“I Thought, Well, If We’re Going to Use Models, Why Don’t We Use Supermodels Whom We’ve All Known for Many Years?”
Duran Duran’s much-blogged-about video for “Girl Panic!” went live on the Internet today. In the nine-minute clip directed by Jonas Akerlund of Lady Gaga’s “Telephone” fame, Simon, John, Nick, and co. are played by the supermodels they partied with way back when: Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, Eva Herzigova, Helena Christensen, and Simon’s wife, Yasmin LeBon, lip-synch, strum guitars, pound on drums, and vamp for the paparazzi just like the boys did in their 1980s heyday. Style.com spoke with Nick Rhodes via phone from London about the new video and the band’s longtime love of fashion. They were sitting front-row at Versace’s Fall show in February, but they’ve been palling around backstage with the likes of Azzedine Alaïa for decades.
Tell me about genesis of the project.
Awhile back I had an idea to have some models play Duran Duran in a video, to get look-alikes and to style them like we were when we started out. But then I thought, Well, actually if we’re going to use models, why don’t we use supermodels whom we’ve all known for many years? I thought it was fitting that we all came up through the same period. There’s a little bit of an eighties feel to ‘Girl Panic!’ It references some of the sound we had back then, it just all seemed to marry very well. And when I brought the idea to the band, there wasn’t even a heartbeat, everyone said, ‘Yes, perfect!’ We started on a crusade to get the right girls. That’s where it got more complicated. They all have very busy schedules, and we also had fairly busy schedules. The director [Jonas Ackerlund] has a phenomenally busy schedule, and trying to coordinate it all was a task as complicated as anything that we’ve ever done.
So, did you handpick Eva Herzigova to play you in the video?
Mine was the last one to fall into place, actually. The beautiful irony is that Eva was on our very first list. We put Eva down, but she was unable to do it because she was pregnant. But because it took another six months to organize the video, she had had the baby. It was really quite fortuitous how long it took.
How did the supermodels do representing you?
We didn’t want to do a remake of the Robert Palmer “Addicted to Love” video, with the girls in the Alaïa dresses with the red lips. We wanted it to look like they were really delivering the song. That’s asking a little bit more from girls who aren’t natural musicians, but they were all so up for it that they wanted lessons. Eva was fantastic. Helena chose drums. Cindy wanted to do the bass. I have to say, with all the reputations, there’s a reason they’re so super. They’re so professional, so patient, and easy to work with.
In the making-of video that Style.com launched last week, Naomi Campbell remembers waiting for the band outside of the BBC. Do you have any early memories of her?
We met Naomi very early, when she was about 17. She was with the same agency as Yasmin [LeBon, Simon's wife], she came out to a dinner. And how on earth can you forget a face like that, and a bubbly personality and determination to match? I was hardly surprised she became so enormously successful. She’s very much the same now as she was then. I remember all of the girls from the Alaïa shows and the Versace shows. We used to see a lot of those shows. Azzedine is as clever as you get, knows how to make women look beautiful.
I guess I shouldn’t be surprised by how much you know about fashion, but I am.
We’ve always had a real admiration for fashion and style, so a lot of my personal friends are within the industry. I always watch the Central Saint Martins graduation show when I can. We’re getting our energy back in London. We used to have Vivienne [Westwood], McQueen. There was a time when fashion week felt much more significant; we lost it again. A lot of the American editors stopped coming over, but I feel that we are really starting to get a grip on it again. Other cities are more driven by the commercial. The ideas here are much more modern.
Do you have a favorite Duran Duran video? Will you make another video for a single on All You Need Is Now?
This is as good as any video we have ever made; it has great humor and style. And it’s very sexy, I have to say. But “Wild Boys” has held up very well, “Save a Prayer,” and “All She Wants Is” won a lot of technical awards—it was shot a frame at a time. We weren’t planning on doing a lot of other videos for this album, but we’ll see what kind of impact this has, what kind of response we get. Working with Jonas on this one was pretty extraordinary. We’d have to do something very different.