is pure delight to listen to someone very accomplished share their life
experiences. That is why an Oprah’s
Master Class really interests me. The other night I was struck by something
that was said on that show. It was not a novel idea or something that I didn’t
already know, but something I hadn’t really heard so clearly said by someone so
successful, like Jane Fonda. The main point was that we should always pay it
forward, no matter how much or how little we have in life. We each have our
blessings, in different shapes and forms. That was it. Simple concept, right?
old episode of
went on to be discussed, and what I pondered extensively, was that most people
in the world today are obsessed with their own lives. It’s all about “will I
get a promotion? Where can I park my car? How can I cross the street faster?
How can I make more money?” So on, and so forth. People spend a great deal of
time obsessing about how to get ahead, rather then actually doing something
that’s good for the person standing next to them or to the world as a whole.
the movie Pay It Forward (Warner Bros. 2000), a young boy comes up with a
concept that for every generous act done to him, he must pay forward with three
generous acts to three different people, and tell each one of them, to do the
same for three others. A simple concept that could make peoples lives that much
better and as a ripple effect create a psychic change in entire communities and
then possibly in the world. Somehow that concept did not catch on.
people make lame excuses instead of paying forward. “I don’t make enough money
to make donations, why should I give money to this cause when it’s the
government’s job to take care of this issue?” And it goes on, one after the
next. But the point here is not how much money can you give back, or how much
time you have to dedicate to doing volunteer work; it’s how do you behave in
society, in your daily life? How do your daily actions affect the world that
surrounds you? And then maybe, depending on who you are, what job you have and
how much money you make, what type of bigger contributions can you make to the
betterment of the world?
have worked with many successful models and artists in the entertainment
industry. Over the years I have come across many generous souls who have
contributed to a plethora of causes. I have also met many who simply go through
life as if it was a party, with no consequences and no interest in doing
anything for anyone else. One of my most inspiring muses is one of my most
loyal clients, a successful model who has always worked extremely hard for obtaining
success. Proportionally at the same time, this girl has always taken a portion
of her time (and her earnings) to apply towards charity, volunteer work and
political lobbying to change the roots of the problems. Her goal, from the very
start, when nobody knew her name, was to achieve fame so that she could
leverage change. She had made a conscious decision that if she was going to
give up university to a life of globetrotting under the spotlight, then it
better be worth it. She has, to some extent, accomplished all that.
story illustrates that we must always give back. We must always pay it forward,
in any scale that we can. It’s from those little acts, of holding the elevator
to the person who is running a little behind to making a five dollar donation
to a homeless shelter (or whatever else interests you) or giving a lecture on
what you’re an expert on to those who wish to learn. A little help goes a long
way in our world today.
who give something back and share their fortunes with the world, generally live
a much happier and fuller life. What I didn’t know when I was younger and I
know now, is that by giving myself to others I find real fortune. Happiness
lives in honest altruism. The idea that I could go through life not giving
anything in return for all the good that came to me is daunting.
dreams truly blossomed and concretized after I started giving myself away to
others and also discovered I could learn and let my life be enriched by each
and every one of these encounters. There is so much we can learn from day to
day life, but it takes an open mind to see it and an open heart to understand
real master class is not on Oprah Winfrey’s network, it is all around us.
Not that long ago the Meatpacking District, a web of cobble
stoned streets, was the sole source of meat products for New York businesses –
whole skinned cows and other animals literally hung from hooks on the
streets.Fueled by crack, in the
evening the area became a lurid labyrinth of pathways and hiding places for
transsexual prostitutes seeking an extra buck or two.The merchandise of the morning wasn't that different from what was available in the evening; meat in large quantities for a low rate.
Around that same time West Chelsea, a sea of empty
warehouses and abandoned industrial businesses, had little but the Roxy, a
drug-fueled gay disco, and dirty streets.Then came the art galleries and real estate developers.Then came Films, fashion shoots and TV shows,
like Sex and the City, which made a walk through hookers and junkies to get to
a lofty apartment seem rather glamorous.Once again, fashion and film forge the founding of the latest hot
Since the early development of the High Line, the now famous
park that occupies abandoned railroad tracks and that cuts through these two
now visually striking neighborhoods, these Summoning the
expertise of the word-famous designers and architects; fancy hotels, galleries,
residences and restaurants sprouted deep roots in the area. One after the
other, block-by-block, cleaning up what was once a secluded and blighted area –
a true real estate metamorphosis has occurred.
The focal point of the area is the The Standard.From the top of this sleek and sexy hotel, New
York City looks like a playground.You
can sip drinks among Marc Jacobs, Alessandra Ambrosio, Lorenzo Martone and Anna
Wintour, while gazing down at Diane Von Furstenberg’s glass-encased loft
apartment - one that has become a New York landmark, much like the designer has become a fashion legend.Rumor has it that in the morning you can spot Ms. Furstenberg having breakfast while still in her nightgown, sitting in her
dining room, which stands underneath an impressive diamond shaped glass dome.
The Standard however, is not only famous for it’s penthouse
bar, but also for its pool parties, which are now a second club, known as Le
Bain.There, you can simply undress and
enjoy the evening while sipping drinks in the pool in the company of local
luminaires like Terry Richardson and Paz de la Huerta.
The seductive nightlife of the big apple is not complete
however without two of the most popular nightclubs in town: Avenue and 1 Oak.It was at Avenue that Lindsay Lohan allegedly
got in a fight with the blonde Tiffanny Mitchell over The Wanted’s Max George.
The brawl resulted in yet another arrest for Lindsay, who once again denied
everything.Lohan somehow managed to get
herself back in that club even after being banned after some indiscreet tweets
about Justin Timberlake.At 1 Oak, the
scene is less dramatic, but never less flashy.Rihanna has been known to celebrate a couple of her album launches at
the spot alongside fellow musicians like Jay-Z. It was also at 1 Oak that
Donald Trump held a bash to celebrate his modeling agency’s fashion week
With the rich and famous, fashion comes hand in hand, and the area does
not disappoint.From the Meatpacking
District all the way up among the galleries, a cadre of some of the most exclusive
designers in the world have set up shop in the vicinity.Balenciaga, Comme des Garcons, Alexander McQueen,
Yigal Azrouel, Moschino, Helmuth Lang, Tory Burch, Christian Louboutin, Maison
Martin Margiela and Carlos Miele are only a few of the shops worth
visiting.For a unique experience, why
not try the department store Jeffrey’s, which has one of the most renowned shoe
departments in town. Or, stop by a Scoop
sale for fancy jeans and hip t-shirts.After
all, a good designer bargain is never a bad idea!
Since most of the shopping is done by foot, a stop to refuel
the energies seems more than called for.Whether it’s for a lunch, a mid-day snack or a celebratory dinner, some
of New York’s most celebrated restaurants are in the area; the menus here no
doubt indulge any palate.From a good
steak at the biergarten of The Standard Grill to the innovative Thai Cuisine of
Sea you can find it all.At Pastis you
can have French and at Buddakan you can have Chinese.But if the mood is for some American
contemporary all you got to do is take a walk up 10th Avenue to try
the tasteful delights of The Cookshop. If a simple slice of pizza is what’s called for, don’t you worry,
because Artichoke Pizza is right around the corner with its award winning pies.
The most important part of this area remain – sometimes
secreted - within the giant warehouse spaces, which once used to host heavy
machinery, grains and pieces of meat and now have given room for multi-million
dollar pieces of art.
The art galleries of the area remain the heart of the
cultural trading life in this city. The Gagosian Gallery, David Zwirner and
Pace Gallery are among some of the most important outposts for art in the
world.Representing artists like Jeff
Koons, Cindy Sherman, Cy Twombly, Francis Bacon, Julian Schnabel, Roe Ethridge,
Dan Flavin, Chuck Close, Willem De Kooning, Pablo Picasso and Ed Ruscha, these
galleries are an international force.Put
on your walking boots and allow yourself to go from door to door in every block
between 9th and 11th avenues from 19th street
all the way up to 27th and experience contemporary art, free of
charge, like nowhere else.
Even though this may not be the most celebrated neighborhood
for its residences, some of the most famous people you know now reside
here.Whether it’s in the classic London
Terrace or in the ultra modern glass buildings by Richard Meier, Jean Nouvel or
Shigeru Ban; a fascinating residential occupation took place over the last
decade. This neighborhood currently hosts names like Nicole Kidman, Julianne
Moore, Hugh Jackman, Olivia Wilde and Katie Holmes, all of which can be seen
calmly strolling around at any given time during the day or the night.
The most remarkable and breathtaking feature this area still
holds true – the Hudson River, which bathes the west side of Manhattan in full
splendor.To sit at a bench on the
Highline and watch the sunset from above is one of the most rewarding and
relaxing activities one can choose to do at the end of a day.And believe me, many New Yorkers do, why
don’t you give it a try too?
New York is a glamorous and
gritty maze of dichotomy: from the Chanel-suit-wearing ladies of Park Avenue to
the leather-wearing divas of downtown, there is huge gap.The cultural (and financial) divide between
the creative caldron that resides in Brooklyn and the refined and established
richness of the West Village is increasingly apparent.From Harlem to the Upper West Side, the
distance is not long, but the differences are vast.
This complex labyrinth of
opposites actually propels the machinery of the city and is, in fact, what
makes New York City great.New Yorkers
remain creative, independent and powerful as always, continuously imbibed with
the alchemy generated from its diverse population. This population, unlike any
other I’ve seen, exudes camaraderie, compassion and colossal creativity.
Most New Yorkers have their
favorite neighborhood and mine is SoHo.From my abode I can observe all the greatness of this cosmic collection
of counter culture.Thousands of
tourists walk these streets daily, searching for bargains on products not found
in their native land.Locals, who vie
for sidewalk space, have learned to live in the midst of chaos.Adding to the mix, are street vendors,
paparazzi and hundreds of celebrities who aim to remain incognito.
Before moving here, I always
thought SoHo was an unbearably messy and pretentious neighborhood.Over time, I began to realize the charm
hidden in its cobblestone streets and the historic cast iron buildings, which
once were the homes and studios of virtuosos like Keith Haring, Maripol, Andy
Warhol, Donald Judd and Basquiat. These same buildings have evolved into
something a little more mainstream and now house every major fashion brand.Prada, Chanel, Alexander Wang and Catherine
Malandrino are only some of fashion giants that make of this neighborhood an
economic gem of the fashion world.
Over time I have learned to
navigate the side streets, away from the crowds, and to discover hidden
treasures of the locals.From
restaurants to spas, from local brands to obscure cafes, everything here has a
special feel and a unique story to tell.Once again, opposites sit side by side, smiling – the tiny, family-owned
Italian café is around the corner from the home of $1800 shoes and $6000
handbags.I prefer the café – espresso
Sadly, but no less exciting,
my neighbors are no longer famous modern artists (most of whom are no longer
with us), but young models, actors and singers.Claire Danes, Justin Timberlake, Tyra Banks and Adam Sandler are just
some of the people with whom I share my favorite spots.At Café
Café I make my daily stops in the morning to grab some iced tea.At Ground
Support I can’t pass on a grilled ham & cheese and a soy latte made to
perfection.At night, a stop by Butter or Indochine for a meal remains a sure bet.There, an encounter with Anna Wintour,
Madonna or Fran Leibovitz is a strong possibility.
A recent addition to the
neighborhood is the beauty clinic Erno
Laszlo, named after the legendary dermatologist
who is known for his miraculous
lotions and potions.Dr. Laszlo had
royal treatment during the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s – for it was in that time that
he looked after the beauty of the queens of Hollywood’s silver screen.Marilyn Monroe, Greta Garbo, Ava Gardner and
Katherine Hepburn were part of a very select group to receive his
attention.For each of them he developed
individual and secret formulas.After
nearly twenty years away from the public eye, the same team responsible for the
celebrated Molton Brown has acquired the Erno Laszlo brand.Inspired by Laszlo’s principles, this team
hopes to restore the brand to what it used to be, a place in which its clients
can expect the most exclusive treatment available anywhere, just like Marilyn
Perhaps one of the most
talked about and sought after shops in the area is Treasure & Bond, part of
the portfolio of Nordstrom. The appeal is its luxury items available for
affordable prices in two gigantic floors.Selling furniture, housewares, books and clothes for all ages, this
store reserves all its profit for charity.To make sure the wealth is distributed equally to those who in need, the
charities change every six months
A stop for lunch is a must.Along with 100 Acres and others, The Dutch is
another new arrival and its American Cuisine doesn’t disappoint.Starting with its freshly baked corn bread
and onto fried chicken, every bite here feels like a little piece of heaven.
SoHo is also home to one of
the cities most renowned and successful Japanese restaurants.After more than twenty years, Blue Ribbon
Sushi remains a favorite.The absolute freshest
fish make this highbrow restaurant one of the best.Don’t be fooled by its discreet setting
however, its permanence in this city is proof that the food is impeccable.
From dusk till dawn,
breakfast to dinner, SoHo is imbued with so many magical qualities.I have grown to adore this neighborhood.Everything I need is only a few steps away
and the word “subway” has vanished from my vocabulary.SoHo proves to be one of the most perfectly
evolved areas in town, maintaining its original character and charm, even as masses
of tourists and wealthy developers make their way through the historic
--- This article was originally published in Portuguese in Parochi Magazine, in Brazil. ---
Perhaps it was the abundant steak tartare or the ever-flowing Grey Goose; regardless, the scene at the Clarkson in the West Village was very fun and social, sheer joy and camaraderie abounded. The crowd gathered to celebrate the New York premiere for the gut-wrenching film At Any Price, directed by the talented Ramin Bahrani.
As intense as this film is however, after the credits rolled in there was no somberness to these celebrants. The model Leigh Hoby walked in to a swarm of photographers who treated her like this film's featured star; which she is not. The real star in this picture is the unforgettable Heather Graham. And even though one was wearing white and the other one black, the similarities were rather compelling. Without skipping a beat, a group of photographers made sure to put the two together for a portrait. Perhaps a friendship will blossom? Zac Efron, Adrian Grenier and Dennis Quaid observed from a safe distance and chuckled cheerfully with delight. Nat Wolff was the life of the party, flanked by his pals Heather Matarazzo and Josh Radnor. Andie Arthur exuded sweetness in her long black gown and leather jacket, a look that seemed effortless but not many could pull off.
The night resumed smoothly and soon enough a dance-floor was requested - no Cinderellas in sight here! An expert was called into action. Amy Sacco gathered a crew in a swift wave of her nocturnal magic wand and in two heartbeats they were all at No. 8. The heat in the mezzanine went up as the group could not stop the dancing. From disco to rock n' roll, it all seemed to fit in the impeccable repertoire.
Peter Beard surfaced from a dark corner escorted by a tall and impressive man. "Where is Amy!?" - he interrogated. "I'm alive, and look at who I have with me!". Amy appears with the statuesque Native American model Jade Tenholder - a rarity in this world - who just broke into the scene. After much back and forth on whether Peter could take pictures of his new muse upstairs, it was finally decided: "I wanna shoot you in Mozambique, you are the best thing that happened to me this year!".
On that note the night came to a closing, after all, who needs any more than that?
Oz may be great and powerful, but does this Disney remix of the classicreally need four premieres in one city!? Probably not. But perhaps when you have a variety of sponsors ranging from luxury fashion labels to shopping networks, you should. Since in New York anything is a good reason to party, I decided to follow the yellow brick road leading to one of these gatherings to see what the fuss was all about.
It was another cold winter night and what I found was a very warm and friendly room. Among beautiful Sports Illustrated swimsuit models of every height and ethnicity, I made my way through the crowd. And what a cheerful, star-studded crowd this was. Emmy Rossum seemed to have drawn most of the attention to herself, and that's understandable. The actress looked ravishing in a floral Oscar de la Renta number, which will hopefully be good omen for an early spring. Our leading man - and every person's favorite Swiss Army knife - James Franco, had to make a quick appearance as he dashed from one screening to another..
Some of the attendees made of this a family affair and brought along their children to witness all the magic that only3Dseems to bring to the screen these days. Richard Kind couldn't hide his excitement when leaving the venue with his girls; it was all very endearing to look at. Cynthia Rowley followed suit and was just another one in a group of fashion designers which also included John Varvatos.
Now, this is not just another Disney affair, for when Salman Rushdie and Marina Abramovic show up, you know it is serious business. Disney delivered a great prologue to the fable we all came to know since we were children. They have updated a literature classic and still did justice to the unforgettable movie from 1939. This seemed to make Dick Cavett confused as he wondered if Judy Garland would also be making an appearance on-screen that evening. The comment was nothing but a good ol' joke, I'm sure.
But who needs one leading lady, when you can have three of the most ravishing Hollywood stars of our time? Rachel Weiss, Michelle Williams and Mila Kunis not only look great on screen, but they know exactly how to deliver entertaining performances. And that's what this movie is all about, an entertaining piece to be watched with a lot of pop corn on a Saturday afternoon. No need to over analyze it.
If you ask me, however, whether this digital extravaganza will stand the test of time, I would be inclined to say it will not. I doubt anyone will ever be able to produce another Oz movie that is as timeless as The Wizard of Oz.
Every once in a while this humble writer is invited to join in on the fun with the Hollywood big league. “why?” you may ask, and the answer to that is very simple. My mother always said: “Honey, it’s not about how much money you make but the friends you have”. So, with some very important friends under my belt I move into the Hollywood party scene during awards season for some networking and some fun. But let’s be honest, mostly for the fun.
In a place in which orange trees grow out of living rooms and diamonds are as big as a baby’s head no excess is considered excessive. So what if I stepped on Penelope Cruz’s vitage Balmain dress and it ripped? It will most likely be in the trash bin tomorrow morning, along with the gift bags filled with all sorts of things you don’t really need.
The scene when you walk into this room is of camaraderie, there are no cameras in sight, some of the actresses aren’t even wearing their shoes anymore, they’re lounging in big white couches with their dates or their managers, always on the lookout for the funnest crowd to dance with. Could it be the comedy crowd, spearheaded by Amy Poehler and Paul Rudd, along with Aziz Ansari, Elizabeth Banks, Judd Apatow and Mindy Kalling? Or perhaps it’s the fashion crowd, in which old glam Valentino mixes in with nuveau luminaires Daniella Helayel and Zac Posen, who seem to love being sandwiched between Madonna, Ellen DeGeneres and Portia De Rossi. Madonna by the way has her make up artist within reach, a luxury that only the very top echelon can afford. Every now and then she rushes to the edge of the dance floor where this handsome and happy latin man awaits with pads to dry her skin and retouch her lips. Now, that’s what I call luxury!
On the other side of the room things are getting interesting as Donna Karan walks in with Kelly Preston and John Travolta. They join in the fun with Bono and that heavenly creature that is Victoria’s Secret Angel Alessandra Ambrosio, now in a completely different outfit than she was wearing just a couple of hours ago. Her costume changes would put Cher to shame. With Bono and Alessandra deep in conversation, John does what he knows best and takes on the dance floor. Kelly and Donna, who seem to be best buds, follow suit. Laura Dern and Kate Walsh occasionally pop in but don’t linger, instead gliding from one group to the next, looking lovely with curls which never seem to be out of place.
John and Kelly are like a young teenage couple, never losing sight of one another, until... “Stayin’ Alive” begins to blast from the speakers. Now, you may ask yourself, “was this arranged just because John Travolta was there?”. The verdict is still out per that issue but as if on cue, John and Kelly took center stage, repeating the dance that defined the disco era. I, along with the rest of the crowd, turned as fast as I could and copied the moves, the entire mass a perfect line of incredulous denizens. John seemed a bit bashful at the response, but was clearly loving every minute of it. Octavia Spencer was beside herself, was she really witnessing this? Selena Gomez, Taylor Lautner and some other teenage star which will go unnamed (At thirty I am far too old in Hollywood years to keep up with all these kids names) seemed befuddled by the entire affair, disco is clearly a memory too distant for their young minds--“what is the commotion all about?” They took in a second or two and went back to chatting about their Instagram feeds -- of course. Homework is in order for these kids.
The temperature rose and I needed to take a break for air, out through the orange trees and the piano and on to the patio, to join in the laughter of Ryan Seacrest and surprisingly, Macauly Culkin. Yes, remember him? That kid from “Home Alone” who went through all that stuff that no one cares about anymore? Yes, he was there too, along with Juliette Lewis and Jennifer Jason Leigh, which if you ask me, are pretty bad ass. A couple of Oscars walk by me heading towards the buffet, which reminds me: I haven’t eaten in hours!
I took a seat at the communal table next to Princess Mia Thermopolis Herself, Anne Hathaway. Congratulations are in order, for her, and the stunning Natalie Portman, who sat beside her. Unsure of why I was congratulating Natalie so late in the game I just went with it, I’m pretty sure she did something of merit just that morning. She gets me.
It’s nearly 4 AM and people have been dancing all night long; cute couples -- both that came together and those that found each other on the dance floor -- are beginning to make their fashionable exits one by one. Naomi Watts remains effortlessly chic, even when barefoot, accompanied by her gentleman of a husband Liev Shreiber who politely carries her shoes in one hand as the other proudly holds the hand of his wife. Another Naomi heads to the exit, this time Campbell, who remains very supermodel looking, without many smiles, perhaps only a few grins. No one cares, she’s Naomi Campbell.
People wait patiently in line for cars, already laughing over the ghosts of dance-floor's past underneath heaters and sipping hot cocoa. It is just as lively out here as it is on the dance floor and as I look around I realize: this evening was the ultimate episode of “Dancing with the Stars” except in this short instance of my life, they are all real stars.
As the Tunisian youth rebelled against the system to fight for their
rights and reclaim their country, one of their most beautiful and
recognizable young faces was about to step into a public whirlwind of
her own. Kenza Fourati would become the first Arab model to ever be
featured in the best selling Sport’s Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. The
significance was immediately established by the magazine, which added a
political quote to Kenza’s introductory page. The response from the
media around the world, and especially from her own country, was
immediate. In the process, Kenza was to become one of the faces of that
Already an active participant in her country’s political struggles,
Kenza now had enough influence with the media to spread the word and
make more room for Tunisian issues across the planet. Very bold and
outspoken, the model was never discouraged by her critics, who often
created negative facebook groups or used Internet forums that spoke out
against her and her message. Kenza’s goal was clear - the model was
going to use her success and public persona to benefit her country and
raise awareness to what it has to offer the world, and to bring
attention to the arts and fashion.
While working relentlessly on putting together her fashion line
called By Kenz, (which will be launched in Tunisia during Tunis Fashion
Week in 2013) the model discovered other ways to connect the dots and
kill two birds with one stone. With a degree in French literature from
Sorbonne as well as lengthy studies in filmmaking, Kenza has a lot more
to share with the world than just her looks.
Gabriel Ruas Santos-Rocha: What lead you to the idea of bringing Tunisian artists to America?
Kenza Fourati: Pride probably. No one ever talks about my tiny country.
Yet it is shaking the face of the world. And I’m not talking only about
the Arab spring. When I walked around the Occupy Wall Street movements
I noticed several slogans inspired by the Tunisian uprising. After
revoking censorship, when the word became suddenly free, creativity
erupted. New York is the conjuncture for artists. I have the duty to
help building the bridge and exposing both of my worlds.
How do you expect to start bridging the gap between the East and the West?
The strongest weapon ever created is the Internet. There is no real
geography anymore, just cultures to share. So I decided to launch a
fashion blog this month that will also promote art and culture here and
How do you think Tunisia can benefit from the work you’re doing?
Tunisia is at an edge, it’s sculpting its destiny, its history; with the
fundamentalists trying to establish dogmas everywhere. I want to expose
people to new cultures, photography, etc.
Who are some of the artists who inspired you to start this work?
There are so many, but recently I met this young Graffiti artist called
MeenOne, who is truly fascinating. First by the way he looks; he has
dreadlocks. In Tunisia it is really rare to allow yourself to look
“marginal”. People aren’t used to it and you are confronted constantly
with harsh comments. Authorities will arrest you for questioning and so
on. The irony is that it used to be people with long beards who looked
suspicious. Then there is also the fact that he (MeenOne) grew up in a
poor region of the country ruled by the extremists. Actually, his
brother is a Salafist (Jihadist movement). MeenOne used to tag all over
the country wearing a mask and after the revolution he showed his face,
then he showed his work in an exhibit last June. The exhibit was
considered an insult to the sacred. Some fundamentalists called for his
death and it was his Salafist brother and the neighborhood he grew up in
that ended up protecting him. I didn’t know him personally at that
time, but I was stunned by what happened. For me, freedom is sacred
above everything, and so is art. So, I started looking for an artist to
work on an “Art is Sacred” theme for my website and my clothing line and
came across MeenOne, and I found him to be extremely talented. I had no
idea he was involved in the exhibit scandal at the time. I had already
become obsessed with Graffiti when I went to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil
and discovered Pamela Castro’s work.
And how will you bring that work over to the west?
First through my online platform, and later on I hope to bring it to
another level and allow some awesome art to be physically shown here.
How involved were you during the Tunisian revolution?
When the turmoil intensified I asked my family for their permission to
start publishing articles and videos connected to the subject and they
allowed me to do it. They really are the brave ones because the danger
was really for them. I got even more involved when my friend, who is an
activist, got arrested and disappeared. His wife reached out to me and
it was right at the beginning, on January 6th, 2011. I decided to stop
everything that I was doing and only focus on the history that was being
made in my country.
What about the revolution made you happy?
I felt infinitely proud. But I felt a kind of pride I had never felt
before. Pride is a very individualist feeling, but back then it was a
completely selfless collectively shared feeling of pride. I am quite
moved and amazed by it. This revolution belongs to all of us. We are the
Were you ever afraid of any negative religious or political backlash due to your participation in these movements?
At the time, yes I was afraid of the political backlash my family could
suffer. There was no question of religion at the time, but that problem
came later and is actually very current today.
What do you still expect to see happening for your country?
Democracy is still unfolding. We are navigating through what is accepted
and what is not, and having fundamentalists in power doesn’t help.
Do you feel that being a model was or still could be a problem for you in your country?
Yes, it sure is now, but it never used to be. I am extremely
controversial in the country as its been getting more and more
Is there anything you think you would do differently in your career?
Last year I shot a cover for a magazine wearing a bikini and my body was
covered by a Victor Hugo poem. I loved the idea and the poem preaching
love and tolerance, but the magazine edited it in an aggressively
provocative way and it delivered the wrong message. So yes, that would
be the only thing I would do differently. I was too naive back then.
How about your clothing line? What are the links with Tunisia there?
First of all I am manufacturing my entire collection locally. People may
not know that, but many of the great fashion houses like Giorgio Armani
and Zadig & Voltaire make their products in Tunisia. So I will be
using those same factories. The quality of my product is very important
and my main concern. I will also be launching my first collection during
Tunis Fashion Week in April of 2013.
For my last Model Musing column with Look Books I had the opportunity to speak to one of China's rising stars, Tian Yi. A smart girl, Tian studied fashion and hopes to take full advantage of her modeling career to eventually go into creating designs of her own.
Have a read and enjoy getting to know this lovely girl by clicking HERE or simply read below.
Model Musing: Tian Yi
Tian Yi is one of those girls who seem to have luck on her side. She was discovered by her agency on the modeling website models.com by pictures she submitted. Since then her career path was paved with bookings for top fashion magazines and designers.
From the established brand names, Vogue and Bazaar to the edgy i-D and 10 magazine; the editorial goes hand in hand with the work Tian has been showing on the runway. Valentino, Yves Saint Laurent, Prada and Marc by Marc Jacobs are counterbalanced by rising stars like Alexis Mabille, Phillip Lim, Dries Van Noten and Rad Hourani. Graced this season with the campaigns for Vera Wang and Sephora, Tian’s path in this industry seems to be heading in the right direction and one that will keep her in the center of what she loves the most: fashion.
Tian has been given the opportunity to see from the inside how it is to create an entire collection and bring it to the runway, an experience that will surely be helpful since she would like to soon start focusing on launching a collection of her own.
Here Tian picks her favorite modeling image and tells us why it’s so special.
Why do you love this picture?
Because I was happy to be able to work with a great team and these fabulous girls!
Who were the other models in this shoot?
It was me and five other girls: Liu Wen, Xiao Wen, Lindsey, Marie and Daria. They were so nice to me and I has really happy to be able to work with them.
Who took it? Were you excited to work with this photographer?
Inez and Vinoodh . Of course, so excited and I had the opportunity to learn a lot from this shoot!
How long was this shoot?
A day and a half, because i had to leave early on the second day to finish my school exams.
What direction did the photographer give you?
They just let me be myself and were very nice.
What was it for?
It was for the cover of Vogue China’s September issue.
What were you wearing?
I was wearing Louis Vuitton and a huge hat on the cover. I also wore a beautiful skirt for the editorial inside the magazine, I loved it!
What about this profession makes you the happiest?
The opportunity to travel around world and see a lots of different cities and also I really enjoy the opportunities to make new friends, eat some delicious food that I never tried before, that’s the most fun and cool part!
What have you learned from your career that you consider truly valuable?
I learned to be patient. Sometimes you have to wait a long time for things to happen, but you have to be patient and you will have an opportunity to show yourself. You have to be patient about your career.
What advice would you give to aspiring models?
I would tell them to just be themselves and be confident, that is it; and welcome to fashion!
Do you see yourself doing something else in the future?
I love dressing up for the big fashion houses and I love fashion; in the future I would love to be a designer for one of those great brands.
What were some of the challenges you conquered as a model?
I’m more confident when I talk to people, I’ve also learned to be comfortable outside of my comfort zone. I actually love when I have challenges to face.
This week find out more about the Tunisian model who is planning on turning the tables for some Tunisian artists in the New York art scene.
Follow the link or read below.
Model Musing: Kenza Fourati
A product of the world famous Elite Model Look competition, Kenza Fourati was the first Tunisian to enter the competition. Even though she comes from a very progressive family, Kenza’s parents had a hard time understanding how modeling could be an actual job and were afraid of what the future of her daughter could turn out like being in such a different cultural environment. After long hours of discussion it was finally agreed that Kenza would go to Paris to give it a try.
From fashion publications like Vogue, L’Officiel, Elle and GQ to the top selling pages of Sports Illustrated, Kenza has climbed to the top echelons of the industry and has embraced the world with an open mind.
Currently living in New York city, Kenza is working on launching her own fashion label while working on her most bold and heartwarming project; an online community to bridge the cultural gap between the Middle East and the Western world through art.
Was modeling a dream for you or did it just happened by chance?
Well, it was so uncommon (in Tunisia) that I really never thought of it for half a second, it was all a happy accident.
What were your most remarkable experiences as a model?
All my “first times”; my first show, my first fashion week, my first casting, my first time in front of the camera, with the responsibility of a crew working around you. Then you understand it’s more than fun, it’s a job and you have to be the best you can.
Is there anything that bothers you in this business?
The lack of control; I’m a control freak, but this job is really like George Berkeley’s quote, “To be is to be perceived”, and that s very frustrating!
What have you learned from your career that you consider truly valuable?
At a young age I understood you have to be your very own knight in shining armor. I can be in an alien place alone and I can handle it with no fear. Thanks to modeling, I know now that I am a capable person.
What advice would you give to aspiring models?
Don’t loose sight of who you are. You will meet tons of people who will judge you and project all kinds of fantasies on you but at the end, you are the only one who truly knows who you are.
What were your biggest challenges as a model?
Coming from an Arab Muslim country with no real visibility of the future and as a model to keep it true to who I am.
What is you favorite modeling image?
A portrait taken by Cedric Buchet for Vogue Paris, I find it to be very powerful.
Were you excited to work with him?
I have always loved his work and I loved how he perceived me. Not only is he an awesome photographer but he is also a great guy.
Where was it taken?
We shot in the middle of the road in Chinatown in New York. I’m 5’11 and was wearing sky-high heels and a see-through top; let me tell you, there was a lot of staring happening!
Who was the stylist?
Julia Von Boehm. I work very often with her, she has the most incredible energy and speaks (what seems to be) two thousands languages.
Any wardrobe malfunctions in that shoot?
I was freezing, so that’s a malfunction to me!!
What was the theme of the shoot?
The diversity of faces in France: Black, White, Beur (North African origins), ...
Here is my latest article for Look Books, on the superb book Antonio - Fashion, Art, Sex & Disco. The book was edited by Mauricio and Roger Padilha, of MAO PR, for Rizzoli and is a must read. Read below or view the original by clicking here.
Antonio Lopez’s name may sound foreign to you, or it may ring a bell or two, but you still won’t be able to place it. Maybe you won’t have heard of it at all. The brothers Mauricio and Roger Padilha hope to set the record straight with their book, Antonio - Fashion, Art, Sex & Disco (Rizzoli, 2012).
Antonio Lopez is one of, if not the most, famous and influential fashion illustrator to ever cross the earth. His world was inhabited by some of the world’s most brilliant and seductive creatures; from Halston, Karl Lagerfeld and Andy Warhol to Pat Cleveland, Jessica Lange and Jerry Hall. They were all struck by the innovative eye of Antonio Lopez. Alongside his lifelong creative partner, Juan Ramos, Antonio was able to give flight to his dreams and visions of beauty. Juan made it all possible, he put order to Antonio’s passion and gave it direction.
The importance and influence of this creative duo in the fashion and the art worlds, lives on and cannot be denied. For over three decades the work of Lopez and Ramos had transcended medias and hadn’t lived only on paper but in the collective conscience and daily life of fashionistas throughout the globe. Antonio and Juan put art and fashion side by side for the first time through the innovative and bold approach in their work, and soon enough there wouldn’t be a single living being who wasn’t touched by the end result of their creative efforts.
Antonio’s illustrations were featured on magazine covers, fashion editorials, advertising campaigns and even came to life on the runway, as clothes. Their visionary influence touched the likes of Anna Sui, Norma Kamali and Karl Lagerfeld. Those who crossed their paths would not leave their side and every day was treated as if it was an opening night at the most seductive club in town; life for these beautiful children of the world was a cabaret.
After creating the best selling art book of 2009, The Stephen Sprouse Book, the brothers Padilha took time to work in this remarkable book, that will transport you to a place in which everything that is beautiful, is possible. Here is what they have to say about their book.
How do you choose your subjects among so many interesting and enticing things to write about in fashion?
Mauricio: Our motivation for the book, as with our previous tome on Stephen Sprouse, was to acknowledge and credit the work of an influential artist who seems to have been forgotten over the years. Antonio Lopez was one of the most famous and influential artists in the fashion world during the 60s, 70s, and 80s but it seemed that while his influence is still around, knowledge of him or his life was not prevalent.
Is this book also an homage to Juan Ramos, seeing as he was so present in Antonio’s life and work?
Roger: Absolutely. In the first chapter of the book, we very clearly state that "Antonio" was actually the work of two men working side by side. Antonio Lopez and Juan Ramos met at F.I.T and worked together for 25 years. While Antonio was the genius illustrator, Juan was the one who directed the drawings and worked on the business end of things. Juan Ramos was integral to Antonio's success and they both made a decision early on to just publicize Antonio solely, but everything really was a collaboration between the two of them.
What do you hope to achieve with this book?
Mauricio: Growing up, we were both so inspired and awed by Antonio's work and we hope that future generations will get to experience the magic of his art.
Roger: We also wanted to showcase Antonio as an artist and not just as a commercial illustrator. Aside from the illustrations, Antonio was a master photographer, a stylist, and also responsible for discovering many of the world's most famous faces such as Jerry Hall, Grace Jones, and Jessica Lange. He influenced many designers such as Karl Lagerfeld and Norma Kamali and his influence is still being felt today.
Were there ever any difficulties when doing research for this book? I can imagine there was pretty vast material available...
Roger: Not too many. We were lucky to befriend Paul Caranicas who holds the rights to the Antonio Archives many years ago and he trusted us and knew that we were going to be respectful of the truth. Also, Juan Ramos outlived Antonio for 8 years and during this time he (among other things) organized the archives so we didn't have too much trouble identifying subjects or finding the most iconic images. The one difficulty was the vast amount of materials available to us. Everything Antonio did from a finished work to a doodle on a napkin was exquisite so it was difficult to edit down what we wanted to put in a book. We had 304 pages which we jam-packed with images but honestly we could do 10 books with the amazing work that is in the archives!
Does Antonio have any influence in your daily work?
Mauricio: Yes. Antonio lived his work. There was no real separation between his social life, personal life, and work life--it was all one and the same. And we to a certain extent behave the same; when you love what you do, you don't want it to end after you leave the office!
There was a fearless and daring quality to Antonio's work, who in your opinion has been doing the same thing over the past fifteen years?
Roger: There are so many talented people such as Marc Jacobs, Karl Lagerfeld, Rick Owens, the women behind Rodarte, Carine Roitfeld, Steven Klein; but they are all very specific and working within one field. There doesn't seem to be so many people who work in various medias doing the same thing. Maybe Madonna...
By breaking boundaries and pushing the envelope with his work, do you believe that Antonio was also a strong influencer in fashion and a trend setter?
Both: Absolutely! You tell us after seeing the book!