>> There are so many things I enjoy about the profiles that come in the New Yorker Style Issue. The writers always have such a great attention to detail, and because of it, really obscure, eccentric details are revealed. Without the New Yorker Style Issue, how else would we have learned about Hedi Slimane's baby food obsession or Karl Lagerfeld's pack rat tendencies?
The newest issue's subject of choice is Donatella Versace, and writer Lauren Collins begins by describing Donatella's hands as "meaty and brown," and her whole physical appearance as "a little bit Pam Anderson (scarecrow hair, trout lips), and a little bit Barbarella (flared pants and corset tops cut as tight as bondage gear)." Later, she mentions Donatella's striking resemblance to Janice, the electric guitarist from the Muppets, but notes that "Janice is not as tan."
The description errs on the slightly unflattering (what woman wants her hands described as meaty?), but it's refreshing to read something that calls it like it is, especially in a world where fashion and beauty magazines, without fail, describe their profilees as not wearing makeup and still managing to look gorgeous. Yeah, right.
Rather than correct Donatella's English-as-a-second-language (honest) mistakes when she quotes her, Collins takes the dialectal route, leaving Donatella's pronunciations intact: "I loaf the Killers" when she means "I love the Killers."
Because of this no-muss no-fuss New Yorker approach to profiling, you feel like you get a real look at Donatella's world, rather than a view that has been glamourized and Photoshopped just like the front cover of a fashion magazine.
So when Donatella says she stays away from using red in her designs - "That's Valentino!" and jokes that she wants to be buried in a crystal coffin like Snow White when she dies, you believe it actually came from the horse's mouth.
When Manolo Blahnik drops by Donatella's Christmas party and comes off a little...uh...pazzo, you believe it actually happened, weird as the exchange may be:
"Sorry, I been crazy," he said. "I been working all day, and I have twenty minutes to put on my little tie, wash my hair, and come down. I don't do that very often. For Donatella, I would." He went on, "I adore her. She is one of the few women I respect in fashion. I love the Versaces a million years ago. This is, by God, a proper Italian warm people. Donatella, with time, is going to be one of the few--few!--talents in fashion, I promise you. She has something that nobody has: talent." He began to yell. "Talent! Talento. Waa! Waa! Waa!"
Donatella approached, greeting him with a kiss on each cheek.
"Lady, lady, you see: this is Donatella," he said. "No time, always the future!"
"Don't believe Manolo. He knows me too much," Donatella demurred.
"Is the truth! Is the truth, you bitch!"
It's profiles like these that give you a real look into the world of fashion, instead of the glossed over, "everything is so faaaaabulous" profile pieces that are the typical fare.
(Unfortunately this piece is not online, but try to grab it in the September 24, 2007 issue of the New Yorker.)
UPDATE: The whole article has been scanned and posted here.
**image: NY Times