A blue and red zig zag on white shoes

Fashion designer Manolo Blahnik is something of a legend within the shoe industry. His career truly kicked off in 1969 after meeting US Vogue Editor in Chief, Diana Vreeland; after that, he devoted himself to designing shoes, opening the first Manolo Blahnik store in Chelsea, London, the next year. He speaks to Trudy Ross about his design philosophy, dressing for yourself and looking to the future

LUX: You’ve said before that shoes are in your DNA. Can you share the story of how you first decided to spend your career designing them?
Manolo Blahnik: It was all thanks to Mrs Vreeland. When I met her I was in a state of catatonic nerves; I grew up with Mrs Vreeland, with Harper’s Bazaar. I had presented some sketches to her of set and theatrical designs and she told me to design shoes. She said “Young man, stick to the extremities and make shoes!”. She gave me the advice I so needed to hear and paved the path for me to follow.

I took a hands-on approach and learned from the best shoemakers in Italian factories. To this day, working in the factories is still my favourite part of the job.White and red leather shoe point with blue and red dots

LUX: Tell us about how you opened your first store in the 1970s.
MB: The 1970s was such a fun time in London. It’s funny, the ’70s are absolutely much clearer than the ’80s. We opened the store on Old Church Street in London and that was the very beginning. I didn’t have anything to put in the shop! A friend of mine called Peter Young found the place. He said, ‘There is a wonderful place, far away from everything with no other shops on the street except a pastry shop.”

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I loved it and I took it, not thinking about how I didn’t have any people, customers, nothing. I used to live in Notting Hill and cross the park on a bike. I would come to the shop every day. We used to open at 10 o’ clock. I ate some cookies at the pastry shop and then we would call Italy and get the shoes done.Two colourful heels displayed against a 1960's style sign

LUX: What is your favourite part of the design process?
MB: Without a doubt, working with the artisans in the factories. I have been working with the same artisans for over 35 years. Craftmanship is in their blood, passed down over generations. The team there know exactly what I am thinking and strive to bring all my creations to life, even the most intricate and embellished designs, always pushing boundaries to ensure the complete perfection and the attention to detail required in each of my collections.

Developing seasonal styles with the artisans and spending time in the factory is truly my favourite part of the job. It always has been and always will be.

LUX: Can shoes be a work of art? Can they be more than a work of art?
MB: Shoes can be inspired by art. I am always inspired by art. Francisco Goya did the best shoes in his paintings! I think I would collect all his art if I could. It has hugely inspired me throughout many of my collections and I can’t count how many hours I have spent staring at his works in the Prado museum.

I want my shoes to embody personal style and creativity, pieces of art for your feet.Leg in suede black boot against a background of white and red stripes and lights

LUX: How can one stay ahead of the fashion curve?
MB: By not following trends. Staying true to who you are and dressing the way you want is, in my opinion, true style. It is a physical attitude that cannot be bought.

I’ve never been one to follow trends. If I see too much of something, I change it. What’s the point of people wearing the same dresses and the same shoes? Everybody ends up looking like clones and I hate that. Individuality is what makes us all unique. I like independence and I love eccentricity. If you like something, buy it. Find your style and stick to it.

LUX: Style or comfort?
MB: I believe you can have both. I spend a lot of time with the artisans testing the comfort of our shoes. Elegance and comfort go hand in hand, you must be comfortable to appear elegant, one cannot exist without the other. There is nothing charming about a woman who cannot walk in her shoes.Red white and black kitten heel on a light up sign

LUX: Women’s or men’s fashion?
MB: Both! What’s wonderful is that people are starting to dress up again. In London, men and women alike are now dressed up and going to Savile Row to have suits made.

So long as we are human, we will want to be decorated—for ourselves; not for other people so much. When I wake up in the morning I say, “I’m going to wear happy colours today,” and that is for myself!

LUX: What does it take to create a truly iconic brand identity?
MB: Be true to who you are and believe in what you do! I think the most important thing is the product. That should always remain at the centre.

But for me, it’s not about being a big brand or ‘iconic’! I just want to be healthy and keep doing things. I don’t want anything else. I have everything I want, and I have wonderful memories.

LUX: In the age of e-commerce and social media, how has the digital landscape affected the Manolo Blahnik brand?
MB: You must move with the times or else you will get left behind. Our e-commerce website and social media are a crucial part of the business. When we started to work on The Craft Room, I wanted it to be online so that anyone, anywhere in the world can access this virtual world. It’s exciting! It’s wonderful to be able to connect with the world in this way.

LUX: What does sustainability mean to you?
MB: We don’t use the term ‘sustainability’ because I feel that sustainability is misunderstood. It’s binary: you either are or you are not. We use the term ‘responsibility’ because it is a journey.

My personal philosophy, which was passed down to me from my parents, is that you buy the best quality you can afford and look after it. Mend garments and shoes, have things altered as necessary and upcycled when the time comes. I detest waste and think that overconsumption is unnecessary and lazy.

LUX: In 3 words, how would you describe the world of Manolo Blahnik?
MB: Timeless, colourful and elegant!

Read more: Blazé Milano’s Corrada Rodriguez d’Acrci on creating iconic style 

LUX: Where do you predict your brand will be in ten years’ time?
MB: I am so lucky to have my niece, Kristina, as CEO. She has been working on building foundations to protect the brand. We are a family business with a family mindset and it is wonderful we are able to keep it this way. I hope that people continue to enjoy our shoes. We aim to create beautiful handmade pieces that last and make people smile.

Find out more: www.manoloblahnik.com

All images are from the Winter ’23 Collection

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photographs hanging on a wall with Helmut Newton in white a ona. red background witten on a wall and a projected image on an adjacent wall

photographs hanging on a wall with Helmut Newton in white a ona. red background witten on a wall and a projected image on an adjacent wall

A powerful show at one of Europe’s most spectacular philanthropic art foundations showcases the works of one of the 20th century’s most provocative image-makers

A complex comprising a converted industrial warehouse and storage silos in the far northwest of Spain may not seem, on first glance, like an obvious place for a major retrospective of one of the most glamorous photographers of the 20th century. Helmut Newton’s provocative, lustrous shoots, oozing on the edge of debauchery, were the mainstays of publications like Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar in their fin-de-siecle glory years, creating era-defining stories from the best that the great urban fashion houses of Paris and Milan could offer in association with the powerful media houses of New York and London – and of course featuring Newton’s unique relationship with the supermodels of the day. They were la cosmopolitan La Dolce Vita with a slice of outrage.

An old camera on a table

The MOP Foundation, which LUX visited to see the current “Helmut Newton Fact & Fiction” exhibition, is on the edge of the Spanish port city of A Coruna, in Galicia, at the top left corner of the Iberian Square, and feels a long way from the glamour of the traditional fashion world.

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And yet appearances deceive: the MOP is the creation of Marta Ortega Perez, of the Inditex Spanish fashion dynasty that owns Zara; a powerful effort to place their home city on the global cultural map, it is in a location whose drama and own cultural history would have enormous appeal to Newton himself, one feels.

Black and white photos hung on a wall lit up in a dark room

The exhibition itself shows a breadth to Newton’s works that some may have missed: alongside iconic fashion images are portraits of David Bowie, Charlotte Rampling and Margaret Thatcher, among many others. Newton’s works always have power: the power to shock, in some cases, and to provoke, in others, and the power of sheer visual brilliance, in others.

Read more: If Only These Artworks Could Talk

All are very much on show here. Newton’s works are also very much of their time – a man depicting women and their power in an era of liberation that sometimes now seems at risk, and of course we now live in a post-supermodel, post-celebrity fashion photographer era.

An exhibition room with photographs on the walls and objects in a glass box

The MOP specialises in photography and their work with the Helmut Newton Foundation in bringing this – the third show in the foundation’s history – to life is a fitting tribute to an art form that is sometimes at risk of being demeaned by a billion smartphones.

Helmut Newton, Fact & Fiction, MOP Foundation, is available to view until 1st May 2024

themopfoundation.org

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Reading time: 2 min
dark bar with black chairs and white flowers
dark bar with black chairs and white flowers

The lobby in the new Castiglione addition to the Hotel Costes in Paris

In the third part of our luxury travel views column from the Spring 2022 issue, LUX’s Editor-in-Chief Darius Sanai checks in at the Hotel Costes in Paris

My first encounter with the Hotel Costes was in the early 2000s, when I was meeting a Vogue photographer for a drink in the bar, on an evening a fashion house was also having a small gathering there. Despite being well turned out, and spending my working days at Vogue House, itself then a kind of office catwalk, I endured scrutiny by the beautiful boys on the door and by the beautiful girls inside before being let in, to a bar and lounge space, designed by Jacques Garcia, which gave the impression of sitting inside the bloodstream of a human being.

Jean-Louis Costes, the hotel’s owner, whom I interviewed in the last issue of LUX, is an iconoclast and an original. He created the velvet womb of the Costes and decorated its rooms with 19th-century oil paintings in the minimalist, contemporary-art obsessed 1990s.

A hallway and white marble staircase

A hallway and marble staircase

He has now opened a new wing to the hotel, or more precisely a new Hotel Costes adjoining the old one, making the second stroke of an L shape on the corner of Rue Saint-Honoré and Rue de Castiglione – without doubt the most desirable address in Paris. To check into the Costes, you now enter a grand, light, high-ceilinged lobby in the Rue de Castiglione.

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If you are staying in the old Costes, you can walk through the lobby and pull back a curtain, like passing through a looking glass, and voila. I, however, was sampling the new Costes: up on the second floor my suite was designed with the whimsical perfection of an obsessive and talented owner. A white carpet, like walking on a Persian cat, a bed with the black stained outline of a four-poster; a blood-red ottoman, a purple sofa and a lot of empty space. The bathroom had chandeliers and glass wardrobes: the message here is that your clothes had better be great, because they’re all on show. The walk-through shower and bath in light marble were immense: there is scale here that the original, boutique Costes, adjoining, never had. From the balcony you look out to Place Vendôme. From some of the suites, you have a view across Paris to Montmartre and Notre-Dame.

white bed

One of the new luxury suites

There will be a resort-style pool in the basement spa, currently being completed, and at the moment you still dine in the original and excellent courtyard restaurant of the original Costes. Another courtyard restaurant is being built at the Castiglione wing.

Read more: Paris Revisited: A Diary of Art and Culture

Every detail is both original and edgy: the Costes is the hotel that invented the hotel DJ and soundtrack, and bespoke hotel scent (both hard to believe now, as all the greatest and most pervasive inventions are). Twenty-seven years on, Jean-Louis hasn’t lost his touch.

Find out more: www.hotelcostes.com

This article appears in the Summer 2022 issue of LUX

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Two men in conversation
Black and white portrait of a man

Giorgio Armani. Courtesy Giorgio Armani

The designs of fashion superstar Giorgio Armani have become synonymous with the relaxed yet restrained and sophisticated style that has, over the nearly half century he has been in the business, transformed Italian tailoring. Harriet Quick talks to the legend about his global empire, which spans womenswear, menswear, interiors, hotels and more

Even with increased life expectancy and delayed retirement age, there is only a tiny percentage of us who, at the age of 85, will wake up every morning motivated by the prospect of a full days’ work. That Giorgio Armani is in charge of a multibillion-euro company, more than 7,000 employees and owns a personal property portfolio of nine houses (plus a 65m superyacht named after his mother’s nickname, Maín), a personal fortune estimated at 6 billion euros and a whip-sharp brain makes him that rarity.

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Who does he see in the mirror each morning? “I see a man who, through sheer hard work, has achieved a lot, turning a vision of style into an all-encompassing business. This assumption might sound like an overstatement, but it is a matter of fact,” says Mr Armani (Mr is his preferred address), dressed in his ‘fashion-worker uniform’ of blue sweater, cotton trousers and white sneakers. “And yet, in spite of all my achievements, I still feel the fire. I am never content – I am always challenging myself. That’s how I keep young and aware, by always raising the bar a little higher,” he says.

In January 2020, Armani will have presented Giorgio Armani menswear during Milan fashion week, the Armani Privé collection during the Paris haute couture collections and overseen looks designed for celebrities attending the Golden Globes, the Oscars and the Baftas. He also picked up the GQ Italia Award in January in swift succession to the Outstanding Achievement Award that was presented to him by Julia Roberts and Cate Blanchett at the British Fashion Awards in December 2019. By way of acceptance, he simply gave a big thank you while Blanchett added, “Mr Armani is a man who prefers to let his clothes do the talking”.

Antique photograph

Two men in conversation

Armani with his mother Maria in 1939 (top), and with his partner Sergio Galeotti. Both images courtesy of Giorgio Armani

The new decade marks forty-five years in the business during which the Armani brand has grown from a seedling collection of subtle, relaxed men’s suiting into a global powerhouse that encompasses 11 collections a year (including Privé and Emporio Armani) fine perfume and cosmetics, underwear, eyewear, denim, interiors, furnishings and hotels. Armani, who is the CEO and creative director, remains the sole shareholder making him, alongside the Wertheimer family that owns Chanel, Sir Paul Smith and Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons, one of the last remaining fashion industry founder/owner titans. Ralph Lauren stepped down from his role as CEO in 2015.

“A vision like this takes a long time to be fully developed. The slow growth made it organic and all encompassing,” says Armani. “I had the first glimpses that style could turn into lifestyle back in the eighties, sensing that my philosophy could be applied to many different fields. Across the nineties, as the business grew, I started adding new elements, be it furniture, restaurants or hotels. My intention today is to offer a complete Armani lifestyle. New things can be added all the time. The vision has not changed over the years, it has grown, evolved and expanded,” he says as if observing the horizon line. But the roots were set firm and fast. In the first year of trading (1976) the turnover was $2 million. With Italian producer GFT and American know-how, Giorgio Armani and his right-hand Sergio Galeotti learnt how to manufacture and distribute at scale. In 1981, Emporio Armani was launched offering denims and sportswear at accessible prices and emblazoned with the graphic triumph that is the EA eagle.

Read more: How Hublot’s collaborations are changing the face of luxury

Armani’s lifestyle vision of pared-down elegance (in shades of aqua and greige) has proven as enduring as the bewitching romance of Pantelleria, the tiny island that lies off the coast of Sicily. The myth of Armani seems to predate the man himself, reaching back through the 20th century into some misty pre-industrial past and lurching forward into a tonally harmonised borderless utopia. In Armani’s universe, shapes, moods and memes may change, but not excessively so and one would be hard pushed to date one collection versus another. In this age of responsible luxury and sustainability, that interchangeability is now again being considered a virtue rather than a freakish anomaly. The brand, which Armani describes as a ‘physiological entity’, speaks of constancy, grace, strength and good health seemingly impervious (or very well sheltered from) the rude chaos of real life, just like the founder himself. The allure of Armani’s serene aesthetic harbour (in jackets and the best-selling Luminous Silk Foundation alike) seems to grow in inverse proportions to the spiking rates of anxiety and turbulence in the world.

Celebrities

Armani at the 2019 British Fashion Awards with, from left, Cate Blanchett, Julia Roberts, Tom Cruise and Roberta Armani. Photo by Stefano Guindani

Yet upheaval, tragedy and human destruction is part and parcel of the Armani story. Young Giorgio (one of three siblings) grew up in poverty-stricken postwar Italy, in the town of Piacenza, near Milan. Food, healthcare, building materials, fuel and clothing were in short supply. Bombing raids were imprinted on his childhood memories as were the visits to the local fascist HQ where his father worked as an office clerk. Armani distanced himself from the ideology and the relationship (his father died when he was 25) decades ago. “We had little, very little, so we treasured what we owned. My mother was wonderful in that sense: we were always impeccable, even if we did not have anything to show off. It was all about being clean, being proper. I’d call it dignity,” he reflects. The autumn/winter 2020 menswear collection, with its distressed-leather donkey jacket, soft shouldered tweed suits and shearling mountain coats and combat boots, had strong echoes of wartime civvy and military garb, albeit in luxury and technical materials.

“As industrialisation grew, we came into contact with new stuff. I remember my first incredibly stiff pair of blue jeans and I immediately felt like James Dean. As the economy boomed we all became eager for more. The social fabric disintegrated a bit and being modern became a must. That’s when I really understood the power of clothing – it’s the first projection of the self into society,” he continues. To note, Giorgio Armani SpA was one of the first brands to enter the Chinese market – he has an innate understanding of aspiration.

Read more: Van Cleef & Arpels CEO Nicolas Bos on the poetry of jewellery

Like Ralph Lauren, Armani received his fashion training on the shop floor at the swish Milanese department store, La Rinascente. “I was dressing windows and working as a buyer. I got to observe people, and that was an invaluable lesson. Milano at that time was a bursting, innovative city and people were constantly on the lookout for something new. I developed a passion for fabrics and shapes. Then I had the privilege of working as an apprentice with Nino Cerruti, where my career truly took off. I quickly started to develop strong, personal ideas. It was Cerruti himself – to whose foresight I owe a great deal – who asked me for new solutions to make the suit less rigid, more comfortable, less industrial and more tailored,” says Armani.

It’s hard to imagine in our century of casual how modern and desirable the deconstructed jacket and roomy fluid trousers on which Armani made his name would have appeared. But his work to soften the silhouette was as impactful as Coco Chanel’s cardigan jacket on women’s fashion. The silhouette was not only ‘comfortable’, it also projected a certain sense of cosmopolitan ease and adaptability, qualities that were in keeping with a flourishing economy (cars, furniture, fashion, fabric, lighting) and the birth of the ‘Made In Italy’ pedigree.

“By deconstructing the jacket, I allowed it to live on the body, using far from traditional fabrics. That principle is the one I used to build my own brand. Suiting at the time was very stiff. Women, in the meantime, were making progress in the work place and needed a new dress code: ‘ladylike’ was not suitable for the board meeting. I made the suit suitable for men on the lookout for something more natural and for career women. I sensed a need and offered a solution. The rest, as they say, is history,” says Armani, who is wont to gently shrug his shoulders.

Fashion model wearing dress

A look from the Armani AW14 advertising campaign. Image by Solve Sundsbo

“I think Armani’s success is due to his fashion and the images that went with it,” says Gianluca Longo, style editor at British Vogue. “He personally art directed the advertising campaigns and created the Armani style. He hit the American and the Japanese markets in the booming 80s and the Armani suit became a symbol of success at work. For men, it was a relaxed style and for women, a structured jacket that was still elegant and feminine in the cut.”

Armani’s success is rooted in a close group of loyal collaborators that were particularly effective in navigating the closed-shop Italian fashion business. “Sergio Galeotti has been the pivotal figure for me. He was the one who pushed me to go on my own and who was also by my side to manage it all. When he passed away [in 1985] I had to take my destiny into my own hands. Finally, that was his biggest push. I would not be where I am now without Sergio. I owe a lot to many people I have met across the years, especially Leo Dell’Orco, but I am a truly self-made individual,” he says. He also cites his mother Maria as a mentor: “She taught us the importance of taking care of yourself as an ethical choice. The idea of achieving so much with so little left a lasting impression on me.” Even at 85, he exercises for 90 minutes daily.

Restaurant pool terrace

The Amal restaurant at the Armani Hotel Dubai.

In his professional life, he cites John Fairchild (founder and editor of WWD) and Karl Lagerfeld as mentors. He admits he is not easy to get on with in terms of journalistic portrayal (he is succinct to the point of being terse) but does remember Jay Cocks’s 1982 Time profile. The cover bore the headline “Giorgio’s Gorgeous Style” and featured the leather-jacketed designer in his own incarnation of James Dean. This was also when Armani took on American retail (Barneys was one of the first stores) and then Hollywood. Leonardo DiCaprio (The Wolf of Wall Street), Kevin Costner (The Untouchables) and Richard Gere (American Gigolo) are among the early pin-ups in a line-up of celebrities looked after by a highly active VIP and Entertainment division overseen by his niece, Roberta Armani.

Read more: Discovering Deutsche Bank’s legendary art collection

In the leagues of big business, a beige Armani suit (in fluid crepe wool) became the uniform of choice for a generation of female leaders, president of Bergdorf Goodman, Dawn Mello, and first ladies included. Today’s soft-power designers, including The Row and Gabriela Hearst, share a surprising amount in common with Armani’s aesthetic. Where peer-group brands built billion-dollar businesses on accessories, Armani’s strength has always been clothing. The cohesive brand architecture works from top to bottom with a bespoke velvet tuxedo on Brad Pitt boosting everyday entry-level purchases of underwear and scent. For the best part of the 1980s, Gianni Versace, Giorgio Armani, Gianfranco Ferré and Valentino Garavani ruled the Italian fashion business before Gucci was resurrected and Miuccia Prada launched into ready-to-wear.

Working at Giorgio Armani SpA is not for slouches. Team Armani work with military precision, expertly choreographing Armani’s interactions with press and dignitaries while exuding brand values 24/7. The notion of a team is always emphasised over individual stars and the same is true of the catwalk presentations and campaigns. The models are rarely supermodels or names but appear as a lithe army, with naturalistic make-up, hair and gestures and clothes that blend in with the wearer. “The founding principles of my company are based upon autonomy and independence,” says Armani. “Jobs might be short lived today, but not in my case. My first employee, Irene, still works for the company.” The Armani Group’s reach has been impacted by a flood of street-credible brands, including Balenciaga, Off White, Burberry and Kim Jones at Dior. In 2016, revenues dropped by five per cent (estimated at 2.51 billion euros) and various strands of the business were given a sharp nip and tuck to refocus on core values.

artistic design display

Furniture in the Armani/Casa 2019–20 collection at the Salone del Mobile in Milan. Image by Fabrizio Nannini

As a private company, rumblings and frissons behind the scenes are hard to detect. The Armani world is elegantly orchestrated, from the polished-concrete Armani HQ in Milan designed by Tadao Ando to the flagships, many designed by architect Claudio Silvestrin, and the low-rise converted dammuso on the island of Pantelleria where Armani has a holiday home. “Clothing is about the space between cloth and body, architecture is about the space in which the body moves. I do not see many differences, and I think soulful simplicity always wins,” says Armani. And tactility. “The virtual is cold. We need to touch things, we need to make bonds.”

Read more: Inside Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar’s Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat studio

“Mr Armani is a very loyal person, he relies on his close friends and has an acute sense of humour,” says Longo who last year was invited onto the superyacht, Maín. “That always helps. And he still loves to be involved in everything that he sees around him. From a button on a jacket, to the cutlery on a table.”

The spring/summer 2020 collection of misty fog and aqua cadet suits and cloud-like organza-topped shimmering gowns was dedicated to Earth, echoing this era’s concern over climate change. The company has been a supporter of Acqua for Life for more than ten years alongside other charities supported by the Giorgio Armani Foundation, set up in 2016. As fashion goes through epochal changes in purchasing behaviours and attitudes, the business will be remarkably different in ten years’ time.

Antique film still photograph

vintage film photograph

Richard Gere in American Gigolo (1980), and Andy Garcia and Kevin Costner in The Untouchables (1987), for both of which Armani designed the costumes

“The outlook for the fashion business and the outlook for fashion are two separate issues,” Armani says. “Fashion, I feel, has a great future, as people are becoming more and more confident in making decisions about what to wear based on what suits them, and are also becoming better educated in matters of style. The fashion business, on the other hand, must adapt to this new situation, and the fact that consumers are able to access new ideas from their digital devices at any hour of the day, anywhere in the world. How to best respond to the new landscape hasn’t changed – make clothing and accessories that help people fulfil their potential and look their best and bring out their characters.” The focus should be on style, not trends, he argues. “And you should have your own vision and viewpoint as a designer. If you do these things, you will be successful. Consumer behaviour may change, but why people buy fashion in the first place will not.”

On the matter of succession plans, Mr Armani remains a closed book. The internal leaders are likely to be in place. “Freedom gives me pleasure. I experience it in my business, as I am still my own boss. I experience it in my boat, suspended between the sky and the sea.” One intuits that this sense of inner peace has been hard won yet the reaching for it is what drives the Giorgio Armani brand.

Discover the collections: armani.com

This article was originally published in the Summer 2020 Issue.

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Woman standing on cliff

graphic banner in red, white and blue reading Charlie Newman's model of the month

Middle aged woman posing in studio setting

British model and founder of Wilder Botanics Rachel Boss. Image by Aaron Hurley

LUX contributing editor and model at Models 1, Charlie Newman continues her online exclusive series, interviewing her peers about their creative pursuits, passions and politics

colour headshot of blond girl laughing with hand against face wearing multiple rings

Charlie Newman

THIS MONTH: British model Rachel Boss has had a longer career than most, shooting with industry legends including the late Peter Lindbergh as well as appearing in all the Vogues, the Pirelli calendar and numerous fashion brand campaigns. Alongside her husband, she recently founded her own brand Wilder Botanics, which specialises in holistic products created from organic, wild ingredients. Here, Rachel opens up about the tough side of modelling, becoming an entrepreneur and her aspirations for the future.

Charlie Newman: Let’s start at the beginning. What was your childhood like?
Rachel Boss: I grew up just outside of Manchester. I had the perfect mix of countryside and being on this great music city’s doorstep back in the late eighties early nineties, so I was constantly going to gigs when I could. We lived in this beautiful old farm, not that we used it, but my mum only ever cooked using home grown vegetables. I went to a convent which wasn’t great! I went there from 3 to 18 years old as a day pupil. Looking back it had a huge effect on me with the guilt that comes from Catholicism. It was awful, it was heaven and hell, it was retribution. My mum stuck up for us by not letting us do confession: what 7 year old has anything to confess? That’s why I had my confirmation much later because you can’t get confirmed without having confessed. I haven’t been to church in a long time now but it’s still in there. I remember going to school and seeing these propaganda posters and being so appalled by these extreme elitist views, but in reaction to this quite a few of us were rebellious. The young nuns were slightly more liberal singing Kumbaya with us, whilst the elder ones were just dreadful. The only two male teachers were science teachers which meant that we really weren’t pushed to do science – things have changed hugely since then. Safe to say, I would never send my children to a convent, in fact I went the complete opposite and sent them to a school where they call the teachers by their first name!

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Charlie Newman: How did fashion come into your life?
Rachel Boss: I can remember always being taller than my peers and everyone telling me I could be a model but I never even considered it because modelling wasn’t a career back then. I saw fashion as my escape, it was my ticket out of Manchester. Interestingly, people from Manchester generally always stay there, they don’t often move. I don’t know whether that’s typical of most towns but I couldn’t wait to get away. University was never on the cards for me, it wasn’t even something I wanted to do and I don’t know why because later on I went to study off my own back. Even though I didn’t go to university straight after school, I still want my children to because I hate the idea of them being out in the world without a purpose. When I left school that’s exactly how I felt, so when I got asked to be a model I took the chance. I was staying at a friends house in Dublin and then somebody asked me to do a show for John Rocha. From that show an agent picked me up, it’s not a very glamorous story! In that first season I worked for John Rocha, Katharine Hamnett and a few other Irish designers. After that, I came back to Manchester and then moved to London at 19 years old so I was a late starter for a model.

Model pictured standing on cliff edge

Charlie Newman: What were your early experiences of modelling like?
Rachel Boss: Once I signed with an agency I was whisked straight away off to Tokyo, and I didn’t really like it. Whenever I see friends who were also models at the time we look back now and realise that actually we really weren’t treated right as teenagers. Thank goodness for the way my mum brought me up else I would have ended up in some compromising positions. People were always saying to me, ‘Why don’t you relax? Why don’t you go to that club? Why don’t you go out for dinner with them?’ But I wasn’t having any of it which meant that I was spending a lot of time on my own. My first trip was to Tokyo for 4 weeks which was a real eye opener, it was like a cattle market. We weren’t marketed as human beings, never having time to eat or break. Then at night we had to go to club openings which was just not my thing. I left Tokyo with not very fond memories and from there went onto Paris after a brief stint at home in between.

Read more: Artistic visions of Louis Roederer’s Brut Nature 2012

Charlie Newman: Paris is the centre of old school fashion houses, and with it often comes an old school mentality. Did you come across this and how did you deal with it?
Rachel Boss:  I really struggled in Paris because the French bookers were always the toughest. We’d be staying in a model apartment 25 years ago for 600 euros a month and it would be a mattress on the floor, with no light bulbs, nothing in the kitchen and with 6 other girls in the flat, it was completely wrong. Even though I was a tiny bit older than my peers, I felt a lot younger because most of my friends within the industry were from cities so were a lot more streetwise than me. They were in the right crowds immediately, whereas I was very far from it. I must have been really hard to manage because I was forever saying, ‘Sorry but I’m going home now!’ I realise now that I was suffering with anxiety without even realising it because anxiety disorders weren’t discussed then. I remember berating myself thinking, ‘What’s the problem? All you have to do is get on that plane, go to the hotel, get up and go to the job.’ I remember forever talking myself through it and every time on the plane home I’d congratulate myself. So it wasn’t an enjoyable period for me but then again I did have a couple of years which were just incredible. That was when everything changed.

Woman standing in white studio

Image by Aaron Hurley

Charlie Newman: What changed exactly?
Rachel Boss: I moved to New York in 1991 where I stayed for a year, and then I moved back there at the age of 25 which was just fantastic because there was a real resurgence of health in fashion. The heroin chic look was out and the more healthy, robust girl was in. People were waking up to the benefits of nutrition and that really opened my eyes to what I wanted to do. I went to an amazing Ashram in upstate near Woodstock, where I learnt the teachings and philosophies of yoga and meditation. I had the time to really read and expand my knowledge whilst I was in New York purely because all of my work was based there and I didn’t have to catch a flight all the time. But by the age of 26 I was moved to the ‘Classic’ table and was told I was past it. That had a real effect on me mentally because I suddenly woke up to the idea that I was a woman and I needed to have a family. I was being portrayed as a 46 year old woman at 26 which I wish I hadn’t agreed to. Afterwards, I just tucked myself away and studied and studied at the Holistic Health college. I was studying to be a Naturopath alongside Nutrition, Homeopathy and Iridology which is recognising genetic traits through Iris formations. I love it because it’s one of those subjects where you’re forever learning.

Charlie Newman: You published Super Herbs: The best adaptogens to reduce stress and improve health, beauty and wellness in 2017. How did that come about?
Rachel Boss: I was approached by The Little Brown publishing house after having just given birth. I remember being so incredibly exhausted at the time and without thinking I went along to the meeting. I remember thinking in the meeting at this really smart office, ‘What the hell am I doing here? I am so tired, and here I am saying that I can write a book!’ I think it must have been the endorphins that come with breast feeding! I wrote it like a job, or studying, so I was really strict with deadlines. I so enjoyed writing it. The book focuses on the history of the herb. It’s a really easy read and helps direct you on how to slot herbs into your life and make you feel better. When you have a chronic illness quite often you get used to it (unless it’s acute) and you end up ignoring it, like chronic digestive issues for example, but in my book I explain how herbs can help you. I also highly recommend reading Rosemary Gladstone and Christopher Hedley’s books. Christopher was my tutor and is simply amazing.

Read more: Designer Philipp Plein on mixing business with pleasure

Charlie Newman: You’ve had such a long and diverse career in an industry that is notoriously short. How has your career developed as you get older?
Rachel Boss: I was more editorial at the beginning, but then I really pushed for it to become a money earner. When I came back to London I was doing the likes of John Lewis, Marks & Spencer and Next, which was great money! There was a time when I was doing everything in London and it was just fantastic, I could drive to work, I absolutely loved it. But then of course they move on as they always do and have to. I’m also very aware that I’m extremely tall to be doing commercial work. I’m just over 6 foot so I’m extremely grateful to them for being so kind to me, most of the other models were 5’9. However, the other day I did my first editorial shoot for a while with the wonderful Renaissance magazine. I met this amazing guy who was Turkish but brought up in Sweden, the hair and make up was from Tokyo and the stylist from America – we all just couldn’t stop talking! I’ve always loved that part of fashion, every shoot has a real mix of people from all over the world. Perhaps it’s because I’m older and more confident, but I feel as though I’m no longer seen as an object that has to be moulded to other peoples desires. I am my own person whilst modelling now.

Charlie Newman: Looking back at your career now, what do you wish you had done differently?
Rachel Boss: My career has forever been in flux between forcing myself to do the job and then retreating. Even when it was French Vogue or shooting with Peter Lindbergh, it was terrible because in my head I just wanted to run for the hills. I look back now and wish I just got on with it for four years and then left. But instead I dragged it out over decades! Often when I left a city I would leave an agency too because then I felt like I could always start again and have a fresh start. The agencies were always very damning of my opinion when really it should have been a joint decision, but luckily I had one wonderful agent who understood that when I said no, I meant no. I became very good at saying no because for years I’d forever been a yes man. As a result, I had a reputation for being difficult. It’s been an interesting journey. Talking and reading about the past now amongst friends and colleagues makes you realise how intense it is as a job.

Charlie Newman: What advice would you give to young models now starting out?
Rachel Boss: Please enjoy it and don’t take it too seriously. I was forever being told that I was ungrateful because I didn’t want to do the jobs, but really there’s alway someone else who will do the job. If it’s not your route or desired path don’t do it.

Charlie Newman: What has been a career highlight for you?
Rachel Boss: I think it’s got to be living in all the cities. I loved working in New York and Morocco and even though living in Paris was hell, I’m so pleased I did it. Now I know all the areas and I met Yves Saint Laurent and so many other incredible people. I was lucky enough to have a good wage so wherever I was, I did whatever I wanted. If there was some restaurant I wanted to go to, I’d try it, if there was anywhere I wanted to go to, off I went. I was very, very happy with my own company, which was hugely beneficial for me because I’d got into such a huge state of panic before where I felt as though I always needed to be with someone, so that was a huge turn around for me. It’s so important to have times in your life, especially when you’re young, to go off and do your own thing because you’ll probably never have that time again. Even if you do get the opportunity to do it when you’re older, your mind is constantly elsewhere and wanting to be with your children. So for me to have had that time was something I really relished. It’s so important as a human being to sit by yourself and be happy.

Man and woman portrait in living room

Rachel and her husband Charlie co-run Wilder Organics, doing everything from the making of products to the selling.

Charlie Newman: What made you decide to start your own company?
Rachel Boss: The company was talked about for years. I was so aware that herbs were still seen as something a bit odd or witchy or something that only people wearing linen and blankets could prescribe to and I didn’t like that! It was the same with when I went to my lectures too. It was all too intense and I wanted to prove that you could be interested in Naturopathy, whilst also enjoying a glass of wine with a steak. The whole idea for Wilder Organics was about bringing herbs into the contemporary lifestyle and fitting it into the everyday. Before it was only really Neal’s Yard, but within the past 5 years I’ve seen a huge surge in interest.

Read more: Island paradise at the Ritz-Carlton Abama resort in Tenerife

Interiors of a cosmetics shop

The Wilder Botanics boutique, Broadway Market

Charlie Newman: How did you make Wilder Organics a reality?
Rachel Boss: It started with me creating a herb infused body oil and two teas. I asked my friend Lerryn Korda, who is a beautiful illustrator of children’s books, to design the beautiful labels for me. Each type of herb has a different illustration because I really wanted to draw people back to nature and get them to recognise what they’re actually drinking, and maybe even encourage them to go and pick the leaves themselves. This was back in October 2017. I had a little stand at this wonderful sale that supports creatives called The Hand Sale in Kensington and everything sold! I didn’t know what the whole worth was of my product so that’s when my husband swooped in, and he’s totally immersed in it now. It’s just us two and one other person who comes in every so often. We do everything, from the making to the selling to the wholesaling. Everything is biodegradable and recyclable nationwide, it can even be put into your compost. All of our products are recyclable grade 7 which means all councils recycling systems will accept it, which sadly isn’t the case for a lot of other products out there.

Charlie Newman: Where would you like to see Wilder Organics in the future?
Rachel Boss: We would really love to see our beauty products in Liberty because we’re obsessed with everything in there! We have endless ideas for the future, but I’m particularly excited about delving more into women’s health. Alongside our 10 stockists, we’d also like to be stocked worldwide, but without ever losing the core values of our company.

Charlie Newman: And finally, who is your role model of the month?
Rachel Boss: It’s got to be women for me, I love women in every form. If I had to pick one individual it would probably be Julianne Moore, I think she’s just heavenly. My friend works with her who’s a make up artist and said she’s the real deal, she’s true to her persona, so kind and brilliant. I was listening to Zadie Smith on Radio 4 yesterday and I thought she was just amazing, partly because she doesn’t appear to be a people pleaser. I grew up in a generation where everything was about being liked, fitting in and not being a burden. I really rock boats with that even now. I hope my children are like that, I tell my children all the time, just because someone’s an adult it doesn’t mean they are right.

Discover Wilder Botanics’ range of products: wilderbotanics.com

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Reading time: 15 min
Twin models wearing helments
Twin models wearing helments

Models and musicians Sonya and Anna Kupriienko. Instagram: @bloomtwins

LUX contributing editor and model at Models 1, Charlie Newman continues her online exclusive series, interviewing her peers about their creative pursuits, passions and politics

colour headshot of blond girl laughing with hand against face wearing multiple rings

Charlie Newman

THIS MONTH: Ukrainian twins Sonya and Anna Kupriienko have shot for the likes of Vogue, Numéro, Wonderland, Stylist, iD and Tatler, whilst storming the music industry under the guise of The Bloom Twins. Here, the twins talk to Charlie about touring with the likes of Nile Rodgers, their love of Billie Eilish and staying true to yourself.

Charlie Newman: Have you always been interested in music?
Sonya Kupriienko: It might sound crazy, but music has had a place in our lives since the very beginning, and by that we mean from our Mum’s tummy! Apparently, we were taught to appreciate music from the inside, our parents would place headphones right at Mums tummy to make us curious about music even then. It was, therefore, inevitable that we started singing or copying sounds before we could talk, so even though we feel sorry for our parents hearing our music 24/7 with double power from us, it was completely their fault! We went to music school aged five where we both learnt to play piano and how to harmonise together.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

Anna Kupriienko: Even though the classical music we learnt at school was very brain awakening, there was very little emotion which was probably because we were so young. Since then we have found ourselves striving to do the opposite of what was asked of us at school. The beginning of our music career ironically started from fashion. One model scout had stopped our sister Vera on the street and asked her to come for a proper meeting to his agency. Vera brought us with her and we couldn’t believe ourselves when he said he wanted to do a photo shoot with the two of us, but sadly not with Vera. The rest is history, he posted a photo of us on Facebook, and our current managers Lenka and Juzzee commented saying these twins are so cute, to which he replied saying they also love to sing. This is how the meeting was set up, and how fashion and social media has changed our lives dramatically. We are also forever grateful to our parents, who not only encouraged our love for music, but also put it to good use.

Charlie Newman: What music did you listen to growing up?
Anna Kupriienko: We were deeply influenced by our parents’ choice of music, which consisted of mainly English bands or artists such as The Beatles, David Bowie, Duran Duran so that’s why it felt like a dream come true to move to London, and later on to also share the stage with Duran Duran themselves around the globe.

Two female twin models dressed in black and white

Instagram: @bloomtwins

Charlie Newman: You’ve toured alongside some huge industry names including Nile Rodgers, Chic and Seal. What did you learn from this experience?
Sonya Kupriienko: We have learned to dream and not to be afraid of obstacles such as language barriers, being too young or too pretty to sing. That all goes away once you are fully committed and blinded by the passion that it becomes impossible to look the other way.

Anna Kupriienko: The obstacles seemed so small when Duran Duran treated us like equals and supported us when we needed it the most-right before going up on stage in front of tens of thousands of people. This meant, and still does mean the world to us, we will always be look up to them.

Read more: Spanish artist Secundino Hernández on flesh & creative chaos

Charlie Newman: What’s been your favourite gig so far?
Sonya Kupriienko: Honestly, every gig feels incredible because they’re always so different. I can never pick the best gig. You live in the moment and that moment will be different tomorrow. The whole magic of playing live lies in the changes, whether that be the wrong note, a slightly different solo, or improvisation. In fact, the whole performance is improvisation, you follow the feeling that leads you nowhere, because it’s not a contest, but a beautiful journey that wants to keep continuing.

Anna Kupriienko: I have a tendency to always like the next gig because there are always so many things to improve, the sound or the performance. The form of Dark Pop can never stay the same, it changes every time, so we just need to water it to bloom.

Twin models in black coats

Instagram: @bloomtwins

Charlie Newman: What are you working on at the moment?
Sonya Kupriienko: We have a single coming out on October 11th. It’s called FF that isn’t only an abbreviation of the title ‘Free Fall’, but also stands for F**ck Fame. It might be because we are tired of proving to ourselves that we are good the way we are, or maybe because throughout our journey we’ve witnessed complete despair for success, when in our opinion we should care more about the art. In the music industry it is definitely challenging to stay true to ourselves, especially having bills to cover, but we just don’t see ourselves happy being somebody else and taking somebody else’s opportunity.

Charlie Newman: What is your creative process like?
Sonya Kupriienko: We don’t always write with just the two of us, we also like to collaborate with other artists or writers. It’s an incredible feeling to have a few people in a room working as one. When people say there’s a magic in the room, that’s what they’re talking about, the collaborative process, everybody’s creative needs are being fulfilled. It’s a collective euphoria.

Read more: Ferrari designer Flavio Manzoni on collaborating with Hublot

Anna Kupriienko: Personally, I love to work by myself and with my sister creatively, but it’s refreshing to work with other people too. Weirdly, you learn more about yourself and your capabilities whilst working with strangers. I guess to learn how to swim you should be thrown into the ocean.

Charlie Newman: If you could collaborate with anyone in the future, who would it be?
Both: Billie Eilish!

Anna Kupriienko: It’s a rare occasion where the two of us agree on the same artist. Billie is insane, she’s so her. You know what? I’ve never heard anybody sing those kind of songs and looking that way, she’s so real.

Sonya likes RnB, whilst I like electronic and underground music. Billie has the perfect mix of all the genres we like.

Twin models posing together

Instagram: @bloomtwins

Charlie Newman: What advice would you give to any young aspiring musicians or models?
Sonya Kupriienko: Be you. I know it sounds so cheesy, and you are probably thinking I should have come up with a better answer, but honestly, just be you. Let’s start with the visual aspect that most of us occasionally struggle with. Being a model isn’t easy at all, as you are being classified by the parameters/features you were born with. Even though we know self esteem might not always be supportive of being comfortable in your skin, that’s exactly what you need to do. Walking into a casting, or a job interview with confidence makes a big difference. Not only will you feel like ‘Dang, that felt great’, but also people around you will feel your confidence. Same with music, walking into a room of writers, you have to be able to relate to your song, or to stand your point, because even though it’s a collaboration, everybody should believe in it. If you are a singer and you can’t relate to it, how will the audience?

Anna Kupriienko: As David Bowie said, “Don’t try to fulfil other people’s expectations because that’s when you produce your worst work.” You have to stay true to yourself. Everyone’s life is full of ups and downs, but if you don’t love what you do you diminish the chances of the ups and elongate the downs. If you give up on who you are, you give up on everything!

Charlie Newman: Apart from Billie Eilish, who are you listening to right now?
Sonya Kupriienko: Dua Lipa has got a great vocal, she is technically equipped, and I respect that.
Anna Kupriienko: I love James Blake and Bon Iver and loads of underground artists that many people haven’t heard of. I just like to experiment with the sound, hence I like underground and that’s why I have thousands of songs in my playlist!

Charlie Newman: Lastly, who is your role model of the month?
Anna Kupriienko: For me, it’s got to be John Lennon. His music has such great value, not only because of how perfect it sounds, but also for the message it delivers, and this has helped a lot of people through their darkest times. In my opinion, the lyric has got almost childish quirkiness, but such deepness that it is hard to not feel anything. The reason why people make music is solely personal. For some it’s a way to find themselves whilst others create music to bring people closer together by drawing attention to global matters, whether that be the planet, politics or love and peace. I feel like that’s the best way to do what you love, by helping others you are simultaneously helping yourself.

Sonya Kupriienko: My role model is Greta Thunberg. She was only 15 when she first took time off school to protest outside the Swedish parliament, calling for better climate action. It must have felt so annoying considered too young to know better when it’s hard to see grown ups taking our future away from us youngsters. She has now connected with at least 4 million people (her Instagram followers) only a year later and has driven other people of all ages to do the same: save the planet.

Follow the Bloom Twins on Instagram: @bloomtwins

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Reading time: 8 min
Side profile portrait of an elderly woman wearing a statement earring
graphic banner in red, white and blue reading Charlie Newman's model of the month
Side profile portrait of an elderly woman wearing a statement earring

Daphne Selfe is the world’s oldest professional model. Instagram @daphneselfe

LUX contributing editor and model at Models 1, Charlie Newman continues her online exclusive series, interviewing her peers about their creative pursuits, passions and politics

colour headshot of blond girl laughing with hand against face wearing multiple rings

Charlie Newman

THIS MONTH: It comes as no surprise that the world’s oldest professional model, Daphne Selfe, who turns 91 next month, ‘doesn’t do retiring’. The British model has clocked up over 70 years of experience, working for the likes of Olay, Eyeko, and Dolce and Gabbana, as well as posing for artists, making TV appearances and writing a memoir. This year, she was included in the Queen’s New Year Honours list and was awarded a British Empire Medal for her contribution to fashion, and whilst she no longer wears high heels, she can still do the splits. Here, she tells Charlie how she got into fashion, and why the Queen is her style icon.

Charlie Newman: Firstly, let’s talk about your upbringing – what was it like and how do you think it informed your choice of career?
Daphne Selfe: I spent most of my childhood in Berkshire until my parents moved to Hertfordshire. I always had an eye on fashion because my mother was very beautiful, smart and always made my clothes, but my true love was horses, I was mad on horses. I learnt to sew but I didn’t really get into fashion until I started working at Helles (what John Lewis was) in the coat department. At the store, there was a competition for the cover of a local magazine. All the girls, including myself, went to meet the photographer, and I won! It turned out the photographer was a royal photographer called Gilbert Adams and funnily enough he knew my parents from an amateur Opera society! The last time he saw me I was 2 years old, so when I turned up all 5ft 10 and a half of me aged 19, he really took me under his wing and taught me how to behave in front of a camera. I did lots of little odd jobs for him, assisting him for a while whilst working part time at Helles. The store then had a fashion show and the agency who were supplying the models was one short, so I was propelled onto the catwalk and thought, ‘Oh my god, what am I doing?’ After that they all said I should join the agency. In those days you had 3 weeks of training to be a model. Mummy thought this was a lot better than breaking a collarbone and being kicked in the head by horses so off I went!

Follow LUX on Instagram: the.official.lux.magazine

After 3 weeks training, I belonged to the agency. I met my husband, Jim, through Gilbert Adams, because he was the lighting technician of the ballet show we were working on. We didn’t get married straight away because he was busy travelling and I was busy with my dance school. I did my ballet training far too late, at 19 years old, but I assiduously learnt because ballet is the basis of all dance. I learnt from a very interesting choreographer called Buddy Bradley, who was well known in the twenties for having put on an amazing musical called Evergreen with Jessie Matthews. I joined his company because I could sew and help with the costumes and because I loved dancing! Of course nobody went abroad in those days, so when his little company went to Belgium, Rome and Madrid, I was delighted to go with them!

Then I decided Jim was the one, so I got married and in those days you didn’t work once you got married, so I retired and had three children but always kept up with my dance classes. Jim worked in television and one of his friends asked me if I would be an extra in The Arthur Haynes Show. Jim happened to be the stage manager that day, and he said ‘What on earth are you doing here?’ and I said ‘I’m working!’ He thought that was terribly funny, then from that I did more and more extra work, as well as fashion shows and commercials.

Elderly woman poses in a ballerina posture

Instagram @daphneselfe

Charlie Newman: How did your modelling career continue into later life?
Daphne Selfe: I was doing my extra work and in 1999 when I was 70 my agency asked whether I would do a fashion show at London Fashion Week for Red or Dead. I love prancing about in nice clothes so of course I did it! The stylist on the show, Jo Phillips, called me up three months later and said Vogue are doing an article on ageing and suggested I get involved. At the shoot was the scout from Models 1 and I’ve been with them ever since, some 20 years later! I didn’t give up the extra work once I was signed with Models 1 because I know how the industry can like you one minute and not the next. But then I was getting more and more modelling work so I had to drop the extra work in the end.


Charlie Newman: What has been a career highlight for you?
Daphne Selfe: I think going abroad for the jobs is the best thing, because I would never have been able to afford that otherwise. I mean I’ve been to Australia, China, Japan, Africa. Whatever next!

Elderly woman poses sitting in a chair

Instagram @daphneselfe

Charlie Newman: Having worked throughout many fashionable decades, what do you think style means today?
Daphne Selfe: It doesn’t matter what time you live in, you must wear what suits you because then people will always admire you in it, it’s very important not to be driven by the trends of the moment.

Charlie Newman: In a dream world, who would you want to dress you and why?
Daphne Selfe: Currently, I love Roksanda Ilinic’s designs. I love going to Roksanda’s shows now and wearing her clothes at events, they always feel very fun and boost my confidence.

Charlie Newman: What advice would you give to young models starting out their careers?
Daphne Selfe: Taking care of your health is the most important thing because modelling is hard work if you do it properly. It’s long hours, lots of hanging about, lots of physical activity and also you need a good work ethic. In other words, that means be on time, don’t mess about once you’re there, and stay off your phone.

I was working with a Dutch photographer the other day and I was doing all my normal things; inventing poses, jumping around, all the usual. At the end he said to me ‘I’ve never worked with such an energetic model’ which did make me laugh! Just throw yourself into the shoot and give it everything.

Modelling can be horrendous too. I lost a big job the other day, but so what? It wasn’t my fault, it’s about what they want. It’s no good worrying about it, but I know a lot of people find that difficult. Being a model is very difficult if you don’t have much confidence because you have to put yourself in a room of people you don’t know and work with them effortlessly.

Elderly woman posing for a portrait

Instagram @daphneselfe

Charlie Newman: What keeps you happy and healthy?
Daphne Selfe: Well, I do a series of exercises most days, something along the lines of yoga, ballet, a little bit of weights but also static bicycle. Of course, I can’t do everything every day, but I do always do some stretching.

I suppose because I grew up in the war we never ate masses. We grew all our own fruit and vegetables so we had a very strict diet and that’s a mentality which never leaves you.

Charlie Newman: Who was your fashion icon when you were younger?
Daphne Selfe: I suppose in a way we always looked up to royalty, the young Queen, of course, was gorgeous. They all lived such glamorous lives, or so we thought. Whereas now, people don’t want to dress up anymore which I think is such a pity because I love dressing up!

Charlie Newman: Lastly, who is your role model of the month?
Daphne Selfe: It’s got to be the Queen, she’s absolutely fantastic! She always wears bright colours but is also discreet. I know of course she has money, but it really doesn’t cost a lot to look good. I’ve always made my own things and looked as good as anybody else.

Follow Daphne Selfe on Instagram:@daphneselfe

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Reading time: 7 min
Mature model Mouchette Bell photographed against a white background

graphic banner in red, white and blue reading Charlie Newman's model of the month

Portrait of mature mixed-race female model against a white background

Model and stylist Mouchette Bell. Photographed by Benjamin Kaufman

LUX contributing editor and model at Models 1, Charlie Newman continues her online exclusive series, interviewing her peers about their creative pursuits, passions and politics

colour headshot of blond girl laughing with hand against face wearing multiple rings

Charlie Newman

THIS MONTH: After gracing the pages of the world’s biggest glossy magazines as a model in her twenties, Mouchette Bell stepped behind the camera to become a stylist and Fashion Editor for the likes of Tatler, Harpers Bazaar and Vogue. Now she’s back on the books at Models 1. She speaks to Charlie about Anna Wintour, Buddhism and recovering from PTSD.

Charlie Newman: Firstly, could you take us right back to the beginning of your career in fashion. Where were you scouted?
Mouchette Bell: I always loved clothing and dressing up since I was a child. In the 80s when I was out and about in these crazy clothes, people used to take pictures of me. I was only dressing up for me, as a form of expression, I never even thought about being a model. Quite a few photographers would enquire whether I was signed to an agency or not, so I decided it was time I got one! I was 16, it approached me. Clothing and style were and still are more important for me creatively than modelling.

Follow LUX on Instagram: the.official.lux.magazine

Charlie Newman: As a model, what’s been your career highlight for you so far?
Mouchette Bell: There were lots of highlights. One of them was working with Peter Lindbergh and Franca Sozzani. I was at a casting, and in those days there wasn’t a market for my look. If they did use an ethnic girl they had to have a very strong look, so I just remember waiting in line at this casting and thinking ‘oh god what am I doing here’. I wasn’t very confident back then, I was incredibly shy. People aren’t so shy any more, it’s a word I don’t hear today’s youth say. Anyway, Peter came up to me at the casting and asked if I was free to go to Paris the next day, to come as I am and not change a thing so off I went! I shot for Les Glamour andItalian Vogue in Paris – I just wish I could find the pictures! Someone told me Peter has the images of me on his office walls. I was sort of in an Marilyn Monroe pose, in a fabulous trench coat paired with heels and gloves, standing over a grill so that when a train went under, the coat blew up and so did my hair! It was a great picture.

Charlie Newman: Tell us about your transition into styling.
Mouchette Bell: The fashion world was very welcoming. When I moved to New York to model I shot a lot of editorial with Condé Nast, particularly with this amazing magazine called Mademoiselle. During fittings, I would always be saying “oooh you could shoot it with this, or with that”, I absolutely loved being in that fabulous wardrobe. That’s when I realised that I had to go into styling and that I would be much better off camera, more relaxed. I used to freeze up so much whilst shooting, the team really had to get it out of me.

Charlie Newman: Was it easy moving into styling having been a model or did you have to prove yourself that bit more?
Mouchette Bell: Well, I obviously had made a lot of contacts which really helped. I used them at the beginning to help build up a portfolio, I really worked on that. There was one woman in particular, Sandra Horowitz, who gave me my big break. I showed her my portfolio and she gave me the job of Accessories Editor at Mademoiselle. I was incredibly lucky. I absolutely love jewellery but having said that I quickly became a Fashion Editor, just 6 months later! I lived and breathed fashion, nothing else mattered to me then. I wrote to Anna Wintour, who was working at British Vogue at the time, asking for an appointment, having harassed everyone at Condé Nast for her contact details! I prepared my book again and went through it with her. She could just see that I was really serious about fashion and within a few minutes I’d got the job at British Vogue. It was unbelievable. She was very good to me, I was very young and foolish back then. Thanks to Condé Nast America I studied at Parsons in New York. They were so supportive of me, so much so that they funded my diploma in Fashion History for two years when I was a bit of a tearaway. It was like a finishing school for me, I would go study in the evenings after work. They really opened up my eyes and took good care of me.

Charlie Newman: Why did you approach Anna at British Vogue? Why not another magazine in New York or another city?
Mouchette Bell: I was so, so homesick, I just wanted to come home! But saying that, after British Vogue I moved to Munich to work at German Vogue as their Fashion Editor for a year because I fell in love with a German. I then returned to New York in the 90s and worked as a Fashion Director at Mademoiselle and loved it. I left New York just after 2001 as I had a beautiful apartment there and I was home on September 11th. My apartment was one block from Ground Zero and I had to be evacuated covered in dust from the falling twin towers, my apartment was ruined from the dust and debris. I survived this disaster and after suffering PTSD, I went on to work as Editor-at-Large for ELLE in London and contributed to Vanity Fair and Tatler. I hope to inspire others to know that it is so important to survive and flourish and win in your life.

Charlie Newman: For anyone hoping to work in the fashion industry, would you recommend diving straight in or to go to university first and then follow on from that?
Mouchette Bell: I would recommend going to arts school first, but then again that’s not what I did, that opportunity wasn’t available to me and I was lucky enough for it to be given later on. If you get the opportunity to go I would highly recommend it. Having said that, I’m saying this as someone who’s already established and I think it would be incredibly tough to start in the industry now. I can only give advice from my set of circumstances.

Read more: Rachel Whiteread on the importance of boredom

Charlie Newman: As a stylist what has been a career highlight for you?
Mouchette Bell: Wow, it’s so hard to chose! The career highlights are all down to who you work with and where you work with them. All that wonderful travel – it was different back then, they had enormous budgets and they knew how to spend them! I was always very aware of how lucky I was in that situation – I was one of the more normal people. Working with Michael Roberts for Tatler in Brazil and Elizabeth Saltzman for Vanity Fair was a real moment for me. I’m sure I’m missing out lots of my colleagues, but to work at that level was just amazing for me. When I was the Jewellery Editor at Tatler I was on set with £20 million pounds worth of jewellery!

Someone asked me recently what I miss about working at Tatler and the thing I miss the most is the horses. Most of those stately homes had all these horses, it was so wonderful to work with them too. I loved working for Tatler because you really got to see how the other half live. I found it really interesting and I met some lovely people. People are born into different walks of life and that’s why I always think we should never judge people.

Charlie Newman: In your ideal shoot now would you be modelling or styling, or doing both?
Mouchette Bell: I’d be styling myself because then I could have it all! I would get Paul Smith to shoot it, Alexander McQueen would still be alive and I could wear something of his, and I’d pile on as much Bulgari jewellery as I could get on! I went to nearly all of McQueen’s shows – now that’s what I call a spectacle, he was a true genius.

Black and white portrait of a female model with hair in plaits laughing

Photograph by Benjamin Kaufman

Charlie Newman: You were the first mixed race person working in the Condé Nast building. What did that feel like?
Mouchette Bell: Well that’s as far as I’m aware of, it wasn’t necessarily a statement I put out there, but it certainly felt that way. What Edward Enninful has done is amazing. We have to go to that extreme level for it to be balanced and eventually accepted as the norm. We’ve all got to learn, it’s even changed the way I look at things as well. But it was different back then, it was pretty racist. I don’t even know if that’s the right word to use.

Charlie Newman: What’s kept you grounded over the years?
Mouchette Bell: I think that I haven’t always been grounded to be honest with you. At times I was probably way off the wall, in way outer space fashion land, it really was my only world! But I think I’ve always been pretty sincere person, I can’t bullshit myself too much. I’ve been a Buddhist for the past 15 years and that practice of meditating twice a day keeps me very centred. We’re human beings, we all have very different aspects of our personality, some of them we need to hold in and some of them we need to develop. I just found that practice really helped me. It’s not a religion it’s more of a philosophy. That simple practise of meditating brings me back to my higher self, life’s possibilities and the value of respecting others as well as yourself. You have to make yourself happy before you can make anyone else happy.

Charlie Newman: How did you first come across Buddhism?
Mouchette Bell: I think I’d always liked the look of it, all the yoga and chilling out! But then after September the 11th I saw how a friend who takes no bullshit and is very streetwise, was practising Buddhism and I could really see a healthy change in her, so I thought I would try it out too. It’s a bit like going to the gym, it’s a discipline. If you meditate twice a day, you start and end your day more centred, you align yourself, which really helps with everything. It’s not about going off to some retreat or going travelling, it’s about making it work for your everyday life. Every action has a reaction, it’s cause and a effect, that’s why you have to take responsibility for your actions. Where you are now often is a result of the past, and then that’s where the whole idea of past lives comes into play. Just look at that Alexander McQueen documentary, he had it all yet that terrible suicide happened. You really have to focus on getting yourself centred and then truly you can achieve anything. At the end of the day it’s all about what works for you, and practising Buddhism works for me. You should always question everything, never blindly follow. I could go on and on, I love it so much!

Read more: President of LEMA Angelo Meroni on business with a soul

Charlie Newman: Thinking about the future, if you could wave a magic wand, how would you like to see the fashion industry change?
Mouchette Bell: For me, I would like for the industry to nurture the creatives more because that’s what keeps the standard so high and then that is what goes on to inspire people. This goes back to the whole cyclical Buddhist philosophy too. How has it felt coming back into modelling, especially having seen the industry so intimately from another perspective as a stylist. It’s completely different from when I started in every single way. The thing is I never left the industry, fashion will always be here, in whatever format or medium, to inspire others. I was reintroduced to the fashion world when I was in the Bath student fashion show, held in London. It was there that I met the wonderful Greg who introduced me to Chantal and Uwe, my now bookers at Models 1.

Timing is so important for me and it is only really now that I feel comfortable in my own skin and ready to do modelling again, but don’t get me wrong it’s still work in progress! I feel really privileged to be doing it and so lucky to be doing it at this point in my life. I don’t have to be ‘perfect’, I can be myself. I have my lines and my wrinkles, it’s much more accepting this time around. I also love to give advice to anyone starting out on set, only if it’s appropriate of course, just because I’ve been there, I understand. I learn from them also! I absolutely love modelling, but I had forgotten actually how difficult it was. The level of projection you have to give is tough. Not everyone can stand up there and do it. It’s far more demanding than people realise. I’ve learnt a new respect for it, people underestimate it.

Also I’d like to always get paid for my work, just on principle. Don’t give me a slap in the face at the end of a long day you know? That’s one of the things I liked about working in America and in Germany. They were very straight forward and I was always paid on time.

Charlie Newman: Lastly who is your role model of the month?
Mouchette Bell: I think Joanna Lumley is great. I like people who can make me laugh. She’s older and she’s sexy and she’s cool. She’s a beautiful woman whose showing that it is ok to have fun when you’re over 50.

Follow Mouchette Bell on Instagram: @mouchettebell

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Reading time: 12 min
Chloe women
Fashion photography by Guy Bourdin

Guy Bourdin, Paris Vogue 1975, Chloé autumn-winter 1975 collection ©The Guy Bourdin Estate, 2017 / Courtesy A + C

Most people aren’t aware of Guy Bourdin’s close relationship with the fashion house Chloé, but between the late 50s and late 80s, the brand was interpreted through the lens of the French artist and photographer more than anyone else. The inaugural exhibition at the newly opened gallery space, Maison Chloé in Paris celebrates Bourdin’s wild and seductive world through a collection of emotionally charged images that challenge both stereotypes of femininity and fashion photography.

Follow LUX on Instagram: the.official.lux.magazine

Chloe women

Guy Bourdin, Paris Vogue 1970, Chloé spring-summer 1970 collection ©The Guy Bourdin Estate, 2017 / Courtesy A + C

In one image women lie draped languorously across a bed playing cards, whilst another depicts a hotel room cocktail party with a man in his underwear being chased out by a policeman in a background. Rather than pouting, staring with glassy indifference into the camera, the models are dramatically engaged in the scene creating an atmosphere that’s cinematic and completely captivating. Alongside the prints are the clothes and accessories Bourdin photographed as well as copies of the magazines the images originally appeared in, most often Vogue Paris, and a curation of Bourdin’s photographs for other fashion campaigns, including for French shoemaker Charles Jourdan. It’s an interesting insight into the development of Chloé’s dreamy, bohemian aesthetic, Bourdin’s creative vision and perspectives of mid-century women.

Millie Walton

Femininities—Guy Bourdin” runs until 6th September 2017 at Maison Chloé, hotel particulier on 28 Rue de la Baume, Paris and re-opens during FIAC and Paris Photo from 18th October until 18th November 2017.

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Reading time: 1 min
Supermodel alicia rountree

Unique design title model of the month

Model and chef Alicia Rountree

Mauritian model and restaurateur, Alicia Rountree

Sydney Lima

LUX contributing editor and Storm model, Sydney Lima continues her online exclusive series, interviewing her peers about modelling life and business.

THIS MONTH: Mauritian-born Alicia Rountree leads a hectic life doubling as both supermodel and restaurateur. Since signing to Models 1 at the age of 17, Rountree has travelled extensively shooting campaigns for the likes of L’Oréal, Victoria’s Secret and Ralph Lauren. In 2010 whilst living in New York she opened ‘The Tartinery’ with close friend Nicolas Dutko. Situated in the Nolita district, the restaurant specialises in open faced sandwiches and tartines, inspired by Alicia’s love of french cuisine and the simplicity of fresh ingredients.

Sydney Lima: How did you first get into modelling?
Alicia Rountree: I was scouted a few times as a teenager when I was in London spending summer holidays, but I was too young to get into the business. I was then scouted at 17 at a Vogue event and I was more then ready to start modelling by then.

SL: What’s been your favourite shoot to date?
AR: It was a shoot for Italian Elle, shot in Mauritius. The team loved my family so much that they added them into the story. We all have alicia rountreewonderful memories from that shoot.

SL:What do you love about modelling?
AR: Travel, discovering new places and cultures, meeting new people and making friends along the way. I obviously love clothes and fashion
in general so I love the dressing up part too!

SL: What do you hate about modelling?
AR: It can be very lonely sometimes. Always packing and unpacking your suitcase. It is sometimes quite hard on your body shooting for long hours and travelling non stop.

SL: What inspired you to open your own restaurant?
AR: A restaurant like Tartinery did not exist in New York. We found that there was a place missing where you can meet up and have fresh local food, easy to share in an industrial-chic environment with nice music.

 

Read next: Copenhagen’s youth on why their city is the greatest

Sydney Lima: Where did you love of French cuisine come from?
Alicia Rountree: I went to Paris a lot as a child and have so many memories eating at French cafes. French people have a love of food that is different to anywhere else. Also they don’t care about eating carbs, they love a good fresh baguette or croissant!

SL: Did you get involved with much of the interior design and aesthetic of the restaurant?
AR: Yes it was important to have the place be charming and sophisticated. I remember even painting the chairs myself to get them done the right way.

alicia rountreeSL: What inspires you on a daily basis?
AR: Being grateful. I know that I am very lucky to have the life I do and I never take anything for granted. I love my family and friends and make sure that they know it.

SL: Do you have a role model within the industry?
AR: Not really. I like people who stand for their own beliefs and are strong. But I don’t really have a role model.

SL: How do you rate your cooking skills?
AR: I am a good cook. I get it from my mum. But I don’t really have the time to cook much. Only in Mauritius with all the family, then it’s so much fun to cook for everyone.

SL: What would be your signature dish?
AR: Avocado toast! Can you call it a dish? I do many delicious variations.

SL: What plans do you have for 2017?
AR: Learn more and share my knowledge with whoever wants to listen.

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Reading time: 3 min
Salt Magazine for swarovski

Aside from my role at LUX, I work as Editor in Chief of Conde Nast Contract Publishing, and this week we had a little launch party at Vogue House for Salt, the new fashion magazine we have launched with Swarovski. I co-hosted the party with Nadja Swarovski, and it was an enjoyable occasion in the autumn gloom of London, as Conde Nast editors and publishers mixed it with Swarovski’s glamorous executives, alongside by some interesting figures from the style and design worlds, and models and stylists from our shoots.

Magazine launches are all too rare these days, so it was good to be able to toast the rise of our reborn fashion and design title with a few cocktails and some creative buzz. LUX will have its own party next year!

Maddie Demaine

Saskia Sissons and Rupert Adams

Salt cover model Sydney Lima, Joanna Dalla-Ragione and Darius Sanai

Kate Reardon

Celine Cousteau and Carolin Wegerer

Darius Sanai and Nadja Swarovski

Stephen Quinn and Bill Prince

Darius Sanai, Harriet Quick, Albert Read and Nicholas Coleridge

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Reading time: 4 min