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!

Biologic Clock

Who could ever imagine that the same model who was once featured on more than 40 covers of Cosmopolitan magazine would turn into a biologist? I certainly couldn’t, but in this week’s Model Musing I had the opportunity to chat with the stunning Fabiana Tambosi to find out what’s so attractive about genes and cells.

Follow the link for the original post or simply read below.

Model Musing: Fabiana Tambosi

Born and raised in a small town in the countryside of Brazil, Fabiana Tambosi wanted to go to school to study biology. While going to etiquette classes when she was fourteen, Fabiana was spotted by the same scouter who discovered Gisele Bundchen and Alessandra Ambrosio, so the outcome could only be one.
With a modeling career that spans more than 12 years, she has become one of the most sought after beauty models in the industry, signing contracts with every major brand in the world: L’Oreal Paris, Elizabeth Arden, Clarins, Garnier, Revlon, Almay and Clairol, to name a few.
Her Brazilian beauty caught the eye of great photography masters like Mario Testino Raphael Mazucco and Ellen Von Unwerth who have shot her for prestigious jobs such as the Victoria’s Secret catalog and campaigns for Tommy Hilfiger, Guess by Marciano and Alfred Dunhill Fragrance. Tambosi has graced the covers of top selling magazines such as Vogue, Elle and Marie Claire in several different countries, but probably one of her most remarkable achievements is having appeared on more Cosmopolitan magazine covers than any other model.
Today, Fabiana pursues her dream of becoming a biologist and proves through very hard work, that it is possible to hold the highest grades in her class and still maintain a successful and fruitful career as one of the world’s top models.
So modeling wasn’t really in your radar?
Not at all, I wanted to be a biologist, but my sisters kept telling me that it would be a great opportunity to travel the world and get to know other cultures and learn other languages as well as making money and becoming a more responsible and independent person, because I was very over protected at home.
How did your parents react when you told them about the opportunity to model?
They didn’t want me to do it at all, but my older sisters reminded them that if I were to go to school for biology I would have to leave home anyway. They gave me a year to try modeling and I started working from the moment I stepped into Sao Paulo.
What have you learned since you embraced your modeling career?
I’ve learned that I have to be in charge of my own life. You have to pick goals and work very hard towards achieving them without ever losing sight of what you want. I love the person I have become, I had financial freedom from a young age and became very responsible early on. Traveling the world has taught me a lot, but above all, it has taught me to be disciplined  because without discipline things don’t always work out. 
Is there a job you absolutely would not do?
I would not be photographed naked, I would feel weird about my family seeing it.
What advice would you give to aspiring models?
I would tell them they should know what they want, they need to be disciplined and have a lot of patience to achieve it.
What is your favorite image from your modeling career?
The cover of Vogue Greece, shot in Rio de Janeiro in 2001.
Why do you love it?
Because it was shot in Rio, with beautiful natural light and no retouching.
Who took it?
Thanassis Kaloyannis 
What were you thinking when the picture was taken? 
I was thinking I wanted to look gorgeous for the magazine to sell a lot! (laughs)

Fabiana is represented by Elite Model Management in the United States and Ten Model Management in Brazil.

Full Frontal

This week, Model Musing would be giving full frontal if the website wasn’t G-rated. I took the liberty of posting the actual picture which Samuel de Cubber was talking about, here in my blog. He is really proud of it and I didn’t want to keep any of you from seeing why.

Follow the link for the original interview on Look Books or read below.

Model Musing: Samuel de Cubber

Nudity in the modeling industry has always been a big topic for discussion, but for Samuel de Cubber, it is nothing but his proudest moment. His big career break came in the form of a campaign for an Yves Saint Laurent fragrance, in which he was asked to pose wearing nothing but fragrance. 

Samuel knows the ins and outs of the modeling career and believes it’s a blessed one; “If you are a very successful male model you work three to four times a week at the most, so there’s plenty of time to enjoy life!” says de Cubber.
The top male model, who has traveled the world shooting with some of the most beautiful girls in paradisiac locations now takes from all the experience and networking he gathered through the years  and is applying it to another end of the industry.  Today Samuel works as a model scout for one of France’s leading modeling agencies, New Madison. Looking ahead, Samuel contemplates the possibility of working in the health and fitness industry: “I want to open up gyms, promoting boxing and Taekwondo as the best way to lead a healthy and happy life.” – And if he continues to take advantage of his body like he did in his modeling career, we don’t see any reason why his gyms wouldn’t be packed.
Once you were discovered, did you have support from your family?
I didn’t need anyone’ s approval or support, growing up in Marseille you take every opportunity  you get to improve your life.
Was modeling a dream for you or did it just happened by chance?
I had no idea  guys could be models, I got lucky. 
What have you learned from your career that you consider truly valuable?
I learned that I am my own business, therefore I became the greatest sales person ever! (laughs) In that respect I am the product and this not only can be applied to modeling but also to my every day life. I have also  learned a great deal about myself, I  learned to recognize my good and bad sides, and that ability, I owe to the modeling business.
What advice would you give to aspiring models?
Don’t believe everything people say, learn to listen and make your own opinion, be patient and organized  and also, save money when you are lucky enough to make some!
Do you love fashion?
Not really, I wear T-shirts and jeans all the time, nothing else. 
What was your biggest challenge as a model? 
Not much of a challenge there, I always get very upset when I hear models complaining about their job; no one is forcing them to do this and if they had any other job in their life before modeling they would realize how easy they got it compared to anyone else.  
Why do you love that fragrance campaign?
Because I’m naked on it, and there’s nothing better than being naked (laughs)! No, seriously, it profoundly changed my life, I don’t know of many pictures that were able to change someone’s life so much, I had no idea what I was stepping into when I took that job. 
Who took it? Were you excited to work with that photographer?
Solve Sundsbo took it, but I had no idea who he was.
Who else was in the crew?
From what I recall it was Tom Ford , Solve and his assistants, Sam McKnight and Thomas Lenthal on the set. 
What direction did the photographer give you?
Solve is really cool, we spoke a lot the day before the shoot and he showed me pictures of Greek statues and similar references, so once we were on the shoot we just went with the flow and tried a few different things, until Tom, Solve and Thomas where happy with it. 
What was it for?
The fragrance M7 by Yves Saint Laurent.

A Love Affair in Tiffany Blue

I have once again interviewed the artist Danny Roberts. This time we talked about his collaboration with the iconic jewelry brand Tiffany & Co. Have a look at the original after the jump or below.

Tiffany & Co.’s Love Affair with Art

When Tiffany & Co. decided to settle in a new location in the heart of SoHo, they also came with a set of fresh ideas, in a concept that attracts attention to their upcoming store without advertising it, in low key and elegant manner, like the brand itself. Tiffany commissioned  four artists to paint their massive store front on 97 Greene street: Danielle Dimston, Ellis Gallagher, Danny Roberts and Natasha Law; each creating something in their own vision and style. The first three artists showed between July 16th and August 17th; and Natasha Law, is showing between August 18th and 27th. On Fashion’s Night Out the artists  will mix with the usual hurly-burly of fashion when videos and photos of all of the artistic productions will be displayed at the store.
The only requirement for the artists was that they showed their interpretation of what love is and that the iconic color “Tiffany Blue” should be incorporated in their work. Love is not a theme that is foreign to the company, which is probably the brand that is more associated with romance than any other in its field.  As for the color requirement; well, ask any woman how they’d feel if they got a box in Tiffany Blue as a gift and there will be your answer. For the moment though, see what Danny Roberts has to say about his collaboration.
How did you come up with the concept for this mural?
Since the theme of Love is an essential part of the Tiffany and Co. brand, they wanted the theme to be my interpretation of love. My first thought was of a guy and a girl in love, and the girl wearing a dress in Tiffany Blue. From there, the picture began to center around things I love. Since I love painting, couture and high fashion collections, I thought to incorporate that into the composition. The guys clothes were inspired by 1837 which was the year Tiffany’s was founded. Also, I love castles and old architecture, so I decided to set the picture in a palace.  
Were you nervous about producing something in such a large scale?
Yes, definitely, but it’s something that I am a little used to. Whenever I try something different, there is a nervous excitement that comes with it, but it’s a feeling I actually love.
Are any of the characters in your painting inspired by people in your life?
Yes, not all of them, but a few. The guys, for the most part, were referenced off of me, just because it was the most convenient. Some of the girls were inspired by Lily Cole, Ali Michael, and Sophie and Gemma Ward. I chose them because they are girls I am used to drawing, and I really enjoy drawing them.
Anything curious happened while you were working on it?
Not really, except that the brand had asked me to sign my name in the mural in the back of the store, where the two other artists had already signed too and the whole wall was tagged by graffiti artists, so I had to climb all the way to the top to sign. I think they saw Ellis’s signature (which resembles a tag) and felt inspired. (laughs)
You can also follow Danny Roberts and Igor & Andre on Twitter.

Light Blue

The Model Musing column this week features Daniela Lopes and her memorable ad for Dolce & Gabbana’s fragrance Light Blue, shot by none other than Mario Testino.

Have a read after the jump or below.

Model Musing: Daniela Lopes

Daniela Lopes had never imagined she could be a model. In fact, Daniela wasn’t even aware of what models did or who they were so, naturally, when she was approached on the street by the mother of a model and invited to join a modeling agency she set out to do some research on the subject. As a fourteen year old she was taken by a teenage magazine and immediately swept away by the images in those pages. That was it, a love affair of more than fifteen years with fashion had begun.
With campaigns such as Roberto Cavalli, Alberta Ferretti, D&G and L’Oreal under her belt as well as covers for the top selling magazines like Vogue, W and Elle, Daniela continues to work steadily in an industry that can be ruthless about age. With an appetite for the new, Daniela has also explored possibilities in the fields of interior design and acting, while she works on making time to fully dedicate herself to her true dream: journalism.
Here we explore some of Daniela’s modeling memories and have a look at her favorite image from a long and successful career.
Did you have support from you family?
All the way, my mother especially, she was always there, even when I was miles away, oceans apart, she was there, and the entire family celebrated every new job, a new magazine editorial or an ad.
What about this profession makes you the happiest?
The opportunities I have had so far,  I learned new languages, traveled all over the world, met different people; great people! It has been great to understand and live with different cultures and keep an open mind. It’s a huge opportunity for a girl from Brazil. I also learned a lot about taking care of myself physically and mentally; being away from home for so long can be really hard on us. The financial  side of this profession is also great as it allows me to help my family. But at the end of the day what makes me the happiest is a job well done. 
And the most disappointed?
That even though we travel to the most amazing places in the world, we are always on our own. I wish I could have a loved one with me to share the beauty and experience of those places.
What were your most remarkable experiences as a model?
I can’t pin point a specific job or anything like that, but what the modeling career has provided me. I have to say living in New York and enjoying the practical, fast paced lifestyle that I adore has been fantastic. I have also lived in Paris several years ago, and that was just remarkable, I will always have those years in my heart, forever.
What have you learned from your career that you consider truly valuable?
A sense of fashion? (laughing) Just kidding, but yes that too! But truly, I’ve learned to be humble, always.
What advice would you give to aspiring models?
Do your homework when searching for a modeling agency. Plus, really look into the business you’re getting into in order to find out what it really is like, as it is not for everyone. Can you picture yourself wearing a heavy winter coat on the most hot and humid day of the summer for a shoot? Or being away from your family for months? Being a model is not only what you see in the magazines, there is a lot of hard work behind it, and if you do want to be a model, be yourself, believe in yourself, and always remember where you came from. The world is waiting for you.
What’s your biggest challenge as a model? 
To make time for myself.
So tell me, why do you love this picture?
Because even though it was for a fragrance campaign, it doesn’t look like a fragrance ad. Also, there is just me, my face nude and clean, nothing else to embellish.
Who was the photographer?
Mario Testino was the photographer, and even though I had previously worked with him for V magazine, I was as excited and nervous as the first time.
How long did this shoot last?
The shoot was done in less then  three  hours!
What direction did the photographer give you?
“Think of your boyfriend, think that you are seducing him…”  Or something like that… (laughs)
What was it for?
A new fragrance from Dolce & Gabbana that was coming out, called “Light Blue”
What were you wearing?
My jeans and a bra from D&G. I also had a lot of Vaseline on my face and upper body and my hair kept getting caught on it all the time.
What was the theme of the shoot?
I don’t think there was a theme, I can’t remember, but even if there was one I wouldn’t have known, my English was so limited back then and Mario’s Portuguese too…
Daniela Lopes is represented by Elite Model Management.

The Pig and the Muse

This week’s Model Musing involves a pig and a lot of laughter. Have a look at what the model-photographer Zuzana Lettrichova has to say after the jump, or below.

Model Musing: Zuzana Lettrichova
Being tall and skinny can be a torture for many teenagers, as Zuzana Lettrichova puts it, “it wasn’t exactly one of the beauty standards when growing up”; so modeling was definitely not in her radar. When she was approached by a model scout while roaming the streets of her home town in Slovakia she was surprised, but the support of her family played a big role in making the final decision to embrace this opportunity.
As Zuzana took off to explore the world, the only thing she absolutely could not forget to do every day was to call her mother, “to make sure her little daughter was ok and alive” as she reminisces.
Currently, Zuzana spends most of her time between Paris and Manhattan, where she calls home and explores more of her artistic side by taking photographs and making collages, a craft that she has grown to love.
Here we have an opportunity to find what Zuzana’s favorite modeling image is and why.
Why do you love this picture?
Because it’s a photo of a spontaneous and real moment; even now when I look at it, it makes me smile.
Who took it? Were you excited to work with this photographer?
Danish photographer Torkil Gudnason and some of the photos from this shoot ended up in his book “Torkil Gudnason – Selected Photographs 2005-2010”
What was so curious about this shoot in particular?
The presence of a 3 weeks old baby pig! It was a really fun job, it doesn’t happen so often that I shoot with animals, it brings a different vibe to the whole shoot and you never know what will happen because you can’t really control them.
Who else was in the crew?
Muriel VanCauwen for hair and Anne-Caroline Ayotfor make up.
What were you thinking when it was taken?
“Do not  drop him!”;  he was moving a lot and every time he was uncomfortable he started squealing super loud.
What direction did the photographer give you?
He said I should bring lots of energy and expressions, but he also gave me freedom to do my thing. I don’t think too much direction is necessarily a good thing.
What was it for?
French Marie Claire
Who was the stylist?
Laurence Alexandre
What were you wearing?
Victor & Rolf dress
What has modeling taught you about the fashion world that you didn’t know?
That as fun and glamorous as this industry looks like, it’s still a business!
What have you learned from your career that you consider truly valuable?
Being independent, confident and open minded.
What advice would you give to aspiring models?
Always have something else going on,  it is a very up and down kind of business so its important to have other activities and do something valuable with your spare time.
What would be your ultimate modeling job?
A big cosmetic contract or perfume campaign.
Is there a job that you absolutely would not do?
I can’t say what I would never do because it all depends on the situation and circumstances of  the job…
To see Zuzana’s photography and art work check out her blog. Zuzana is represented by Trump Models.

Comb

How many people can say they had their pubic hair combed by Tom Ford? Not many, but the subject of this week’s Model Musing column certainly can. Have a read after the jump or below to find out more about Christopher Camplin.

Model Musing: Christopher Camplin

Christopher Camplin is your regular handsome English bloke, a web developer who lives in London, he is also the perfect tale of the accidental model. Approached by identical twins at an after hours club one night, he was asked whether he would like to be presented as an option for a shoot with Tom Ford. At the time it didn’t seem like a bad idea, and it turns out he was in fact chosen for the part. Being naked in GQ was not what he was thinking when he signed up for this gig, but after a few shots of vodka he was ready to have Tom Ford combing his body hair, and as Norma Desmond would say, he was ready for his close up.
With a modeling career that was kicked off with one of the biggest blessings in a very  exclusive industry, Christopher’s path was set. A collection of selective and high end bookings have followed since then, always in parallel with his work as a web developer, as well as stints as a DJ here and there. Here he picks his favorite picture as a model and tells us a little bit more about his thoughts on the industry.
Do you think modeling is perceived by society in a different way for men than it is for women?
Not specifically, I don’t think society’s perception of female and male models is particularly different, models often seem to be regarded as unintelligent regardless of their sex.
Was modeling ever a dream of yours?
It was never something I’d really considered, I was scouted purely by chance and it gradually snow balled from there. I never expected to get more work after each job in the beginning. I still wonder now!
What were your most remarkable experiences as a model?
I would have to say Tom Ford combing my pubic hair or walking down on an elevated travelator for Walter Van Beirendonck’s “Dream The World Awake” video for a retrospective of his work.
So why is this image your favorite?
This was a recent shoot I did , for Lee Paton’s latest collection. I mostly love it because I got to work with the Huskies, they were beautiful and really well behaved.
Who took it?
The photographer was Lee Roberts, always a pleasure to work with – a lovely man.
What were you thinking when this picture was being taken?
“I want to own some Huskies.”
Was there a theme for the shoot?
The theme of the collection was an arctic exhibition.
Is there any advice you would like to share with aspiring models?
I didn’t really make any effort to become a model so I can’t advise on that, but… learn to be comfortable in your own skin and accept yourself is the advice I would give.
Christopher is represented by Models 1.

In The Raw

When news broke that Supermodel Carol Alt was about to launch another of her raw dieting books, “Easy Sexy Raw” I remember thinking – “oh no,  here we go, yet another diet book from a celebrity!”. I also remember thinking that Carol looked pretty fabulous  in our last encounter a couple of weeks prior to that. I was left curious by the premise of her book and the fact that this was one of many in a line of best selling books about the same subject: living a lifestyle that incorporates raw foods to improve the quality of life.

It’s only natural to pay attention when you hear a certain book is a best-seller, but after three hits in a series, you must look closely. And so I did. Carol Alt’s books are not simply diets, like the Atkins or the South Beach, they truly are a way of living that has worked for hundreds of thousands around the globe and has found in Alt their biggest supporter and spokesperson. Adept of this intriguing principle of only eating raw foods for nearly twenty years, Carol’s excitement when talking about her books and her health is not for nothing. After being sent back home by a director in the midst of shooting her TV special “Carol Alt & Friends” at the age of 34, because her body wasn’t in swimsuit condition, this Sports Illustrated supermodel, known internationally for her beauty and sculptural body was shocked. How could the star of the show have let go of herself like that?


Book-Cover-827x1024-300x371.jpgBook-Cover-827x1024-300x371.jpg

At that moment Carol realized that there was something horribly wrong. How was it possible that in less than ten years her body and health had deteriorated so dramatically? How was it possible that a 34 year old woman could be constantly catching colds, having headaches, stomachaches and having the most painful sinus infections? This was her opportunity to turn the tables. Carol prayed as hard as she could for enlightenment, and so it came. When talking to a friend about the recent events, Carol was given the suggestion to look for this doctor that had helped one of their other friends to treat cancer. The results came right at the first day of her new lifestyle, and from that moment on, Carol saw the need to be more vocal about it and tell the world the wonders that such a simple change had brought upon her.

The idea for the raw books were picked up by Random House “in a snap of the fingers”, like Carol likes to say, and the rest is best-selling history. The success of the books led Carol to try and brake new boundaries. After extensive research to find beauty products that did not have any chemicals in their composition, wasn’t she surprised to find that such products did not exist? And so years of research and development started with her team, to come up with the first ever beauty line that is also raw and 100% natural: “Raw Essentials by Carol Alt”.

To prove her point, the model/actress explains that “the company that did before and after tests said it is the best before and after results they have ever seen, natural, organic or otherwise. You see, we do get great results without any chemicals!”. And not only the results are phenomenal, but so is the price. “we wanted to reach out to a lot of people with a product of very high quality and very low cost. Nobody else does that, I could sell these products for 80 bucks each, but I wanted it to be accessible to everyone, not just the elite. I hardly make any profit on this, and part of it also goes into cancer research. I am healthy on my skin and on my body and I really wanted to share that with as many people as possible.”.

Ms. Alt proves being deserving of her supermodel title as she continues to work as hard and as much as she did when she first got it in the early eighties. The creation of this title however is packed with controversy. Eileen Ford, then owner of Ford Models claimed she used to call her models supermodels around the office. Janice Dickinson, a fellow supermodel, claims to have created the title to describe herself. Yet, most of the press claims that Carol Alt was the first supermodel, and she has an idea of why. 

“It was only a working title. The agency (Elite Models) started using it after I had a meeting with John (Casablancas, then owner of Elite) to explain that it was impossible to work when we were getting several calls per day from our bookers in the studio. I was really afraid the clients might get irritated and not book me again. This was a time when I was working up to three jobs a day, seven days a week without ever taking a break, it was intense! Clients had to book us with six months in advance! John then decided to create a Super Elite Division in which each of these super requested girls would have its own booker and would only get calls from that one person, keeping things more organized. This division had much bigger girls than me, like Kim Alexis or Kelly Emberg, but I suppose that since I was the first one in, the press picked up on it.”

Whether she was the first supermodel or not doesn’t seem to bother her at all, Carol is very humble about her career and speaks of her accomplishments with profound passion. Her latest given title is “legend”, bestowed upon her by her current agency, Trump Models, In New York. The newly created Legends Division, represents working models that have become huge and unforgettable, like Carmen Dell’Orefice, with a career that goes way beyond the mark of the sixty years; or Beverly Johnson, a name that will forever be remembered as the first woman of color in the cover of Vogue.

Carol Alt is a legend not only because she allegedly was the first supermodel, but because her career in the film, music, TV and literary industries have all been successful and filled with accolades. Her recognition as an actress in the United States, her home country, may not be as huge as her recognition in Europe, but the pile of awards that fill Carol’s shelves in her New York home will show you just how important she is to that world. Carol’s acting career is just as large as her modeling, her first job was on Broadway in Bob Fosse’s “Sweet Charity”, job that made her realize just how much she needed to learn the craft of acting. This was a time in which models did not become actresses and actresses did not work in TV commercials or advertising jobs, so to make a transition of that sort would require a lot of training and talent. Carol hired a coach and worked hard from the very first day. Her first movie, “Via Montenapoleone” was such a huge hit in Europe that it was later turned into a tv series. Since then Carol has worked in more than 50 films and is ready for the release of her latest project, with none other than Woody Allen. His new feature entitled “To Rome with Love”, due in the spring of 2012 worldwide takes the audience back to the good old Allen style, from films like “Manhattan” or “Everyone Says I Love You”.

Carol had hoped for a bigger and more established acting career in the United States, but by the time she was already a big star in Europe the 90’s had arrived, and with that a whole new team of supermodels, girls that had extensive amount of fame and were being offered parts in movies without even wanting to pursue a career in acting. Needless to say, these models were unprepared to deliver serious performances and by the time Carol returned to her country and hit Hollywood, the film community was fed up with models who wanted to be in movies. Carol’s talent and stardom however wasn’t diminished, she was still a supermodel.

Not one to sit on her hands, she took advantage of her position and went on to do work with several charitable organizations and more recently found the cause that lives in the core of her heart: TAMFI, the Tony Alt Memorial Foundation. “My brother passed away in 2005, and nobody knows why, he just dropped to the floor and died. His workers loved him, and that is such a testament to who my brother was, that they didn’t want his spirit to die. They started this foundation to raise money for children’s charities. Everyone in that foundation works for free, they have day jobs, so they donate their time to make sure the right organizations are getting the funds they need.” – explains the entrepreneur.

And then there is also a jewelry line launched in partnership with Sears. Yes, if this woman doesn’t deserve to be called legendary, than I have no idea who else should. The butterfly designed by Carol, is meant to symbolize transformation, because she claims to have been transformed since she started her raw living. With a green gem in the back, Carol hopes she will be able to bring healing energies to whoever purchases the items, which of course also reverts profits to charity.

And does this supermodel turned legend ever get tired? “Well, you know, sometimes I do. I do, but I try to do things that I am passionate about, I keep going because I enjoy what I am doing and from the moment I stop enjoying it I will stop it all. But you know what? I do my best, I am only trying to do my little bit, and for me it is all about health and I am trying to bring health to people.” Could the message be any clearer? I don’t think so.


——————-

Article originally published in The Peninsula

Supermodel of the World

This week’s Model Musing column on Look Books features the Brazilian stunner Liliane Ferrarezi.

Check it out by clicking here.

Model Musing: Liliane Ferrarezi

At the young age of fourteen, Liliane was instantly catapulted to fame in her native Brazil when she won (over 350,000 other contestants) her country’s round of the Ford Supermodel of the World contest in a televised event that aired on MTV. A position as the second runner up, out of 45 finalists, in the world’s final in Punta Cana followed, as well as an immediate contract with Ford Models worldwide. Talk about starting off with a bang. 
In the Big Apple, Liliane’s career rocketed to the top. Campaigns for Hermes, Calvin Klein, Burberry, Miu Miu and Michael Kors, among others followed; along with covers and editorials for some of the world’s most celebrated magazines like Vogue, W, L’Officiel, Allure, Elle, I-D and V – all shot by the industry’s top photographers. Liliane reached a top position in models.com’s coveted top 50 – place in which she stayed for more than three years in a row. 
Now married and back to the arms of her native Brazil, Liliane only comes out of her beach front home in Florianópolis for very special bookings. Macy’s was the most recent, in which she is the leading lady in an all things Brazil commercial that is an homage to the beauty of her native country. For this one, she didn’t have to go too far; the location was an iconic house designed by Brazil’s most renowned architect, Oscar Niemeyer, in Rio de Janeiro.
Here Liliane picks one among so many memorable images from her career and tells us why this one is particularly important to her.
Why do you love this picture?
This was one of my first bookings, I had to make different faces and poses and that was all new and challenging at the same time. I didn’t know how to model and I was surrounded by so many influential people in the fashion industry.
Who took it?
It was David Sims, he always asks us to make so many different poses and faces. (laughs)
What was it for?
W Magazine
Was this a long shoot given your level of experience?
I’m not sure how long, but it was a long, long shoot. I didn’t know how to model properly and having to pose in so many different ways was a little complicated at the time 
Was anyone else with you?
My mom; I was so embarrassed to shoot in front of her! (laughs) But she was always with me in the beginning, she gave me so much support in my career, and I was so young.
Was modeling always a dream of yours?
I wanted to be a model, but I wasn’t desperate about it.
What was your most remarkable experience as a model?
Winning the Supermodel of the World contest in Brazil, because in my head I never thought I would win, it really was a surprise!
What are some of the most valuable lessons you learned from being a model?
Giving value to my family, my country and learning different cultures from different countries are some important ones. I also learned to be more patient, because one of the qualities we have to exercise the most in this profession is patience 
What about this profession makes you happy?
Getting to know different people from different parts of the world. It made me grow up really fast, faster than all the other girls my age.
What’s your biggest challenge as a model?
I really wish a could live in Brazil full time and still get to work in the US and in Europe as much as I always did. This is my current challenge. I suppose this is what makes life fun and interesting, always having new challenges to conquer; I am sure pretty soon I will have a brand new one!
Can you give an advice to the young girls out there who dream of becoming models?
Trust your dream and pursue it. Never think it will be easy, because it really isn’t, but don’t give up, because it’s all worth it.
Liliane Ferrarezi is represented by IMG Models.

Legendary Johnson

Beverly Johnson is not a fearful woman, she knows what she wants out of life, and she takes it. From a very young age she decided she needed to help in her family’s income and so she went on to become a model. In her early career, Beverly was given the honor of having her face stamped in the cover of Vogue, the most prestigious magazine in the world. That alone would be an accomplishment for any model, but the year was 1974 and Ms. Johnson was the first woman of color to ever be featured in the cover of Vogue.

From that moment on, Beverly Johnson would never again be just a model, she had become legendary. A part of the newly formed division entitled Legends, at New York’s Trump Models, her placement there could not be more suited. At a time in which everyone is a supermodel, to be recognized as a legend is quite distinguishing, even more so, because Ms. Johnson is from an era in which the term “Supermodel” wasn’t even invented.

Legendary Beverly Johnson remains. In 2012 she has launched a reality TV show in Oprah Winfrey’s network, OWN, and the rise to success of her newborn endeavor in the world of cosmetics in a partnership with Target. The first ever “Modelpreneur” continues to amaze us.

After more than 40 years actively working in the entertainment industry, Beverly’s career has produced more than 500 magazine covers, advertising campaigns, beauty contracts, runway shows, two books, movies, tv shows and an extensive list of charity work. 

Ms. Johnson’s most important accomplishment however was not in front of any sort of cameras, but in the privacy of her home: her daughter Anansa, with whom she now shares a home alongside her granddaughter and son in law. Beverly’s Full House is not just the title of her television series, but a description of what her life has become; a life full of great accomplishments and happiness. Here Beverly tells us a little more about her full life. 


 

What drove you to doing this docu-series on OWN?

It was the perfect opportunity to have my daughter, who I will always love, around me, and my new son in law, who is the son who I always wanted, and also my first grand child. Also, I knew that my daughter would never consent to going into therapy or any of the other things I had been involved with all these years, and she loves reality shows, she got me into reality tv, so she was thrilled with the whole idea, and that’s why I did that pitch to Oprah, it was a great way to get closer to my daughter and work in our relationship.

 

I can’t imagine how it is to have cameras all around your life and your house constantly; are there ever moments when it becomes too much to deal with and too difficult? Is it a big camera crew?

Well, of course it took some adjusting at first because I didn’t really know how intense it was and I didn’t realize it was going to be 20 to 25 people in my home every day. I don’t know what I was thinking. But also because it is a constructive reality tv show, it wasn’t about shooting indiscriminately, and the purpose of the show was to build a stronger bond with my daughter and to document me building my company. After a while, since we had a purpose in mind, it was much easier to manage, because we knew why we were doing it.

 

So there is definitely a way to manage the crew?

No, there is no coordination, they are there, from sun up to sun down, and sometimes even  longer than that, so there is no way to coordinate anything. We are in a reality tv show, so therefore we had life coaches come in so we could carry on all our normal activities because we are taking our cameras with us when we are going to fashion shoots and everything else in our daily lives.

 

So, now you are working on this docu-series and your company, but looking back in your career you have been in film, now you are in tv, you’ve done runway, you’ve done advertising, all sorts of things. What are the mediums that you worked with throughout your career that excite you the most? What makes your heart beat faster?

Today the digital media is something that really excites me, I think it’s a frontier that is very exciting, I love the podcasts, the streaming web, I read several blogs, I tweet via @BeverlyJohnson1, I facebook, it’s really about sharing your feelings with people and there is a connection there, I really believe that the internet has really made us able to connect with each other like we never have before.

 

And because you were the first african american woman in the cover of Vogue, I believe people look up to you, there is this aura around you, you seem to be a huge role model to women of color in particular. Do you think there is a message that  comes throughout your career? Did you ever aim to pass on this message that you can do whatever you want and succeed?

I really believe that I am living my life and living my dreams, and if I can inspire and be a role model to other people it’s great, but I am basically just living my life as an open book. In the 70’s and 80’s I was just telling people what was going on in my life and career, and now I get to share it in television, in reality television. I am just doing what I do.

 

You are of course a fashion and a beauty icon and you have transformed that career into very smart business decisions. When you were at the top of your modeling career years ago, did you already have the idea of working towards these projects or did they come to you little by little more recently?

They were always there, and I got into the business because I wanted to help out my family financially and I was able to do that. I was also able to open up a whole world of fashion and beauty and the arts, which I have grown to love, and also have the pleasure of, in some ways, become an expert just from being in it for so long. I think that it’s something that I wanted to share with other people, my knowledge, my experience and my career, these are things I always wanted to share with everyone.

 

Can you point out a moment in your career in which you look back and you say “this is it, now I have everything I could have asked for and I am happy!”?

Well, I would say, career wise, I knew that being the first woman of color in the cover of Vogue was something that nobody would ever be able to take away from me because I was the first and Vogue was and still is such an important media, not only in fashion but in the culture of America. So I always said that if I never get to do anything else, I have achieved a huge accomplishment! And that was in the beginning of my career, so it was all uphill from there.

 

How did it make you feel; were you blown away? Because when you went to shoot the editorial, did you know it was going to be a cover?

No, I didn’t know it was going to be a cover, in those days you never knew you were shooting a cover, you never knew you would be the cover until you saw yourself in the stand. But I knew it was a big deal, it still is a big deal to be in the cover of Vogue, but I didn’t know what what it meant to be the first woman of color in that cover, and what it meant for people of color around the world. I wasn’t prepared for that kind of responsibility to be thrust upon me at such a young age, but it gave me a purpose and kind of a road map of where I should go and how I should honor that achievement.

 

And lastly, I want to talk about charity, because I know you have done extensive work with Aids organizations and many others, how important is it for you to work with charity?

I did a lot of work with Aids and Amfar in the 80’s, we did that advertising shoot by Annie Leibovitz with Christie Brinkley and all those girls that were coming out and really speaking about Aids when it was still tabu, so I still am affiliated with various Aids organizations and always will be. That’s when you really get to step out of yourself and lend your celebrity to others. I am the spokesperson for global down syndrome, my niece has down syndrome and it is just such a great organization. They do a fashion show every year and if you could just look at their faces when they are walking down the runway and how they perform, there is so much about the condition and knowing that we can help these kids to reach their potential, so that’s something I am very involved with. I am also involved with a center out here in the desert that works with abused children, and we also put a fashion show together for them, and just to see these girls self esteem move up is something that makes it all worth while.

 

So, should we expect a second season for “Beverly’s Full House”?

Oh, I don’t know yet, it’s too early to tell. I do know it is the second biggest hit in the network and we have had a great feedback on it but we are very hopeful and happy about it.

———————

Article originally published in The Peninsula – volume 9, Issue 2 / June 2012

Proud Legend

Out today on Look Books is an interview I did with the legendary supermodel Beverly Johnson.

Have a read by clicking here.

Beverly Johnson: Proud to be a Legend

Many people are iconic but only a few are legendary and not many of these legends are alive to tell their stories. Today, Beverly Johnson is more active in her professional and personal life than ever. With a career that spans more than 40 years of history, Mrs. Johnson is a shining beacon of the modeling industry.
Being the first African American woman to be featured on the cover of Vogue, Beverly was given an opportunity to make a difference in the world not only for women of color, but to women in general. Proving that a successful modeling career goes beyond good looks, Beverly became the first “modelpreneur” launching books and a hair care and beauty line in partnership with Target. 
Most recently Beverly added to her credits her very own reality TV show, entitled “Beverly’s Full House”, in which the development of her company and the relationship with her daughter Anansa are open for public viewing in what has become OWN’s second most watched show of the season.
What drove you to do this docu-series on OWN?
It was the perfect opportunity to have my daughter around me. I knew that my daughter would never consent to going into therapy or any of the other things I had been involved with all these years, and she loves reality shows, she got me into reality TV, so she was thrilled with the whole idea, and that’s why I pitched  Oprah , it was a great way to get closer to my daughter and work in our relationship. 
So, now you are working on this docu-series on your life and company, but looking back on your career you have been in film, now you are on TV, you’ve done runway, you’ve done advertising and more. What are the mediums that you worked with throughout your career that excite you the most?
Today digital media is something that really excites me, I love the podcasts, I read several blogs, I tweet, I Facebook; it’s really about sharing your feelings with people and there is a connection there. I believe that the internet has really made us able to connect with each other like we never have before.
Can you point out a moment in your career in which you look back and you say “this is it, now I have everything I could have asked for and I am happy!”?
I knew that being the first woman of color in the cover of Vogue was something that nobody would ever be able to take away from me because I was the first and Vogue was and still is such an important media, not only in fashion but in the culture of America. So I always said that if I never get to do anything else, I have achieved a huge accomplishment! And that was in the beginning of my career, so it was all uphill from there.
How did it make you feel; were you blown away? Because when you went to shoot the editorial, did you know it was going to be a cover? 
No, in those days you never knew you would be the cover until you saw yourself in the stand. But I knew it was a big deal, it still is a big deal to be on the cover of Vogue, but I didn’t know what it meant to be the first woman of color on that cover, and what it meant for people of color around the world. I wasn’t prepared for that kind of responsibility to be thrust upon me at such a young age, but it gave me a purpose and kind of a road map of where I should go and how I should honor that achievement.
How do you feel about being called a legend, are you proud of the title?
What’s not to like!? It’s an honor to be acknowledged for your passion and work in life.
Beverly Johnson is represented by Trump Legends. 
Follow Beverly Johnson on twitter at @BeverlyJohnson1 and check out her website by clicking here

Influencer

Influencer of a Generation

The year was 1983, and the collaboration between Maripol and Madonna would enter history to become one of the most legendary and iconic trends in history. The punk influenced look, composed mainly by rubber jewelry and crosses created by Maripol for Madonna’s Like a Virgin album cover and music video became a fashion phenomenon however, that was just one among many projects in which Maripol had her hands on.

With a sharp eye for fashion and innovation, Maripol was not only styling looks but creating art and new concepts of her own. Working for Fiorucci as a creative director, she was responsible for all the buzz around their then famous New York store, which rocketed their designer jeans concept to fame. “We brought in Lamé Jeans on monday and by wednesday we didn’t have anymore left. Even Calvin Klein said he got inspired to do jeans by Fiorucci”, observes the artist.

The innovative rubber jewelry worn by the likes of Madonna and Grace Jones were completely created by Maripol in her NoHo apartment, in which she still lives today. The pieces became a hit, Maripol opened her own store and also worked on developing special merchandising for Madonna’s tour. On the flip side, becoming such a huge style icon back in an era  when copyright and patents weren’t really a priority, led Maripol’s company to a closure. “How can you survive when millions of people start making their most horrible supposedly rubber jewelry, which was actually made out of plastic? Mine was made of genuine rubber. I had a factory in Hong Kong, I had this dream to help the rubber industry in places like Malaysia and helping poor people by giving them work. Nobody else had that dream, it was pure greed! Now I know how it must feel to be Prada or others and see your knock off’s everywhere!”

Even though bankruptcy wasn’t ideal, it definitely did not stop Maripol in her tracks. Placed right at the core of the New York downtown scene, in the company of Andy Warhol, Jean Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring and Deborah Harry, the group was creating whatever they felt was relevant and exciting.

Going on to produce and direct documentaries like “Crack is Whack” and music videos for talents like Elton John and Cher, this artist experimented in all realms available. It was with the feature film “Downtown ‘81”, produced by herself along with Glenn O’Brien and Edo Bertoglio that she really transcended her time. The film, which depicts a day in the life of the then emerging artist Jean Michel-Basquiat, was the portrait of the times in which they lived in, made with love and honesty for their generation and the many others which would follow and admire them.

Throughout her career Maripol had a couple of common denominators: curiosity and a polaroid camera. Known widely for her work with polaroid pictures, Maripol’s work has been shown in museums across the globe and featured in top art and fashion magazines. A book, Maripolarama was published in 2005 featuring her most remarkable images, and most recently in 2010 a more complete look at her career was brought to our attention by Damiani in a book entitled Little Red Riding Hood. In this book we are invited to take a closer look at Maripol’s oeuvre, drawing a finer picture of who this artistic genius really is. 

Her work with polaroids is not over, nor is her passion for rubber jewelry. In 2010, while working on Little Red Riding Hood, inspired by an 80s resurgence that was in the air, Maripol felt compelled to bring her creations back to life. Like any good inventor, the light bulb went on and the designer decided to approach Marc Jacobs for a collaboration with his line Marc by Marc Jacobs. Maripol was taken to Marc by the resemblance of his Bleeker street store with Fiorucci’s back in the 80s. The return was a huge success via 17 pieces that included jewelry and t-shirts and brought attention to Maripols name and brand to another generation of hipsters.

Currently working on independently relaunching her line, she never seems to stop; but why should she? Not many can say they have influenced a generation. Maripol can.

Model Designer

Last week I sat for a talk with Inga Savits, an accomplished model who recently started her own shoe brand out of Milan. Her love affair with designing for fashion dates from long before her modeling years and it’s interesting to see how she took advantage of her work as a model to pursue her dream of becoming a shoe designer; and a great one too.

Already in her third collection, Inga’s designs have been spotted in red carpets across the globe and in collaborations with emerging french designer Alexis Mabille.

Have a look at the full article here or read below.

Model Designer: Inga Savits

After a successful career in front of the camera, some models open up night clubs and restaurants, others launch their own fragrances and skincare lines and many of them work in collaboration with large brands to launch fashion collections with their names attached to it. When it comes to Inga Savits however, it goes the other way around.
At the age of 19, Inga was attending fashion school in Estonia, her home country, when she was approached by a model scout while shopping. Puzzled by the idea of having an opportunity to see how fashion was done from behind the scenes, the student took that chance and went to Paris. Inga’s first job was with Mr. Yves Saint Laurent, in 1998. Inga spent a few days with Mr. Saint Laurent in his atelier, hair coiffed and red lipstick on, while he worked on his collection. “My eyes were open to see how he was making his dresses, what kind of accessories he was pairing with them, pretty much everything!”. After walking YSL’s famous catwalk, Inga was thrown into the arms of the fashion industry, which embraced and still holds her dearly.
During the time spent as a model in Milan, Inga met the shoe designer Brian Atwood, who then lived there. In observing his passion for shoes, Inga realized that shoe making was what she wanted to pursue in fashion. With more than a decade of experience as a model, it was time to dive into her long time passion and for that, she moved permanently to the Italian city. She was delighted to be closer to the shoe factories she worked closely with as well as old friends who constantly inspire her to create her own namesake line, Inga Savits.
Still unsure of whether she should go back to school to study the craft of shoemaking or not, Inga took some time to research the industry. “I went to a friend of mine who works at Versace and asked his opinion. He said I had the best teachers in the world, from Mr. Yves Saint Laurent to Galliano and Donatella Versace, teachers that most students would never have a chance to meet in their lives. In his opinion I was better off with the experience I had gathered as a model. He said if I went to school for shoe design I would not allow my creativity to take flight and could be restrained by the practicalities.”
Inga’s designs are a reflection of her years on and off of the catwalk, and are inspired by her life. The main goal is to create designs that are stylish and feminine without having to compromise in comfort and versatility. “Unfortunately in fashion when you say comfortable people think about medical shoes, or ugly shoes, and my goal is to show that it is possible to create very feminine shoes that can be comfortable at the same time. I had to learn to walk in very uncomfortable shoes, so now I want to make the type of shoe you can feel good about and wear anywhere at any time of day, I don’t want women to be fashion victims when I can combine both things.” explains the designer.
Production costs may be a little steep, but Italy is where she brings her designs to life; her goal is to really establish her brand at the top, so she only works with the best factories. Entirely self-funded, Savits explains that her business is the size it was meant to be, her goal with her brand from the start was to begin small and build up from there.
Already in her third season, scheduled to debut during the September shows in Paris, the designer has gathered great compliments from her peers and has even managed to secure a collaboration between her brand and the emerging French designer Alexis Mabille for whom she is also developing a second collection for his show.
Knowing exactly what she wants for her brand, and when asked if she would ever consider going into clothing, the answer is immediate and firm: “No! I could maybe do some bags, but not clothes. I recently started looking at some bags and was really interested in them, it would be a good complement to my collection, but at the moment I am really focused in expanding my shoe collections and establishing my brand in the market.”
Inga Savits is available for sale in New York at Patron of the New in Tribeca and on line at Feminin Rascal.
You can follow the designer on twitter at @IngaSavits  and check out her website at www.ingasavits.com

Thank You Palm Springs

Dan Murphy is a bright young fella. A model, entrepreneur and hockey instructor, he is the kind of guy you can sit next to and have a chat about nothing for hours. It doesn’t hurt he’s good looking too.

I featured Dan in the latest Model Musing column for Look Books, and you can have a look at it here or read below.

Enjoy!

Model Musing: Dan Murphy

Dan Murphy is not your guy if you’re looking for a fairy tale story of the boy that was found by an agent and turned into a superstar. After a short-lived career playing hockey in Canada, Dan decided he wanted to go where the sun and the palm trees were. Palm Beach seemed to be the right choice to study business management. While in school his friends encouraged him to take a drive down to Miami and try his chances with the modeling agencies to make some extra money.  After being turned down by nearly every agency, he found a ‘yes’ in the last call he made. 
With a manager by his side, Dan started a career that led him to the four corners of the world. Working for the best magazines in the industry and designers like Abercrombie & Fitch and Armani, Dan has enough experiences to fill a book. From hanging out on a beach with Kate Moss while eating ice cream, to spending time at Bruce Weber’s home in Montauk, it all adds to the incredible journey that has taught Dan some of his most important life lessons.
With great support from his family, whether financial or emotional, Dan has successfully established himself in an industry that is fickle and looks to the future with excitement.  At the moment this male model is working on combining some of his passions, which include hockey and flying airplanes, with the knowledge from business school to put together a charity yet to be named. 
Why do you love this picture?
This was taken on a really emotional day for me not long ago – a pivotal moment in my life and career. Of course, the depth of the black and white that Tony (Duran) is known for is incredible. At the same time however, I look at this photo and I am immediately feeling what I felt that day.
Were you excited to work with this photographer?
I had been talking to Tony Duran for over two years while I was on the road; discussing everything from fashion to childhood memories of Minnesota winters. By the time I found myself in LA working with him on this shoot we were great friends, so I was extremely thrilled to be working with him.
What direction did Tony give you?
He kept making me do less: “Stop thinking, just be.”.
Was this a long shoot?
By the time we were done taking photos and discussing how to solve all of the world’s problems it was 7pm!
What do you think is the biggest challenge in the modeling career?
Becoming / staying relevant in such a high turnover industry. 
Do you think modeling is perceived by society in a different way for men than it is for women? 
For women, perhaps fashion is seen as an exclusive glamorous feminine profession and means to express their creativity and beauty. For men however it can be perceived as “un-manly”, for the lack of of physical labor or corporate structure, almost as if being a model required a zoolander-esque mental capacity. I think of what I do as an intricate part of the sales process, whether it is an advertising campaign for a fashion brand or a catalog for a department store. It has become essential to me to be conscious of the type of fabric or shape of the garment for example, and how I can show these attributes best to make the consumer understand what it is and want to purchase it.
Do you think that it is more difficult for men than it is for women in modeling?
One of the biggest differences between men and women in this industry is that there are less jobs overall for men and that we work for a much lower rate than our female colleagues. Sure, some would argue that there are more girls than boys in the industry, but proportionally, it’s hardly equal. That’s not exactly an apples to apples comparison though.
What have you learned from your experiences in the fashion industry?
I think it is clear that we all need to count our blessings and appreciate what we have in our own way, we need to give back in whatever way feels right. We weren’t doomed to go through life being stressed out.
What has made you the happiest in being a model?
You must be very clear on why you want to be a model. When I first started I thought I was going to make a ton of money immediately; it didn’t happen. Then I wanted to use modeling as a tool to travel, so I packed up and lived out of a suitcase around the world for a few years straight; but that gets mentally exhausting. So I moved back to New York, and just wanted to stay put for a while and enjoy being in my country. My reasons for why I model have changed a bunch of times, and each time I’ve been able to use modeling as vehicle to do something I really wanted and in turn bring me happiness. If my reason from day one never changed from “make money immediately”, I would have never been able to experience the world and make the friends that I have. Not to mention you kinda have to enjoy the creative process and being in front of the camera,  which I love.

Follow Dan Murphy on twitter at @DanMurphy30
Dan is represented by Ford Models and Nous.

The King of the United States

From a very young age I remember being around documentaries, both my parents watched it constantly. To me, it was white noise, I could never pay attention, it was the most boring thing in the world and yet the best way of falling asleep. Nowadays, I find myself fascinated by them, I understand their purpose and am always intrigued by which subjects will be brought up for discussion.

Like with any movie, documentaries can either be really good or really bad, it’s all in the ability of its creator to tell the story and catch the attention of its audience. In “Bully” we take a ride with Lee Hirsch as he boards school buses and walks the hallways of schools in America. For the first time, the quality of the movie is not what matters, because it’s the message that counts and here it is delivered with brilliance.

Bullying is not just a subject that takes me back to my own school years, but it’s a subject that has become more and more present in our day to day lives, as we see children hurting themselves and others and accessing a level of violence that many grown ups will never in their entire lives live to witness or experience (hopefully). It’s baffling to think we have come to this point, in which our children are now becoming the villains of the story.

Awareness is for me one of the most important tools to solve the world’s problems, and that is why I believe documentary movies are so important, because they show life as it really is, and in “Bully” if you can’t identify with the victim, you will somehow identify with the bullies and see that your attitudes need to be revised. “Bully” is a necessary movie, and it is actually quite surprising that this subject was only made into a movie this late, when this has been such a pressing matter for so long.

It is 2012, we live in times in which trips to the moon are a thing of the past, and texting is practically a dialect, yet we continue to see the same type of discrimination that we used to see 20 or 40 years ago. We have to sit and watch as a fourteen year old african american girl is sent to prison because she got to such a breaking point of desperation that she had to pull a gun on other kids to try and earn some respect. She didn’t mean to hurt anyone, she just wanted to be heard, she was desperately looking for help.

We have to watch one kid after the other being called names, punched, strangled and stabbed. It is by far the most painful and gut wrenching experience I had ever been through in the movies, yet at the same time it was the most inspiring one too. At the end we see it is our responsibility to stand up and fight for change. 

It is 2012, and we still live in a world in which the school system, politicians and the police, sit and watch these things happen from the distance. Hillary Clinton reminded us last year in a very important speech at the United Nations, that we are all created equal and should be treated with respect. At that time she was addressing marriage equality, which in our times brought up bullying amongst grown ups (which quite frankly is even more terrifying). Hillary’s point then was very simple: we need to broaden our perspectives, we need to educate ourselves and be accepting of people for who they are. This is why “Bully” is a necessary movie, this is why this movie should be shown in every school accross the globe, because it is so real, and it causes so much pain and discomfort, that you feel compelled to be a better person.

One of the kids in the movie, an eight year-old who’s best friend was bullied so badly that he took his own life, says “if I was the king of the United States there would be no popularity, everyone would be made equal.”. And there it is, without even having a notion of politics or Human rights he found the key to the solution. Deep down this boy knows that we are in fact all equal, but it’s the popularity contest and the silliness in the world that gets in the way. 

This kid didn’t need a movie to figure out the problem. No one should need a movie to figure that out, but unfortunately these are not our times. As long as there is injustice and these violent acts continue to take place, we should continue to make movies and campaign for what’s right. It’s our responsibility to improve our world as much as we can, so that one day people can look back at these times with relief and curiosity, without understanding how it was ever even imaginable that a child would consider hurting another child.

More than Followers

Who knew male models could be so smart and interesting? I did!

For many years I’ve had to defend my male model friends, as people see the profession in a very dumb and marginalized way. The same doesn’t happen with female models. But why?

In an effort to show the true beauty of men, I have now started to include them in my bi-weekly Model Musing columns on Look Books. My goal is to show the beauty that these men carry inside them, and to show that being a model is not only about looking good in the picture or having perfect abs.

Enjoy.

Model Musing: Fabio Nunes

It was when Fabio found himself in front of a camera and had the photographer ask him to “smile with the eyes” that he realized what it was like to be a model. Fabio’s career didn’t start by chance, his sister always said he would be a model. The minute the boy turned 16 years old, she took him to an agency near their small home town, in Porto Alegre, Brazil, for a test shoot. From that first shoot on, Fabio has accumulated trips around the world, jobs with renowned photographers and designers and a smoking hot girlfriend that would not have been possible if it wasn’t for his job.
The owner of his own business alongside his loved one, the model Carolina Fontaneti, Fabio took some time from his busy schedule to tell us why this picture means so much to him.
Why do you love this picture?
Because it’s me and my girlfriend, working together for Vogue Brazil. I really admire my girlfriend’s career as a model, she is a constant source of inspiration. It was a great pleasure working with her.
Who took it? Were you excited to work with this photographer?
It was Renne Castrucci, who along with Fabio Delai also created a video editorial. I really admire their work, they are great in what they do. These two do their job from their hearts, and you can see it in the images.
What was the location for this shoot?
It was a 500 year old coffee farm from Brazil’s colonial times; it was a truly beautiful and inspiring setting.
Who was the stylist?
Giovanni Frasson, the fashion director of Vogue Brazil.
What were you wearing?
Calvin Klein underwear.
What was the direction given to you by the photographer?
“Act natural! Think that you are in your honeymoon with your wife!” – and that was easy, is there anything better than that?
Do you see yourself doing anything else besides modeling?
I do;  in fact I do several different things at the same time. I know that most people who like to cook seem to think they are great at it, and I also believe I am. I believe I am a great cook and I would love to have my own restaurant when I reach my 40’s. I have also been contemplating doing something in real estate as an investment, but currently I am invested in this clothing store that I have opened with my girlfriend back home and in which I sell exclusive products with the help from my close friends who are a part of my sales team.
Do you love fashion?
I do, and I respect it a lot too.
And what have you learned from your career as a model?
I’ve learned that life is what you make of it. You can’t separate your personal life from work but you can’t also make of this connection something bad, you have to find balance so that with each moment you can become better as a person and as a professional. I love  the chance to meet new people through work and with that to see the difference between the good and the bad ones and to learn to differentiate what I  want to be from what I shouldn’t be. I learned that having a friend is more important than having a thousand followers.
Fabio Nunes is represented by Way Model and you can follow him on twitter@F1Nunes

Van Hoorn

In my Model Musing column two weeks ago, an interview with the Australian bombshell and musician Cheyenne Tozzi who is finalizing her first album to be released at the end of 2012.

Have a look and enjoy!

click here!

Model Musing: Cheyenne Tozzi

After releasing the musical collaboration with top DJ Carl Kennedy “Once Upon a Time”, Australian model Cheyenne Tozzi is excited for the next step: launching her first solo album, which she describes as a more soulful and heartfelt collection of songs she has written on her piano over the last five years. 
Cheyenne was born into a family in which modeling was just as normal as making tea; her mother and aunt were both very known faces in the modeling industry in Australia and by the time Cheyenne was fourteen years old she was already making her first moves into the same industry, when her big break came via the cover of Harper’s Bazaar Australia. 
Since then this blonde bombshell has graced the covers of publications likeCosmopolitan, Vogue and Grazia and traveled the four corners of the world a few times, but always escaping back to the loving arms of her family.
Now at the young age of 23 and more than a decade into her career, Cheyenne gives us the scoop on why this image is so special to her.
Why do you love this picture? 
It is very raw and innocent.
Who took it? 
Brook Coffey. Brooke is beautiful and so amazing to work with.
How long did this shoot last? 
20 minutes since it was really cold. 
Anything curious to report about this shoot?
It was almost snowing in Central Park and having this innocent girl with antlers like a newborn I think contrasts with the whole grown woman in a tuxedo.
What were you thinking when it was taken?
Where are my UGG boots?
What direction did the photographer give you?
It was very candid so it was almost as if she wasn’t there.
What was it for?
My album, entitled Van Hoorn
What were you wearing?
Dolce & Gabbana men’s tuxedo jacket (a tux includes pants), American Apparel suede bow-tie, vintage snake skin pants, white reindeer antlers and minimal makeup.
Do you love fashion or not necessarily?
I’m pretty simple but I appreciate how much work goes into it. 
What about this profession makes you the happiest?
Seeing the world and meeting new people puts a smile on my face.
And the most disappointed?
Being away from my loved ones, my home and missing out on my childhood.
What were your most remarkable experiences as a model?
Starting off with a Bazaar cover gave me the confidence to take on my modeling career. I love that I get to experience the greatest and most beautiful places in the world along with seeing the newest fashion before it hits the market as well as meeting wonderful people.
What advice would you give to aspiring models?
Stay in school, enjoy your childhood and let it come find you….
Do you see yourself doing something else?
Yes, I’ve performed my music all over the world with some of my favorite artists and am getting ready to release my first album this year.
What’s your biggest challenge as a model? 
Staying in shape when there is so much good food around the world.
Is there anything about the modeling career that you would change if you could? 
I wish everyone could see the beauty that is inside everyone.
You can follow Cheyenne on twitter at @CheyCheyTozzi
Cheyenne is represented by Priscilla’s 

In Bloom

This week I spoke with the Dutch model Lisanne De Jong for my Model Musing column at Look Books.
Have a look at the full story here or read below.
🙂

Model Musing: Lisanne de Jong

Lisanne de Jong is one of those girls that is almost too smart to be a model, but in her career she has taken her smarts and put it to good use. Lisanne recognizes how helpful this career was in turning her from a local girl into an international woman and appreciates every second of it.
From the moment when she was discovered in Amsterdam when she was fourteen, Lisanne was very interested in the adventurous side of the business, roaming the world and meeting people were extremely appealing to her. She finished school first, and only then took a second look at that modeling opportunity.
The offer was still standing and the modeling world took her with open arms. It all started with a Prada exclusive booking in the summer of 2010 that then led to a series of blue chip bookings that included campaigns for the biggest fashion houses in the world, including Balenciaga, Celine, Missoni and Burberry; and editorials for W, V, Vogue Russia, Interview and Vogue Japan.
Here Lisanne picks her favorite image from her career so far and looks back on her four years in the business. 
Why did you pick this image?
This is a picture I did for Dazed and Confused, the editorial was called “In Bloom” and I love this picture because of the power behind it; the colors and the shape make this picture incredible to me.
Who took it? Were you excited to work with this photographer?
Viviane Sassen took it. I was very excited to work with her, she is very talented,  She is also Dutch, it is  always fun to work with people from my own country.
What direction did the photographer give you?
I was allowed to do anything I wanted which was great. I was running and jumping around. It was a lot of fun, because there were no limits. Sometimes I would jump and fall over in the fields, but anything for an amazing picture! 
You seemed to be in a stunning environment; was there anything curious about this shoot?
This is what I also love about this picture, it was shot in Holland, in the tulip fields. We have these flower fields only once a year, for two weeks during spring and they are amazing. There are loads of different colored fields that can go for miles, it is one of the things that Holland is famous for. We went to the farmers houses and asked if we could shoot between the tulips, and he was happy to agree. They told us they don’t even use the flowers, just the bulbs in the ground, to sell. Also, it was extremely good weather, the sun was shining constantly for those two  shoot days.
What were you thinking when it was taken?
I was just having a lot of fun, and wanted to create this effect of being a flower in the fields.
 Who was in the crew?
Styled by Katie Shillingford, make up by Irena Ruben and the casting director was Noah Shelley for AM casting.
What were you wearing?
I was wearing a lot of layers, which made it look very cool when I was air bound. Also in every picture I’m wearing tutu’s which make the shape almost look like a flower.
Do you love fashion or not necessarily?
I’ve always been quite interested in fashion, when growing up I used to read magazines, and cut out clothes that I liked and make a poster out of it. Or I would cut out nice advertisements and hang them in my room.  I love wearing nice clothes. When I see brands like Celine, Prada or Balenciaga (my favorites), I’m always amazed by the designs. So beautiful and inspiring. 
What have you learned from your career that you consider truly valuable?
I have learned a lot over these four  years. When I look back on when I just started modeling, I was a completely different person. I was still a child when I started, and I’ve grown up so much psychically and emotionally. This industry made me a stronger person. I’m happy that I did it, because when I started out I was quite shy, it made me more open and I feel much more comfortable about myself.
What advice would you give to aspiring models?
Don’t take things personally, don’t take everything too serious and enjoy every moment.
You can follow Lisanne on twitter at  . 
Lisanne is represented by New York Models.

American Beauty

Click here and have a look at the latest interview I did for Look Books. This week I spoke with Claiborne Swanson Frank about the launch of her latest book American Beauty, out now in stores worldwide and published by Assouline.

Enjoy!

American Beauty: an Interview with Claiborne Swanson Frank

The more you stare at Claiborne Swanson Frank’s portraits of women, the more your mind wonders – Who are these women? Where did they come from and what was the message about themselves that they were trying to convey when they sat for these portraits? The image that initially could seem banal starts to tell you stories that could come from some knowledge you have about that person, but also tales of a life that solely lives in your imagination, because for many, the subject of the portrait is unknown. It’s almost like staring at the Mona Lisa and trying to understand what was going on at her time, what drove her to sit for that portrait and what her life was like.
In American Beauty, Mrs. Frank wants to tell us stories of success and achievements, of women who excel in what they do, women who had a dream and a vision for themselves and followed through with it, and through their lives bring out the true beauty, that for Claiborne lives in women everywhere.
Throughout more than one hundred portraits amalgamated in this book you get the opportunity to know at least a little bit about the lives of these women, and you get to understand why the photographer felt inspired to shoot them. Through these portraits you also get the opportunity to learn a little bit more about the author, since much of her passions and inspirations are reflected in the subjects of her photographs.
Here Claiborne shares her thoughts on her most important creation thus far, the book American Beauty.
In your book there is a quote by Carrie Latet about never waking up from the American dream. Do you feel you live the American dream – or at least what that would dream would be like nowadays?
I’ve been so blessed and I am so honored, I am definitely living my dream, but I believe the American dream is more about the idea of reaching for your greatest potential. Each of the women in this book for instance, are a product of their own American dream, and that is the message here, I have never met two women with the same dream, they all come from different places and have different stories to tell, and I tell their stories through portrait.
What was the criteria when choosing your subjects?
As an artist I have to be inspired and these are all women who are contributing to society in some way, but then there was an intuitive choice and the inspiration I felt coming from these women.
Through this experience of discovering the lives of these women, did you also come upon things about yourself that you were unaware of?
Definitely! This project started out as a portfolio of my work, which took the form of an exhibition, which then led to this book. Because I wanted to have a genuine collaboration to show who these women were I think I also grew into myself and who I was meant to be, I became an artist. It’s been a true gift to follow my own heart and vision and learn that I didn’t really know who I was before.
Did you know from the start that you would have such a diverse group of women as a result of your work?
I was thoughtful about that and I wanted to celebrate diversity, the country is in a different place now, and over the past ten years women have taken a different place in society and what they represent to American women. Even looking at myself I see such a mutt, I am American with a Cuban, Swedish, German and French mix and that’s also why I love asking people when I meet them what is their background, because what makes us so beautiful is our mix.
And how about the men in your life? Will they have the opportunity to show their beauty through the lenses of your camera?
Not really, I don’t think so; I have an amazing husband and I love men, but my ability and comfort zone is in finding and trying to capture the beauty in women, to me women are the perfect representation of beauty, and that’s what I like to photograph, that’s what inspires me. Also, I find that most men don’t like to be photographed nowadays, and I think it’s a shame, men used to enjoy being documented at some point and it changed with time, but I do believe that every great man should have a great portrait. 
American Beauty is published by Assouline and is available for purchase atAssouline boutiques worldwide and online.

The Simple Life

This morning as I woke up and stared out of the window a great feeling of peace washed over me. It’s a feeling I notice that I only get when I am close to nature, when I am in a different environment other than my own. To walk outside of my comfort zone and into uncharted territory is one of the most exciting yet peaceful things to experience. To look outside and see nothing but the green fields and trees changing their colors is a big change of scenery for a person who usually wakes up staring at other buildings and pavement. Not to mention the sounds; in the country, nothing but the crisp breeze of the morning rustling through the trees and the birds; blue birds, woodpeckers and so many others that will go unnamed, because that’s as far as my knowledge takes me. In the city, I would have been awakened about five or six times by cars, delivery trucks, sirens and drunks. Nothing wrong with that, however.  It’s the life I chose to live. But for me, to be in the country is to be able to unwind, and it is the best feeling in the world.

Usually with a lot in my head, I find myself taking the time to stare at the squirrels playing in the trees, the rabbits hopping from one side to the other of the lawn, which turns into 40 acres of land covered by trees, creeks and peace of mind. Here, and pretty much anywhere else I go that is similar to this, I am driven to reflect upon life and the choices I made (and am yet to make) and look at what a life in the country would be like. I am a man of the city – always have been – born and raised.  Life in the country is a foreign concept to me. What do you do out here all day? What do you do here all year?

In this village where I am staying there is only a restaurant, a pub and a post office. That’s it.   The church is thirty minutes away, in the other village. If you don’t know your way around here, your GPS navigation system will definitely not be of much help and, instead of the church, you will probably end up in Michelle’s Hair Parlor – which is, around here, just as sacred.

Being in the country is like adjusting the focus in a camera:  everything is blurry and then all of a sudden things begin to clear up. All those ideas and projects that didn’t seem possible, or perhaps terribly difficult, are now only a couple of tasks away from completion.  Nothing seems impossible out here, because the most unattainable idea right now would be to spend an entire year in the country.
I drive around making up stories for every house I see:  the one with the dog and the nicer car is probably the family that only comes here on the weekends to visit.  The one with the barn and the hay probably has the family that never left, as so many around here do. I try to imagine  what they think about, what kind of shops they go to, what would be a night out in the “town”?  Do they date? Who do they date?  I mean, the population is minus fifteen. I wonder if they are entertained by all the visitors who come and go? Or,  perhaps they are deeply bothered and would much rather be left alone? I wonder if they lock their doors or if a neighbor just stops by for a visit. In the city, showing up unannounced is as close as you can get to a crime.  And yet, I would love nothing more than for someone to show up unannounced.  It would make me feel more like a small town, apple pie kind of guy, if you know what I mean.

But this is not my life. This is part of my life.  This is part of the comings and goings that my life has become, and the thrills that are brought from exploring new places and possibilities. As much as I would love to join the simple life of the country, I don’t think I would ever be able to let go of my life in the city, because that is when I am truly in my element.


Everything in life has a purpose, and we all have our tuning methods. For me, tuning is going back to the peace an quiet of the country or the beach; for others, it’s therapy; and for some, it’s shopping; go figure. I know people who have never been to the country and aren’t curious at all about it. For me, it’s a fascinating and mind expanding experience that i cannot live without. For me, to be in the country is to be with myself.

A Ride with the Dolphins

Another week, another Model Musing, this time with Carolina Fontaneti.

Have a look at it here or read below.

Model Musing: Carolina Fontaneti

From a very young age Carolina Fontaneti knew she wanted to be a model, with support from her parents she signed up for the Elite Model Look contest back in her native Brazil; but it wasn’t until three years later, after she concluded her studies in high school, that Carolina really took on modeling as a full time job. Carolina’s mother used to tell her that  she raised her kids to embrace the world, and this one certainly listened. 
Since then her mileage card has been filled a few times while traveling around the globe  for jobs that include editorials for Vogue, L’Officiel, Elle and Marie Claire and campaigns for L’Oreal Paris, H. Stern, Elle by Yves Saint Laurent and a Dunhill Fresh Fragrance commercial that put her in a James Bond inspired setting as the sexy counterpart of the secret agent in question.
Carolina looks back in her career and tells us why she likes this picture so much.
Why do you love this picture?
Because it had always been a dream of mine to swim with the dolphins, and this picture not only allowed me to make a dream come true but it also gave me a very unique moment, a moment of profound intimacy with nature in an environment that is so unusual for humans. The feeling is indescribable.
Who shot this?
It was a photographer called Lothar Schmidt; I had never worked with him before and that is something that always excites me, because in that lies the opportunity to meeting another great person, and Lothar was definitely all that.
Was this a long and difficult shoot, considering it involved Dolphins and an underwater setting?
This particular shot was very quick because the dolphins can get stressed after a while, so we shot this very quickly and moved on to something else. The entire shoot was done in a couple of days. The whole experience was wonderful, because we were in a heavenly setting; on a Tahitian island, it couldn’t be better, the weather was perfect, the food was delicious and the hotel was stunning. The experience of shooting in the open ocean among sharks and stingrays is unforgettable.
What were you thinking as they were taking this picture?
All i could think was how rubbery the dolphin’s skin was and how unbelievable that I was “riding” him!
What was it for?
Madame Figaro
Who was the stylist and what were you wearing?
The stylist was a sweet French girl, her name is Julie, i can’t quite remember her last name, but she used to call me “little mouse” for some reason… I was wearing a Louis Vuitton swimsuit.
Do you love fashion?
I like fashion, I like that it is another way of artistically expressing your feelings, I believe that many designers create their work like that. 
Do you see yourself doing something else?
Definitely! In my veins there is artistic blood. I love to create, to express myself with words, I am constantly creating something, it keeps me moving forward. I want to play the piano, I want to dance, sing, paint, write; I am inspired by my feelings by the restlessness of the soul in expressing itself in different ways.
What advice do you wish was shared with you in your early days as a model?
To be patient, to study myself and the market, to know where my place is in it and to always try to bring out the best in myself and to share that with the ones around me.
You can follow Carolina Fontaneti on twitter at @CarolFontaneti 
Carolina Fontaneti is represented by Elite Model Management

Dreaming Awake

Danny Roberts is a a very inspiring young man. At the age of 13 he was already creating his own t-shirt line and by the time he was 23 he was already making collaborations with brands like Lancome and Harajuku Lovers. Not many with twice his age have.

I was fortunate enough to interview him for Look Books and you can read the result right HERE.

Enjoy,
x

Dreaming Awake: An Interview with Danny Roberts

Hailed by magazines like Elle, Teen Vogue, Vogue Italia and Vogue Spain as “the one to watch” in fashion illustration, Danny Roberts is very humble about his accomplishments. To him, being recognized by something he does purely out of love is surreal and a blessing, but to the fashion world, it is seen as well deserved.
A talented artist from a very young age, Danny always had an interest for fashion and art, which he put to use for a small line of t-shirts he created when he was only thirteen. The t-shirt line continued to exist for another seven years, paralleled with Danny’s incursion in fashion design school and his production of drawings and paintings that were inspired by his favorite muses: the models in the fashion campaigns and magazines.
Fueled by the likes of Gemma Ward, Ali Michael, Tanya D. and Polina Kuklina, the artist produced hundreds of portraits which were then sent by him to his subjects as a way of thanking them for the inspiration. By word of mouth his work spread through the internet via his blog Igor and Andre and became a sensation. Collaborations with designers like Rachel Antonoff and brands like Lancome, Forever 21 and Harajuku Lovers (owned by the pop star Gwen Stefani) have been added to the long list of accomplishments that this young man has accumulated. 
Here, Danny Roberts shares with us his thoughts on art, the future in fashion and the things that make his life more like a dream.
Your work is very romantic and ethereal; would you say that your inspiration comes from a “dream world” or perhaps a vision of what you would like things to be like?
Yes, my inspiration comes most definitely from places outside of this world, or by images or models that look other worldly. I’ve always been a bit of a dreamer, and as far as I can remember, throughout the days I daydream about the imaginary world. I am really drawn to images or pictures, and I try to create images that remind me of that world.
In your work I see a little bit of Francesco Clemente, as well as Egon Schiele. Are you familiar with their work?
I am not familiar with Francesco Clemente, but I am familiar with Egon Schiele’s work. I actually first found out about Schiele in my first drawing class at The Academy of Art. It was a figure drawing class and my teacher told me she thought my drawing looked like his. So I looked him up that night and fell in love with his work, I am a big fan.
Your work as an artist has brought you closer to an industry which you admittedly admire and want to be a bigger part of. Was that your intention when you started drawing and painting?
No, actually I went to school for fashion design, and I was planning on being a fashion designer. It just so happened that my first few classes were fashion illustration, and my teachers told me that I should pursue Fashion Art & Illustration for a career, so I took their advice figuring I could always do fashion design at a later time.
How was your reaction when you were approached by Harajuku Lovers for a collaboration?
I remember it was early in the morning when I read the email, and I read it over like three or four times before it sunk in that Gwen Stefani had seen my artwork before. Then I spent the rest of the day with a big childish grin on my face. It was an awesome feeling.
What do you consider to be your most significant collaboration thus far?
The cover for The Sunday Times Magazine from London was definitely the most special collaboration. It was the biggest honor to have my tribute portrait of Alexander McQueen in the cover of a magazine in his home town. He was by far my favorite fashion designer.
Do you see fashion as a form of art?
Yes, most definitely, because it takes imagination to design fashion.
How do you see the future of the fashion industry with so many technological advances?
I think the technological advances are going to make the fashion industry more open to its consumers. Already, I’ve seen a few brands launching ways for their customers to customize their clothes to fit the individual. I also feel new technological advances will allow a next level of access and interaction with every area of the industry.
Vogue Italia on-line said “One may get lost in wonder observing as He proceeds to give shape to his illustrations – and I believe artist Danny Roberts is perfectly aware of that, considering the countless videos on YouTube showing the artist in the act of painting.” – now, are you aware of that? And how did the idea for the videos come to be?
(laughing) Well, the whole idea of time-lapse videos of me drawing came to me one day when I was thinking that if my favorite artists were alive today, what would I like to see more than anything from them? I thought it would be amazing to see them painting and drawing, and it would be great to see their process from start to finish. So I thought it could be something that my blog readers would enjoy.
What is your ultimate dream as an artist?
To be able to create the things I dream of without any limitation.
Follow Danny Roberts on twitter at @danny_roberts
You can also follow his blog, Igor and Andre at @igorandandre

The Horse as a Muse

In my comings and goings in the fashion industry I meet many interesting people, and Nick Turner is one of them. He is a photographer, a painter and an illustrator with a passion for horses, women and the nature.

Rather young but with a truly moving body of work, Nick never ceases to amaze me.

Have a read at THIS interview I did with him for Look Books.
🙂

Nick Turner, His Horses and His Muses

Born in a family where the matriarch was an artist and in which both parents also had the artistic vein, Nick Turner was surrounded by art and artistic expression, these are the things that make him who is is today. Born in Boston, Nick grew up in Maine and was home schooled until the age of fifteen. His next adventure was to be in France to continue his studies, where he remained until he concluded his Baccalaureate at the International School of Toulouse.
Nick was fortunate enough to be accepted into Parsons Paris campus  so he packed his bags and moved to the city of lights. During his attendance at Parsons, Nick developed a long and debilitating depression and found solace in his art work. It was at that time that he came to meet the photographer Francois Rousseau, who was then working on the book called “Atelier”, inspired by Patrick Grainville’s novel “L’Atelier du Peintre”. Rousseau cast Nick as one of the main characters in this photography book, playing the role of the tortured artist, which was a natural fit for Turner. Rousseau and Nick developed a great friendship/mentorship that made Nick realize that art was a passion that should be seriously pursued.
Shortly after that, Nick moved to New York to conclude his studies at Parsons. Arriving in the Big Apple was a shock, Nick had never set foot in the city and was impressed by its speed, with cars, lights, people and noises coming from all sides, he recalls “walking in the shadow of so many tall buildings and places only seen in films”; his life felt like a movie.
In New York Nick’s work took flight and and caught the attention of the right people. Nick started shooting models in the style he likes best, raw, natural and most of the time, surrounded by nature. In constant development, his work continues to move and attract the eyes of the most influential people in the city, like the Clic Gallery, who currently holds some of Nicks photographs in their Manhattan and East Hampton locations.
Mr. Turner is currently working on his second solo exhibition and his first book project, all raw and natural, as he likes best. Here the artist shares a little more about his passion.
Who are some of the artists that influence your work and why?
I grew up around artists, my grandmother was a painter and I spent a lot of time watching her work, as I’m getting older I can definitely feel her presence in the way I’m working or thinking. Of course there are some of the more well known artists I really love, Jenny Saville is by far one of my favorite painters, I recently saw some of her work at the Gagosian Gallery in NYC and was blown away by seeing her portraits in real life. I also am very inspired by Peter Lindbergh’s photographs. Its more real to me, often very documentary feeling and I love that. I also really admire Russell James and how he shoots women, think there’s something so clean and elegant about his photographs.
I see in your work a very intimate and loving relationship with horses; why horses?
Yes, well, I grew up riding horses in shows in Maine. I have always been very calm around horses and share similar instincts with them. Things affect me very much from people or situations I’m around; horses are very sensitive creatures and sense other people which is what they react to, I feel connected to them. When younger I would ride in a saddle and be very appropriately dressed for riding. I now ride bareback most of the time, to me theres nothing more inspiring then the feeling of the power of a horse beneath you and feeling every movement it makes when on its back. They also symbolize something I am searching for in other aspects of life as well, purity, truth power and beauty all combined. Theres a quote by Winston Churchill that always makes me smile when I say it in my head because it feels so true to me: “there’s something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man”. 
What is the relationship between the women you portray and the horses? 
I think us humans are not as evolved as we like to think we are, we are still animals by nature. I think women and horses share the same attributes, beauty and strength, power and sensitivity. I am constantly looking for that when I am shooting women and horses, even as separate subjects. I want to portray them in a certain light. Finding the connection between the horse and woman together has been driving me for a while in my head. I think its hard to explain in words sometimes the emotions I am seeking in the images I am striving to shoot.
You seem to be most comfortable with painting and photography – are there other forms of art that interest you?
Indeed there are,I actually was educated in drawing and painting, photography just happened naturally over the last few years. Film is what I really would like to do. Short films at first but down the road I would like to work on much larger projects. When I am working especially on location I always see things in a very cinematic way, not just one still photo. 
You have set sail to secluded beaches in Iceland and Scotland, what made you chose these places?
I am always drawn to desolate, raw, empty spaces, the energy there is always so peaceful and inspiring, I feel alive in locations like that, to see and feel nature in a “real” untouched fashion, without much social interference. The environment I think is very important and I think even when looking at it from a “beauty” or “fashion” perspective, the savage, natural or raw beauty in humans or nature is always the most powerful and inspiring to me as an artist and a man. Nature has already created so much beauty on its own.  In the ocean, the black beaches in Iceland, mountains and volcanos, you can feel the power of beauty in these locations not just see it, thats very important to what I want to portray in art. I think depth in art is important, beauty should be limitless and fearless. I tend to get very claustrophobic in studios and in cities if i stay for too long. 
What is it that you look for when you are shooting your models?
Sincerity, honest and real moments, I try to keep things as natural as possible not too much crazy posing or models trying to be models. I really am interested in shooting the real women. I get frustrated easily sometimes when shooting if I feel the subject isn’t being completely open to me or trusting me. I feel what the subject feels through the lens and it is very important to have some kind of honest connection between the subject and photographer. I like to work very organically and let the shoot naturally evolve. I think shooting is very similar to painting, it’s a process that isn’t something forced or else it tends not to work. 
If there was one woman you could work with as a subject of your photography and painting, who would it be?
Lara Stone, her face and body are the most animalistic I think of any women I have seen. Especially with the project I am working on about horses and women portraying this strong and very raw beauty I think she inspires me the most.
What is your biggest dream as an artist?
I really just want to be able to create the images and projects I have in my head. To have freedom to make the work you are inspired to make and hopefully touch people on an emotional level, thats really the best thing I think.
Do you think there are limits to our dreams?
Absolutely not, only the ones you set for yourself but I do think there is a lot of patience to be developed if you really want to achieve your dreams, thats something I am learning very slowly myself, patience and learning from each experience to make the next one better and more productive. Constant improvement and change, I always think things can be better or I could have done a better job shooting. Theres a consistent need to be better and that seems to push my dreams further and further past the previous “limits” or  images I had envisioned.  
Visit Nick Turner’s website to see more and follow him on twitter: @nickodt
Smart Magna has also reposted this same interview, and you can find it HERE.

Reading the Signs

Jeff, who lives at home, is a stoner, a lazy ass, a failure in many different senses of the word, a sci-fi geek and also a grown up. Jeff, however, is also passionate, kind-hearted, a dreamer and a believer. Jeff believes in destiny, he believes life has something special in store for him. He just doesn’t know what it is yet.

Driven by his ideals and beliefs, Jeff picks up a random sign given to him by “destiny” and chooses to follow it. He knows in his heart that the clue he was given will lead him to his purpose in life. There are no half measures with Jeff, he will not stop until he has achieved his goal.

From the less than average life that our anti-hero lives, in a household in which his mom (played by the ever so brilliant Susan Sarandon) could not be less supportive and understanding, Jeff finds himself in a less than fortunate situation. To make matters worse, Jeff’s path crosses with his prick of a brother, here embodied to perfection by none other than Ed Helms. From here on, the two brothers embark upon an unexpected adventure filled with inexplicable accidents and coincidences, each searching for his own unique goal. Their mother, oblivious to her boys’ shenanigans, sits at work dealing with her own mystery: a secret admirer that appears in her instant messaging service in the midst of a terrible personal crisis.

And so our characters go on their search for something; something that is not yet immediately clear to them, or the audience, but one that certainly becomes more and more intriguing, like in a good mystery that yearns to be solved.

I had the opportunity – via the kind invitation of Gen Art, to meet with one half of the Duplass brothers, Mark Duplass, who brilliantly co-wrote and co-directed the screenplay with his brother Jay.

Mark displayed nothing but fascination for Jeff’s unique way of embracing destiny and awe for the actors with which he and his brother were working. Mark explains: “This movie is more heavily plotted than our previous ones, it has many ins and outs, like a good detective story, but it still maintains a sense of improvisation, because the way the actors say their lines is totally their own, they recreate the lines, the script here works merely as a guideline to what is happening in their story, but the way they say it comes from their heads, and this is what keeps the movie exciting and fresh, and this is why we needed to have the help of these guys, Ed, Jason and Susan, who are so brilliant in what they do.”. Taking from cinema verite influences, the Duplass brothers continued to create freedom even in the way their scenes were shot, allowing their actors to perform without boundaries, much like a documentary, where a camera follows the subject and not the subject following the camera.

But the movie, which at times can take a few steps too far into its own charade, takes flight in its quiet metaphors for life that become more and more compelling towards the end – the metaphors that show us that there is after all a method to this whole madness, and that life has beauty in its system of working things out. The plan is often unclear, but the ability to enjoy the ride and appreciate the ups and downs is what makes the difference. To learn from our own mistakes, to grow and to graduate from them is the great accomplishment and, in some cases, the better-diploma.

Ed Helms, also at the event, had similar feelings about this movie. “At first I did not like this character, I thought he was a dick and I did not want to do it (the movie), but towards the end of the script I realized that Pat (his character) didn’t like Pat either and that he wanted to become a better person, that he saw where he needed improvement, and that made me want to be a part of this movie.”.

“Jeff, Who Lives at Home” is one of those movies that makes you feel, even at the worst of times, like there is always room for improvement, and that the possibilities in life are endless. As long as you trust fate and read the signs (whatever you think they may be), it is never too late to allow yourself to learn and pursue your own destiny. You still have, at any given time, a chance to make it in life.

Jeff, Who Lives at Home opens nationwide in the United States on March 16th, 2012

Warm Winds

bharti+2.jpg

In an evening when the art world had its eye looking to the Armory’s Gala Benefit; Hauser & Wirth Gallery managed to attract a very selective crowd to the opening of Bharti Kher’s exhibition entitled “The Hot Winds that Blow from the West” where five new pieces by the admired London-born, Delhi-based artist are now in view.

Welcomed by “A View of the Forest” a beautiful multi green-toned piece composed by Kher’s now famous bindis, we are ushered through the hallway to meet “A line through space and time”; a staircase in an empty room that leads up to nowhere, a remarkable piece of work covered by sperm-shaped bindis and that could be an invitation to a more fertile time in life, or perhaps the opposite, we wonder. The bindis, more than a fashion accessory in the Indian culture and constantly present in Kher’s work since 1995 are as she explains “meant to represent a third eye – one that forges a link between the real and the spiritual-conceptual worlds.”

The heavy weight radiator-composed piece in the back room gives name to the exhibition and could probably benefit from a larger space, but it is an astonishing work of art none the less. For this piece the artist sourced 131 radiators from the United States, the west, over the course of six years and shipped them to India, the east, where it was assembled.

The title of this work references The Loo, a fiercely hot and occasionally fatal summer afternoon wind that blows across North India and Pakistan. “We think of winds as harbinger of change, carrying voices of transformation”, Kher has said. “From where I sit, the winds blowing nowadays from the west – from the places that were the seats of power and authority throughout the 20th century – are no longer as strong or reliable as they were.” Traveling east these radiators, symbol of domestic comfort in the west, lost its purpose and the artist continues to offer explanation; “I suppose I am sending them back to the West as messenger and, perhaps, warnings. Other voices are changing the landscape now and political uncertainties have put the world in flux.”.

On the second floor however comes the most brilliant and breathtaking piece, shown last spring at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, “Reveal the secrets that you seek” throws us in a room of wonders composed by 27 shattered mirrors covered by bindis, this entire room feels warm and inviting, and the broken mirrors, which to general belief would symbolize bad luck, in this case are binded by the bindis that call out just the opposite and show us that even when shattered to pieces it is possible to find beauty and reconciliation.

The last piece, “The messenger”, shines on it’s own, in a striking yoga position, balanced by it’s own weight, as a yogi would, this fiber glass sculpture is described by Kher as “an urban witch, a woman of both mythology and everyday life, a hybrid” and the effect is haunting. This sculpture is the most recent in a series of figurative works in which Kher has presented hybrid beings that conjoin contradictions of gender, species, race and role. For this work the artist has drawn upon the attributes of the Hindu goddess Dakini, who is considered the manifestation of energy in female form, which in this case is also partly animal.

An astonishing accomplishment for Hauser & Wirth, this show is overall a breathtaking display of Bharti Kher’s brilliance.

The Multitasking Supermodel

Many years and many models have gone by, but not many remain as active and inspiring as the lovely Ms. Claudia Mason, whom I had the pleasure of representing during my time working at Elite Models.

Claudia doesn’t settle down, she writes, produces plays, directs, wins awards, shoots movies, dances and in whatever time she has left, she models. It’s breathtaking.

Allow yourself to be taken out of breath too in this week’s model musing column, just follow THIS link!

🙂

Model Musing: Claudia Mason

With a passion for the arts, Claudia Mason is one of those girls that rose to stardom in the supermodel era, alongside names like Christy Turlington, Claudia Schiffer, Linda Evangelista and Naomi Campbell; Claudia had her brand established in the fashion industry right from the start. Discovered in a music store at the age of 13 she was attending New York’s prestigious School of American Ballet and was a very serious student. It wasn’t until she was 15 years old that things became really serious, and from that moment on she didn’t stop. Claudia’s first booking was for Vogue, and from there on Elle, Wand Bazaar followed, always shot by names like Bruce Weber, Mario Testino, Arthur Elgort, Patrick Demarchellier and Steven Meisel, to name a few.
Long and languid, Claudia was a queen of the runways, and soon also became a must-book for top campaigns. One of Gianni Versace’s favorite models and repeatedly used in his campaigns, she also modeled for Fendi, Valentino, Christian Lacroix and many others.
Claudia then went on to host MTV’s Fashionably Loud, starred in an Enrique Iglesias music video and caught Hollywood’s attention. The pursuit of the acting career lasted a few years in Los Angeles until fashion took her attention once more. In the same year she was receiving awards for her theater production of Tennesse Williams’s Orpheus Descending and superstar stylist Katie Grand repeatedly booked Claudia for Love Magazine and Vogue Russia.
Here, Claudia reminds us that acting, producing and writing are still the leading roles in her life nowadays. Duly noted.
Why do you love this picture?
I love this picture because it’s old school movie star glam! It is from a LoveMagazine spread last year, and it’s one of my favorite recent pictures of myself.
Who took it?
David Hughes was the photographer and Phoebe Arnold was the stylist! Great team!
How was the shoot like?
It was a one day shoot in London, and it was freezing cold and snowing outside! December 2010 I was relieved to be shooting inside, with heaters around.
What were you thinking  as you were shooting this?
I was thinking how uncomfortable I was in that position, as my neck was ‘resting’ on a concrete sharp edge. Ah fashion!
Did you receive any direction from the photographer?
The photographer wanted ‘relaxed glam’.
Were there any wardrobe malfunctions?
My nipple popped out a couple of times – nothing major.
What was the theme for this shoot?
It was a jewelry story, so it needed to have an expensive air to it. Relaxed decadence.
What was your biggest challenge as a model?
Biggest challenge as a model is to not take my career for granted, as it has been so good to me.
Are there any regrets?
I would have liked to have had more fun when I started modeling.
Was there a modeling job that was so incredible that looking back it almost feels like a dream?
I’ve had so many great modeling jobs, but one that stands out is when I shot an Anne Klein campaign with Steven Klein, and there was an elephant in the studio! 
What is your dream modeling job?
My dream modeling job would be to have a cosmetics contract. Also the Bulgari campaign. I love that they use actresses such as Rachel Weisz and Julianne Moore.
What have been your most recent dreams?
I currently have nightmares only! But, a current dream would be to work with Woody Allen or Alexander Payne. Also, to be performing my one woman show that I’m currently writing.
What was your love at first experience; modeling, acting or dancing?
I fell in love with ballet as a little girl. But then again I fell in love with being in front of the camera and on stage as well. I used to perform at home in front of the mirror as a child.
You can follow Claudia Mason on TWITTER @ClaudiaMason1

Iconography

Very rarely I come across people that are truly inspiring. It takes a lot to wow me nowadays, i don’t know if it is the kind of work I do and the amount of impressive people I meet constantly, but I find myself being inspired by little things and certain characteristics rather than the entire “body of work” of a person. Eileen Ford had that quality, that “body of work”; her life story was a true lesson. Her passion and the way she carried her life and her business alongside her husband Jerry were truly moving.

When I spoke to her for this article I wrote for Look Books I was truly moved and completely humbled, here it was, a true legend of the fashion industry, a woman that broke the standards and set brand new ones for all those who followed. Eileen Ford had a dream and a passion, she believed in them and never gave up, building a family business that is now larger than life.

Have a read at the full article in THIS link – it’s long, I warn you, but it’s totally worth it!
xx
Gabriel

Iconography: Eileen & Jerry Ford

In fashion there is much talk about the legacy left by designers, photographers and magazines, but not many people look at a vital piece of the industry that connects all the dots: the modeling agency. Eileen and Jerry Ford, as you can probably tell by their name, were pioneers, founders of the Ford Model Agency, now simply known as Ford Models. One of the most established and recognizable brands in the world with offices spread throughout the continents, Ford is also the oldest and longest running modeling agency in the world, a true landmark of the fashion industry. For many people, the names Eileen and Jerry Ford won’t mean much, but in the small world of fashion, they are synonymous with royalty.
Eileen Otte met Gerard W. Ford in 1944 outside a drugstore near Columbia University, where he attended school for midshipman as part of his service with the United States Navy. The couple fell in love and got married later in that same year in San Francisco while Gerard, also simply known as Jerry, awaited to be shipped out to sea for the World War II.
With Jerry’s departure, Eileen returned to New York where she started working as a secretary for a photographer, as well as a stylist and a fashion reporter for the Tobe Report. While working in the photography studio, Mrs. Ford would constantly meet models and from those relationships, soon enough she also started working as a secretary to some of those girls who felt their agency wasn’t efficient enough in taking care of their bookings, therefore, having their own secretary would guarantee that their clients would get the attention they needed and the girls wouldn’t lose any jobs to other models.
Upon Jerry’s return from the war, he resumed his studies at Columbia University, for Business/Administration, while Eileen continued to work for the models out of her father’s apartment. As business grew and Eileen acquired more models, she and Jerry came to the conclusion it was time to expand business and make a more serious investment towards it. Jerry saw how much passion Eileen had for her new found career but above all he saw great potential in it, as her success was increasing continuously. Jerry and Eileen then sold their car and moved their business into their own location at 949 Second Avenue, in Manhattan, above a woodwork shop. The location wasn’t the most glamorous, but it was their own and  it would give them room to grow and expand their business. At this point Eileen was about to give birth to her first daughter Jamie and would have to step out to take care of her baby, that’s when Jerry decided to step in to help, and what was supposed to be a temporary thing turned out to become a passion for him too.
With a great reputation for honesty and efficiency the Fords attracted a high volume of models and guaranteed the return of a huge clientele. There was no such thing as delayed payments and missed calls with the Fords, and even working out of a small office the couple managed to become one of the three most successful agencies in the country, grossing an average $250,000 in a year. Threatened to be put out of business by their main competitor, the agency Huntington Hartford, who said they would implement a weekly payment system through the use of vouchers, an innovation at the time, Jerry and Eileen  made yet another investment and pulled some money together to quickly implement the system in their own agency, which at the end turned out to be the best decision.
Representing talents like Jean Patchett, considered by Eileen the best model she has ever seen, the couple’s careful managing skills attracted the attention of the iconic model Dorian Leigh, who by then also owned her own agency and was dissatisfied by the management her younger sister, Suzy Parker was getting from her managers at Huntington Hartford. In a smart and excited move, Eileen and Jerry signed on a pregnant Dorian Leigh and her young sister Suzy, without having even met the girl. Suzy was the opposite of her sister, tall and red-haired, she was different from any other girl available in the industry and went on to become the most famous and recognizable fashion model of the 1950’s, breaking boundaries and becoming the first model to achieve superstar status, headlining fashion magazines and making appearances in Hollywood films; Suzy Parker was a sensation and one of Ford’s biggest triumphs.
The Ford Model Agency had become the biggest in the world, working closely with Dorian Leigh’s agency in Paris they formed a successful network that guaranteed a rewarding career to the models they represented. With a keen eye for innovation, the Fords never limited themselves or their models. Dovima, one of the most iconic models of all time and known for Richard Avedon’s image “Dovima with Elephants” went on to become the highest paid model in the industry and earned the nickname of the “Dollar a Minute Girl” making an average $60 an hour. Following her modeling success, Dovima was given a speaking role in 1957’s Paramount movie Funny Face.Dovima showed great comedic talents in that role and her part in that movie opened the doors to other models, like the then famous Suzy Parker, to develop careers in the movie industry too.
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. 
By 1974, The Fords were at the top of their game and had no competition, they had invented the contract for models, in which a model would exclusively represent a specific brand, securing higher fees and better exposure. Jean Shrimpton’s contract with Yardley of London was the first one and Lauren Hutton and Evelyn Kuhn are said to be the first models to ever have exclusive contracts with Revlon, which then became and still remains one of the most sought after contracts in the industry.
With names like Candice Bergen, Ali MacGraw, Jerry Hall, Christie Brinkley and Rene Russo in their roster, they were unbeatable and were billing an average of $100k per week, as told by Mr. Ford to the The New York Times at the time. Even after the opening of the french powerhouse Elite Models’s office in New York, the Fords remained strong and ahead of the game. Always competing head to head and starting the “model wars”, in which models would switch agencies constantly according to who would make the better offer.
The Ford business remained strong and innovative, always together, Eileen and Jerry continued to pull through with passion and belief in what they were building. In the eighties the ever creative couple started the Ford Supermodel of the World contest, that remains to this day one of the largest modeling competitions in the world, moving hundreds of thousands of submissions yearly and from which talents like Victoria’s Secret model Adriana Lima have emerged.
In 1995, after 50 years in charge of the business, Eileen and Jerry stepped out into the spotlight for one last time to celebrate their agencies’ 50th anniversary and allow for its empire to then be led by their daughter Katie Ford, who at that point was already a part of the booking team and modeling industry for quite some time.
Eileen and Jerry remained married, successful in business and in their personal life,  with a family that includes four children, eight grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. In a recent phone conversation, Eileen told me she turns 90 years old in March of this year and is excited to celebrate this iconic date with a lunch organized by her children. Jerry however won’t be there to celebrate, as he passed away at the age of 83 on august 24, 2008 and left behind a loving wife and a legacy that will be remembered throughout the times to come.Their work together in fashion was a labor of love that broke boundaries and revolutionized an entire industry, they have established philosophies of work that are still followed by most agencies around the world and they have set the standards really high for everyone that followed them.
The Ford family brings the family into the expression “Family Business”, in aspects never before seen in the fashion industry, from housing some of their models in their own homes to making sure that their models were cared for in every aspect, they gave their talent every tool they needed to succeed, from financial to emotional support, it wasn’t just about the profit, but mostly about the relationships created within the modeling agency.
Nowadays, Ford Models is no longer in the hands of the Ford family, but it remains one of the biggest and most powerful agencies in the industry representing established names like Emma Balfour, Ana Claudia Michels, Rose Cordero, Karmen Pedaru and Sigrid Agren; as well as rising new talent like Tao, Julia Nobis and Kate King. The interesting part however, is to think that some of this young talent represented by Ford Models, walks those hallways completely unaware of the history behind them, that this multi million dollar business once started in a small office on second avenue and was solely responsible to set an entire industry in motion.
To see Ford Models’ website go to www.fordmodels.com 

Supermodel Blogger

Here is a new post in my Model Musing column at lookbooks.com – this week with supermodel blogger Emily Sandberg, you can check out her blog at www.supermodelblogger.com !

Model Musing: Emily Sandberg

What does a mime, a life guard, a minister, a mother and a blogger have in common? They are all one person: the iconic supermodel Emily Sandberg. With a long list of abilities, Emily has wowed the world with her modeling skills, which shot her to stardom.
Gracing the covers of  the Italian, French and Japanese editions of Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and Elle and having shot with some of the most renowned photographers in the industry, like Annie Leibovitz, Steven Meisel, Peter Lindbergh, Mario Testino and Craig McDean, among others for campaigns such as Versace, Fendi and DKNY, Emily has become a household name and makes use of her expertise in her now famous – and infamous – blogSupermodel Blogger in which she shares her experiences as a model, actress and mother with whoever is interested, and the following is huge.
Why do you love this picture?
It’s a portrait of me.  It’s very rare that a photographer is interested in capturing the person or personality of a model.  Most often – and it goes without saying that this is the basic job description of a model – she must project an image to be captured. It was refreshing to sit in front of a camera and just be me. 
Who took it? Were you excited to work with this photographer?
I’d never worked with Annie Leibovitz before and wasn’t sure what to expect. Knowing that they were shooting numerous portraits that day, I expected a factory atmosphere and distracted photographer just doing another job.  I was surprised at how present she was and the second I realized that she was “there” I felt thrilled to be seen and captured by her. I respect Annie and have been a fan of her images for quite some time.  
How long did this shoot last?
I was in hair and makeup for an hour and then I sat for Annie for an hour.  All in, from door to door, it took four hours out of my day. I’d say it was worth every second. 
Anything curious about location, environment, weather, etc? 
I’ve never seen such an archive. When Annie came over to shake my hand and introduce herself, she had with her a folder containing all of the strongest images from my career.  I was sort of shocked and asked her about it.  She told me she has a team who keeps a file on most models and actresses for reference materials.  Wow. 
Who else was in the crew?
Julien D’ys did hair.  Nicoletta Santoro styled. Unfortunately, I don’t remember who did makeup.  
What were you thinking when it was taken?
I cleared my mind. But in between takes, I was thinking “I hope this is going good for everyone”.
What direction did the photographer give you?
She told me to sit and be comfortable. Interestingly, the photographers I’ve worked with like Steven Meisel and Peter Lindbergh, who are able to capture the strongest images of me, simply ask me to be comfortable.  
How was working with Nicoletta Santoro?
She tends to dress me in masculine clothing with clean lines.  I love working with her, she’s always been protective of me and progressively definitive of my image with each shoot and each runway show we worked on together. 
What were you wearing?
I wore an Ann Taylor blouse and my own necklace. 
What was the theme of the shoot?
Ann Taylor was celebrating the golden 50th anniversary as a brand.  They chose to do a special campaign capturing portraits of supermodels past, present and future. 
Is there anything about the modeling career that you would change if you could?
 I would have hired a team of professionals, nutritionists, trainers, doctors, accountants and lawyers right away.  I would also have reached out to models that were ahead of me in the process for mentoring.  
 I learned a lot through trial and error.  There wasn’t any strategic planning happening in my career or in the careers of the girls around me.  Most were simply trying to survive and figure out what this crazy world was they had happened upon.  And then, it was “over”. Everyone, agents, photographers, designers, stylists, editors were all moving so fast, I don’t think anyone really has a sense of the larger picture of a model’s arc of career or how to sustain it or even what to do with a girl after her first cycle through the upper echelons of fashion.   
 If I could do it again, I wouldn’t try to keep up with the pace, I would set my own. 
You can follow Emily Sandberg on twitter (@Emmalish) and on her blog:www.supermodelblogger.com 
Emily Sandberg is represented by Trump Models.

Hot Like Fire

The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue is out and I have taken the opportunity to speak to the Brazilian bombshell Cintia Dicker for Modelinia – Have a read HERE!

One on One with Cintia Dicker
Brazilian redhead Cintia Dicker just doesn’t seem to stop, in between photo shoots, fashion shows and shoots for TV commercials she has another important task to add to her schedule this week: the launch of the Sports Illustrated 2012 Swimsuit Edition, in which she is featured for the third year in a row.
Cintia’s shoot took place in the middle of the African desert, in front of a huffing and puffing rhinoceros and on top of an elephant under the melting sun. “The rhinoceros must have been the scariest experience I have ever been through, he was grunting so loud that I could not contain my tears, we shot really quickly and moved on to the elephant, which was much nicer, the elephant was actually super cute!”
Cintia felt inspired and ended up buying a few of the pieces she wore, “I loved everything I wore, there were a lot of animal prints and those are always my top choices when it comes to bikinis; it went really well with the location, I am really excited about these pictures, I think they’ll look beautiful.”
She also had a couple of funny stories to tell us: “One of the girls in the crew left her bag unattended at the location and next thing you know there is a monkey going through her bag. The minute she saw that she thought to try and grab her bag back but was advised otherwise, so she just waited in awe, and the monkey then grabbed her cell phone and walked away. Everyone was stunned, it was really funny. On every day we would go from one location to another riding elephants. So, on the first day, (of course) I had to stop right behind the elephant and it was by nearly and inch, but the elephant kicked back, like a horse would, and nearly hit me! I started laughing, but in reality I was terrified, can you imagine getting kicked from an elephant? Ouch!

You Got the Love

It’s Valentine’s Day and I have posted this feature on cute model-couple Daniela Lopes and Diego Querzoli on Look Books for the Model Musing column of this week. Check it out HERE !
🙂

Model Musing: Valentine’s Day Edition

Married for two years, Brazilian models Daniela Lopes and Diego Querzoli are one of those couples who set standards for many others, particularly in the modeling industry. It’s not rare to find models meeting and going into relationships, but the crazy routine, busy schedules and extensive traveling tend to break the relationships with time, so to find a couple like Daniela and Diego, who have been together for eight years, is a rarity.
The couple have been represented by the same agency in Brazil since the beginning of their careers, and when they started their relationship, they decided to keep things in the hush-hush until they felt they really had something strong going between them. In the first few weeks together, Diego got called in for a job inspired by the movie “Blow Up” – the model that was originally meant to shoot with him got the pink eye and couldn’t go, so the crew had to find a replacement model in a rush and Diego overheard them mentioning Daniela’s name a few times so he immediately called Daniela in secrecy so she would call the agency to check in and see if there was “anything” going on. The agency immediately confirmed her on that booking and they had to work all day together “pretending” to be a couple, when in fact that was exactly what they were. The fun and excitement of keeping the secret from friends, agents and clients made it all even more interesting and when the news broke that they were together everyone was happy and excited for the both of them.
After many experiences together Daniela and Diego tell us why they like this image so much and share some of their knowledge on being a couple in the modeling industry.
Why do you love this image?
Because it’s just the two of us relaxing and enjoying ourselves, it didn’t feel like we were working at all.
How did the two of you meet?
Daniela: We met at a dinner party that our agency had put together after the shows, but we didn’t really talk, there were many people there, we really met at a job a month later.
Diego: Yes, I remember I was crossing the street to get to the location and I saw this beautiful girl walking towards the studio and I thought: “I am so lucky, I will spend the entire weekend shooting with that beautiful girl!”.
Was it love at first sight?
Daniela: Yes it was! Love at first sight, first talk, first date!
Diego: I suppose it was, but it didn’t really hit me until later on, because I called my agent later on, after the job had passed and I asked her about Daniela, and she told me that Daniela had made a comment about me too, so I guess it was meant to be?
Is it difficult to work as models and still maintain a well rounded relationship?
Not really, it’s just a job like any other, only with a lot more traveling and no routine.
Do clients prefer to work with you because you are a real couple?
Yes, usually when the clients are working on a project that requires a couple they prefer to shoot with real life couples, there’s more synergy and connection. (Diego) well I am sure they like working with her cause she is beautiful and an amazing model!
Do you prefer to work couple jobs together or are you open to shooting with other people too?
Well, it’s definitely easier to work together, but we are open to working with other people too, I mean, it’s just a job. We used to do “couple” jobs before we were together, with other people I mean, and it was never an issue, as long as it remains very professional everything is fine!
Any advices for the young couples in the modeling industry?
Don’t try to limit your partner.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve done for each other?
The only thing we can think of is traveling for miles and miles to only be together for a very short amount of time!
Daniela Lopes and Diego Querzoli are both represented by Way Models in Brazil.

Melt your Heart

Check out my Model Musing column on Look Books to find out why the beauty Hannah Holman loves the picture below and how she will melt your heart away.
xo

Model Musing: Hannah Holman

With a face that resembles a very young Kim Basinger, circa 9 1/2 Weeks, and a personality that will make even the hardest of hearts melt, the blonde beauty Hannah Holman has established herself as one of the most successful models in a very competitive industry. Out of the mountains of Utah, Hannah started modeling at the very young age of 13, but it wasn’t until the agent Doll Wright spotted her, years later, that Hannah really had her break. Doll believed in Hannah’s talents, promoted her to the top clients in the industry and landed her in the Fall/Winter 2010 Miu Miu campaign as well as an exclusive for that season in Paris. 
Since then Hannah has become a familiar face to the fashion crowd and has graced the pages of magazines like Vogue USA, as well as covers for French,Russh and Citizen K and a wide range of editorials from W and to 10and I-D. Even at the height of 5’8, Hannah walked the runways for heavy weights like Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs and Chanel among others; and shot campaigns for Marc by Marc Jacobs, See by Chloe, Moschino Cheap & Chic and landed a  fat contract for the fragrance, Daisy by Marc Jacobs.

Read on to hear why Holman finds this picutre a favorite.
Why do you love this picture?   
I was fairly new to the game so I didn’t know what I was capable of .  When I saw how beautiful the photo was, I was proud and excited for my future in modeling.
Who took it?
An Australian photographer, Andrew O’Toole
How long did this shoot last? 
The shoot  was longer in the end than planned.  We were all having so much fun and couldn’t stop.  We were greedy for more shots I suppose. 
Anything curious about the location, environment, weather, etc? 
I was in Australia in a hair salon, as it was a hair story for Harper’s Bazaar Australia.   
Who else was in the crew? 
It was a small set up, especially towards the end when we stayed overtime. Hair was by Mathew Webb, who was the owner of the salon.
What were you thinking when it was taken? 
I was probably thinking too much!  
What direction did the photographer give you? 
He would let me move as I wished, which I love. It’s very freeing and it clears the head.    
What was the theme of the shoot? 
Back then I didn’t realize there were themes!  
What’s your biggest challenge as a model?  
Balancing your real life with work.  Time fly’s by so quickly and its impossible to plan a holiday, because you’ll most likely land a good job during that time. Murphy’s law! 
Is there anything about the modeling career that you would change if you could? 
No more last minute/holiday spoiler/ confirmed night before jobs, because of thaplanning anything is a pain. 
Hannah Holman is represented by Ford Models and is also on TWITTER @HannahHol

An Affair with Fashion

 

With a smart eye for fashion and aesthetic,  Brazilian artist Andre Azevedo has explored all different avenues of artistic work. From video making, to painting and art installations, he has dipped his toe in all kinds of waters and in each of those showed absolute control of his talent and imaginationby creating a body of work that travels through the most inventive to the most high maintenance crowds, all of which have their attention caught by the edgy look of whatever it is that Mr. Azevedo has created. Wether it’s a window for a fashion brand, a TV commercial, a painting or illustrations for a fashion magazine, Andre shows no fear in his work and with his work he conquers the minds of thousands.

With a background in graphic design,  Andre Azevedo saw his artistic career turn into a hobby for the ten years he worked as a model manager for one of Sao Paulo’s most prominent modeling agencies. In 2007, 

on the verge of a nervous breakdown, Andre realized he needed to slow down and reacess his life; he quit his successful career in Sao Paulo, packed up his bags and paintings and moved back home to Curitiba, a quaint city with the best quality of life in the Brazil, but also a city that thrives on art and culture. 

The move to Curitiba was meant to be a hiatus, time that the model manager needed to find his true calling; and that’s where Andre Azevedo, the model manager, became Andre Azevedo, the artist. Making use of his connections in fashion, Andre went on to do freelance work in styling and fashion production in order to make a living while  in his free time he could pour his passion into canvases, screens and sheets of paper. It was clear from the beginning that his work had a strong link with the fashion images that were a part of his day to day life in Sao Paulo and that the human eastethic played an important role as a source of inspiration, and as he explains, 

“the human being is still the focus of my vision”. But if the human connection is so important, then why completely abandon such a successful career? Couldn’t it be a great source of inspiration as well as an ally? Andre explains that,“

in the beginning the proximity with the fashion universe and the amount of interesteing people I would meet was exciting and extremely stimulating, it made me more interested in fashion, but with time it also became really boring, that’s why I had to leave, but those subjects are still present in my work.” In Curitiba, Mr. Azevedo also discovered a passion for the use of the internet and social media, and through them he also found a great tool to show his work and his ideas to the world. By spreading his work on his blog, Andre started seeing an overflow of followers and admirers, ranging from fashion editors to celebrities like Kanye West, who even posted a link to Andre’s work.

The internet was the biggest art dealer Mr. Azevedo could have asked for, all of a sudden he was receiving requests from other artists for contributions as well as commercial clients like Alfa Romeo and MTV to use his work in their new and creative advertising strategies. With much dedication, Mr. Azevedo took his time  making the right decisions. Calls from magazines such as Tank and  Made in Brazil started coming in and his collaborations started spreading out into the fashion industry. The Brazilian super-brand Forum asked Mr. Azevedo to develop a set of prints for a limited edition of t-shirts that were sold out and the classic brand Lacoste brought Andre in to participate in a project that culminated in a fashion show, a week of exhibitions and a limited edition book launched in Paris in 2011. Andre’s pannel produced for that exhibition in Rio de Janeiro was so well received that later it was also picked to be used in the windows of the Lacoste stores in Rio de Janeiro.

Publishing mega-house Taschen saw his talent and asked him to submit his work to their infamous catalog of the best illustrators in the world: Illustration Now! – for which he was then included in it’s fourth edition. Following Illustration Now! – Vol. 4, Mr. Azevedo has also been included in Taschen’s The Bigger Book of Fahsion Illustration due out this year.

When the subject of the commercial use of art is brought up, Mr. Azevedo has a very firm stand point: “I believe that the dream of most artists is to be able to stay in their studios and produce the work they feel the most inspired by for days and days, without any concerns of where its place in the art market or the price point, but for the most part I don’t believe that is a possibility. Even though many don’t see the commercial use of art in a good light, I don’t believe it makes less of my work as an artist, to me it’s a great compliment when I am asked to contribute to a fashion label or a major established brand like Lacoste or Alfa Romeo. In general my artistic freedom is never compromised, as I am usually given a theme or subject to work with and I am free to create on top of that.”. And so, after exploring so many different environments all there is left to wonder is; what else is there to do? “ well, photography is still very intriguing to me, it demands a lot more discipline and it’s the only thing that never came naturally to me, like painting or drawing.”

We look forward to seeing Andre explore this new realm and we hope his photos are as seductive as his illustrations!

Visit  Andre Azevedo’s blog here.

Not as happy as it sounds

If you haven’t yet watched Another Happy Day, then don’t be fooled by the title, it’s one of those sarcastic little things that you need to be able to pick up on. Like that movie Happiness; remember?

Well, don’t get me wrong, Another Happy Day is one damn good movie; written and directed by a very talented Mr. Sam Levinson and with a cast that will take your breath away. From Ezra Miller and Ellen Barkin, to Ellen Burstyn and Demi Moore, this is a flawless movie, hissy fits included and all. It’s not just a movie about a family falling apart, it’s a movie about real families, and how real families have all kinds of craziness but all kinds of beauty within them too. This is a movie about the woman who wants her family to get along, about the boy who wants to be a part of, about the girl who needs a father, about the ex husband who has gone so far and grown so cold that he barely knows how to communicate with his loved ones. This is a movie about what happens with a family when honesty, tenderness and understanding walk out the door, because love is still there, but it’s nothing more than an old idea or a dusty memory.

Don’t be discouraged though – this is a movie that still manages to maintain its good spirits, for the most part. There is sense of humour within all the madness, there is irony too, just like our lives. Well, raise your hand if you never experienced one of those “well ain’t this perfect!?!?” moments? As i thought, no hands went up.

Another Happy Day is a great movie because it hits the right chords for the right issues. Yes, not all families are that dysfunctional, but this is not the point. The point is, that there are people like that around us, constantly, we go through situations just as bad throughout several occasions in our lives. If we haven’t yet, we surely will soon, so why not open our eyes and minds and examine something that is given to us by fictional characters, is entertaining, causes no pain and could very well prepare us for those not so happy moments?

This movie is all about reaction, it’s an episode in the life of a family, and within that episode we are shown  a lifelong history of bad reactions. Separations, conversations, addiction, mental disorder, lies that come out and truths that are hidden, all of those bring out emotional and erratic reactions from each of the characters. Ellen Barkin‘s Lynn even tries to keep it together, but because of the way she reacted to things in the past, there is no way of fixing it anymore, she has set precedents and taken wrong decisions and now it’s too late. It’s too late for her and for all of them, this so called family hasn’t been an actual family in a long time.

See, all our lives are based on how we carry ourselves and the actions we take. Every bad action will generate a bad reaction. In theory. As human beings equipped with brains that we are, we are capable of making decisions and controlling our emotions, however, some of us forget about that and allow for our emotions to take over and react on situations that could have had a much brighter outcome had we taken the time to ponder and make the right decision.

If this movie doesn’t make you think about life and how you behave in your family and in society, than I don’t know what will, and hopefully this was the goal here, because it’s more than time for us all to pick up that long awaited wake up call. The phone is ringing, what will you do?

Walk the Walk

Here is a link to an interview with runway coach Connie Fleming on lookbooks.com !

🙂

Walk the Walk: An interview with runway coach Connie Fleming

As New York Fashion Week approaches, hundreds of new faces roam through the streets of Manhattan, girls fighting for their own space under the spotlights of the runways; for many, one booking is the golden opportunity and key to a long and successful career, so getting the job isn’t enough, the performance is all that matters. But how do these girls prepare for the dreaded castings? And ultimately, how do they know what to do when they are asked to walk the walk?
Connie Fleming is the answer to many of those young faces, who sometimes have learned “how to walk”  in their home countries or even at home, watching videos on YouTube, and need to perfect the techniques and many many times need to relearn from scratch.
Connie was catapulted into the fashion world in the 80’s in the midst of the downtown fashion and performance art scene. She caught the attention of designers like Patricia Field and Andre Walker who booked her to model their collections and shortly after she fell into graces with the likes Thierry Mugler and Vivienne Westwood. Connie’s career as a model was established and photographers like Steven Klein and Steven Meisel confirmed she was a must-book.
Having dabbled a little bit in the art scene and in production and casting for her long time friend Patricia Field, Connie gained enough experience and know how to then move on to a new realm and explore a career as a runway coach. 
 
With names like Arlenis Sosa, Hanne Gabby Odiele, Erin Heatherton and Brooklyn Decker on her resume, Connie has a brilliant array of experience to share with the young girls:  
What do you like about teaching these young girls to walk the runways?
Helping them to build their confidence and watching them grow and adapt to the creative process.
One would think that all they have to do is put on their outfit, a good face and walk; but if there is the need for a runway coach I am assuming there is a lot more to it?
Yes there’s attitude, feeling, pace, connecting with the eyes. Being in the moment and part of the overall statement.
What is the most important thing for these girls to learn?
To be aware of the clients direction and style, the importance of creating a line or shape, and again being comfortable in their bodies.
Do the model’s agents give you directions of something that they are looking for or interfere with your work in any way?
It’s different for each girl and what she needs at the time. It might be a certain style for a specific show or to help ease them out of their shell.  I really haven’t experienced an interfering vibe and ultimately the agent knows the model best.  More importantly they get feedback from casting directors and clients so it’s more like everyone coming together to make the process work.
Is there anything that frustrates you as a runway coach?
Time, when there isn’t enough of it to prepare a girl fully for show week.
Are you proud to see the girls you coached glowing in campaigns, editorials and fashion shows?
Naturally. It’s great to see them utilize techniques we’ve practiced in class.
Do you still have a relationship with them?
We run into each other from time to time but they’re off making fashion and i couldn’t be happier for them.
What is the most important advice you would give to the young girls who aspire to become models?
Familiarize yourself with the business,  the designers, the labels, the websites  and magazines. And realize it’s a tough business that can be quite harsh; it requires a thick skin to not take it all too personally.  
What do you still aim to achieve in this industry?
There are many avenues of the business that i would like to pursue.  I ‘m working on several projects such as my illustrations which i’ve been working on for years and plan to exhibit soon.

And the Winner Is…

In times when all we hear in the media and among our friends too is the buzz about who’s wining which award or who’s wearing what in which red carpet or what the host will say that will make people uncomfortable or how will the acceptance speech be; i can’t help but wonder, what do these awards really mean and who are these awards important to anyway?

Awards are like great compliments, given to us by people that – hopefully – know and have excelled in the same craft as those who receive it, awards are the recognition of a job well done; much like a star to the child who cleans up their bed room or the treat to the dog who sits quietly upon request. But awards don’t change us, awards don’t all of a sudden make us into something special or different, or at least they shouldn’t. Just because an actor receives an Oscar it doesn’t mean they will only do masterpieces from there on, right Charlize Theron? Of course it is expected of them to only do better from then on, but why should they only then go for those dramatic roles that make you cry for 45 minutes when they can also have some fun while working and do a high energy action movie or a laughable comedy? They are actors after all, they should be open to playing whatever character makes them happy, wether we, the Academy or the critics like it or not.

I was watching a show on Oprah Winfrey’s Network the other night called Master Class, in this show Oprah had Goldie Hawn talking about her life and career, and Ms. Hawn, a very accomplished and established actress – and and Oscar winner for that matter – had something very interesting to say. Goldie Hawn went on to say exactly what i’ve always been thinking, that it’s great to get an award, that it’s really cool to be recognized for the work you did and it’s good to know that your peers admire you enough that they would give you something like an Oscar, but this accolade is like a pat in the back, and it doesn’t make us any more special than we already were before, we need to be glad for it and move on, continue to do our jobs, carry on with our lives, because an award doesn’t define who we are, they give us confidence, even boost up our egos for a moment, but it should not be for more than a moment.

You see, this is where it gets tricky, it’s when the boosted ego lingers for more than a moment, and we believe that we in fact deserve something more than we’ve been getting, that we are in fact different. We are not. We should learn to take those little moments as a guide in our lives, maybe they exist to show us we are in the right path, that we are doing something that is good and admired, and it shows us which qualities we have, and that could be the lesson to be taken from an award or from that “job well done” we got from our boss, that we are in the right path and should continue to work hard, and that we should continue to give the best of ourselves in whatever it is that we are doing, otherwise, what’s the point of doing it anyway?

What is the point of doing something if it’s not done with love and passion? No point at all. So there you have it, regardless of getting an award or not, you should be happy you’ve done it and know in your heart, with or without the award, that you’ve done a great job. Other people’s opinion will not make it more special, they may validate your own, but your opinion will still be the same, much like yourself as a person, and all of us should learn to award ourselves for the hard work we do, we should learn to identify our strengths and weaknesses as human beings and work on them to improve ourselves, and we should be able to admit to ourselves and the world what they are; there is nothing wrong with that, it shows character.

Modesty, actually, false modesty, is a bitch; and i only say this because i used to be big in false modesty. Why would you discredit yourself of something you did that was very well done? No, you should take the credit and run with it, but keep in mind that it doesn’t change a thing about yourself. It is important to know what you’re worth and to keep that in check constantly, because by doing that you will always remember that even though you may have many qualities, you also have many flaws, and they are just as visible, and that no one depends on another person’s opinion to be happy, because by knowing your qualities and flaws you can be happy about yourself as a person and the feeling of being happy is extraordinary.

I recently lost a job, and all i heard from friends and people i know was how good i am and how i would turn this around because of these amazing talents and skills i have and so on and so forth. It wasn’t very long until i started wearing a cloak of wisdom and all you would hear was me talking about myself and how great i was and how i would turn things around because i was really great and no one else could be greater than me and that anyone would be a fool not to hire me because i would add so much value to a company and so on and so forth.

What a bore of a human being i had become. For over a week the world revolved around me and i could not see past myself. Finally one night, i was having dinner with a great friend, someone who knows me inside and out, and halfway through it i see a look in her face, and i know i had seen that look once before, and it scared me. I had to ask her what was wrong, but she would NOT say it, for the life of her, i could see how uncomfortable she was, and that was driving me crazy, because i knew right there that i must have done or said something absolutely awful. Finally, after much insistence she revealed the reason of her discontentment towards me: I was acting like a selfish prick. And there it was, the cloak of wisdom fell off my shoulders and i realized how ridiculous i was, riding on my high horse like i was worth a million bucks when in fact i was probably worth no more than a penny.

So here it is my friends, the true story of how a good person, which i admittedly am, can turn into an absolute douche bag, to say the least. This is again, proof that compliments and awards don’t change who we are. Those people saying how good i was when i lost my job were doing what they were supposed to be doing, they were pointing out my qualities so that i would have enough confidence to carry on and feel good about myself, they were being good friends, and after a while i became a ball of ego rolling down a mountain and destroying everything that crossed my path, even the ones who i loved the most.

We should always, always remember to stay true to ourselves and in our paths be kind and generous to others, because the award of today may be the doom of tomorrow.

Splashing Back

Here is a little piece I wrote for Modelina.com about Lisa Cant’s return into the fashion world!
😉

Lisa Cant Splashes Back into the Fashion Scene

Dolce & Gabbana favorite Lisa Cant recently took some time off from the fashion world to attend Columbia University, but the blue eyed beauty is back and looking better than ever! Along with wrapping up her final semester at Columbia this year, Lisa just shot an editorial for Vogue US with Steven Klein, and is planning to walk the runways in the upcoming Fashion Weeks.  Trump Models included Lisa in their show package, which they send out to casting directors and designers, and having walked some of the top runways in the past – including Chanel and Marc Jacobs – we have a feeling she’ll be one of the most booked models this season.

The Curse

Every year is the same story, as the holiday season approaches, millions, or dare i say, billions of people accross the globe enter a state of utter anxiety that culminates with the new year’s eve celebration. Oh the new year, this emblematic turn of the page of a calendar, or even the start of a brand new one, where projects will be launched, ideas will be developed, dreams will be chased, relationships will begin and promotions will be earned. Or not.

I remember from a very young age of being involved in fancy celebrations for the turn of the year and the hugs and kisses exchanged between friends and family wishing for a happy new year, followed by wishes of joy, happiness and success. What i also remember is that could not understand what difference did any of it make? I mean, was something going to dramatically change from today to tomorrow? I clearly remember not feeling any difference whatsoever, i mean, apart from the holiday everyone seemed to have, everything else remained the same. Everything.
After i gained some age and freedom, the celebration of the new year also meant being free from the shackles of the family festivities and venturing out with my friends in our own adventures through creative or exotic locations; or sometimes merely someone else’s living room, with no grown up presence to say what we should or shouldn’t do. In reality, what that was, was another opportunity to drink all night long until the morning came or someone passed out flat on the floor. Either way, that meant we were growing up, and we were in charge and independent, we didn’t need anyone to tell us what and how to do anything, we knew better. Or so we thought.
Over the years i’ve grown to dislike the new year’s eve celebrations just as much as everything else that surrounded the holiday season. That one night carried so much anxiety and expectations that at the end it seemed more like a task rather than a fun night out with friends. Most of the times it meant having some grand party plan or a very interesting travel destination combined with a mind-blowing party night. Well, needless to say that none of that EVER turned out as planned, hence the title above mentioned, and what i have been recently calling the curse of the new year’s eve.
It is always a mess, you end up stranded at some weirdo’s party in a distant location, or the party you spent a fortune on turns out to be hilariously disappointing – and i mean hilarious because you can’t help but laugh at your own foolishness – or you start the evening in love to only finish heart-broken, or – which in my case is usually what happens and is far worse – everything seems to be going smoothly and you’re heading towards a very successful evening in an incredible location with great company and then something really unexpected and fucked up happens.
Crap, don’t you just hate that? Isn’t that just a downer? Not in a simplistic perspective, but in fact in a disastrous, Donald Duck kind of proportion. I mean, you’re in the zone, working the party, everything in harmony, you are finally making all the right connections that could contribute to something in the year ahead of you and then someone taps you in the shoulder: “have you seen Daniel?” and you go blank for a second – “no, i thought he was with you?!?”. Well, dear friends, there you have it, the beginning of the end, you know that from that moment on your night will turn into hell.
Daniel, for that matter ends up resurfacing four hours later out of a ditch four blocks down the road where he went to look for “entertainment” – whatever the hell that means.
Well, the curse is very simple, because it never fails me, it always turns up at some point on my new year’s eve and ruins my night, even if i decide to lock myself at home and watch movies, something WILL happen. The good side though is that this curse is the one thing that i can solemnly count on every single year. I know that for some part of that day i will be having a blast and i know that all of that will come crashing down on me as if the skies were falling on my head like in an Asterix comic book.
The thing is, who cares anyway? New year’s eve is after all just another pointless holiday night that people use as an excuse to get sloshed and act irresponsibly, and there is nothing wrong with that, i mean i would have absolutely NOTHING against it if people didn’t put so much expectation in it and on top of that added all that cheering and fake emotions and commotion that everyone knows is bullshit. I mean, what’s the deal with all the hugging and the kissing just because a number is changing in the calendar? And why do we have a need for the year to change to only then start that long awaited diet or stop acting like a douche? Why not take action right now and get back the control of your life instead of just waiting for other people and holidays to dictate your future? I have nothing against new year`s eve, as long as it doesn’t cause me traumas.
It seems pretty odd to me that we would have the discernment to decide to change things because the year is changing digits and not do anything about it throughout the year anyway!!?! Come on people, get off those fashionable bony asses and start acting on it NOW, before it’s too late; and i know i sound a bit harsh, but it is what it is – i’d rather spend my energy on having a great birthday celebration rather then waiting for the clock to turn midnight, if you ask me where i was when the clocks turned, i will probably tell you: asleep.

Manifesto of the Broken-Hearted

“How come you never go there? How come i’m so alone there?” – with those words Leslie Feist kicks off her latest single, recently released as a part of the album “Metals” – another beautifully crafted work of art by the Canadian musician who has brought us so much joy and heart-break before, and it is in the heart break that i want to focus here, because it is so easy for us to take it for granted.

You see, a heart break can be a beautiful thing, a weapon of mass construction, it can build songs, paintings, installations, books, journeys and even careers. It is not by chance that we are put to test like that, it is not by chance that we are compelled to feel our heart ache so much that it feels like we don’t want to feel anything at all. Just like we need to fall, in order to learn to get back up, maybe it’s getting our hearts broken that will teach us how to master the art of falling in love and dealing with every heart break, minor or major.

It is so easy for us to feel like the other one is at fault, or that we did it all wrong, and then to turn ourselves in martyrs; but why, i ask? Why should we put ourselves through so much pain and misery? It is ok to feel the pain, but living through it is the best part, let’s look at it from another angle, maybe this pain that comes from a heart-break is like a rare delicacy, it’s like that flower that blossoms only once in every few years, and we need to enjoy it as much as we can instead of trying to smash it down, for there is beauty even in the ugly; didn’t someone once say that “the beauty is in the eye of the beholder”?

Well, what i would like to propose here is an exercise, it’s a new way to look at our pain, whatever that is and wherever it comes from, and to turn it into something beautiful; like songwriters compose songs that sweep our hearts away, we can transform our pain in something that will make us happy. Through our pain we may discover a new passion, we may find a new friend, we may come to terms with older issues that were put to the side, because a heart break puts us in a place of fear and unease, it also puts us in anger and frustration, and those are all feelings that are great fuel in life, especially for our creativity.

So lets look at our heart break and gracefully learn from it, let’s look at what we did that could have gone wrong and at the end did. We are only human, we are not in control of life, we can’t decide how other people think, feel or react, we can’t control other people’s actions and emotions, so what we are left with is our own stuff to deal with. Let’s look back at our previous heart breaks and think about how much of it was really just because we projected much further than we in fact were living. Let’s look at our expectations and our romantic ideas, and then try to see if the other part involved shared those same ideas and expectations,or if maybe we had allowed ourselves to interpret further and make up reasons for our actions based on our own feelings, not in facts.

Even though it sounds awfully mechanical, it is also truly reasonable, because if you put things in perspective like that, it also helps to alleviate the pain, because it’s like science, you can’t argue with it.

Now, even after much rationalization, there will still be pain, because a broken heart is a broken heart, you can mend the pieces but parts of it will never be the same, and isn’t that a great thing? Because your feelings can change, evolve and grow; you can learn to turn those amended pieces in a great friendship, or you may turn them into a work of art that will blow the world away in lovely inspiration, or it may also be the last drop you needed to really focus in that career you never pursued because your mind was too distracted with other things.

You see, a broken heart is a beautiful thing, because it changes you, because it makes you look at yourself and the world around you in a different way, it makes you reflect on yourself and your life, it makes you put things in check, and it will always be a great reminder of your capacity to love; and if you really give your broken heart all the love and attention it deserves what you may encounter at the end is even more glorious than what you started with.

Below is a video of Feist performing “How come you never go there” on David Letterman. Enjoy! 😉

In the Land of Jolie

Whenever i sit to write in this blog there is fuel that drives me. Many times the source is one particular matter that raises a certain question in my head that pushes me to sit and write and share my ideas with the world. Every now and then it’s not one, but the clash of several different matters that push me to write, in this case the clash of ideas that brought me to my knees is not an easy one.

I live in New York City, a half a block away from the United Nations, i meditate on that building constantly as a way of trying to find peace, i look to it as a source of inspiration, because i would like to think of it as a place where politics, religions, beliefs and economy are all neutral and in perfect harmony, even though i know it isn’t. Many nights on my way home I stop and stare at that building and wonder what thoughts and prayers are going on in there, what matters are being brought to the surface for discussion, and which of those matters are in fact being addressed and which ones aren’t. I always try to think of the United Nations as a place of peace, i try to look at it as a place of reflection on life in this tiny world we live in and for a second my heart gets filled with hope.

Well, last night i went to a different building in the city, the Hearst Tower, symbol of money and power of the american empire, but a place where thoughts come to life in print and websites and media in general; and also the place that houses Marie Claire magazine, which had invited me for a private screening followed by a Q&A of Angelina Jolie’s “In the Land of Blood and Honey” the movie she wrote, directed and produced, about the war in Bosnia; a very controversial movie but also a brilliantly made movie; a movie that raises all the right questions, that stirs all the right feelings, that throws you to the ground and shakes you to look for your human soul.

Angelina Jolie has always been a very mysterious woman to me, a very layered gorgeous woman; she is the bombshell, the actress, the mother, the humanitarian, whatever it is you want to label her as, she can be, i see her as a Swiss army knife, actually, i don’t, because a Swiss army knife has limitations, and Angelina doesn’t. Mrs. Jolie is a powerful woman and she uses the power she has been given very wisely.

In her directorial debut, Mrs. Jolie told a story that many people don’t want to tell, she told the story of something that the world didn’t even want to look at as it was happening, in Bosnia; ugly things done by human beings to other human beings, she told the stories of the war, she managed to brilliantly place the viewer inside the war, next to the soldiers and the victims, she made you feel all they felt, and you could not pick a side, you could not decide who the villain was, because they all had their part in it, they all came in with their beliefs and they all turned into something else as soon as the war began.

Angelina Jolie showed us what it feels like to be in war, to see horrific things on a daily basis, year after year, after year, she made us understand that there is no sense to any of it, that friends and neighbors can turn into enemies in the click of an Uzi, just because. That is frightening, and we don’t want to look at it, it is in our nature to look away, we don’t want to know what happens there, we don’t like to be put in that position, because we don’t want to question ourselves what would we do if we were put in that situation.

Before the movie started, Angelina came out with a message; “Over the next two hours, you will feel uncomfortable and you will want to stop the movie and leave, but these people, they had to live through these things for three years, they couldn’t leave, and many of the actors in this movie were there when it happened, so please don’t leave.”

Well, no one left, and we all wore those Bosnian shoes, and that is exactly what will happen to you too upon watching “In the Land of Blood and Honey”, because Angelina Jolie will not settle for less then the absolute truth, she will not settle for less than the reality, and if the film doesn’t end the way you expect it to end, well, you will have to suck it up, because in war, things don’t necessarily end the way we want them to end.

Mrs. Jolie is a serious woman who takes her job very seriously, and when given the opportunity to tell this horrific story she decided to do the best job she could to show the world how things really happened, not how we hoped for them to turn out in the end, because in war there is no romantic ending, there is just the end. And then some other war begins somewhere else.

If the story was taken from a book of a certain gentleman or not, that doesn’t mater, controversies aside, Angelina Jolie was the right person to tell this story, Mrs. Jolie has the means and expertise to make it work, she made sure that the movie reflected what really happened during the conflict in Bosnia, and because this movie has Mrs. Jolie as its creator people will pay attention to it and they will buy tickets and they will go watch it, even though the theme is tough to digest, so it doesn’t matter where the story came from, but the story was told the best way it could be told, the story reached it’s full potential for the screen and hopefully will help raise awareness of millions of people around the world, because that’s why i write and that’s why movie makers make movies, because we want to send a message, that’s how we know how to help, we inform people through our craft and hope that the message sticks.

So what i took from my encounter with Mrs. Jolie was that if more people in Hollywood were rolling up their sleeves like she is, and Mr. Sean Penn is, and Mr. Steven Spielberg is, then we would have a much better chance of changing the world, because we still live in a celebrity driven world, and if more actors and directors used their celebrity status to give us the truth then we would have a much more educated young generation.

Angelina Jolie is a much bigger person than you would think of, and i feel profoundly honored and privileged to have been able to meet with her and share thoughts and ideas on some of the most difficult world issues, issues that we both care and fight for; in different levels, but still, we are both doing the best we can in our capacities, we are both being the best human beings that we can be.

Letters to Haiti

Culture: Letters to Haiti

In an evening of relentless rain, New York City’s most die hard charity fans  showed up for Haiti. The event led by supermodel 

Coco Rocha

 entitled “Letters to Haiti” came to show that when you mix, fashion, art and humanitarian causes you can’t go wrong. In it’s third fund raiser, the non profit organization 

Lakay Pam

, founded by Cedrick Roche and his wife,

Carolina Bittencourt-Roche 

– moved locations, leaving the grungy Opera Gallery in Chelsea and Mr. Brainwash’s colorful installations behind to inhabit a more minimalist spot.

The gallery at Milk Studios included works by Victoria’s Secret model Behati Prinsloo, Greg Kadel, Enrique Badulescu and Ben Watts, among others; all up for auction to help raise money for the charity that supports orphanages and schools in Port Au Prince

 But the main event of the evening was 

James Conran

‘s documentary screening which also gave name to the event – “Letters to Haiti” – in which Mr. Conran depicts  the efforts of Coco and Behati along with a couple of friends in bringing letters and donations from around the world to the children of Haiti. As some of you may know, James Conran is Coco Rocha’s husband, a talented designer and now also a filmmaker.

Coco’s efforts didn’t go unnoticed and she managed to bring out her buddies Karlie Kloss and Hillary Rhoda as well as long time friend Mr. Zac Posen who made sure Rocha had a fresh-off the runway look to wear for the evening. Before the film started. We heard the warm laughter of Lauren Santo-Domingo trading impressions of Ms. Prinsloo’s pictures with make up artist Joe Hubrich and Carolina Bittencourt-Roche discussing blogging with her friend Luciana Curtis.

After the screening of the documentary was finished, Coco reminded everyone that the silent auction was about to begin, but – and said, “If you can’t bid or donate, then maybe you can spread the word and help us raise awareness, Haiti still needs you”.

The message was received, and it seemed that the guests were in pretty good holiday spirits as most of the photographs were sold with no fuss; well, except for one very colorful photography by Ben Watts; generating a bidding war that culminated with the designer Ana Lerario-Geller having to outbid an unknown gentleman by a hundred dollars in the last minute before the bidding closed. Merry Christmas Robert Geller!

All in all it was a fun night out on a very boring rainy New York evening where the holiday spirit could be felt in full force.

Gabriel Ruas Santos-Rocha, to see mroe of his writing click 

here

All photos courtesy of  Josh Wong Photography

Pilgrimage

annie-leibovitz-pilgrimage.jpg

Annie Leibovitz Goes on a Pilgrimage with New Exhibit

West Chelsea saw a true fashion pilgrimage last night when fashionistas like Tory BurchMarina Muñoz and Jamie Johnson flocked down twenty second street making their way through a shoot for the TV show Damages that made traffic through the street impossible. But nothing could stop them as they had a mission: to attend Annie Leibovitz’s “Pilgrimage” exhibition opening at The Pace Gallery – hosted by none other than Anna Wintour, the fierce editor in chief of Vogue.

The expectations surrounding this event were huge. This was Mrs. Leibovitz’s first purely digital project and the subject of her portraits this time were not the famous faces we are used to seeing in the pages of Vanity Fair or Vogue, but places and objects that are special to the photographer and also represent a special place in the world’s history.

Among pictures of Emily Dickinson’s last remaining dress, Elvis Presley’s television, Sigmund Freud’s couch and Abraham Lincoln’s hat, photographer Claiborne Swanson Frank told stories about her first book project set to come out next year while It girl Lily Kwong giggled about having to find a party dress on a budget for a story she was working on for Vogue.com –- “Give me 200 bucks and I’ll make it work!” Coco Rocha made a quick appearance with her husband James Conran on their way to a friend’s dinner. The couple is also getting ready for their own event next week, the fundraiser for the non-profit organization Lakay Pam that helps to improve the quality of life for children in Haiti. Coco will be hosting her third fundraiser for this organization, but this time they will also be premiering the documentary Letters to Haiti as well as showing an exhibition of pictures shot by her friend, Victoria’s Secret Angel Behati Prinsloo, during a visit they made to the country last year.

In an evening where art seemed to be the guest among a fashion crowd, Chuck Close’s presence was a great reminder of the goal of the evening: to celebrate art and history. Mr. Close seemed to be impressed by Mrs. Leibovitz’s work: “It’s interesting to see an artist like her stepping out of her comfort zone to shoot inanimate objects like these. The result is beautiful. I have never been a person who takes pictures, in fact I don’t think I have ever taken a picture during a vacation or anything like that. I like to keep those moments in my head, so it’s interesting to see these pictures displayed like this.”

The evening went smoothly in the warm environment of the gallery, among glasses of white wine and canapés, Karen ElsonNarciso Rodriguez and Prabal Gurung mingled in perfect harmony with Catherine Newell-HansonEugenia Gonzalez and Michelle Harper. Mrs. Leibovitz signed books to her friends and when the clock ticked 8pm there was barely anyone left — as it would be expected from the kind of in-crowd that filled the guest list.

Photographs from Pilgrimage will be exhibited in New York at The Pace Gallery on December 1, 2 and 3 and next year at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington D.C., from January 20 to May 20, 2012. The book Pilgrimage has been published by Random House and is available now.

On Forgiveness

“Time will tell” is a saying people use a lot, but this morning I actually saw the saying coming into life, so I will tell you what time told me about “The Descendants”, the movie brilliantly directed by Alexander Payne that is currently in theaters.
Last night when I left the theater I knew I liked the movie, I wasn’t sure what was about it I liked the most; maybe it was the perfect portrayal of what normal life is like in Hawaii, maybe it was that feeling of pain, grief and redemption that ripped the movie screen and jumped inside me, maybe it was George Clooney and Shailene Woodley’s brilliant acting, or a very well crafted and sensible screenplay; but whatever it was, something was set in motion inside me and I couldn’t put my finger on it right away.
This morning, after some time had passed, I was minding my own business and then it hit me: “Forgiveness! That’s it! Being forgiving, they were forgiving to themselves and each other above all!”. It was almost as if lightning was striking and I could see it coming down and up thru me, that was what had touched me so much in that movie, that was what the whole movie was about, or perhaps it wasn’t, but it portrayed forgiveness in a beautiful and natural way.
It starts with George Clooney’s character, he may be a flawed man, but he acknowledges it and he finally has a chance to do something about it, he knows this is the moment, the window of opportunity to make things right for himself and his entire family. Every character, one by one starts an exercise of soul searching and understanding, and they go through every tiny bit of feeling inside themselves and they forgive, even if they don’t want to, they work on forgiving, honestly forgiving, because it is the right thing to do. Alexander Payne shows us in this crafty movie that forgiveness is necessary in order to go on living.
These characters go through so much pain and destruction in their lives and yet they find a way to be together and show support for each other and give the word family a real meaning. We may not forget certain things in life, but we can definitely forgive them and move on, and grow from it, learn from it, use those things to make us better human beings, and I believe the most important message in this movie is that before being forgiving with others, we have to be forgiving on ourselves to only then be able to spread forgiveness even further.
You see, the beauty about forgiveness is that no one else needs to know about it, it’s a very internal movement we make that helps to create balance and puts everything back in order, it helps us to reconnect with other people, it enables us to live in society without judgments and hurt and so many other negative feelings that normally surround us on a daily basis. Forgiveness doesn’t have to be out loud for society to see, it’s not an award on the kindest human being on earth, but in fact it’s quite the opposite, it serves to remind us to be gentle with ourselves and others, it serves to show us that all human beings are delicate and feel just as much as we do and have pain just as much as we do.
My pain is not greater than yours, “The Descendants” showed me that too, in fact, my pain is irrelevant in most matters in my life, as long as I am aware of how my pain affects me and that I address it from time to time, then I got it covered, no one else needs to be pulled into my madness. It’s all very simple, because we all as human beings have issues going through life, and we can ask for help, we can scream for salvation, but we have to remind ourselves to not take advantage of our pain to get something out of someone else. Pity is an ugly feeling, why would anyone want anything to do with it anyway? Our pains are our own, and that’s the same with forgiveness, it’s our own and it serves to bring relief from the pain, the anger, the jealousy, the narrow-mindedness, you name it, there are so many feelings we can be forgiving about, but no matter what the issue is, we must always forgive and with time we may even forget.
We may forget the smaller things in life, the tiny feelings that come and go, we may be reminded of them from time to time too and they will serve to show us how silly we once thought of something, or someone, or as it is in most cases, ourselves.

Role Model

During the seven years in which Carrie Bradshaw inhabited the TV screen on HBO she became a part of our lives, men, like women, were also drawn to her, even if just for the sake of knowing what the hoopla was all about. We learned many things with Carrie, good and bad, she was our therapist and also the person we wanted to distance ourselves the most at certain times, but none the less, she was always there, like a good friend whose shoulder we can always rely on.
After Carrie and the “Sex and the City” gang were gone from the small screen we were left with a void, we had all of a sudden no one to look to when we turned our TV’s on, there was no shiny Park Avenue mirror for us to look into, no pink tutus or classic Manolo Blahniks to keep us comfort, we were left orphans, an entire generation or two that lived their lives inspired by Carrie Bradshaw, her loyal friends and their lavish lifestyle was all of a sudden at a loss.
Television networks were quick to look for replacements, there was Lipstick Jungle, but that was a huge fluke, poor Brooke Shields, it seems she had much bigger shoes to fill than they expected. But in fact what did they expect? It was like introducing the new wife to your children and expecting them to all of a sudden call this strange woman their “mommy” – it just doesn’t work like that! With the failure of the show that was meant to be the next step and salvation for women everywhere – or at least they marketed it to be seen that way – studios and networks had to find a solution. Sex and the City reruns on several networks were still making higher ratings than many of the brand new shows, so why not make a movie and expand the brand even further?
Sex and the City – the movie – was made, another smash hit produced and headlined by the unforgettable Sarah Jessica Parker and all of a sudden solace was found by millions of people across the globe. Since the early gossips until the premiere of the film, people felt comfort once again, but as soon as Sarah Jessica hung that pink tutu and put the Manolos to rest yet again, the void was back, and this time in full force. And so, have we ever accepted that the whole “Sex and the City” dream is in fact over? That there won’t be any more breakfasts with the girls? Will we face the fact that maybe we need to get out there and build our very own Park Avenue dream?
As I walked down the stairs from the movie theater recently, Sarah Jessica Parker’s most recent movie “I Don’t Know How She Does It” in fact, I realized how similar Sarah’s recent roles had been, how they had these carachteristics that did not distance from one another, like for instance, they were all mostly powerful or somewhat successful women, well, working women none the less, in their thirties or early forties, juggling their professional and personal lives in the big city, wherever that may be, and facing very common issues, like relationships, family, friends and work, but always in control of their own lives.
All of a sudden it dawned on me: Are we on a quest to find the next Carrie Bradshaw? And is Sarah Jessica Parker ever going to be able to step out of this gigantic persona that Carrie Bradshaw has become? Will Sarah Jessica Parker ever be able to leave her Manolo Blahnik’s behind for something more comfortable?
The answer is a little more complicated than that, Carrie Bradshaw and Sarah Jessica Parker have molded into one in the mind of the audience, they in fact do live very similar lives if you don’t look too much into the details, and the press is quick to never show too much detail. Sarah Jessica Parker will forever be remembered as Carrie Bradshaw, an independent woman in the big apple, who dreamed big and made it happen in her own terms, she is the Mary Tyler Moore of our generation, but much more, she is a style icon, both in and outside the screens, she defines what women in our era should be like. But not only women, as some issues flow in the same direction for both men and women. The approach to life for Carrie is so current and in fact timeless, that anyone can identify, all those dreams and aspirations are splattered in the screen for anyone who cares to identify with them, and we all did.
See, Sarah Jessica Parker has a family of her own, a successful career not only as an actress, but also as a producer and a business woman; she has her own fragrance, she makes endorsements and works on charity around the clock – or at least we are told so; Ms. Parker is a role model to all women, even if she isn’t, and on top of it, she embraces her age and speaks proudly of it, she shows that women shouldn’t necessarily be afraid of that ticking biological clock, they should in fact work with it and make the best of their time while roaming the sidewalks of earth – and still, do it in style.
So yes, in fact we are all looking for the next Carrie Bradshaw, we want to feel inspired, we want to see that in television, as in real life, mistakes are common and have to be dealt with, we want to know that behind the glamour there can also be sorrow and imperfection, because that makes us believe that it is all attainable to anyone, as long as we work really hard for it. 
But while we wait for our next screen-sized hero, why not keep an eye out for the real life Carrie Bradshaws out there and feel just as inspired? Because Ms. Parker for instance, has truly made it little more possible to all of us, men and women, and in her latest movie she could not be more appropriate and lovely, a woman at the top of her game, like herself; and so the question that remains is: how does she do it after all?

Naomi Preizler

HERE is a link to something I wrote on one of my favorite new models for LookBooks.com – have a read! 🙂

Agent Provocateur: Elite’s Gabriel Rocha on Naomi Preizler

Naomi Preizler (Elite) is much more than just a pretty face and a great runway girl. She is a true artist who paints and draws likes nobody’s business, and has a great understanding of art and fashion, which to me is an extremely important factor in a model’s career.

Unquestionably a rising talent in our industry, just the other week Naomi shot single-girl editorials for Vogue Russia and L’Officiel in different parts of the world. Her previous bookings include  a cover of Vogue Italia Gioiello; editorials for V SpainVInterviewMuseDazed & ConfusedWonderland, and Zoo; and features in i-D and Metal.

Naomi was also featured on the cover of the first issue of Harper’s Bazaar Argentina, her native country, where she is also currently working on a line of t-shirts with prints from her paintings.

Naomi has walked the runways of GivenchyChanelSonia RykielJean Paul GaultierRichard ChaiRag & BoneMissoniVivienne WestwoodHouse of Holland, among many others; and has been shot by photographers like Mario Sorrenti,Sharif Hamza and Vicky Trombetta (2DM).

For more on Naomi and Gabriel: Naomi’s Twitter | Gabriel’s Twitter — Blog

Will I end up in a Flea Market?

In my home, wherever that may be, as I change addresses and even cities and countries every so often, I have a tradition, and that is to fill it with objects that have a story to tell. Of course, like any other human being, I can’t shy from the brand new store bought objects, a nice couch is paramount to the life of any good living room, it’s that place where you can throw yourself among friends for a good talk over night or where you find the embrace of your lover to doze off in the middle of watching a movie in a rainy Saturday afternoon. But aside from the couch, the bed and maybe a bookshelf or a chair here and there, most of my belongings will come from flea markets and vintage shops.
In my home I like to incorporate to my books and art on the walls, objects that come from special places, pieces that were inherited from my family and tell part of my own background, as well as items I found while making my own story.
In one of my recent trips to London, while walking down Portobello Road amongst old door knobs, tea cups, rugs, porcelain dogs, boxes full of keys to mysterious doors, beautiful and questionable paintings and the occasional raw fish stand sided by pig ears and a man who carried his dog on his shoulders, I found a weird shaped vase, it was, as a matter of fact, a bottle, and there really wouldn’t be much use for it, especially because its lid was missing, but I fell in love with it, I saw potential in that poor orphaned object, so I bought it.
With the bottle in hand, a feeling of accomplishment washed over me, I had made that entire trip worthwhile, I had just acquired a “token” from Notting Hill, the neighborhood that was the lead character in the movie that goes by the same name and that for years inhabited my subconscious as this magical little village hidden in a corner of London.
On my walk back from the depths of that street fair I observed with less attention to the objects but more focus on the bigger picture; listening to the dialogues of the neighborhood woman complaining about her health to the newspaper man while taking a drag from her cigarette, the little kid strolling around while eating her morning croissant with the importance of a 35 year-old walking to her office, the policemen fighting with the unloading trucks that blocked the roads.
 This was part of what made that bottle so special, I pictured in which of those houses it used to live in, where it was originally bought, maybe in a street fair in Morocco or a glass store in Venice?  Was it a gift to newlyweds or maybe something passed along from mother to son, to daughter? That walk made me remember what makes my home a home to me, and that is just that, the reunion of all those moments into one place, memories that live in objects that are carefully placed in shelves and corners of my apartments.
The apartment in itself is unimportant, it’s just a box, but what I make with it is what makes all the difference. Most of the objects I add to my home will probably never leave it, they will move with me, from, address to address, adding to their own history and to theirs my own, but what happens after I die? Will I end up in a flea market?
That feeling of abandonment and loneliness came over and for once I put myself in the place of all those objects left to the roadside in London and so many of the flea markets and junk yards around the world, but I quickly had to come back, because that is not my place to be, I will be in a junk yard of my own and that won’t matter, like the objects left behind by previous owners, I will go on to seek solace elsewhere and history will continue to unfold around me, in this never ending tale that is life.
Now, that bottle, remember? The one with no lid bought in Notting Hill? For now it sits next to my television holding a beautiful dried white rose, and I was right, it made perfect sense to buy it and every time I look at it my heart fills up with joy.

Art to be Lived

I was having a conversation with a friend of mine,
a fashion editor for an Italian magazine; it was one of those conversations
that happen very unexpectedly in the middle of a hectic week of work somewhere
in Europe. We were talking about our lives, how fortunate we are to be able to
be globetrotting across the planet with our jobs and getting in touch with
different cultures and experiencing so many different lives in one lifetime, to
be seeing things that we used to see in text books in school or in our parents
art books. We spoke of our different backgrounds and the places we now live in
and the places we see ourselves living in, in the future; we decided we are in
did searching for a feeling of a well lived life, which in fact we already
have, given our young age.

But this talk was more in terms of where would we
establish ourselves, where we saw ourselves spending our old age, how our life
would be, what we would become from here on? Well, of course no precise answer
could come out of this conversation, but we do know what we are looking for.

For anyone who has seen the movie “I Am
Love” I am sure the house in which the characters lived in was in fact a
character on its own, possible the most impressive character of the movie. The
house where they lived in, in Milan, had its own character, which was a
combination of years of experience, years of traveling, years of knowledge
accumulated in those rooms. The appreciation for art and architecture that
breathes through the walls, the knowledge of fashion present in its
inhabitants, the admiration for food and the impact of its flavors and also how
they could change a mood with a single bite.

The house in that movie is a character on its own
because it has been lived in, it has felt the love, the laughter and the sorrow
of one or many families, it has seen birthdays and funerals, it has seen
engagement parties and celebrations of all sorts; it looks perfect from the
distance but from up close you can see the floorboards are scratched, the
curtains have stains and the windows may have cracks. Like a person, a house is
allowed to live and accumulate treasures, like we accumulate shoes, watches,
stamps or even a rose from a lover that we keep in secrecy. The house in “I Am
Love” is a character on its own because it is in fact a well lived house, it’s
quite possibly one of Milan’s most famous properties, called Villa Necchi
Campiglio, at Via Mozart, today a cultural institution open for visitors and
kept as it was when their owners lived there.

During this conversation with my friend it then
hit me, through something she said, that art is not meant to be hanging from
the cold walls of museums, but in houses and apartments, where it can be shared
with friends and family, where it can be admired and treated with love, like we
would a plant or animal. Art was made to live with people and witness their
lives, and be accumulated by their homes, not to be left alone in a cold room
alongside other abandoned and marketed pieces of art.

 Even though I am thankful for the museums and
galleries, for their existence and for allowing me to see some of the most
beautiful and enticing works created by men, I would adore if more of these
museums could be like Villa Necchi or The Frick Collection are, houses that
have been lived in and were left untouched for the appreciation of the people.
Every time I visit one of these stunning places I ask myself how their lives
must have been and I can’t help but wonder what it feels like to be able to
work there every day. The Pierpont Morgan Library in New York for example is to
me one of the most remarkable places I ever visited in my life, there it is,
the house and life’s work of a man completely devoted to collecting art, books
and obviously money, but that last bit is irrelevant in this case.

Really impressive, and on another side of the
spectrum, was visiting the Frida Khalo museum in Mexico City, because that’s
the place where she loved, bled, and created some of the most beautiful and
relevant works of art seen by men. In that house, Frida and Diego accumulated
art by other artists, their own art, books, animals and all sorts of memories, The
Frida Khalo Museum was to me the epitome of the museum home, every room spoke
to me, it’s almost as if she was there, walking around in her beautiful garden
or flipping through one of her many art books; to be able to see with my own
eyes how that amazing artist lived her life and which books she read and how
she kept her house was a phenomenal and unique experience.

While in Milan I had the opportunity to also visit
the Boschi Di Stefano apartment as well, and these two were very affluent Milanese
artists who acquired more than two thousand pieces of art during their life
together, and by art I mean all types; from paintings to sculpture, from
furniture to chandeliers, it’s all in there for the curious visitor to see, for
free.

It warms my heart to know that someone would leave
their entire patrimony to the city, to the memory of the world, to improve the
lives of those who follow them. To visit a place like this, that always existed
for the love of art, is a blessing, and even though museums were created and exist
to preserve art and were born precisely from the love for art, they haven’t
been lived in, they haven’t had a chance in life, they are these boxes, time
capsules, in which we keep our memories related to art and can access them
whenever possible. It doesn’t seem fair to me, but it sure is great to have
them in such an organized manner.


I have
always had this fear in life, of where I would end up, what would become of me,
then that turned into a fear of what would be done with my belongings, who, of
the people I know, would appreciate having some of the paintings I now own and
would care for it as much as I do? Well, that all is gone now, it is not
important what happens to my belongings after I pass, I will not be around to
see it, but I still definitely hope for the best and that the art I own feels
just as proud and happy for the life they were able to live while they were
living with me as I am proud to have them around me.

Why I Cry Today

I was sitting in a class of physics when someone received a text message saying that the World Trade Center had been attacked. I remember i was planning a trip to Los Angeles with one of my best friends instead of paying attention to class; we couldn’t believe it, all of us rushed down to the tv at the cafeteria in a state of shock, absolute shock, what was going on? How was that possible? What was happening in the world? Still to this day i can’t make any sense of it, i don’t think anyone ever will.

I remember the feelings i felt, i remember having a classmate whos father worked in one of the towers, i remember his despair staring at the tv screen without understanding; i remember the common feeling we all had for him and his family, we wanted them to be well. His father was there, but he survived. I have never seen that kid again, but my heart was with him then and is with him now, because to go through the agony he must have gone through is unimaginable.

It’s unimaginable for me to think that one human being is capable of willingly do a thing such as flying an airplane into a building. We are human beings, not animals; or are we? What is this desire to kill and destroy that some of us have? Where does it come from? Why is it necessary to fight over differences?

Today is the tenth anniversary of september eleven, a day that will never be forgotten, a day that will enter history books and a day that i witnessed and still can’t understand. At all. Every year my thoughts wander away into the void left by those who died, i try to piece it together and today, since the moment i woke up, i cried, because i can’t understand, because the fear is tangible, because the feeling of abandonment from reason is real. To me it feels like a wound that is constantly open and band-aided, and even though i wasn’t in that situation i witnessed with the entire world, and feelings sometimes travel faster than light and sound, and this feeling lives in my heart, there is no denying.

Every year i think of why would any person chose to kill over their beliefs? Can’t things be solved peacefuly? It’s even scarier to think that people celebrated the deaths of thousands somewhere in the world, that other human beings were gloating over something so unhuman, so animal. Just like World War II, September eleven to me is irrationality to the extreme, it’s madness, sheer brutality; and my heart aches for that, my tears roll down because i feel embarrassed as a human being, because i feel that with years and years of evolution we haven’t been able to overcome our irrationalities and act like the geniuses i know we can be, instead, some of us choose to use this genius for destruction of our own selves.

Humans have massacred millions of other humans, enslaved other humans, destroyed the very ground they live in, it’s total self-sabotaging, and that to me is uncomprehensible, because to me it’s such a simple equation, it’s as simple as 1+1=2. 

We don’t think the same, we don’t feel the same, we don’t believe in the same Gods, we don’t love the same, we don’t pray the same, but we all want to live, we all want to be able to have peace of mind, we all want to be able to have a place to come to at night, a place to call home, and we want our homes to be safe and free of fear. It baffles me to think that human beings are capable of such violent acts against each other, it disappoints me profoundly to know that we can’t live in peace, that we can’t be trusted, that we have to keep looking over our shoulders or interpreting situations.

I felt the same way when i was in Berlin, that is one powerful place to be if you wanna feel floored by emotions, because the kind of prolonged pain those people had to be put through is beyond me, i have no words, and that to me is rare. We may be intelectual humans, but sometimes we act like savages.

Living in New York, a city filled and built by different cultures and beliefs, my feelings are amplified, because i know it can still work out for us all, look at this city, it’s an example of resilience and survival, it is a multi cultural epicenter, it’s a city that has all cultures, religions, languages, sounds, sexual orientations, everything and anything you can imagine is in here, and we all have learned to live together in respect, we have learned to listen to each other, we have learned to dialogue, we have learned to live in peace.

Now more than ever, my heart cries harder, because i wish the whole world could feel and experience what i feel and experience here everyday, i wish the whole world could have the kind of freedom i have living in New York city, a world of its own, a place where you are accepted for who you are, regardless of anything else. Someone did something right here at some point, and it works, because we understand each other, there is a sense of community like nowhere else, and we come together for each other and we make it work, because we believe it is possible to coexist with all our differences in one city, in peace.

New York did not cause the disaster of  9/11 but the disaster was brought upon this city, and what New York did was beautiful, because New York gathered its strength and rebuilt itself and its spirit, New York and its citizens, people from all around the globe, gathered as one and showed the world that it is possible to live together and make something better, and this is why i cry, because New York, one of the most important cities on earth is to me the clearest example of strength, freedom and peace, and that is what i cry for today.

Back in the day

I was at a deli getting something to eat and all of a sudden i heard Paula Cole’s “I don’t want to wait” playing in the radio. I swear to you, it sent me shivers, good ones; and it sent me straight back to my high school years, it sent me back to my feelings of awkwardness and discoveries, it sent me back, with some shame, to “Dawson’s Creek”. There were entire afternoons spent with my friends at handball or volleyball games, in some others we would gather at someone’s house to talk sex and smoke cigarettes hidden from this someone’s parents; it was super exciting and we were beyond cool in our silly little minds. I hadn’t thought of those days for a long time, i hadn’t reconnected to that feeling in years, and it felt so right and so good to be able to feel all of that without having to live that anxiety that i know filled all our hearts.

I don’t wish i knew then what i know now, everything happened as it should and we had a ball. We laughed and cried with the same intensity and never blinked in front of an adventure, even if it meant suspension from school, because we knew that we had each other to fake our parents signatures and would be able to get away with almost anything. I am pretty sure our parents knew that too, but we were straight A students, so i guess it didn’t matter too much. That feeling was so good, really remarkable, i couldn’t stop thinking of the shows we used to watch, the gossip that used to flow through the halls of school, the principal that we absolutely could NOT stand and the little parties, called “The Best Party for Teenagers”, which we thought was a real grown up thing to do; tens of thousands of kids would go and then come back home at midnight or so, it was a huge deal to all of us and we adored it, i guess no one was really paying ANY attention to the name of the party, really, i am positive we weren’t, because we used to call it “The Best”. Period.

I could not give up that feeling, immediately i snapped back to 2011 and turned to my Pandora Radio to create my very own “Paula Cole Radio”. Oh gosh, “Where have all the cowboys gone” started playing and i could remember a series of other things connected to around that same time. I remembered that was the year Eric Clapton wanted to “Change the World” in the soundtrack of “Phenomenon”, a not so great movie with John Travolta but a damn good song that got him a couple of Grammy’s. Along the same lines, Jewel wanted to know who was going to save your soul in one of her biggest hits and Sheryl Crow i guess made everyone happy and nailed a bunch of awards too with her then current album.

1996 was a great year, Robert Redford and Michelle Pfeiffer got together for the sappy “Up Close & Personal”, one of my all time favorite romantic movies, because it had a great love story intertwined with the career of the small town girl Tally Atwater who dreamed big and made it big as she always dreamt. Stockard Channing had a great role in that movie and the soundtrack threw Celine Dion to super stardom with the hit “Because you loved Me”, we all remember that one, even if we don’t want to. On tv we saw “Beverly Hills 90210” hit their very last season, but by that point no one really cared anymore, it was all about “Friends”, “Ally McBeal”, “That 70’s Show”, “Everybody Loves Raymond”, “Mad About You”, the ever classic “Married with Children” and the unforgettable “3rd Rock from the Sun”. Now, that was a fun year for TV  and also the year we got to know many of the kids who are now Hollywood’s biggest movie stars. Oh, let’s not forget that in 1996 the show “Suddenly Susan” was on, and i know that was quite forgettable, but come on guys, the impeccable Kathy Griffin got to enter our homes every week and crack us up; and we can never thank that show enough for pushing Kathy to stardom.

In that year we were still reminiscing over the amazing gangsta-type-movies “Bad Boys” and “Dangerous Minds” and it was the year when the amazing The Fugees took home some awards and the world fell madly in love with Lauryn Hill; “Gangsta’s Paradise” was going strong on the Billboard’s charts, Tupac Shakur had two huge hits out but also took four in the chest in Las Vegas and left this earth to entertain some dudes in heaven; and us, well, we were all left with his great music in our memories. In 1996 we were also reminded of the death of another great one: Kurt Cobain; that was the year when Nirvana’s Unplugged album won a Grammy for best alternative music and at that point that album had sold more than five million copies across the globe. It was definitely a good time for rock n’ roll; Alanis Morisette released her “Jagged Little Pill” to the sound waves and became an instant hit, who could EVER forget her hits “Ironic” or “You Oughta Know” ? I also remember going crazy over Oasis and The Cranberries; not to mention the brand new No Doubt with their colorful videoclip in the height of the Mtv era, followed by Smashing Pumpkin’s “1979”… Oh wow!

I also remember, around that same time, a very nasty and hard to forget hit song that could not stop being played anywhere, it was even in little stuffed animals when you pressed their paw, that nasty song would play, poor children, it was wherever you turned to: Macarena! What were those dance moves? And what were we thinking? We clearly had no filter. Well, obviously, that was also the year in which Shaquille O’Neal was allowed to make a movie, the stupid “Kazaam”, and also the year when Demi Moore released the bombs “The Juror” and “Striptease”, which to this day is still one of my favorite guilty pleasures. Speaking of which, remember how Ellen DeGeneres had her peak right around that time? She came out of the closet and her ratings came tumbling down while her public exposure went off the roof, the world wasn’t ready for her genius but she surely saved my life; but not before joining Bill Pullman in the disastrous “Mr. Wrong”. If Ellen wasn’t such an amazing person and comedian we would not be able to forgive her for that slip! But hey, we all make mistakes, Mr. Pullman, who had just come from a series of big hits, including “Independence Day” in 1994 and “While you were sleeping” in 1995 will tell you, and so will his former co-star Sandra Bullock, who in that year joined america’s heart throb Chris o’Donnell in the also disastrous “In Love and War”; i mean, did any of us really need such a piece of crap? I think not. We also didn’t need “Two if by Sea” Mrs. Bullock, but whatever, i guess you can’t always win right? Right! Because in that year there was enough room left in people’s attention for the brilliant movie “Fargo” which was one of that year’s favorites, alongside “The English Patient”, which I NEVER get tired of watching with a trifecta of great acting: Ralph Fiennes, Juliette Binoche and Kristin Scott Thomas, well, Mr. Minghella, you made my year. That was also the awakening of a Hollywood icon: Leonardo DiCaprio had two huge hits, and was laureled by critics and audience in both “Romeo + Juliet” and “Marvin’s Room”, will we ever forget that? I think not.

Us teens had a great year, and so did the teen stars; Neve Campbell had her strongest year with “The Craft” and “Scream” and saw her career explode, for five minutes, but i bet it was great while it lasted, right Neve? Liv Tyler got cast in Tom Hanks’s brilliant “That thing you do!” and stole our hearts yet again. You know who else stole our hearts? Barbra Streisand and Jeff Bridges in the ever so cute “The Mirror has two faces”, that was quite the productive year for Mrs. Streisand who also had a hit song for this very movie with the also then top charter Bryan Adams. But for me, it was really Ed Burns who got all the attention, his movie “She’s the One” will remain one of the all time classics in my movie library, i mean, that was sheer perfection, from cast to soundtrack, what an impeccable movie! Us teens also had the guilty pleasure of enjoying the iconic Spice Girls, oh boy, and we did! We performed Spice Girls songs in school plays and pretty much wherever we could, boys and girls were all in love with those english chicks, i mean, obsessively in love; no joke! What we weren’t so in love though was Madonna’s “Evita”, oh gosh, what a bore! I mean, nowadays i really appreciate it, especially the outstanding costumes, but i guess it was too much controversy to our silly little brains, “Wannabe” was all we could handle!

Me on the other hand, i loved some brainiac movies, and my friends could absolutely NOT get me: “Basquiat”? what was that? “Sling Blade”? ugh, no! That was a few steps too far, and even movies like “Swingers” and “From Dusk til Dawn” were not for them, so i kept it to myself inside my darkened room in any given boring afternoon. With them i would watch “Twister” or “Daylight”, and don’t get me wrong, o LOVED those too, oh, completely and madly, i mean, i had a crush on Helen Hunt, how could i not?

We also laughed a lot, i mean a whole lot: “The First Wives Club” anyone? Another trifecta, a great punch line: “don’t get mad, get everything!” and that scene with Diane Keaton having a nervous breakdown while they try to find incriminating papers in Brenda’s ex husband’s office was flawless, and so was Hugh Wilson’s direction, oh my God, i can watch that movie over and over and over again and never get tired; in fact, i watched it last night! We also had the remake of “The Nutty Professor”, and that was Eddie Murphy at his very best, i mean, very, very best! Thank you so much for that craziness Mr. Murphy! And even though this next one was only released a year later i will dare to include it in my memoir: “My Best Friend’s Wedding” was being filmed in 1996 and then in the following year made us laugh and cry and caused quite a big scandal with its ending; we will never forget that!

Ninety six was a good year, but it’s surrounding years were really good too, it was a time of discovery and enchantment, songs made us hurt but also filled us with joy, we thought that we would never be able to get over ourselves, we thought life would not reach the year 2000, the 90’s seemed infinite, and we loved every second of it.

So, listening to “Paula Cole Radio” is like traveling in time and going back to a space where everything was possible, time went by very, very slow and we had the biggest hearts in the world, we definitely lived in the moment, in our little universe and i am pretty sure we were completely aware of it, with no regrets, at all, and now that i am able to look back and feel this happy about my teens, i can also relate to my mother and my father when they would blast the stereo listening to Janis Joplin, Led Zeppelin, John Lee Hooker, Rolling Stones or Supertramp and go on and on telling stories from the years when they would ride their motorcycles carelessly and free and hang out in the neighborhood with their friends all day, having one crazy adventure after the other. I can totally relate, it used to sound so far and weird to me, but at the same time quite fascinating and also somewhat brilliant, to see my mom crying as she listened to Janis and Zeppelin, there must have been something very intense going on right there in those songs, but that’s for her to keep in her heart i guess, those stories were never shared, but i feel touched to have been able to witness moments like that and to have also had the privilege of growing up in such an eclectic environment.

This is what life is all about to me; live in the moment and make sure to store all your special times deep down in memory lane, you will never ever need a picture to go back to those places and feelings, because it all lies within yourself.

Life Gives You Lemons

Lately i have been caught in this feeling of powerlessness. Don’t ask me why or how, i can’t explain it, it is not a negative feeling, it is a very endearing one, where i feel that i have no power over life and that is fine. Lately i have been caught in talks of God, and don’t ask me why, but i feel very much inclined to dive deep into those talks and examine what that means. Lately i have been caught in this feeling of gratefulness towards whatever comes to me, good or bad, if it is given to me i will take it; why not? My father always used to joke around about this concept: “if it’s offered to you for free, even an injection on your forehead is OK.” he said. Well, maybe i won’t go that far, that sounds rather painful, but i would maybe have a look at all the factors surrounding that offer, for sure.

The reason for all these thoughts is quite unsure, in fact, there aren’t any reasons,  these are overwhelming feelings that have been taking over me without asking for permission, and what i have decided to do, in a very smart move, is to let them all in, keep the ones that are of use and let the other ones go.

The talks of God have lead to great debates, with other people and myself; i have discovered that even though i have always welcomed the idea of God as a higher power that manages everything in the universe, i had never really put a lot of thought into it. Detach from the religious God and think about a power the  surrounds us, think about the energy that guides you every day; that to me is a representation of God. I myself don’t necessarily call it God, i have been calling it higher power, “the force”, destiny, fate, light, guide and ultimately, i have chosen to very broadly name it life.

This brings me back to powerlessness, because if God is the great manager of life, and in my broad concept is life itself, then really there is no point on trying to tame it. I have many mixed feelings towards God and life, but the general idea is the same, and that is that things will always sort themselves out as long as you allow yourself to be open and accept what is offered to you. Of course it is you who will make decisions to buy milk, start subscribing to a newspaper, go to the beach or stay inside and away from the sun, but what about those bigger things that come to you? What about the rain that falls unadvised, soaks you wet and gives you pneumonia? What about the train that was late today, of all days, and made you miss the most important meeting of your year and quite possibly your job? There is no answer or sense in any of these questions, these things just happen because they have to, and they happen to you because there must be some secret to be unveiled in your life, for life is a great mystery unfolding right before your eyes. Maybe you will lose your job because you have to find a new and greater one, or maybe you don’t need a new one because you will discover that this is the golden opportunity to start painting and welcome a new path into your life.

I can choose to be healthy, go to the gym, eat the right food, be good to other people and pay my bills on time, but i cannot choose to be struck by lightning. Not that i want to. Think about this other concept: you are in a boat, seating alone, nothing around you, no instruments to guide or help you, and the boat just floats away. The boat is life. I know, it sounds stupid, but it is very basic and paints a good picture, because as you navigate through clear skies or the mists of Avalon you will continuously encounter new wonders, storms, fishes, birds and quite possibly other vessels, and that is just how life is; isn’t that cool?

So, life gives you lemons and you make lemonade. What do you do if life gives you cancer? You treat it. It is very simple, the surrounding complications in most situations are created by ourselves, we can choose to bitch and moan, we can choose to be sad and depressed, but we can also choose to navigate through this heavy weight that is cancer with serenity and grace, we can choose to be positive and believe that we are strong enough to beat it. Most importantly we can choose to be grateful to have this opportunity to show strength to ourselves and learn to fight even harder. Of course there will be difficult days, days you question yourself and your strength, but if you keep that positive energy then those doubtful and negative days will be less frequent than in most cases.

All things that cross our path have a meaning and a reason to exist and all we should do is be grateful for another opportunity to learn and connect to something new, or maybe even something that is old and buried deep in the past.

This brings me back to the top; if God is life and life is the great manager, than just learn to gracefully accept life as it unfolds before your soul, enjoy the ride and remember to thank life for your day before you go to sleep and everything will be OK, it always is.

WEAR SUNSCREEN by Baz Luhrman

Hey dearests,
i will take some room in my blog to share words that aren’t mine, but were originated from the brilliant mind of Baz Luhrman, who i deeply admire.

I share his words and have this to say to you dear reader: wear sunscreen.
———————————-


Ladies and Gentlemen of the class of ’99

If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be
it. The long term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by
scientists whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable
than my own meandering
experience…I will dispense this advice now.

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth; oh nevermind; you will not
understand the power and beauty of your youth until they have faded.
But trust me, in 20 years you’ll look back at photos of yourself and
recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before
you and how fabulous you really looked….You’re not as fat as you
imagine.

Don’t worry about the future; or worry, but know that worrying is as
effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing
bubblegum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that
never crossed your worried mind; the kind that blindside you at 4pm
on some idle Tuesday.
Do one thing everyday that scares you

Sing

Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts, don’t put up with
people who are reckless with yours.

Floss

Don’t waste your time on jealousy; sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes
you’re behind…the race is long, and in the end, it’s only with
yourself.

Remember the compliments you receive, forget the insults; if you
succeed in doing this, tell me how.

Keep your old love letters, throw away your old bank statements.

Stretch

Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your
life…the most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they
wanted to do with their lives, some of the most interesting 40 year
olds I know still don’t.

Get plenty of calcium.

Be kind to your knees, you’ll miss them when they’re gone.
Maybe you’ll marry, maybe you won’t, maybe you’ll have children,maybe
you won’t, maybe you’ll divorce at 40, maybe you’ll dance the funky
chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary…what ever you do, don’t
congratulate yourself too much or berate yourself either – your
choices are half chance, so are everybody else’s. Enjoy your body,
use it every way you can…don’t be afraid of it, or what other people
think of it, it’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever
own..

Dance…even if you have nowhere to do it but in your own living room.

Read the directions, even if you don’t follow them.

Do NOT read beauty magazines, they will only make you feel ugly.
Get to know your parents, you never know when they’ll be gone for
good.

Be nice to your siblings; they are the best link to your past and the
people most likely to stick with you in the future.

Understand that friends come and go, but for the precious few you
should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and
lifestyle because the older you get, the more you need the people you
knew when you were young.

Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard; live
in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft.

Travel.

Accept certain inalienable truths, prices will rise, politicians will
philander, you too will get old, and when you do you’ll fantasize
that when you were young prices were reasonable, politicians were
noble and children respected their elders.

Respect your elders.

Don’t expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund,
maybe you have a wealthy spouse; but you never know when either one
might run out.

Don’t mess too much with your hair, or by the time you’re 40, it will
look 85.

Be careful whose advice you buy, but, be patient with those who
supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia, dispensing it is a way of
fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the
ugly parts and recycling it for more than
it’s worth.

But trust me on the sunscreen…
————————————————-