by RAFFAELE PANIZZA
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
by SAMIRA LAROUCI
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
by FEDERICO CHIARA
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
by LAWRENCE STEELE
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
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
by COSTANZA RIZZACASA D’ORSOGNA
“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