I think that, if you are a poet, you don’t want to think too much about your wardrobe, but you want to wear clothes that are fine to work in.
The other day at the GQ party hosted by Glenn for The Style Guy Special Edition, I had this conversation with two sartorial experts: Alexander Olch, all dressed in Maison Kitsune with a tie of his own design, and Todd Eberle, with his classic torn denim jacket and one of his inimitable destroyed hats.
- If you are a photographer, Todd explained, you don’t want to intimidate people by wearing something extravagant.
I have sometimes been asked how I dress and what my favorite brands are, but in fact, I usually don’t know what to say.
A bit of flea here, thrift shop there.
Maybe I went to a party and accidentally left with someone else’s jacket? Or I visited a Japanese temple and switched shoes upon exit?
Jeans, plaid shirt, jacket, desert boots, tote bag. I’d rather be asked what I read.
But Sarah at Colette found it amusing to recreate the looks.
I guess it was not too complicated for her. Every week, she selects ensembles for the women’s floor that make you feel like you’re walking through Picassos and Lichtensteins. I never stay too long because I feel I might fall in love with a speechless mannequin, just because of the intricate patterns and inspired fabric colors it’s dressed in.
And now, thanks to Colette, you can really dress like a page out of the Diaries : From Book to Fashion
An exhibition of originals drawings from The Unknown Hipster Diaries and large prints in limited edition of 10, opens Monday 10th December at Colette, and I’ll be signing books on Saturday 15th December from 16:00 to 18:00.
As I have mentioned before, once in a while I model for French GQ. This commercial commitment allows me to write difficult poetry and compose experimental music for tambourine in my free time without having to take into account what the public may want.
You might think that modeling is easy, but in fact it’s much tougher than it appears. Especially when — in my case for instance — it’s more of a acting job. To be clear: modeling is for sissies and the Actor’s Studio is for tough guys. Needless to say, you always throw in a sensitive note now and then to add heart-breaking depth to the most physical performances.
I’ve made this selection of 7 shots that give, I think, a good idea of the breadth and richness of my interpretations.
#1- No matter how laid back you are, you can’t pretend to be an actor (or even model) unless you’re a true athlete. See how the other dude in this shot, three-time winner of the Jokari World Championship, is paralysed by my technique.
#2- Here I’m demonstrating my disregard to pander as a DJ by playing an entire Joanna Newsom track admidst a hostile crowd. Note that the RPM was slowed by 40 percent for total chill-out effect.
#3- Part of the job is that you have to work with a wide variety of folks. I don’t remember exactly what was the point of this shot. It was right after lunch break. May be I went back in the wrong studio.
#4- A tricky one : « How to attract the attention of a French waiter ? »
For this, they re-enacted on my own experience of long hours spent in cafés, which was not really to my benefit: how do you quantify such an expertise, gained at the expense of your own pocket money ? You always end up being paid less than what you deserved !
Of course, the guy in a white jacket is not a real waiter, as he would have never turned his head in my direction.
#5- The job has its highs and lows of dignity. Here I was asked to show how to light up a match before leaving the bathroom as a courtesy to the next user. I had never heard of this, but according to French GQ, it’s customary to do so. (Beware of doing it in a plane though). The explosion that ensued shaked the whole building and broke the rear window of the stylist’s Fiat 500 parked round the corner.
#6- Another odd one : I was directed to demonstrate how to drink from a shoe, with impeccable style and manner. If one has to pour Champagne in a shoe, it seemed obvious to me that my waterproof old Red Wings were the most apropriate container.
#7- When to use or not use a cellphone is a heady question. When I asked a young assistant her opinion, she explained that what’s impolite is to not multitask while being with someone: it gives your companion the awkward sense of being somebody of less importance.
The shoot took hours. To have the girls right all at once was the most difficult, Paul, the art director, had to stand on a chair and yell in a microphone, waving a red flag to get their attention.
And in the over-heated studio, the girls had to get their make-up redone every 15 minutes, even though the image was to be retouched by the famous Pascal Dangin. Just for my beard, Pascal had to work 5 hours to get rid of bread crumbs left by a bruschetta from the delicious Italian catering.
I was worried I would have to lift weights or swim two hours a day, but they said it was okay to stay as I am.
Modeling involves very little participation, and there’s nothing demeaning about it if you work with tasteful photographers.
A lot of the job is waiting around, and while most people in the studio spend their day checking Facebook, it’s not forbidden to read a book or write poetry while you’re worked on by the hairdresser or have your nails polished.
It’s a known fact that Fashion photographers have big egos, but it’s okay not to talk to them. There is always loud music in the studios anyway, and photographers can hardly hear themselves giving directions. And this is okay too, because their directions are generally very basic, like « gorgeous », or « yes ! ». Actually, if you happen to hear them over the noise, their comments are more embarrassing than anything else. They suddenly make you doubt and think the whole enterprise is not serious, but it is.
Here are some of my favorite shots, with a few behind-the-scenes commentaries and my own tips.
This was for November Fashion. While posing with these logs, I had a great talk with the girls. Karolina, the blonde on the left, had studied philosophy in Moscow, while Prune on the right had just published a novel. It turned out both girls had been featured more than naked in purple diary, which disappointed me.
Successful modeling is all about being yourself and not trying to hard. A Fashion story on axes, for the December issue. I did my best menacing demeanor with the Best Made ax, so the crew played my old tapes.
For an air travel editorial. I’m so relaxed when I model, I can actually fall asleep for real. I walked out of the shoot with these expensive pyjamas, and had to return them to the assistant the next day, but they shrunk down 3 sizes since it was raining and I couldn’t find a cab.
Who said modeling was a tough job ? I remembered I just had some delicious bruchetta from catering, and the only thing that bothered me on the shoot was the rough feel of this rare vinyl on my fingers.
If the stylist wants to play, I’m able to completely transform myself.
- no sport at all
- sleep as much as you want, or don’t
- extract respect from assistants by insisting on your musical tastes