From the time she launched her new, self-titled album at 12:01 a.m.—without any warning, press, leaks, or buildup buzz—today has been the Day of Beyoncé. The new Beyoncé features fourteen tracks and a full seventeen videos. One in particular has caught the attention of the Bey Hive: “‘Yonce,” which stars not only Bey, but also three of the fashion world’s top models—Jourdan Dunn, Joan Smalls, and Chanel Iman—in an homage of sorts to George Michael’s famous supermodel-filled “Freedom ’90″ video. Director, video artist, and co-head of creative at Supreme, Ricky Saiz, shot the video over two days in Brooklyn. “When I started to propose ideas and put together a visual narrative, Beyoncé responded really well,” he said. “She was open to me pushing a bit, and to trying new things, and I didn’t want it to be overproduced. I didn’t want a performance video, which is like jazz hands. This was more like an upskirt.”
“Upskirt” does set the racy tone. Saiz was inspired by Daido Moriyama’s erotic photographs as well as the iconic George Michael Video—and styled by Karen Langley, the cast dons an array of revealing outfits, including a black Anthony Vaccarello dress (for Dunn) and a bondage-inspired molded bodysuit from Tom Ford’s tenure at YSL (for Beyoncé).
Here, Saiz talks to Style.com about the singer’s most smoldering video to date, what it was like working with the one of the world’s biggest stars and a trio of supermodels, and that time on set when Smalls decided to lick Beyoncé’s breast.
How did you come to work with Beyoncé on this in the first place?
It was very all of a sudden, actually. I have a working relationship with Todd Tourso, her creative director. We worked together on the 2011 Lady Gaga for Supreme campaign that we put together. He called me out of the blue and said they wanted me to do a video for them. Four days later, we did it. It was very fast, all of a sudden, and fun. I think Beyoncé is an incredible artist—she has ability, reach, and doesn’t compromise. She’s always kind of done her own thing. But the project that they approached me with was very much in my lane, and my aesthetic. If they had me do a big, drawn-out, cinematic production kind of video, I probably wouldn’t have done as good of a job.
What was the brief that Beyoncé and her team gave you? What were they asking for?
They came with a pretty broad concept. They had the models in line, and wanted something pretty simple. The brief was in the direction of George Michael’s “Freedom” video. And I kind of took it from there. I felt like doing something really simple, handheld, lo-fi. It felt like an interesting way of doing it. It could come off so bland if filmed the other way. And again, I wanted to explore her transgressive imagery. Things that were sexual and erotic, but not cliché. I didn’t want to see Beyoncé with her tongue out, you know?
How is this display of sexuality different from what Miley Cyrus does in “Wrecking Ball”?
Beyoncé is so sexy without having to do anything. I felt like she didn’t need to be wet, or need to twerk. It was more about a mature sense of eroticism, like what Madonna expressed in “Human Nature” in the nineties. A lot of the inspiration came from still photography. Like Daido Moriyama’s really tight close-ups of fishnets—things that felt abstract but still resonate.
What was Beyoncé’s reaction to your creative process? Was she very hands-on?
She’s incredible. She was very hands-on, and everything was a collaborative effort. I think once she saw my aesthetic and references in the styling and art direction, she had full trust in my ideas for the video. I’ve never worked with anyone that gave so much, and was so willing to try new things. For example, the styling; Karen Langley brought this Tom Ford [for YSL] molded-breast bodysuit with the pierced nipple, fishnets, and things like that. It was exactly the references that I was looking for, but in my head I was like, Yeah, right. We’re never getting Bey to put that on. And Beyoncé’s so incredible, she was like, “Let’s do it.” I don’t think anyone’s seen her like that. She was into it.
Do you have a sense of why Beyoncé tapped Jourdan, Joan, and Chanel for this project?
They came to me with these three women in mind. It just felt very of-the-moment, very iconic. You know, they’re all supermodels, they stand on their own, they’re such powerful women. And when brought together, it created a whole dynamic. We definitely weren’t trying to put together a “girl group.” But the chemistry on set was amazing. People just came in really excited about the project, and I tried to keep things loose and fun. I wanted you to see something you maybe weren’t supposed to see.
The “Freedom” video worked because the girls were supermodelséthe first generation of so-called supers, in fact. Do you see these women as the new generation?
Absolutely. I think that in addition to being extremely beautiful, they have their own characters, and their own personalities that they brought to the table. They were anything but casted models.
Did you have any favorite moments on set?
When Joan Smalls licked Beyoncé’s boob. I’m probably not going to forget that anytime soon. To be honest, I didn’t even see it happen. I was in between monitors. I saw it in playback. My director of photography came up to me and was like, “Oh, my God, did you see that?” It was totally spontaneous. [Smalls] just went in. It was fun. We had a good time.
Techno beats were blaring during a noon meeting at Roberto Cavalli’s Fifth Avenue offices on Wednesday. Sure, it was a little early for the unst unst of dance music, but what else would one expect from the man who not only outfits but also helped define the aesthetic of the party-ready jet set when he launched his line of vibrant, sexed-up designs in the seventies? Cavalli, 73, was in town this week to fete the 5,650-square-foot Soho flagship for his more youthful Just Cavalli range (below). Naturally, the new digs, which opened to the public in October, were celebrated with a lively bash last night. But the store isn’t the designer’s only new venture—he’s bowing a Cavalli Club in Miami next year, and, in addition to designing Just Cavalli and his more luxurious main line, he’s pushing his own brands of vodka and red wine. It’s all part of Cavalli’s ever-evolving role as a businessman—rather than a strict fashion creative—a transition he accepts but also laments. Ahead of yesterday evening’s festivities, Cavalli sat down with Style.com for a candid chat about why New Yorkers wear black, how he hates being copied, and what it means to be sexy.
Why did you launch Just Cavalli in the first place?
Sometimes people call Just Cavalli a second line. It’s not my second line. It’s a line for the young. Before I [launched] Just Cavalli, I started to see how many people around me were copying me. There was Cavalli style all over, and I said, “Why am I giving so many opportunities to other people? Maybe I should just start to copy myself.” So I started Just Cavalli to copy myself. But slowly, I began to love Just Cavalli very much. I was able to make Roberto Cavalli more chic, more sophisticated, and more about the red carpet—more glamorous. I love Just Cavalli because it’s young. I’m not a young man, but in my mind, I’m very young. I like to go to the disco, and I like to see beautiful girls.
When most people think of New York fashion, visions of black-clad women pop into their heads. But your designs are colorful, vibrant, and full of print. How do you feel Cavalli clothes relate to a New York audience?
Oh, please. New York became like that because everyone wants to look skinnier. Black is the color people wear when they’re gym fanatics. And it’s true, if you wear black, you look at least five kilos less than what you are. I do it myself. I was relatively fat many years ago, and I started to dress myself in black all the time. I know why I dressed in black—to look thin. But black is negative, it’s not positive. And it’s a little more American. I think designers who are Italian or French are more colorful. But I do love the Japanese fashion. Japanese fashion is black and gray, but it’s wow. It’s harmony. I adore that.
Why are you so drawn to color?
My fashion is colorful because I love life. I wake up in the morning, I open the window over where I live on a wonderful hill in Florence, I see the sun, and in the springtime I love to see the first peach flowers that are kind of white and a bit pink. And then I feel like I want to put out something colorful. I don’t follow fashion, I follow my feelings, and my clothes have a lot to do with my mood. And I think that should be the case with every woman—every woman should be the designer. And every woman should understand that if you are a little bit colorful, you can show your happiness to your boyfriend.
Do you feel that Americans have very different tastes compared to European women?
Yes, because [American women] trust designers like Michael Kors. He’s one of the biggest copy designers in the world. I just want to tell him to stop copying me! Stop! All the time I write those comments on Instagram. He copies everybody! And Americans like Michael Kors! And you love so many other designers who do that—he’s not American fashion. He is international fashion made in America. It’s not fair. The American women, they all dress the same.
Maybe if New Yorkers wore a bit more color, we wouldn’t have a reputation for being so chilly.
Don’t be silly. New Yorkers aren’t chilly. I’ve met so many American women who are warm and romantic and so charming. But American women, in my opinion, have to be a little bit more open-minded.
What do you think it means to be sexy today, and how has that changed throughout the course of your career?
I started out making very sexy clothes because I [launched my line] after minimalism. And sexy had a lot to do with my success, because after minimalism, every woman wished to be a woman, to be feminine. But the line between sexy and vulgar was very thin. And to be sexy and not to be vulgar, you need to have a very good fashion sense. Today, I don’t think fashion should be sexy because women have become more mature. They understand that they can be sexy just by speaking with their eyes. To be sexy, you don’t need to show your body. In my opinion, it’s much more sexy when a woman is covered. I’m a man. I love to be able to fantasize. I think we should transform the word sexy to sensual because it’s more modern. Sensual is glamorous. Sexy is not.
Has your approach to design and your role as a fashion designer changed since you opened your house in the seventies?
Of course it’s changed. I don’t know how I’ve changed, but I know why. Today I feel I have more responsibility. Today I have people working for me, and I know that I cannot be so arrogant in fashion like I used to be. Before, I’d say, “I’ll do what I want!” Today, no. My dream is to make one fashion show where people say, “Roberto’s getting crazy!” Before, I was a little bit more natural—and by that I mean crazy.
What’s next for the Cavalli brand?
What I’m working very hard on now is the Cavalli Club [in Miami], because it’s completely one world—music, fashion, movies. It’s all a part of our life. It’s very difficult to understand this Cavalli world in the States, because Americans are more sensitive to their ideas than European ideas. I remember before, America was the number-one place to appreciate things made in Italy or made in France. Now, they love everything made in China. It’s an evolution I accept, but I would like to be stronger, and more famous in America. It’s a big challenge, but you’ll see. You will love my fashion and you will love my store, and when you see my Just Cavalli pieces, you’ll think next summer, when you’re in Saint-Tropez, you’ll want to wear this kind of thing. And you will feel very sexy.
The house of Fendi has long held close ties to the world of design. While everyone else was (and is) collaborating with artists (this year’s Art Basel brings Ryan McGinley for Calvin Klein and Visionaire for Gap, to name just a couple), Fendi was focusing on its own cross-pollination. Silvia Venturini Fendi, daughter of Anna Fendi and mother of Delfina, has been at the forefront of the house’s push toward contemporary design since founding Fendi Casa in 1997—applying the brand’s playful, irreverent aesthetic to specially commissioned projects with forward-thinking designers, including Aranda/Lasch, Beta Tank, and Toan Nguyen. This week, Fendi Casa is introducing a new capsule collection of steel- and fur-based items with famed Paris furniture designer Maria Pergay. We sat down with Venturini Fendi at the pool by The Standard Spa to discuss her work with Pergay, how Fendi Casa fits into the house’s larger vision, and why Karl Lagerfeld never—and always—shocks.
On the fashion front, how do you and Karl Lagerfeld keep the house of Fendi’s designs fresh?
We are always the same. Karl has been working with Fendi since forever…from ’65. Me, I was born at Fendi, so we are always the same people. But we have finally set up a structure thanks to the LVMH group entering in 2000, and we went through many, many changes. And today we are ready to go like a lightning bolt to what we really want and to what Fendi really is. We have a very good energy at the moment at Fendi. We are very free in what we do—and this you can see. Our shows and our collections are concentrated on what Fendi has been doing and representing in the fashion world: quality, tradition, and heavy, heavy experimentation. We don’t take ourselves too seriously. That’s something that I think we really have in common with Maria Pergay. It’s this lightness in serious things.
Has working with Karl changed over the years?
I can say no. Every time is like the first time. You know, Karl will surprise you. He’s not predictable at all. And every time, when he arrives [in Rome from Paris], there’s the same expectation and energy. He has to say, “Oh! How did you do that? It’s what I really wanted to achieve and you made it!” Karl is one of the most intelligent people that I’ve ever met in my life. And he gets bored very easily. If he sees something that he’s already seen, he’s not attracted at all. So every time, you have to submit something new—like new techniques, new materials, and new ways of doing the same thing, like fur, for instance. Every time, we really want it to morph into something else.
Delfina has also become more and more involved.
Yes! Now she’s involved in Fendi. I’m very happy because she’s doing the fashion jewelry. I’m very proud. The story continues. Karl is very happy, and they get along very well. I like her crazy earrings with the feathers, which are in reality fox fur. So light and so beautiful. So we’ll see what she comes up with for the next show. She combines her vision with Fendi’s vision in a very balanced way.
Everyone’s been talking about those Monster bags and fur Buggie charms…
Yeah! They sold out everywhere. The Monsters, really they represent our DNA. In the sixties—[during the time of] my mother and her sisters—fur was something very, very boring, and it was a real status symbol. Men would buy it for women to show that they were rich. The bigger the coat, the bigger the wallet. Really, my mother and her sisters were fighting all that. They wanted to liberate women in the sixties. You couldn’t even drive a car with this heavy fur on, and since it was very, very precious, you had four or five linings to protect the skins. My mother and her sisters took away all of these and treated it like it was a normal fabric. They were cutting things that were so expensive, that nobody could touch. And the little Monsters are really there to say, “Yes, we do fur, but we play with it.” I like them. They make me happy.
Tell us about the collaboration with Maria Pergay. How did it evolve?
I’ve always been fascinated by strong women with strong points of view, and I think that she really is, in a way, a Fendi woman—because she reminds me of the women of my family. In the fifties, when she started her production, she turned steel into something more sensual and feminine. And so, one day when I was at Art Basel, they told me that she was there with her gallery, so I went downstairs to meet her, and I said I was one of her admirers, and one day, maybe she would be open to doing something. And she said, “Yes, yes, yes!” But the first thing that she said was, “You know, I don’t know anything about fashion.” After a few months, we started working on one piece. One piece became several pieces. Four. Maria is the first designer that we are going to produce.
Fendi’s been having this conversation with design for many years, while other people have been focusing more on art.
We really thought from the very beginning that there is a common relationship, and we are closer to design than to art, because design and fashion share the fact that you have to have an aesthetic vision and a creative vision, but also, you have to make something technical and functional. That makes life more challenging sometimes. There is a lot of research that goes into these projects, and all the background work is so interesting. At least to me, this is the best part.
In past interviews, Mario Testino has alluded that his childhood in Peru was that of a misfit. He was the fashion-crazed oddball in a traditional Catholic family, and by his early twenties, he had left his native Lima for London. So it would seem a touch ironic that Testino returned to Peru to shoot what are arguably some of the most fantastical fashions of his career. Alta Moda, on view at Manhattan’s Queen Sofia Spanish Institute, is the culmination of five years’ work photographing traditional costumes worn by the people of the mountain city of Cusco. All twenty-seven images on view are a window into a lush world rarely seen—particularly by Testino’s usual audiences. The opulent outfits were shot against a traditional painted backdrop from the archives of Martin Chambi, Peru’s seminal indigenous photographer. Below, Testino talks to Style.com about the couture-caliber costumes, his fascination with tradition, and the show’s notable departure from his usual oeuvre.
The name of the show is Alta Moda. What similarities did you see between these costumes and traditional haute couture?
I am known more for shooting a dress like a couture dress, so I thought the game of words was interesting: on one side it’s called Alta Moda because [the costumes com from] the highest region of Peru and “alta” means “high.” The other reason was because these dresses have been made with the same care and the same attention with which a couture dress is made, and it’s lasted for hundreds of years. They repeat the same tradition of embroidery, of the stitching, of the weaving, and couture is like that. There’s a parallel to it, so I thought it made a lot of sense to use that name.
In terms of a jumping-off point with the costumes you were shooting, was it more of an aesthetic connection initially, or a cultural connection?
I think it is a mixture of cultural and aesthetic. This is something I have always been interested in. When you look at my career, in a funny way, I’ve always been doing things related to tradition. I do the royal families, I go to Seville for the holy week and the fair of Seville, when all Sevillians go out into the streets dressed in flamenco dresses, on their horses. I’ve done the same thing with the Catholic church. I did a little exhibition called Disciples, and I went to Rome and photographed all the bishops and the cardinals dressed in their costumes. So the whole resurgence of costumes is something that has always fascinated me, and I’m always being drawn back to it. I guess it’s a mixture between culture and beauty, and aesthetics.
As someone who doesn’t do many exhibitions, what made you want to show these images?
I opened a cultural institute in Peru called MATE, and I have to come up with exhibitions for them constantly. That’s what originally made me do this exhibition, because I thought it would be interesting for Peruvians to see something they have that maybe they don’t look at normally. It’s like everything: when you have it down your doorstep, you don’t look at it, and maybe you take it for granted. I went to do a job for British Vogue in this region, Cusco, which is the highest in Peru. The thing that brought me to discover this archive of treasures was that I asked for some costumes for some of my fashion pictures for the magazine, and when I saw the whole collection, I thought, “I have to document this.”
You used archival backdrops from the collection of Martin Chambi. What was your intention in doing that? Was it an homage?
I was very influenced when I saw an exhibition at the Photographers’ Gallery in London of Martin Chambi in the early eighties, because being Peruvian, I didn’t know about this work, and when I discovered it, I was quite surprised, really, that somebody had documented so well a region that we were all a bit ignorant about. When I arrived in England, I taught myself everything about Europe by looking at photographers like Cecil Beaton, or August Sander, who documented their society, their country, their history, and when I saw this exhibition of Martin Chambi, his portraits were particularly amazing in front of these backdrops. But the thing that caught my attention the most was going to Peru and finding these costumes, it reminded me that I had seen once a picture of Irving Penn’s, from when he had gone to Peru and photographed children against these backdrops. I thought it was an interesting way to bring all the photos together, and to really concentrate on the clothes. Continue Reading “Mario Testino Goes Back To His Roots” »
“It’s been sort of like a Carven World Tour these days,” laughed Carven‘s creative director, Guillaume Henry, while sitting in the lobby of the Mercer hotel. His description wasn’t hyperbolic in the least. In the last month, Carven has opened two boutiques in Shanghai, its first flagship in London, and now the house is preparing to debut a stateside outpost, in New York. Located at 83 Mercer Street, in Soho (with stores like Chloé, Saint Laurent, and Proenza Schouler just around the corner), the 1,636-square-foot space was designed in collaboration with architect Eric Chevallier. “I didn’t want it to be too impressive, though,” explained Henry. “I prefer places that feel comfortable, familiar, and approachable.” He plans to achieve said ambience by combining luxurious elements—like a black leather bench and marble details—with more industrial ones. “I love the idea of mixing opposites—day and night, sophisticated and casual, sexy and shy. I love two extreme worlds connected.”
The New York flagship will mark Carven’s sixteenth freestanding boutique (though the designer hints that a third Paris shop, outside the Marais, as well as another location in Manhattan, could be on the way). Carven’s investment in new international digs is a testament to Henry’s success at the brand, which, founded in 1943 by a now 104-year-old Carmen de Tommaso, was revived in 2009. Throughout the past five years, Henry has brought the sleeping heritage house back to life with his crisp, clean sense of modernity and his youthful approach to design. Last night, Henry sat down with Style.com (next to a newlywed couple in a bridal gown and a morning suit, oddly enough) to talk Carven’s history, imagined muses, and why real life is the most incredible inspiration.
You’ve been at Carven for five years. What have you learned?
I’m learning new things every single day. It’s completely crazy. We started with a white page, and now the book is starting to fill up. What I love about Carven is, it’s about pleasure, and a challenge, but at the same time the clothes talk to real people. Carven is part dream, part reality. We do a catwalk each season, and we tell the story of a woman, or a man. But then when the show is finished, they’re not my clothes anymore. They’re everyone’s clothes. And I love that they’re going to tell their own story. People are going to bring our clothes into their daily lives, and that’s something I adore.
What does it take to successfully revive a heritage house? Many have tried and failed, but you seem to have a pretty good grip on it.
I’ve been lucky. Carven is an old brand, but I’ve been there for the rebirth. You know, what Mme Carven [Carmen de Tommaso] did in the fifties was good in the fifties, but you have to think about why the brand worked back then. It worked because it was connected to its client. And Mme Carven was dressing cool young girls at that time, so our goal was to dress cool young people. Young is not only a question of age for me—it’s a question of attitude. It’s a question of having a fresh mind.
Do you ever feel beholden to Carven’s history, or to what Carmen de Tommaso would want?
Not really. It’s a very approachable company, and a very approachable brand. Mrs. Carven was a grand couturier, as we call them, but she didn’t reinvent concepts. She was a designer, for sure, but she was really making clothes, and I do believe in that. I’ve met her a few times, and she’s 104 years old, but she’s super young! I think when she decided to sell the brand, she took a stance and separated herself from it. But I always ask myself if she would understand what I’m designing. I’m sure she wouldn’t have done the same things—but would she respect the DNA of the brand? That’s the main thing for me.
What has been your biggest challenge at Carven thus far?
Getting Carven on Mercer Street. Five years ago, when I’d call retailers and say, “OK, we are Carven,” they would hang up the phone. And now, we’re on Mercer Street, which is like, “OK, we did it!” It’s been a fantastic challenge for us, because it was a dream. It wasn’t a question of success or anything like that. I have no idea what success means. Especially in this industry—you never know. But Carven, for me, is fresh. And for people, it’s a new brand. It’s an international brand. It’s not a question of history anymore. And that’s very satisfying. Continue Reading “Guillaume Henry Takes Carven ‘Round The World” »