “I thought she was likes vanilla wafers because Ford—a vegan who cheats on the strangest person I’d ever met in my life,” he recalls. “My sweets—likes vanilla wafers, old-fashioned and plain. But grandmother was from Texas, and she wore makeup and 16
GOING TO A WEDDING ON YOUR OWN WHEN YOU DON’T KNOW ANY OF THE GUESTS CAN BE ANXIETY-INDUCING BUT THAT SHOULDN’T STOP YOU. FROM WEARING A CONFIDENCE-BOOSTING LOOK TO FOOLPROOF CONVERSATION STARTERS, HERE’S SLAY’S GUIDE TO HAVING A GREAT DAY CELEBRATING THE HAPPY COUPLE. TEXT MARISA BATE PHOTOGRAPHY ANNIE LEIBOVITZ
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CONSIDER ASKING FOR A PLUS ONE
If you had a romantic partner, costs would be covered, so why not a close friend, or even a parent? First and foremost, be tactful. Do it well in advance to allow for planning and mostly be honest about why you’re asking. You want to celebrate this day with the happy couple to the fullest, rather than going for ‘downtime’ breathers in the bathroom. Failing that, if you’re truly attending solo, prime the WhatsApp group chat; your friends will keep the festivities in perspective.
KEEP AN OPEN MIND
See strangers as an opportunity for conversation. Make the most of the day and, since it’s not about you, don’t let it define you. You’re there as a valued part of the couple’s lives; celebrate your friend’s happy union and enjoy the spectacle for what it is. Sometimes it can be nice to stand peacefully on the sidelines.
If you’re going to a wedding without a plus one, you will be talking to people you don’t know. It’s not easy entering a room full of strangers, but the great thing about weddings is that every guest will know at least one of the newlyweds, which is your common ground. Start by asking who they know and how; weddings are celebratory, so most people will be in the mood to talk.
DRESS THE PART
Find an outfit that makes you feel truly comfortable in your own skin — both literally and figuratively. Attending a wedding single can amp up the urge to ‘impress’, but it’s more impressive when you feel confident and at ease, not restricted in something that requires regular bathroom adjustments.
DO YOUR BACKGROUND WORK
If you’re worried about who you’ll get stuck next to at the meal, ask for prewedding intel. Table seating is generally a high-stakes diplomatic undertaking, planned with military precision to ensure maximum joviality and minimal meltdowns. But if you casually tease out a bit of background ahead of time, such as whose table you’ll be on and a little information about neighbouring guests.
EMBRACE BEING SOLO
Attending a wedding on your own has its benefits: you’ll meet twice as many new people; you won’t have to look after a partner; and you can slip off whenever you want. And when you do get in the taxi home, remember you found the courage to come alone. And that you — and just you — were more than enough..
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LIFE´S A BEACH BAG
ROCKETMAN HITS BIGS SCREENS
If you were island-bound and could only bring three things, you’d want to grab a Bumbag. The ample crossbody makes beachside survival a breeze with sunscreen-fiend-approved storage, a mood-boosting color palette and adjustable cowhide strap. A poppy riff on the house’s unparalleled red for highdesign cargo, the bold accessory is the pink-hued heart of the summer capsule. Defined by a monogrammatic motif (also consider the Onthego, an homage to the historic Sac Plat bag circa 1968) this boldfaced collection is precious cargo in itself.
Elton John once told SLAY he’s “not a nostalgic person” but Bohemian Rhapsody director Dexter Fletcher got keys to his life story - and wardrobe. Having salvaged Rhapsody postBryan Singer, Fletcher found a clean slate for spectacle in Sir Elton. “He was out from very early on, which I hadn’t fully realized”, he says. “He´s an incredibly brave man”. Glimmers of star Taron Egerton as John suggest Rocketman leaves no rhinestone unturned.
LOUIS VUITTON SUMMER BUMBAG ($1,500, LOUISVUITTON.COM)
ROCKETMAN HITS THEATERS MAY 29
CELINE SOAKS UP SUN
Summer lovin’ happened so fast, and just like that there’s a new Celine in town. While Hedi Slimane’s inaugural collection for the French house offered New Wave bourgeois excellence for the music-inflected youth, his second womenswear outing, Fall 2019, arrived in stark, grownup contrast. channel the energy of a midsummer coming-of-age with the ideal street-to-beach sandals and rock-influenced shades.
CELINE BLACK FRAME SUNGLASSES ($430), SHARP SANDAL, RED ($790, CELINE.COM) 20
KING PRINCESS GETS CROWNED
Thus far, this Ronson protégé’s rabid fans have subsisted on queer-tastic singles like “Pussy Is God” and her fun-sized EP Make My Bed. No fear: “There will be a record in 2019”, says manager Brandon Creed. If anything has held up the LP, due this summer, it may be the SLAY cover star having too much fun making it: “I just want to make art with my friends forever”, she said in January.
DAPHNE DIVES IN
For “Daphne Groeneveld x MPRE”, opening May 30, photorealist duo MPRE (Max Papendieck and Robin Eley) created picture-perfect portraits (the distressed effect is painted on) benefiting ecoconservation.
HEAD TO MPRE.WORLD FOR MORE DETAILS
DIOR GETS HOUSE-PROUD
While Parisians flee the city at the height of summer, the spirit of Paris is alive and well at the beach as Dior introduces the 30 Montaigne bag. The architectural bag was created by Maria Grazia Chiuri as a tribute to the House’s historic address.
DIOR MITZAH SCARF ($190), 30 MOINTAGNE BAG ($3,450, AVAILABLE AT DIOR BOUTIQUES NATIONWIDE)
LIL PEEP LIVES ON
Late rapper Lil Peep was survived by small army of loved ones, ,any of whom reunite in Everybody’s Everything, a forthcoming documentary by video director Ramez Silyan and Sebastian Jones, a apprentice of the film’s producer, Terrence Malick. Commissioned during Peep né Gustav’s rise to cult prince of hardcore trap, the film culls from 140 interviews as well as unseen footage contributed by Peep’s mom Liza. “We never imagined this film would be completed without Gus”, says former manager Sarah Stennet. “I hope it [sheds light on] the serious issues young people face today”.
After 2018’s “We Appreciate Power”, Grimes’s military is spawning her own superpowers. Her announced LP Miss_Anthropocene’s namesake is the imagined goddess of climate change. “Each song is a different existentially terrifying concept, manifested as a psychedelic, dystopian pop star”, she tells us. “If the world must end, let it be beautiful.”
ALEX TIMBERS REIMAGINES BAZ LUHRMANN’S MOULIN ROUGE! FORTHE STAGE AND—WITH SONGS BY LADY GAGA, SIA, AND OUTKAST, AMONG OTHERS—A NEW GENERATION. TEXT ADAM GREEN PHOTOGRAPHY BAZ LUHRMANN
az Luhrmann was born to reinvent the movie musical for a new generation—which is exactly what he did in 2001 with Moulin Rouge!, his deliriously romantic mash-up, set in 1890s Paris, of La Bohème, La Traviata, and the Orpheus myth, with a soundtrack that exploded with modern-day pop songs, lavish Technicolor sets and costumes (by his wife, Catherine Martin), and a hyperkinetic cinematic style that drew on MGM musicals, MTV videos, and Bollywood spectaculars. The motto of this blatantly artificial world, served with a knowing wink (which nevertheless swept us up in its very real, very breathless emotions), could be borrowed from William Blake’s The Marriage of Heaven and Hell: “Enough! Ortoo much.” In his own way, the brilliant theater director AlexTimbers—whose work includes BloodyBloody Andrew Jackson, HereLiesLove, and, most recently, Beetlejuice—was born to reinvent MoulinRouge! for the stage, as another generation of NewYork audiences will discover
when his electrifying, eye-popping, and blissfully over-thetop adaptation of Luhrmann’s masterpiece opens on Broadway, after a smash run in Boston, this month. “I’ve spent my life taking classics and interpreting them in radical ways,” Luhrmann says, “so how could I not applaud someone taking a work of mine and interpreting it in a radical way? You have to interpret things for the time and place you’re in. In the end, it’s still a tragic opera, but Alex applies himself to it in such a dexterous way that there’s irony and fun and music and emotion.” Luhrmann grew up in Herons Creek, a tiny, remote Australian town with a total of seven houses in it, where, he says, “if you didn’t have a good imagination and an ability to create worlds in your mind, you were lost.” Fortunately his family, which rana gas station and a pig farm, also ran the local movie theater and had a black and white TV set (which showed exactly one channel), and Luhrmann devoured a steady diet of old movies, including musicals,
with which he fell in love. His mother was a ba- genre itself. He and his co-writer, Craig Pearllroom-dance instructor who started giving him ce, set their film in Belle Epoque Paris, in and lessons early, and his father insisted that Luhr- around the legendary Moulin Rouge nightclub, mann and his siblings study painting and music. telling a tragic love story straight out of verismo Before long he was staging opera with the Orpheus little shows, performing legend—a young poet and magic tricks, making films “I wanted to build this exotic, musician travels to the unwith his father’s 8-millimederworld in search of his intoxicating world that felt ter camera, and acting in dead love, Eurydice, and beautiful and dangerous and is reunited with her only to school plays. Apparently it was the gritty and sexy,” Timbers lose her again, emerging ideal up bringing to proforever changed—as its says. “It felt important to duce an artist of dazzling mythical underpinning. originality, one with a sin- use period elements—but to But Luhrmann also put them in a form that feels gular, idiosyncratic vision had what he calls a “preand an expansive playing contemporary and surprising” posterous conceit”that field: film, theater, opera, allowed his Orpheus—a commercials, music viBohemian poet named deos, pop songs. After the success of his first Christian, played by Ewan McGregor—to metwo films, Strictly Ballroom and Romeo + Ju- taphorically enchant the very rocks and stones liet—both of which had healthy doses of mo- to follow him because of his voice: “When our vie musical DNA encoded into their cinematic poet opens his mouth, ‘The hills are alive with language—Luhrmann wanted to take on the the sound of music’ comes out of it,”he says. 23
“Whether you like The Sound of Music or not, it’s a giant hit that’s got artistic cred—so it’s a funny, concise way of saying ‘The guy has magic.’”Preposterous or not, the conceit turned the love story between McGregor’s Christian and Nicole Kidman’s do domed Satine, a night club star and courtesan, in to a pop fantasia, giving the music its audience had grown up with—from “YourSong”to“Lady Marmalade”—an operatic grandeur. Luhrmann had long wanted to bring Moulin Rouge! to the stage but felt that he wasn’t the right person for the job—he worried that he was too close to the material and might be overprotective of it. Enter Alex Timbers, 40, a down town wunderkind who has brought the cheeky, postmodern spirit of his theater company Les Freres Corbusier to Broadway and shares with Luhrmann a restlessly playful and inventive mi-
se-en-scène. “When I saw Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, I could tell that his aesthetic and the way he told a story—very high-energy, very theatrical, ironic but also moving—had a certain kinship with mine,” Luhrmann says. “And afterI met him,I knew that he would have his own interpretation but also understand the language of the film.” The biggest challenge Timbers and his team faced was how to bring the film’s hypercinematic exuberance alive on a stage. “We had to create a visceral and kinetic excitement using an entirely theatrical vocabulary,”Timbers says. “We don’t have any of those virtuosic techniques like close-ups and Steadicam and music video–style editing, but you want the show to be able to leap over the f ootlights—emotionally, but also as a spectacle. So we use a lot of techniques to do that.”
Do they ever. From the moment you enter the theater, it’s clear that Timbers has realized his mandate to make the show— which he’s been working on for the past six years—“360.”It’s as if you’ve walked into the Moulin Rouge itself, courtesy of the gorgeously overwhelming set (byDerekMcLane) that greets you: There are hearts within hearts, chandeliers, the stage flanked by a windmill on one side and an elephant on the other. Then out come the corset-clad boys and girls of the night (who come in all colors, shapes, and sizes) and the fashionable members of the Parisian demimonde in Catherine Zuber’s fabulous costumes.The next
thing you know, “Four Bad Ass Chicks from the Moulin Rouge,” as the script identifies them—propelled onstage by Sonya Tayeh’s wildly exuberant choreography—are belting “Hey sista, go sista, soul sista, flow sista,” and we’re off to the races. “I wanted to build this exotic, intoxicating world that felt beautiful and dangerous and gritty and sexy,”Timbers says. “It felt really important for the sets and the costumes to use period elements, and for us to be ruthless about that, but to put them in a form that feels contemporary and surprising.” The seven-timeTony-winning costume designer Zuber (The King and I, MyFairL25
ady) has done that and then some, tipping her hat to Catheri- se between that and true love.Meanwhile, Christian and his ne Martin’s designs for the film without imitating them. She’s pals Santiago and Toulouse-Lautrec (Ricky Rojas and Sahr even managed to design Belle Epoque finery that allows the Ngaujah) are writing a show, bankrolled by the Duke, that dancers the freedom of movement to execute Tayeh’s pro- is meant to save theMoulinRouge from going under. Then, pulsive choreography. Zuberis also a master of using cos- of course, Satine has this persistent cough and . . . well, you tumes to reveal character and situation, as with the ornate know. gown she designed for Satine after she becomes the Duke’s The big difference in terms of the storytelling is that book courtesan and enters his glittering world. Inspired by designs writer John Logan (Red) has fleshed out and deepened the from John Galliano’s 2006 couture cocharacters and the relationships bellection, it features a bodice that looks tween them. “We looked at the major like a cage and three rows of lacing characters, asked what their backsto“I went to a wedding recently, down the back. “It’s almost like she’s a ries were, and tried to figure out how and when the dancing started, grounded they could possibly be in prisoner,”Zuber says. Playing Satine this time around is I heard half our score being psychological realism and yet still be Karen Olivo (West Side Story, Hamilheightened in that way that musical played, which was wild,” ton), who brings very different qualities theater demands,”Logan says. “How Timbers says. to the role than Kidman, both physical did Satine get to be this sparkling dia(Olivo is a woman of color) and temmond—and what’s the price she’s paid peramental (desperate, determined, along the way?” and down-to-earth, as opposed to ethereal). Aaron Tveit But the boldest change—and in many ways the heart of (Next to Normal, Catch Me if You Can), meanwhile, sings the show—is in the new songs, which give Moulin Rouge! like a dream and brings the requisite dewy idealism to the fresh emotional resonance (and whip the crowd into a frennaive Christian, but with a hint of something edgier. zy). Along with the familiar Bowie, Madonna, and Elton The story is very much the same as the film’s: Satine is the John tunes, expect to hear from the likes of Outkast, Sia, star attraction at the Moulin Rouge, owned by the rapacious Beyoncé, Fun, Adele, and Lorde, to name but a few (there Harold Zidler(Danny Burstein), who is in financial hot water are more than 70 songs in the show). To curate Moulin Rouand in danger of losing the club. Christian and Satine meet ge!’s dizzying playlist, Timbers, Logan, and music director/ and fall head over heels, but she has been promised by Zidler genius Justin Levine holed up in a Times Square hotel room to the villainous Duke (Tam Mutu), who can give her the with a digital keyboard, dredged up their musical memories, bejeweled life she’s always dreamed of, forcing her to choo- and took note of what worked. 26
POP MUSIC’S MOST EXCITING STAR IS TEARING UP THE RULEBOOK, ONE PERFECTLY-CRAFTED BOP AT A TIME. TEXT DANIEL MEGARRY
fter exploding onto the scene with debut single 1 Don’t Want It At All - you know, the one that featured Paris bloody Hilton in the music video - Kim Petras has been on an upwards trajectory that simply refuses to falter. A release strategy of one new single each month kept her fresh in the minds of pop consumers and, most importantly, on top of Apple and Spotify’s playlists, arguably the most essential promo a new artist can get for themselves in the age of streaming. It also gained her a legion of loyal fans who flock to her live shows, imitate her style, and pump out memes on an unprecedented scale - she’s affectionately known as “that wooah bitch” to many of her followers on Twitter, paying homage to the infinitely quotable soundbite that pops up in all of her songs. But, as she tells us, the image she fostered for her debut isn’t quite real. “I feel like my last era was me thinking, ‘If I only ever get to make one record in my life, what’s my favourite kind of music?’ And it’s that super extreme, bubblegum pop, heavily80s-inspired, huge synths, way over- the-top shit, because that’s my favourite music of all time,” she says, taking pause before adding, “that’s also the music that, at some point or another, kinda saved my life.” Growing up, Kim says she “hated” school and struggle with depression. She found solace in the escapism of
pop music, and the big-budget music videos and tour DVDs artists like Britney Spears and Destiny’s Child were releasing, which she’d watch on repeat a common pasttime for many queer kids who long for something better. But she wasn’t just consuming pop music, she was writing it, too. From the age of 13, Kim began crafting lyrics and melodies, and eventually taught herself to use audio software like Garageband. While sure of the music, she initially lacked the selfconfidence to become a fully-fledged pop star. “Will people think I’m too ugly?” she used to ask herself. “Will people think I’m not talented enough?” So she did what many pop stars do at the beginning of their career: fake it until they make it. “I thought that no one would like me for who I actually am, and I had all these insecurities, so I made this larger than life, super-confident character instead, “ she confesses. “But I’m not that.” As her self
belief and fan base grew in tandem, Kim decided it was time to focus on making the music that she truly wanted to make. While most artists take years off between album cycles, she waited just two months after rounding off her first era before launching straight into her new collection of singles, which is aptly named Clarity. “I’d gone through a bad breakup scenario and was really hurting, but I felt like I needed to cover that up all the time, she recalls. “l was doing back to back shows, singing all of these super happy songs, and then I would go and cry in my hotel room. From that emotion, Broken was born. Releasing a dark mid-tempo about heartbreak as a lead single is a risk for any pop star, especially one so beloved for dropping clubready bangers, but it made perfect sense to Kim. “There’s a little bit of an arc to this era, because Broken leads into Clarity, and that realisation that I shouldn’t get down
on myself so much, and that I’ve just gotta focus on the big picture and I’m going to be alright,” she says. “I just wanted to set that up by ex- plaining what had happened with my break-up and how I felt after being cheated on, so that the other songs could pick up from there and venture into Aside from Broken, All I Do Is Cry and Icy, a moody trifecta that tells the story of her breakup “I’ve learned to have the confidence that it’s okay to be sad in my songs, she says - the rest of Clarity is largely up-beat, and sees the
pop star flicking between genres with ease. Personal Hell, which sounds like a deep cut from Britney Spears’ acclaimed Blackout era, channels synth- heavy 80s hits like Soft CelPs Tainted Love and Depeche Mode’s Personal Jesus as she confesses, “Yeah I’m sad, but down to fuck”; the epic Do Me, which Kim lovingly dubbed a “slut anthem” for the ages, is simply be ing to be blasted at a stadium concert; while Sweet Spot sounds like the love child of Daft Punk and early-2000s Kylie Minogue, and remains the standout of the 31
pack. There’s heavy trap influences on Got My Number - which is guaranteed Asking “What’s up, bitch?” at the start of every phone call - and a rock star guitar loop on the hedonistic Blow It All. But the thing that links them all, aside from being fucking brilliant, is that they’re markedly more mature than the cotton candy pop of her original string of singles. If the Heart To Break era was your bratty, rebellious teenage phase, Clarity is your early 20s - slowly realising who you really are, experiencing heartbreak, and (apparently) having lots of sex. “I have these club, hoe anthems because after a break-up you want to go out and have fun, so just narrative - wise I thought it was a cool choice to start at a low point and then go into all these other Most fans embraced Kim’s new musical direction, but as with any change, some found it more difficult to adapt, instead at- tempting to drag her back to the bubblegum pop she used to make. We saw it with Lady Gaga’s Joanne, we saw it with Rihanna’s Anti, and now we’re seeing it with Kim’s Clarity. “I’m so happy my fans 32
love those songs, but those songs are out there and you can still listen to them. I’m gonna grow as an artist, and I’m gonna do what feels right for me,” she says with assurance. “Writing for me is therapy, it’s what I’m going through and it’s what I want to hear. I’m a songwriter first before anything else, so it’s gotta be authentic, and it’s gotta be what I wanna talk about.” Of course, Kim does care about what listeners think - she’ll be releasing music videos for the songs that her fans like the most - but when it comes to the songwriting process, it’s all about her. “l can’t really think about other people’s opinions when I write. Once you consider other people’s opinions before your own, you start getting scared, you start watering it down, you stop being inspired, and you lose what’s great about This new era has also seen Kim dial up her strategy from re- leasing one song a month to dropping a new track every week, something most pop stars - who’ll often promote a lead single for months - wouldn’t dream of doing. She compares it to watching a season of your
favourite series. “l love watching TV shows, and top of people’s minds, especially if you’re not a I love getting a weekly episode, it makes it really huge star with five number one singles, she says. special because it builds anticipation and you “Anything that’s new or unexpected excites me, spend all week thinking about it, she says. “I so that’s always what I wanna do. kinda love that I can give And I do think for upmy fans that experience. “A lot of people still think and- coming artists this For a new generation is a great concept, and that just because an artist is who have the world at if people wanna do the trans, they can’t be lucrative same thing then I’m all their fingertips and crave immediate gratification, and they can’t make money for for it, because I think it’s a it seems like an obvious really cool experience for the label. But the trans girls in strategy, so it’s surprising the fans. I feel like they’ll no one has done it before music are kind of doing it for remember the time I was certainly not with such a dropping a new song themselves anyway.” consistent level of quality. every week. And they’ll When we suggest she’s changing the game miss it. If you re already anticipating what’s for pop artists, Kim’s hesitant to agree, but she next - and in the come- down from her weekly does acknowledge it’s a unique strategy that’s release schedule, we wouldn’t blame you - then worth following. “I’m still in the building stages, you’ll be pleased to know Kim’s currently I’m not even close to where I want to be, but “pretty deep” into crafting the follow- up to her every time I drop a new song it takes me to a infectious Halloween EP, Turn Off The Light new place and new people hear about me, and Volume 1, which she promises will “pick up in the streaming era it’s a really good strategy right where it left off” when it drops later this to do something all the time, to keep being on year. 35
“I’ve spent the last few months watching every horror movie there is, listening to every horror movie soundtrack there is, and so there’s a lot of material to go over,” she says. It’s another example of Kim breaking the mould while most pop stars rush to release mediocre festive albums every December, she’s focusing on the holiday that’s actually fun, taking her signature pop hooks and shoving them into a blender with dark synths and industrial sounds. “l know it’s so narcissistic to listen to your own shit, but I listen to Volume 1 all the time and I love having the dance tracks in between, because I want it to be a party. When Turn Off The Light finishes, I want it to be the perfect Halloween party soundtrack. When we spoke to Kim last year, she opened up about the discrimination she’d faced in the music industry for being trans; some people refused to work with her, others asked if she was trans because it was ‘trendy’ right now, and back home in Germany, people continued to ask her invasive questions about her identity. A year later, as we once again enter Pride season, does she think things are getting better? “I don ‘t necessarily think that people are very openminded in the music industry yet. The creators are, the producers are, and the artists are. But the corporate part? No. They’re not down,” she sighs. “I have no idea how that’s gonna change, but if I can really do the damn thing and become a real pop star then I think that’ll mean a lot to a bunch of people, and maybe they’ll be like, ‘Yes, it can work’. Me and Sophie are doing it on our as our conversation comes to a close - Kim has to get ready for the first night of her Broken Tour, which is traveling across America and Europe through the summer - we ask what she wants her legacy to be. It’s a big question for someone so early in their career, but Kim’s confident, and unsurprisingly she knows exactly how she wants to be remembered. “l want my legacy to be that I’m a great songwriter, a great performer, that I give it my all, that I’m crazy and out there and unapologetic about who I am, but also being kind and nice to people, being a good friend, being a good person, and most importantly being a down-ass bitch. Oh, and I want my gravestone to just say, ‘woo-ah!’ , “ she laughs. “Hell yeah.” 37
WHEN JAYNE WRIGHTSMAN DIED IN APRIL AT THE AGE OF 99, IT DIDN’T JUST MARK AN END TO HER TASTEMAKING TALENTS AND PHILANTHROPIC PROWESS. IT MARKED THE END OF AN ERA. HAMISH BOWLES LOOKS BACK AT HER OUTSIZE LIFE.
ayne Wrightsman, who died on Satur- the Wrightsmans had recently acquired a 28day at the age of 99, was a legendary room house, designed by architect Maurice Facultural philanthropist—a brilliant auto- tio. didact who became an expert in the arts “It was very, very pretty,” Jayne recalled of of the 18th century and a fabled enricher of the the legendary property, “with beautiful garcollections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art dens” created by another fabled fashion plate, and other notable institutions. She was also a Mona Harrison Williams. That chatelaine’s renowned and inspirational hostess as well as a interior, by Syrie Maugham, was, as Jayne rebest-dressed style-maker and mentor known for membered, “all white—white lamb or fur carher unerring eye, exquisite taste, connoisseurs- pets—with that beautiful Chinese wallpaper. hip, and sly wit. The living room was as big as the Musée d’OrJayne first sat for Vogue in 1946, arriving say, and the whole thing was covered in all-whiat the studio where Cecil Beaton was working te sofas. It was very smart.” The Wrightsmans only to discover the exquilived for a time with the site actress Vivien Leigh modish Maugham decor Wrightsman’s guest lists “coming out of this bower before they acquired a mixed society beauties with of lilac,” as she recalled. mania for 18th-century “She was so beautiful.” scholars, curators, and, more France. “And then I starSo beautiful, in fact, that often than not, the dashing ted sort of Marie AntoineJayne was taken aback tte–ing it up,” Jayne said. scion of a storied English when she learned that she “We did a lot when we country house was expected to sit on the started collecting French same set. ‘Mr. Beaton, I’m things.” not staying here to be photographed,’ she deBorn Jane Kirkman Larkin in Flint, Michiclared. ‘Oh yes you are!’ he said,” as she reca- gan, hers was a classic American story of delled. “Then he snapped the picture!” termined reinvention. Her father was president Although the portrait of the new Mrs. of the Realty Construction Company, and her Charles Bierer Wrightsman was not published whiskey-voiced mother, Aileen (known as Chuat the time, Jayne and Beaton nevertheless “be- ggy), who hailed from Alabama, seems to have came friends from that day. I loved him—he been as louche and untidy as her daughter was was such fun. And such a good photographer. straitlaced and disciplined. (Vogue would laThank God we had Cecil, or we’d have no Mrs. ter speculate that Jayne’s “zealous pursuit of Wrightsman,” she added, in her characteristi- perfection must always have been there as an cally self-deprecating way, “He used to come outlet for idealism and to confirm a need for every year and say, ‘My dear, shall we do it once stability.”) Jayne endured a broken childhood, more? One last time?’ And I’d say, ‘Yes!’ ” and after her parents separated she moved with Many of these images were published in Vo- her mother and three siblings to Los Angeles, gue, which tracked Jayne’s arc from preterna- where Chuggy frequented the bohemian Cafe turally elegant newlywed to revered society Gala (and where her daughter added the quirky doyenne and connoisseur. The magazine’s first ‘y’ to plain Jane). In high school, she was known image of Jayne—published a year after the first as ‘Little Egypt” for her dark bobbed hair and Beaton sitting—was shot in Palm Beach, where sophisticated use of eyeliner—and was already 39
noted for her immaculate clothes. After high school, Jayne sold gloves in a department store and modeled swimsuits. Her fine-boned elegance and lipsticked glamour caught the eye of both playboys and young actors and led to invitations to William Randolph Hearst’s San Simeon. (At the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum’s 2008 gala for “Superheroes: Fashion and Fantasy,” Jayne, dressed in Karl Lagerfeld’s Dresden pastel faille Chanel couture, especially admired Victoria Beckham among the fellow guests— seeing perhaps, in Beckham’s pearlescent Armani lace shirtwaister, perfect French pleat, scarlet lips, and careful elegance a reflection of her own younger self as a Hollywood glamour girl.) Style icon Slim Hawks (on whom Lauren Bacall based her on-screen persona) described Jayne at the time as “the only extra girl who was respectable.” 40
It was apparently at a dinner party that she caught the eye of the canny, Oklahoma-born Charles Wrightsman, the president of Standard Oil and a recently divorced father of two daughters. At the time, Wrightsman was dating socialite Martha Kemp, but when he was hospitalized for lip cancer, Kemp was off gallivanting while Jayne maintained a bedside vigil throughout his illness. Wrightsman was evidently moved by her attentions, for when he recovered they married. Jayne was 24—as she playfully told me, “an ignoramus”—but she would soon prove to be her socially ambitious husband’s secret weapon. Wrightsman was a notoriously complicated and difficult man whose first wife and both daughters effectively ended their own lives. When Nancy Mitford met him, she wrote to Evelyn Waugh that “he is the
7th richest man & about the 4th nastiest but I love him, he ppily for us all, he decided on the former. As the Metropomakes me scream with laughter.” His money-making ins- litan Museum’s former director Philippe de Montebello has tincts, however, were remarkable: He taught himself to speak noted, Jayne’s contribution to the museum has been “colosCajun dialect in order to acquire vast tracts of Louisiana sal.” Her passion turned out to be European art from 1300– swampland for (highly successful) oil prospecting, and ventu- 1900, with an emphasis on the Italian Renaissance. (“She is red into Soviet Russia in 1921 for Standard Oil when other oblivious to American art,” noted Vogue.) American companies did not dare. (Jayne would later becoAs a young wife, Jayne burnished her voice into a pame a significant benefactor of the Hertrician, Edith Wharton–esque quaver; Her antebellum standards acquired elegant French; and set about mitage and arrange magical trips with her friends to the country.) Wrightsman were giddyingly high—and to teach herself all there was to know overcame childhood illness to become a about French 18th-century art by “listeshe expected her intimate World War I aviator, a crack polo planing, looking, reading, and traveling,” as yer, and an avaricious but discrimina- circle of friends to live up to she put it. In less than a decade, she and ting collector. (The Wrightsmans’ acerher husband accumulated such wonders them bic friend John Pope-Hennessy recalled as Louis XV’s own red lacquer desk; that Charles believed that “everything is for sale in the end.”) Houdon’s bust of Diderot; a 1680 royal Savonnerie carpet The Palm Beach mansion fed his social ambitions. Vo- designed by Charles Le Brun for the Grand Galerie of the gue noted in 1947 that Jayne—appropriately photographed Louvre; a dainty Martin Carlin table set with Sevres plaques in Hattie Carnegie’s ice-blue satin “Watteau” coat—“travels made for Duchess Maria Feodorovna, wife of Tsar Paul I, constantly in this country and Europe for part of the year. son of Catherine the Great; a brace of chairs signed by JaBut winter finds her in Palm Beach, where her great house is cob for the royal palace of Fontainebleau; and Madame du always decorated with people and parties.” The salt water in Barry’s rock crystal toilet bottles, which sat on Jayne’s drestheir pool was changed twice daily and permanently heated sing table. (The Wrightsmans also owned Vermeer’s Portrait to 90 degrees—something their Palm Beach neighbor and of a Young Woman, 1665–7—then thought to be a portrait friend John F. Kennedy found to be a boon for his bad back. of his daughter—and Georges de La Tour’s magisterial The Jayne was the consummate hostess—one who discreetly as- Penitent Magdalen, circa 1640, both now at the Metropoliked her guests about their favorite flowers, which would soon tan Museum. There were four Canalettos, an El Greco, and works by Oudry, Renoir, and Monet.) miraculously materialize in their rooms. As the decorator Henri Samuel of the great French house Wrightsman had determined that the only sure way to secure a place in society was through art or horses—and ha- of Jansen worked on the decor of the Palm Beach house, the 41
Syrie Maugham scheme was transformed— with original parquet de Versailles laid underfoot and 18th-century paneling installed in the rooms—into a Louis Seize mansion framing views of perfectly placed palm trees and tropical flora. (Later, Vincent Fourcade added an almost orientalist layer of splendor to the scheme with Indian furniture, capacious ottomans, paisley upholstery fabrics, and a 17th-century Persian carpet.) Now Vogue really sat up and paid attention to this supremely elegant, reed-slim chatelaine, who was taking her style cues from best-dressed automotive heiress Thelma Chrysler Foy, another aficionada of 18th-century French taste. (In turn, Jayne later mentored ambitious society mavens, including Mercedes Bass and Susan Gutfreund, and inspired a younger generation, including Lauren Santo Domingo and
Sabine Getty.) As Vogue’s Horst and Beaton bore witness, Jayne showcased both her figure and her romantic tastes in the prettiest dresses from Christian Dior and Jacques Fath. “A self-made scholar, Mrs. Wrightsman is unique,” noted the magazine approvingly, “for her mind is as well-dressed as her body.” Jayne would later dress with Balenciaga and Givenchy and Saint Laurent, with her beloved friend Oscar de la Renta, and with her admirer Karl Lagerfeld at Chanel. Many of these masterworks— now in the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum—show that her choices were not always stately: The whimsical 1965 Balenciaga gown trimmed with tremblant fronds of ostrich feather, for instance, is included in this year’s exhibition, “Camp: Notes on Fashion.” In New York, the couple moved from an apartment at the Pierre Hotel to 18th-century
IN OUR SHARE-IT-ALL ERA, NORTH LONDON RAPPER JIMOTHY IS A REFRESHING ENIGMA, FINDS SOEY KIM
PHOTOGRAPHY MARTON PERLAKI STYLING KATE PHELAN
ife is getting quite exciting,” deadpans Jimothy Lacoste on his track “Getting Busy” – a rap detailing a run-of-the-mill week in the life of the north London musician and new fashion favourite, the video for which sees him dancing in a pinstriped shirt, red trousers and a pair of cat’s-eye sunglasses. It’s a lyric that has become a catchphrase – you’ll find it emblazoned on his cult merchandise – and has proved prophetic: since the track surfaced on YouTube in 2017, Lacoste (real name Timothy Gonzales) has gained a devoted following and secured a record deal with label Black Butter, also home to Wiley, DJ Khaled and J Hus. Now, his goals include, “buying a house, as my mum doesn’t allow anyone back, a Ferrari and a beautiful wife”. Is he joking? Well that’s all part of Jimothy’s (he recently decided to drop the Lacoste) intriguing allure. For all the candidness of his near-spoken vocals, he is
careful not to reveal too much of himself, including his age (he “might” have been born around 1999). “It’s all part of the mystery,” he says. The industry and his fans have been charmed by his enigmatic character as much as his sound, unsure whether to believe he is a fame-hungry vlogger, a Sacha Baron Cohen-type comedy act, or an original genius. “That’s the reaction I want!” he says, emphatically. “A bit of confusion, wow and amazement.” It’s rare to hear hip-hop tracks concerned with the mundanity of the everyday, but his music, he insists, “has deeper meanings”. Growing up in London’s leafy Primrose Hill with a Spanish mother, younger brother, older sister and absent father, Jimothy’s has been a life of opposites, living in a council flat while hanging out with some of London’s richest kids. Though fiercely clever, his dyslexia was extreme enough that he was enrolled in a special-needs school for most of his teens. In a generation clamouring to be seen as
individual, it all adds up to a unique lyrical perspective. From “Future Bae” (an unlikely ode to monogamy) to “Drugs” (“If your man is a dick then he might just leave ya, everyone slightly worried even your bloody dealer”) and “I Can Speak Spanish” (“I’d rather know a language than learn boring maths”), the catchiness of his songs is indisputable. As are his fashion credentials. He arrives on set for Vogue wearing Clarks weaver shoes, Coach tracksuit bottoms, a Lacoste turtleneck sweater and a brown leather jacket – a look inspired by “old dad types in the late ’70s” and the documentary Style Wars, “because I am obsessed by the kids dressing like millionaires when they are poor”. Behind the front, though, Jimothy takes his mission seriously. “If you get it, you get it. Some people think it’s comedy – I’m just doing my thing. That’s why I sing about things everyone can relate to,” he says, smiling. “I see music as a way of making friends.”
La presente revista es un trabajo escolar, todas las imágenes y artículos son utilizados con fin académico y sin fines de lucro.