Lori gold­stein: amer­i­can iconoclast / 180

Schon! - - Contents - Words / Sey­mour Glass Photography / Bran­don Mercer

Lori Gold­stein is re­clined in an Arne Ja­cob­sen egg chair, swad­dled in a colour­ful fur, while an East Asian statue peers calmly over her shoul­der. Point­ing her stilet­toed foot to­wards the win­dow of her Man­hat­tan apart­ment, she says “So many peo­ple are wor­ried about who is the next Kate Moss,” and shrugs, “But why? That’s been done. What I hope for our in­dus­try is that peo­ple will fol­low their in­di­vid­u­al­ity. We’re all on dif­fer­ent paths – you have to trust your­self.”

Gold­stein is a re­mark­able para­dox in the fash­ion world. On the one hand, she is beloved by the fash­ion in­dus­try as a long-time con­trib­u­tor for style tomes like W, Van­ity Fair and Vogue Italia and counts Her­mès, Prada and Tif­fany & Co among her clients. On the other hand, she is fiercely in­de­pen­dent, carv­ing a rep­u­ta­tion out of fun and self-ex­pres­sion. She cares as lit­tle about the big bad “estab­lish­ment” as a play­time-lov­ing tod­dler cares that it’s “time for din­ner” and therein, pos­si­bly, lies her en­chant­ing ap­peal and the suc­cess of her 35 years as a stylist, iconoclast and fash­ion rebel.

Gold­stein was born in Colum­bus, Ohio, and grew up in Cincin­nati, where it was clear from a young age that she would fol­low un­con­ven­tional pas­sions. “I just had to get out of there,” she states. “At the time, where I was living, you were blonde and pretty and that was it, but I’m not that and I didn’t want to be.” She yearned for a change, and took com­fort in the work of Diane Ar­bus, whose off-kil­ter per­spec­tive res­onated and made her feel like she “wasn’t in­sane”.

Guided by her own pi­o­neer­ing spirit, Gold­stein skipped the col­lege track and ended up in New York City. “From the sec­ond I was born, I think I just had my own des­tiny. My par­ents didn’t know what to do with me, didn’t have any ad­vice. It was ul­ti­mately lucky, be­cause I wouldn’t have lis­tened.” In the city, she be­gan to work with An­nie Lei­bovitz (a part­ner­ship that would re­sult in dozens of cul­ture-rocking images, in­clud­ing a nude, preg­nant Demi Moore on the cover of Van­ity Fair) and found the wealth of cre­ative friend­ships she had been miss­ing.

“We all were part of this down­town scene – CBGB and the Mudd Club – rather than, you know, be­ing part of a mag­a­zine,” ex­plains Gold­stein. “It was just a free-for-all, with all of us dis­cov­er­ing who we were and what we did. I didn’t know I was go­ing to be a stylist. I didn’t even know there was such a job!” She min­gled with NYC leg­ends Joey Arias, Klaus Nomi and even Jean-Michel Basquiat, with whom Gold­stein trav­elled to Hawaii. “It was ge­nius,” she says, when she re­calls watch­ing Basquiat paint, “and it was how I saw the world, too – this kind of ab­stract kook­i­ness.” A friend­ship with Steven Meisel blos­somed. Among many pho­to­shoots for Vogue Italia, Gold­stein col­lab­o­rated with Meisel on a Val­ley of the Dolls- in­spired Versace cam­paign and an award-win­ning mu­sic video for Madonna’s Take a Bow.

Now Gold­stein has come full-cir­cle, bring­ing her eclec­tic vi­sion to ev­ery­day women ev­ery­where, through a col­lab­o­ra­tion with shop­ping chan­nel QVC. “I’m con­nected now to this whole group of mid­dle Amer­i­can women that I ran away from when I was a kid and what I’ve learned is, they love fash­ion as much as I do. That’s what I’m turned on by. My line with QVC is re­ally the way that I’ve al­ways dressed: non-con­form­ist and un­con­ven­tional, be­cause women would al­ways say to me, re­gard­ing colours and pat­terns, ‘I wish I could wear that,’ and the truth is, they can! That’s the point: any­body can!”

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