En­gli­sh Tex­ts


Sha­lom Har­low


Sha­lom Har­low co­mes across li­ke an at­mo­sphe­ric phe­no­me­non, a won­der or a ca­ta­cly­sm (it de­pends) en­ti­tled to oc­cur no mat­ter what, wi­thout any re­la­tion to the es­sen­tial and na­tu­ral de­mands of all el­se in the vi­ci­ni­ty. The hi­gher the pres­su­re, the grea­ter the for­ce wiel­ded by the ele­men­ts. The gen­tler the up­draf­ts, the mo­re chan­ce of a calm and shi­ny spell, whi­ch might ju­st as ea­si­ly and unex­pec­ted­ly drift el­sewhe­re, li­ke a cloud or the wind. “Fun­da­men­tal­ly, and in eve­ryo­ne’s eyes, Sha­lom re­mains a great enig­ma,” says Ali Ka­vous­si, the agent of The Lions in New York who per­sua­ded her to re­turn af­ter a long self-im­po­sed exi­le. Har­low’s ti­me in hi­ding was ap­pa­ren­tly en­lighte­ned by po­wer­ful spi­ri­tual ex­pe­rien­ces, but al­so mar­ked by phy­si­cal com­pli­ca­tions cau­sed by the strain of years at the peak of the fa­shion world, and by con­ti­nual­ly ven­tu­ring in­to the woods and wil­der­ness wi­thout pro­tec­tion or fil­ters. “We’ve on­ly ac­cep­ted the co­ver of Vo­gue Ita­lia and a pro­ject wi­th Ste­ven Mei­sel, whi­ch we’ll be un­vei­ling in De­cem­ber. For this re­turn, we wan­ted her to be sur­roun­ded by friends. And for the ti­me being, she de­fi­ni­te­ly won’t be doing any­thing el­se.”

La­st Sep­tem­ber she gra­ced the ru­n­way for Ver­sa­ce’s S/S 2019 show, af­ter se­ven years away from the cat­walks. She did the sa­me in 2008, when she va­ni­shed for four years af­ter being the world’s mo­st si­gni­fi­cant top mo­del fol­lo­wing the era of the ori­gi­nal su­per­mo­dels. She was the fir­st to of­fer the reas­su­ran­ce that it wa­sn’t all going to end wi­th the ine­vi­ta­ble fa­ding of Clau­dia Schif­fer, Lin­da Evan­ge­li­sta, Cin­dy Cra­w­ford and Nao­mi Cam­p­bell. “Wi­th Am­ber Val­let­ta and Ka­te Moss, she re­pre­sen­ted the ge­ne­ra­tion of an­ti-su­per­mo­dels. They took fa­shion to a hi­gher and mo­re evol­ved le­vel,” says Pat­ti Wil­son, the fa­shion edi­tor at lar­ge of Vo­gue Ita­lia who con­cei­ved the sty­ling for this co­ver sto­ry, tran­sfor­ming Sha­lom in­to a mo­dern Re­née Per­le, the mo­del ado­red by Lar­ti­gue.

The fir­st ti­me she unex­pec­ted­ly took her lea­ve, at the height of her suc­cess, she went to Osha­wa in Ca­na­da, two hours from To­ron­to. The­re she spent weeks in one of her fa­vou­ri­te pla­ces in the world: a woo­den cot­ta­ge built by her great-gran­d­fa­ther. She even went back to tap-dan­cing, whi­ch she has pre­fer­red to clas­si­cal dan­ce sin­ce she was a girl. She at­tri­bu­tes this pen­chant to her wild cha­rac­ter, and her need for rhy­thm and sounds. Af­ter all, her ru­n­way sty­le has al­ways see­med uni­que and unor­tho­dox, sprightly and al­mo­st me­tal­lic, as if she’s rea­dy to fill the spa­ce wi­th her pre­sen­ce, but al­so de­ter­mi­ned to get it do­ne as quic­kly as pos­si­ble. She star­ted going on wild cam­ping trips and tra­vel­ling wi­th a ruck­sack on her back – ano­ther di­men­sion she cra­ves. Then, in 2012, she de­ci­ded to re­turn wi­th a ru­n­way for Ale­xan­der Wang, whi­ch was enou­gh to re­mind eve­ryo­ne of who she had been: the fa­ce of Cha­nel’s Co­co fra­gran­ce, Ya­ma­mo­to’s bri­de in black, the wo­man wea­ring a sim­ple whi­te dress spray-pain­ted by two ro­bo­ts du­ring an ex­pe­ri­ment by Ale­xan­der McQueen that is et­ched in the hi­sto­ry of fa­shion.

She was the mu­se of Gian­ni Ver­sa­ce and John Gal­lia­no, who de­si­gned a nu­de cor­set for her that was in­de­ci­phe­ra­ble yet trans­pa­rent, pre­ci­se­ly li­ke her per­so­na­li­ty. Slightly di­strac­ted as al­ways, she near­ly mis­sed the fir­st show she did for him. “I went back to the ho­tel con­vin­ced I hadn’t been con­fir­med, when my agent cal­led to say that the show was about to start and I had to be on the ru­n­way in ten mi­nu­tes,” she re­calls. Luc­ki­ly the ho­tel wa­sn’t far away. “Ju­st be­fo­re going out, John th­ru­st a pa­ra­sol in my hand and ju­st said: ‘You’re dy­ing of ma­la­ria, now go.’”

Sha­lom Har­low is al­ways fa­shio­na­bly la­te. She’s poi­sed bet­ween her lon­ging for wil­der­ness and her wild days fil­led wi­th clo­thes and fla­shes. But this is whe­re a dif­fe­rent kind of na­tu­re goes on sta­ge – the crea­ti­ve and slightly ni­hi­li­st na­tu­re of hu­mans, whe­re a ge­stu­re can count for a li­fe’s work and a mi­sun­der­stood la­ce trim can co­st an exi­sten­ce. Sha­lom is an un­re­con­ci­led and in­qui­si­ti­ve ex­plo­rer of two dif­fe­rent mea­do­ws, whi­ch, co­me to think of it, could al­so be at­mo­sphe­ric phe­no­me­non: storms crea­ted and ex­pe­rien­ced for the pu­re en­joy­ment of li­ving pre­ca­riou­sly in this world. She ex­plains how she en­joys going in­to the woods wi­th her dog Ro­w­dy, fo­re­ver co­ve­red in mud. She ta­kes part in mar­ches to rai­se aware­ness about cli­ma­te chan­ge, un­der the mot­to “The­re is no pla­net B”. But she al­so ado­res ha­ving her ma­ke-up do­ne, being dres­sed up and pla­cing her­self at the di­spo­sal of the mo­st con­vin­cing crea­ti­vi­ty. “It’s li­ke she co­mes from a dif­fe­rent world,” con­ti­nues Pat­ti Wil­son. “But at the sa­me ti­me she lo­ves fa­shion in a vi­sce­ral way. If she has a fee­ling for a pro­ject, she’s do­wn for any­thing.”

Rai­sed by her pa­ren­ts in a small hip­pie com­mu­ni­ty ou­tsi­de To­ron­to, she was spot­ted by a ta­lent scout at a The Cu­re con­cert. “I’d ne­ver seen a fa­shion ma­ga­zi­ne and the­re was no TV at ho­me, so I didn’t ha­ve any poin­ts of re­fe­ren­ce,” she says. “And sud­den­ly, at 17 years old, I found my­self in Pa­ris doing ru­n­ways for de­si­gners who­se na­mes I could ba­re­ly pro­noun­ce.”

She’s al­ways been ra­ther aw­k­ward in in­ter­views, fee­ling mo­re at ea­se tal­king about the great Ame­ri­can no­vel than her beau­ty rou­ti­ne, of­ten wi­th a book by Phi­lip Ro­th in hand. She was an ac­tress for a whi­le, star­ring in films su­ch as Va­nil­la Sky along­si­de Tom Crui­se, and In & Out wi­th Ke­vin Kli­ne. But she grew ti­red of that as well. Now she’s ta­king a pau­se in Ha­waii, wi­th who kno­ws what plans in mind. Pe­rhaps she’s bu­sy loo­king for the right part­ners to help her rea­li­se her li­fe­long dream of pro­du­cing eco­lo­gi­cal fa­brics in a small bu­si­ness in the midd­le of the fo­re­st.

She li­ves in Los An­ge­les, whe­re she’s in­vol­ved in na­tu­ral me­di­ci­nes and Ayur­ve­da. She turns do­wn call af­ter call be­cau­se, as anyo­ne who kno­ws her will tell you, Sha­lom doe­sn’t do any­thing un­less it’s in per­fect har­mo­ny wi­th her spi­ri­tual fee­lings. It’s even been ru­mou­red that she’s stu­dy­ing to be­co­me a hea­ler, wi­th plen­ty of peo­ple al­rea­dy ga­the­ring ou­tsi­de her hou­se in Ca­li­for­nia in sear­ch of so­la­ce.

“I can’t help it,” she of­ten says about her­self, “in the end my re­bel na­tu­re al­ways shi­nes th­rou­gh.” Her dua­li­sm lies in her elu­si­ve­ness and the gift of her­self, as no­ted by Do­na­tel­la Ver­sa­ce, who has kno­wn her 20 years and was the fir­st to in­vi­te her back to the ru­n­way. “She ha­sn’t lost a sh­red of her con­fi­den­ce or that uni­que walk of hers,” she tells Vo­gue Ita­lia. “But mo­st of all, I found her to be exac­tly the sa­me wo­man I re­mem­be­red: kind, smi­ling, en­thu­sia­stic and de­li­ca­te. Not de­li­ca­te in the sen­se of fra­gi­le – qui­te the op­po­si­te – but ra­ther re­spect­ful of eve­ryo­ne. Eve­ry­thing she does, eve­ry word she says, and even the way she looks at you ex­pres­ses the won­der­ful wo­man she is.” On 5th De­cem­ber Sha­lom Har­low is ce­le­bra­ting her 45th birthday. And if she di­sap­pears again, ju­st li­ke a na­tu­ral phe­no­me­non, it won’t be fo­re­ver. • (Trad. An­to­ny Bo­w­den) ori­gi­nal text pa­ge 60

Open Cou­ples


As a ge­ne­ra­tion that was rai­sed on an abun­dant diet of non-com­mit­tal li­fe­sty­le so­lu­tions li­ke Tin­der, Uber and Airbnb, could the con­cept of mo­no­ga­my—mu­ch li­ke McDo­nalds and mort­ga­ges—ha­ve be­co­me re­dun­dant?

Wi­th con­stant ac­cess to new fa­ces, da­ting apps and end­less se­xual pos­si­bi­li­ties, a com­mit­ted mo­no­ga­mous re­la­tion­ship can seem li­ke an ar­chaic re­lic of the pa­st to so­me. “Guilt-trip­ping other peo­ple about their se­xua­li­ty ju­st seems real­ly out-da­ted.” Says Ka­the­ri­ne Li John­son, a 28 years old Tu­ni­sia-ba­sed crea­ti­ve con­sul­tant who has been in open re­la­tion­ships for the pa­st eight years. “I on­ly want to be in a re­la­tion­ship if it’s open at this point in my li­fe, and my boy­friend was li­ke, ‘great me too!’ So it’s wor­ked per­fec­tly. I don’t think that being in a re­la­tion­ship should in­frin­ge upon my, nor his, se­xual free­dom”.

A con­cept that was on­ce as­so­cia­ted wi­th al­ter­na­ti­ve com­mu­ni­ties, new age hip­pies and mar­ria­ges in de­cli­ne, has now be­co­me a via­ble op­tion for hard­wor­king po­st-gen­der mil­len­nials loo­king to re­de­fi­ne and sa­ti­sfy their se­xual needs on their own terms.

“We’re a poor, hy­pe­rac­ti­ve, free­lan­ce so­cie­ty wi­th no se­cu­ri­ty,” says Ali­ce Pfeif­fer, a 33 years old Pa­ris-ba­sed for­mer jour­na­li­st at Le Mon­de, “we ha­ve mo­re kno­w­led­ge and ac­cess to other cul­tu­res than ever be­fo­re, so peo­ple are trea­ting re­la­tion­ships the sa­me way – ac­cu­mu­la­tion, con­sump­tion, ra­pid trends and fads”.

If the­re we­re one trend that mil­len­nials ha­ve sin­gle­han­ded­ly spea­rhea­ded, it’d be ‘hoo­kup cul­tu­re’. Born out

of the di­gi­tal da­ting age, hook-up cul­tu­re is the no­tion of ha­ving ran­dom com­mit­ment-free ca­sual sex wi­th se­ve­ral part­ners.“The num­ber of ti­mes I’ve heard friends in my age group say they’ve been gho­sted af­ter sex. It’s in­cre­di­ble.” Says John­son, “Mil­len­nials are a lost ge­ne­ra­tion when it co­mes to se­xua­li­ty and re­la­tion­ships. Pe­rhaps Gen Z will be the fir­st to real­ly pu­sh the boun­da­ries on nor­ma­li­zing po­lya­mo­ry in a heal­thy, re­spect­ful way, ra­ther than this se­rial-Tin­der-user way”.

Whi­le Lon­don-ba­sed ar­chi­tect Efe Ra­mi­rez, 26, who has ju­st co­me out of a long-term open re­la­tion­ship, says “open re­la­tion­ships aren’t ea­sy”, he con­ti­nues, “they de­mand a hi­gh le­vel of emo­tio­nal in­tel­li­gen­ce. But ul­ti­ma­te­ly they are ve­ry sen­si­ble and a lot mo­re yiel­ding to­wards our se­xual na­tu­re”.

But be­nea­th our ge­ne­ra­tion’s see­min­gly sex-po­si­ti­ve ve­neer, the tra­di­tio­nal con­struc­ts of mo­no­ga­my are ul­ti­ma­te­ly still the end goal for ju­st over two thirds of young peo­ple. In a 2015 stu­dy con­duc­ted by Gold­man Sa­chs, over 70 per cent of mil­len­nials wan­ted to get mar­ried – whi­ch is a me­re frac­tion off of what it was in de­ca­des pa­st. Whi­le the num­ber of peo­ple who want to ha­ve chil­dren was even hi­gher, at 74 per cent.

“This sug­gests that mil­len­nials are com­for­ta­ble wi­th the con­cept of mo­no­ga­my, but it might not be a good fit for this ti­me in their li­ves.” Says Lair Tor­rent, NYC-ba­sed the­ra­pi­st and re­la­tion­ship ex­pert, “When you con­si­der that this ge­ne­ra­tion works 45 hours per week on ave­ra­ge, you won­der whe­re they might find the ti­me to ha­ve a con­nec­ted com­mit­ted re­la­tion­ship”.

Mu­ch li­ke ca­sual sex – open re­la­tion­ships are far from being a new phe­no­me­non. Ho­we­ver the stig­ma sur­roun­ding them, and the con­fi­den­ce to “own” one’s se­xua­li­ty is so­me­thing in­he­ren­tly mil­len­nial. “It seems to me that it is now a big­ger part of the con­ver­sa­tion, and that feels new.” As­serts Tor­rent, “Young peo­ple are de­fi­ni­te­ly mo­re open to the idea [of open re­la­tion­ships] than ge­ne­ra­tions be­fo­re. The thing that has chan­ged the sex li­ves of mil­len­nials the mo­st didn’t ac­tual­ly hap­pen in their ge­ne­ra­tion, it hap­pe­ned wi­th the Ba­by Boo­mers”. As a ge­ne­ra­tion that we­re rai­sed by a group of peo­ple that shat­te­red the se­xual mo­res of the 40s and 50s, “what we see he­re is a trans-ge­ne­ra­tio­nal pu­sh of the idea that a com­mit­ted re­la­tion­ship is not a pre­re­qui­si­te for sex”.

Mo­re con­se­quen­tial­ly, this is al­so a ge­ne­ra­tion that has been im­pac­ted fir­st-hand by the col­lap­se of the “nu­clear fa­mi­ly” wi­th re­cord-brea­king di­vor­ce ra­tes. Ac­cor­ding to Bloom­berg Bu­si­ness, di­vor­ce ra­tes in peo­ple over 50 ha­ve dou­bled sin­ce the 1990s. So un­li­ke our pa­ren­ts, who we­re bound by so­cial and re­li­gious stig­mas sur­roun­ding mar­ria­ge and di­vor­ce un­til a la­ter age – we’ve been for­tu­na­te enou­gh to ha­ve the free­dom of choi­ce.

Mu­ch li­ke the age-old que­stion of “why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?” or our ge­ne­ra­tion’s equi­va­lent, “why buy a car when you ha­ve Uber?” Gen Z might start asking: “why set­tle at all?” • text pa­ge 70

Eva Ro­bin’s


Eva, the fir­st wo­man. Or ra­ther, in this ca­se, the fir­st tran­sgen­der con­si­de­red wor­thy of a co­ver. In ‘81 she was al­rea­dy on the co­ver of Fren­ch “Pho­to”. Na­ked. Ten years la­ter on “Epo­ca”, ac­com­pa­nied by a po­li­ti­cal­ly in­cor­rect head­li­ne. Se­du­cing po­li­ti­cians, ac­tors, and athle­tes to the point of lo­sing their minds, Eva Ro­bin’s has ma­na­ged over the years to break do­wn ta­boos (not on­ly) in the press. And she has pa­ved the way for nu­me­rous tran­sgen­der wo­men who, in fa­shion and in ci­ne­ma, proud­ly clai­med their iden­ti­ty - think of Va­len­ti­na Sam­pa­io (born on the sa­me day, De­cem­ber 10th), Lea T, An­dre­ja Pe­jic, Ha­ri Nef, La­ver­ne Cox, Ja­mie Clay­ton. Now, six­ty years old, “mom” Eva wat­ches them grow from her Bo­lo­gne­se at­tic wi­th a mix­tu­re of ad­mi­ra­tion and cu­rio­si­ty.

Who is Eva Ro­bin’s? I on­ce said: Eva is a child try­ing to grow up. To­day she is an adult who has no esca­pe. She can’t hi­de be­hind the se­duc­tress or be­hind the ma­sk of Pe­ter Pan, and this ma­kes her so­me­ti­mes say un­plea­sant things. She’s a bit cy­ni­cal, doe­sn’t dream any­mo­re, but she sees things un­der a sharp light, sharp li­ke a scal­pel.

Ac­tress, pain­ter or sin­ger? I en­joy jum­ping from one pur­suit to ano­ther. Of cour­se, in this way it be­co­mes even mo­re dif­fi­cult to de­fi­ne me, sin­ce I al­rea­dy con­fu­se peo­ple wi­th my se­xual iden­ti­ty. Do you know that so­me­ti­mes peo­ple mi­sta­ke me for Mau­ri­zia Pa­ra­di­so? (she lau­ghs) I think it’s be­cau­se the­re is still a lot of trans­pho­bia ou­tsi­de of the en­ter­tain­ment in­du­stry. For­tu­na­te­ly, I don’t feel it. And I try to stay a bit deaf, so I can igno­re the com­men­ts on the street.

Do you re­mem­ber any­thing mean? Ne­ver li­ke tho­se whi­ch peo­ple shou­ted at Aman­da Lear in 1979 when I was part of the cho­rus du­ring her “Blood and Ho­ney” tour! As soon as she got on the sta­ge, the poor wo­man was as­sai­led wi­th in­sul­ts, but she ac­ted li­ke she didn’t hear a thing.

Who are tran­sgen­der mo­dels that you li­ke the mo­st? Lea T is a suc­cess. De­spi­te the fact that I would li­ke to see her cry a lit­tle bit less when she goes on TV ... She mu­st be a ve­ry sen­si­ti­ve girl. I cry too - I find it ve­ry good to turn on the wa­ter­works - but at ho­me. (she lau­ghs again)

Who is your ro­le mo­del for sty­le?

Ka­te Moss, for fa­shion. Ni­co­le Kid­man, in ci­ne­ma.

The mo­st dif­fi­cult thing she had to turn do­wn? The show “Sta­bat Ma­ter” wi­th Ma­ria Pa­ia­to. The di­rec­tor Val­ter Ma­lo­sti pro­po­sed it to me, but I was pre­pa­ring “Hap­py Days” by Bec­kett wi­th An­drea Adria­ti­co. Plus, I was deaf from a hea­d­cold be­cau­se I used to ri­de my bi­ke in the midd­le of win­ter. Heal­th, at a cer­tain age, says fa­rewell to us all.

Do you con­si­der your­self sel­fi­sh? I would call my­self ge­ne­rou­sly sel­fi­sh. I’m a Sa­git­ta­rius…

The top mo­ment in your ca­reer? Pe­rhaps the TV sho­ws su­ch as “Lu­po So­li­ta­rio” and “Ma­trio­ska”, by An­to­nio Ric­ci. But even when I fi­ni­sh a pain­ting, I feel ve­ry ac­com­pli­shed.

How would you de­fi­ne Ita­lian te­le­vi­sion? A ne­ces­sa­ry evil. I al­ways keep it on, it keeps me com­pa­ny. I do not even ha­ve a di­ning ta­ble any­mo­re. I ha­ve a tray di­rec­tly on the bed, in front of the TV.

A co­ver that you re­mem­ber? That of “Epo­ca”, on whi­ch I wo­re a ba­thing suit by Nor­ma Ka­ma­li. It was shot for the laun­ch of the TV show “Pri­ma­don­na” by Bon­com­pa­gni, and they de­pic­ted me as a mon­ster wi­th ex­tra ti­ts, ma­ny legs, ma­ny ac­ces­so­ries. But I was a nor­mal girl, so the au­dien­ce was di­sap­poin­ted!

The prac­ti­ce of so­li­tu­de ...? It helps to look in­wards. Con­fu­sion doe­sn’t help me. I’m fi­ne alo­ne, wi­th my ani­mals. I know you ha­ve two De­von Rex ca­ts, why do you li­ke them?

Be­cau­se they are na­ked. Li­ke I was in my you­th.

Your re­la­tion­ship wi­th art? If it we­re not the­re, li­fe would be un­bea­ra­ble. It’s my main nou­rish­ment.

Is it true that you al­so paint on pre-exi­sting pain­tings?

Yes, I call them “Ma­ke-overs”.

How is your lo­ve­li­fe? I ha­ve a va­cant heart, but dif­fe­rent lo­vers who do not know about ea­ch other. I think fo­cu­sing on one per­son is a ve­ry bad in­vest­ment. It is bet­ter to de­di­ca­te one­self to de­co­ra­ting. Or to gar­de­ning.

How Ac­tual­ly, does I’m it feel a lit­tle to be bit an ti­red ob­ject of of the de­si­re? se­duc­tion far­ce, I pre­fer doing real thea­ter.

What gi­ves you the sta­ge? Ex­traor­di­na­ry mee­tings, sti­mu­li, mne­mo­nic exer­ci­ses. Thea­ter, af­ter all, ma­de me mo­re con­fi­dent.

Is ci­ne­ma or thea­ter bet­ter? Ci­ne­ma is ea­sier, but it gi­ves you a vo­la­ti­le re­pu­ta­tion. It’s a form of un­gra­te­ful ex­pres­sion. Wi­th the thea­ter you la­st lon­ger.

Why do you li­ve in Bo­lo­gna? I’m a coun­try wo­man, at­ta­ched to the roo­ts and se­cu­ri­ty of the hou­se. I lo­ve my view of the hills. And via del Pra­tel­lo, whe­re I li­ve, looks li­ke a vil­la­ge.

Are you afraid of being 60 years old?

Well, well ... At this age, the mu­ti­ny of the or­gans

be­gins. You fix so­me­thing he­re and so­me­thing el­se breaks the­re.

What el­se sca­res you?

Equi­ta­lia. They ma­ke cer­tain blun­ders... They sca­re me!

How would you li­ke to be re­mem­be­red? Wi­th my epi­ta­ph:

Poor Eva rests he­re. Li­fe­less and pa­le. For her un­re­strai­ned vi­ces, dead. A door­nail. That dea­th ha­th cho­sen to clo­se her eyes, will pro­ve to no­ne a great sur­pri­se. •

(Trad. Pa­trick Qui­gley)

ori­gi­nal text pa­ge 72

Fran­ce­sco Ris­so


Cha­rac­ters and per­for­man­ces: FRAN­CE­SCO RIS­SO, LA­W­REN­CE STEE­LE MAR­NI Mi­lan, at the ho­me of Fran­ce­sco and La­w­ren­ce, li­ving room, in­te­rior eve­ning.

LA­W­REN­CE: The­re is a ph­ra­se we of­ten re­peat: “Man is mo­st near­ly him­self when he achie­ves the se­riou­sness of a child at play….”

FRAN­CE­SCO: Yes. He­ra­cli­tus.

LA­W­REN­CE: Exac­tly, what ga­me would you li­ke to

play now?

FRAN­CE­SCO: I think it is in­stinct...

You know how when you we­re a kid, you’d say, “let’s pre­tend that…”?

I am thin­king about that kind of ima­gi­na­tion that le­ts you chan­ge ad­ven­tu­res af­ter fi­ve mi­nu­tes or af­ter eons…it de­pends on in­stinct, in­spi­ra­tion and how mu­ch fun you are ha­ving. The­re is a lot of se­riou­sness in this child’s play. So­me­thing spon­ta­neous and fa­sci­na­ting that ma­kes me think of ce­le­bra­ting so­me­thing joy­ous, in­ti­ma­te, and, li­ke I said, in­stinc­ti­ve…

LA­W­REN­CE: And who are you play­ing wi­th? FRAN­CE­SCO: Wi­th you! (laughter).

Our ga­me is pro­ba­bly so­me­thing li­ke ping pong whe­re the ball goes back and for­th. Fir­st and fo­re­mo­st bet­ween us and then, ob­viou­sly, wi­th our team.

Then the­re is a who­le other le­vel to the ga­me that is the re­la­tion­ship esta­bli­shed bet­ween the per­son who hi­ts and the per­son who re­cei­ves. When our ga­me goes out to the world beyond us.

LA­W­REN­CE: Are you able to real­ly let go? Are you mo­re se­rious, mo­re of a child or mo­re He­ra­cli­tus?

FRAN­CE­SCO: Mo­re He­ra­cli­tus (laughter). I al­ter­na­te, get­ting lost in con­cre­te­ness and crea­ti­ve in­spi­ra­tion. Sal­va­tion co­mes from sur­fing the­se two wa­ves. That is my na­tu­re. Or my ob­ses­sion? In any ca­se, to an­swer your que­stion, yes I’m able to let go…

LA­W­REN­CE: Spea­king of per­di­tion... let’s talk about lo­ve. Who are the Mar­ni Lo­vers and what kind of re­la­tion­ship do you ha­ve wi­th them?

FRAN­CE­SCO: We are Mar­ni Lo­vers (laughter). I be­ca­me a Mar­ni Lo­ver be­cau­se of this sen­se of free­dom of ex­pres­sion, the unex­pec­ted thought of a pre­ci­se, al­mo­st na­tu­ral ae­sthe­tic.

Mar­ni Lo­vers are the peo­ple who are won over by “that spar­kle.”

LA­W­REN­CE: I ima­gi­ne that you are tal­king about the ex­pe­rien­ces you of­fe­red Mar­ni Lo­vers du­ring the la­te­st fa­shion sho­ws. Even I was ama­zed by the sta­ging be­fo­re the show star­ted. Whe­re do you want to ta­ke them?

FRAN­CE­SCO: I li­ke to ask the au­dien­ce to con­nect their own per­so­na­li­ty wi­th an ex­pe­rien­ce that can speak to their souls, ma­king for a true in­te­rac­tion. Then the­re’s ano­ther fa­sci­na­ting aspect: clo­thing pie­ces are ob­jec­ts that ha­ve been gi­ven li­fe. Or, bet­ter yet, they im­ply that the­re is li­fe be­hind the thought that crea­ted them.

I de­si­gn thin­king about the sto­ry be­hind this ob­ject. What I’m in­te­re­sted in is gi­ving this sto­ry im­por­tan­ce that is not spe­ci­fic, the im­por­tan­ce of de­si­gn, the idea be­hind an ob­ject that wan­ts to be trea­su­red for a long ti­me and not ju­st a sea­son.

LA­W­REN­CE: Eve­ry mor­ning, you open the clo­set and go th­rou­gh your clo­thes un­til you find the “right form for that day”…”... What are you loo­king for?

FRAN­CE­SCO: (Sur­pri­sed) You know, that is an in­te­re­sting ri­tual be­cau­se I ac­tual­ly don’t even rea­li­ze it. It is li­ke a sort of chro­nic ha­bit, a sic­k­ness that is tran­sfor­med in­to a form of crea­ti­vi­ty.

Ac­tual­ly, what I’m loo­king for is an ap­proa­ch, a new sen­sa­tion, using my war­dro­be to ex­pe­ri­ment helps me pro­cess ideas to un­der­stand how I will work wi­th my team.

LA­W­REN­CE: Mar­ni is a dia­lo­gue. Wi­th whom am I spea­king? Wi­th whom are we spea­king?

FRAN­CE­SCO: Mar­ni com­mu­ni­ca­tes in an open way, we are spea­king to ma­ny peo­ple and via ma­ny fa­ce­ts. The­re’s sort of a sen­se of a group, a fa­mi­ly, a cir­cle. This cir­cle is mo­re li­ke a “Q”: a cir­cle whe­re the lit­tle ex­tra li­ne is the in­di­vi­dual that doe­sn’t fol­low the cro­wd even being a part of it. We speak to an au­dien­ce that wan­ts to un­der­stand and in­te­ract wi­th their own war­dro­be.

LA­W­REN­CE: Now I’m going to ask you so­me­thing, put­ting my­self in the shoes of the 1990s de­si­gner in­si­de of me. At the ti­me, we took cou­tu­re to the stree­ts as a reac­tion to 1980s fa­shion. What kind of ter­ri­to­ry is fa­shion in­ha­bi­ting to­day?

FRAN­CE­SCO: It is eve­ry­whe­re, al­ways tied to per­so­na­li­ty. The­re’s real­ly fa­sci­na­ting va­rie­ty. What I see on In­sta­gram and in peo­ple on the street is an in­cre­di­ble sen­se of being a tri­be. The­re are peo­ple who are going com­ple­te­ly again­st the grain, wi­th an in­cre­di­bly hi­gh le­vel of in­ter­pre­ta­tion.

To­day, tho­se peo­ple you find on the street and tho­se peo­ple are fa­shion in­car­na­te. In any ca­se, what we are con­stan­tly loo­king for are po­wer­ful in­ter­pre­ters of the ex­pe­rien­ce, right?

LA­W­REN­CE: At the ti­me, the­re we­re the fa­shion sho­ws but then you had to wait mon­ths be­fo­re the pu­blic con­nec­ted wi­th the new col­lec­tions. Now, wi­th the so­cial net­works, the de­si­re is par­tial­ly gran­ted and par­tial­ly sto­ked…

FRAN­CE­SCO: To­day, you are con­nec­ted right away wi­th ob­jec­ts pre­sen­ted at the sho­ws. I think it would be even bet­ter if peo­ple could ha­ve them right away be­cau­se we’ve all been spoi­led by the speed of things. Or may­be not…it wouldn’t be bet­ter. At the end of the day, ti­me is a ra­re lu­xu­ry. We need to learn to en­joy the wait.

LA­W­REN­CE: Whe­re do you fit, whe­re are you going

in all of this?

FRAN­CE­SCO: I am not going any­whe­re, I am he­re! (lau­ghs)

I am li­ke pho­to film that can’t wait to be de­ve­lo­ped by so­me­thing unex­pec­ted. Peo­ple mo­re than any­thing el­se ac­ti­va­te my re­cep­tors. Whe­ther it is an ar­ti­st I’m wor­king wi­th, a la­dy wal­king do­wn the street or even my­self, it doe­sn’t chan­ge.

So on­ce I’m in­spi­red, I might go to buy ten Fran­ken­steins on Ama­zon or Ebay, and that’s whe­re I co­me up wi­th the idea for the la­te­st fa­shion show…So peo­ple are part of a con­ti­nuous flow of sen­sa­tions, per­so­na­li­ties, nuan­ces and ima­ges that sort of ha­ve sex wi­th one ano­ther and sti­mu­la­te a pro­cess.

You could call it IMAGINIFORNICATION (lau­ghs).

LA­W­REN­CE: What hi­sto­ri­cal era are we in wi­th


FRAN­CE­SCO: We are in the “Re-evo­lu­tion.” I’m thin­king about an evo­lu­tion that doe­sn’t re­st on its lau­rels and keeps put­ting itself back out the­re.

In that lit­tle pre­fix “re,” the­re is a re­turn to who we are. Re­tur­ning wi­th feet in the pla­ce whe­re they star­ted out, whe­re the foun­da­tions of Mar­ni are. It is the mo­st ex­ci­ting op­por­tu­ni­ty.

LA­W­REN­CE: I would li­ke to know how you are ex­pe­rien­cing this hi­sto­ric mo­ment in fa­shion.

FRAN­CE­SCO: It is a uni­que ti­me. The­re is talk of an even lar­ger au­dien­ce that chan­ges mu­ch quic­ker. Big op­por­tu­ni­ties and cla­shes, less in­de­pen­den­ce, mo­re me­dia and even smal­ler but say­ing big things.

For me, this is a won­der­ful ex­pe­rien­ce. I’m in­si­de a brand whe­re we work eve­ry day to ma­ke so­me­thing com­ple­te­ly uni­que.

LA­W­REN­CE: When I met you, you had a sha­ved head, we­re ve­ry thin and dres­sed in black. Now you are li­ke a mes­sen­ger for co­lor and soft­ness…what is co­lor to you? A sup­ple­ment or nou­rish­ment?

FRAN­CE­SCO: It is ab­so­lu­te­ly so­me­thing to eat. I real­ly iden­ti­fy wi­th co­lor. The­re are on­ly a few black things in my war­dro­be and tho­se few things ser­ve to bet­ter re­de­fi­ne my co­lor or my mood in co­lor.

LA­W­REN­CE: Is Mar­ni al­so de­fi­ned by co­lor? FRAN­CE­SCO: Cer­tain­ly, the fir­st im­pres­sion one has of Mar­ni is a strong sen­se of co­lor. Co­lors as si­gns of cha­rac­ter and con­tro­ver­sy be­cau­se they bring to­ge­ther op­po­sing ideas and con­cep­ts. And be­hind the

co­lors, the­re are the souls of ob­jec­ts and the peo­ple who wear them.

LA­W­REN­CE: Mar­ni has a my­ste­ry in its Dna. How would you de­scri­be it?

FRAN­CE­SCO: I would de­scri­be it as a suc­ces­sful trai­ler for a real­ly good film. The my­ste­ry of Mar­ni can be found in that box whe­re we are all dif­fe­rent…we ha­ve peo­ple from all over the world on our team, and this crea­tes a work ma­de up of ma­ny minds.

LA­W­REN­CE: And to­day how can you spread the go­spel wi­thout gi­ving away the se­cret?

FRAN­CE­SCO: PE­RHAPS WI­THOUT THIS IN­TER­VIEW? (be­mu­sed smi­le). You al­ways need a bit of my­ste­ry. The­re­fo­re, you need to chan­ge di­rec­tion or the way you think but stay­ing true to your­self, but able to shuf­fle the cards.

LA­W­REN­CE: Are the Mar­ni wo­man and man wal­king at the sa­me pa­ce?

FRAN­CE­SCO: Ab­so­lu­te­ly... And they are pro­ba­bly be­co­ming the sa­me thing.

LA­W­REN­CE: Do you re­mem­ber this sum­mer in Pan­tel­le­ria when you be­ca­me the chef of the hou­se? How mu­ch of your me­thod and crea­ti­ve pro­cess is in the way you choo­se, pre­pa­re and pre­sent food?

FRAN­CE­SCO: I think that was the fir­st ti­me I coo­ked, be­cau­se I had a de­spe­ra­te de­si­re to con­ti­nue doing so­me­thing. Af­ter a sea­son of in­cre­di­ble ex­pe­rien­ces, this “island calm” led me to the kit­chen…So I did a bit of eve­ry­thing in­stinc­ti­ve­ly. I tried to ex­press my­self via the re­fri­ge­ra­tor.

LA­W­REN­CE: You talk about worlds, rea­li­ties and si­tua­tions that trans­port you in­si­de of your­self? Are you aware of this? Are you con­scious of what you are doing?

FRAN­CE­SCO: NO, ab­so­lu­te­ly not! And may­be that is bet­ter be­cau­se this aware­ness would ta­ke away the in­stinct to en­ter in­to tho­se Po­la­roids that mor­ph and chan­ge, be­co­ming so­me­thing el­se at a cer­tain point.

LA­W­REN­CE: To­day, fa­shion has re­pla­ced poe­try: it is clair­voyant…what do you feel li­ke say­ing about that, what do you fo­re­see?

FRAN­CE­SCO: I would li­ke to work to­ward the idea of fee­ling good. This is an ex­tre­me­ly com­pli­ca­ted mo­ment in hi­sto­ry, so a way of dres­sing that brings us to­ge­ther and pu­ts us in con­tact wi­th ob­jec­ts that hold va­lue …well, I think this is a tri­bu­te to the va­lue of ti­me. Pe­rhaps, in or­der to go again­st the “buy, con­su­me, th­row away” man­tra, the on­ly thing is to crea­te in­tel­li­gent clo­thing and ob­jec­ts able to form in­tel­lec­tual and emo­tio­nal bonds that won’t go away over ti­me.

LA­W­REN­CE: Po­pu­len­ce, re-tro­vo­lu­tion, re­so­nan­ce, play­ful­ness... The­se are words that we ha­ve said so ma­ny ti­mes. What is your fa­vo­ri­te Mar­ni sta­te of mind?

FRAN­CE­SCO: “MAR­NI IS A STA­TE OF MIND”. La­w­ren­ce: La­st que­stion... Whe­re are you ta­king me to­night?

FRAN­CE­SCO: I’m ta­king you to the ci­ne­ma. •

(Trad. Mi­chel­le Schoe­nung)

ori­gi­nal text pa­ge 220

Black Cat


“If a black cat cros­ses your pa­th,” jo­ked Grou­cho Marx, “it means the ani­mal is going so­mewhe­re.” For cen­tu­ries, black ca­ts ha­ve been vic­tims of su­per­sti­tion, burnt ali­ve in the Midd­le Ages in to­wn squa­res be­cau­se it was be­lie­ved that they we­re as­so­cia­ted wi­th wit­ch­craft (and this al­so ma­de them the dar­lings of a cer­tain kind of “cur­sed” li­te­ra­tu­re, from Ed­gar Al­lan Poe to Bau­de­lai­re, and from Bul­ga­kov to Bu­ko­w­ski). To­day, it seems li­ke black ca­ts are ma­king a co­me­back. Star­ting wi­th the new Ni­ke Air Jor­dan Re­tro, whi­ch al­so pre­viou­sly had the cat-print heel, de­di­ca­ted to Mi­chael Jor­dan (who­se chil­d­hood nic­k­na­me was “black cat”). Then the­re’s the sen­sual cri­mi­nal kno­wn as the Black Cat in Spi­der­man—other­wi­se kno­wn as Fe­li­cia Har­dy, rea­dy for her fir­st ap­pea­ran­ce in the clas­sic black out­fit and wi­th whi­te hair as seen in the brand new vi­deo ga­me of the le­gen­da­ry Mar­vel co­mic. Cla­re Waight Kel­ler, the new ar­ti­stic di­rec­tor at Gi­ven­chy, is qui­te the cat lo­ver. She ma­de ca­ts (in black and other co­lors) the pro­ta­go­nists of the cam­pai­gn shot by Ste­ven Mei­sel for S/S 2018, and she even di­sco­ve­red, by loo­king th­rou­gh the com­pa­ny ar­chi­ves, that she shared a lo­ve of the­se ani­mals wi­th Hu­bert, the brand’s foun­der. He had do­ne so­me cat prin­ts (fea­tu­ring ani­mals wi­th lar­ge oran­ge eyes) back in 1953, and this has in­spi­red Waight Kel­ler’s “wo­man wi­th a fe­li­ne air, re­ser­ved but wi­th a straight­for­ward ga­ze.” To­day, even Ca­rol Alt— the ma­jor su­per­mo­del from the 1980s, who is al­so raw foo­di­st, ani­mal ac­ti­vi­st and bu­si­nes­swo­man—posts on Twit­ter about her th­ree re­scue kit­tens wi­th the ha­sh­tag #Whe­reI­sSam­my (when one of her naughty lit­tle ra­scals hi­des). The black cat is al­so pop­ping up at li­te­ra­ry fe­sti­vals li­ke Por­de­no­ne­leg­ge, whe­re Prou­st, a cat from Val­cel­li­na, was the wild­ly po­pu­lar “fa­ce” of the event two years ago, ma­king all ma­sco­ts be­fo­re and af­ter him pa­le in com­pa­ri­son. Then the­re are rock bands, brands, clubs, pu­bli­shing hou­ses… The black cat is a hot to­pic in book­sto­res, from the no­vel Ka­f­ka on the Sho­re by Ha­ru­ki Mu­ra­ka­mi (she al­so na­med her jazz club in To­kyo—Pe­ter Cat—af­ter a black cat) to Ken­ta­ro Ya­bu­ki’s Black Cat man­ga se­ries. Then the­re are wri­ters from the pa­st li­ke E.T.A. Hof­f­mann, Am­bro­se Bier­ce and Carl Van Ve­ch­ten, all the way to the glos­sy Puss Puss lu­xu­ry ma­ga­zi­ne, whi­ch im­mor­ta­li­zes wo­men from art and fa­shion wi­th their own fe­li­nes. It has fea­tu­red Chloë Se­vi­gny as well as mo­dels Hea­ther Ke­me­sky and Eri­ka Lin­der (wi­th their cat Pi­ra­te), along wi­th black ca­ts from hi­sto­ry li­ke Er­ne­st He­ming­way’s fe­li­ne Bar­ba­ra Sta­nw­yck.

“Spot the black cat” seems to be a new trend. Not too long ago, about a do­zen ca­ts we­re seen on the roof of the Se­ven Stars Ho­tel (now the To­w­nHou­se Gal­le­ria) in the cen­ter of Mi­lan. “A roof wi­thout ca­ts is ano­ny­mous,” said ow­ner Ales­san­dro Ros­so at the ti­me, men­tio­ning he was wil­ling to keep them. They are still the­re to­day. They lie in the sun on the ter­ra­ces and ama­ze the tou­rists who ven­tu­re among the spi­res of the Duo­mo ca­the­dral. Ca­ts (espe­cial­ly black ones) are so tren­dy that the­re is a new fun term—“ma­rCATing” in­stead of mar­ke­ting, but it’s not real­ly a jo­ke be­cau­se ca­ts ma­ke for a bil­lion-dol­lar bu­si­ness that fa­shion and ad­ver­ti­sing ha­ve been flir­ting wi­th for de­ca­des. Way back in 1960, Re­né Gruau drew a lit­tle black cat rub­bing again­st the legs of a wo­man, and this was used as the ima­ge on the pac­ka­ge for a brand new fa­shion ac­ces­so­ry from Ch­ri­stian Dior. So­me­thing that would go on to be­co­me one of a wo­man’s mo­st sub­tle wea­pons of se­duc­tion: stoc­kings. To­day, it is cat over­load. You can find them on bags, jac­ke­ts, a Ni­na Ric­ci dress, on clut­ches and pink coa­ts from Miu Miu, on whi­ske­red fla­ts by Char­lot­te Olym­pia and Guc­ci scar­ves, ju­st to na­me a few mu­st-ha­ve pie­ces from the la­st few years. What’s mo­re, ca­ts (black or not) are of­ten the fa­vo­ri­te fur­ry friends of ma­ny fa­shion per­so­na­li­ties. Gra­ce Cod­ding­ton, the for­mer crea­ti­ve di­rec­tor for Vo­gue Ame­ri­ca, had fa­mous ca­ts and ma­na­ged to pu­bli­sh a book about them cal­led The Cat­walk Ca­ts. She has al­so rein­ter­pre­ted the ico­nic Louis Vuit­ton mo­no­gram print for the 2019 Crui­se Col­lec­tion wi­th her spe­cial sen­se of Bri­ti­sh wit. The­se pie­ces fea­tu­re dra­wings of her ca­ts (Ni­co­las Ghe­squiè­re’s dog is the­re as well but off to the si­de). Then the­re’s Jason Wu, who took in­spi­ra­tion from Pea­ches and Ji­n­xy (mul­ti-co­lo­red ca­ts who we­re fea­tu­red in black on t-shirts and ac­ces­so­ries). Ste­fa­no Gab­ba­na’s Ben­gal ca­ts—Zam­bia, Con­go, Ma­li and To­go—ha­ve ta­ken to the fa­shion ru­n­ways in a sen­se. They can be found on prin­ts on clo­thing pie­ces that are part of de­di­ca­ted col­lec­tions. Of cour­se, the­re’s Chou­pet­te, Karl La­ger­feld’s gor­geous Bir­man cat wi­th splot­ches of pink fur. Her en­tou­ra­ge in­clu­des a chef, maids, bo­dy­guards and groo­mer, ma­king her the “front girl” of ca­ts as lu­xu­ry fe­ti­sh. She wri­tes books, ea­ts from mo­no­gram­med sil­ver pla­tes from Goyard (the hi­sto­ric brand that was the of­fi­cial sup­plier to the Ro­ma­no­vs) and has in­spi­red a li­ne of Shu Ue­mu­ra co­sme­tics. And, of cour­se, she al­so gi­ves in­ter­views. When asked by the Sun­day Ti­mes how she felt when she found out that Hel­lo Kit­ty was not a cat, she re­spon­ded, “As if my en­ti­re chil­d­hood we­re a lie.”

Ob­viou­sly the In­ter­net is the hub for “gat­to­li­ce­si­mo” (“ca­to­li­ci­sm,” whi­ch is a mo­re than ju­st a re­li­gion—it’s al­so a vi­rus) whe­re the #ca­tso­fIn­sta­gram ha­sh­tag rei­gns su­pre­me. Ac­cor­ding to a stu­dy by Klooff, a so­cial net­work for pe­ts (but the­re’s al­so Sna­p­cat, an app for po­sting fe­li­ne sel­fies), eve­ry cat po­st is shared two or th­ree ti­mes mo­re than eve­ry dog po­st. So whi­le shel­ters eve­ry­whe­re from the UK to Ita­ly re­port that black ca­ts are in­crea­sin­gly being aban­do­ned be­cau­se they aren’t ve­ry pho­to­ge­nic on In­sta­gram, the­re are plen­ty of tips on the Web for pho­to­gra­phing them bet­ter. Ru­le num­ber one: pla­ce them on a con­tra­sting back­ground. •

(Trad. Mi­chel­le Schoe­nung)

ori­gi­nal text pa­ge 232

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