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2012 December 24

Best of 2012: Occupy the Red Carpet!

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Lori Goldstein Lori Goldstein
Giorgio Niro
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Lori Goldstein's recent move from W to Elle led us to one conclusion: it's time for a petit holiday refresher with a side of joie. Without further ado!

(NEW YORK) You know her as the most sought-after stylist of our time, holding top-tier positions at Italian Vogue, Allure, and W and influencing an entire generation of fashionettes. But did you also know Lori Goldstein got married chez Leibovitz, has a penchant for Domino’s thin-crust pizza (it’s an Ohio thing), and loathes the mere mention of the red carpet? Meet fashion’s most original paradox.

Are you really from Ohio?
Yes! I’m from Columbus, but I grew up in Cincinnati. My dad was an entrepreneur, and my mom was a housewife. Ohio is a great place to grow up. Being different from everyone was this great gift because I always knew that someday I would leave. 

What was your first summer job?
I worked in special education camps. I loved fashion, but I also thought about being a special-ed teacher. Go figure!

What’s your most Midwestern quality?
Probably how nice I am. I have a normal side. I’m definitely jaded when it comes to demands and wanting something now. That’s New York, but I still respect people. Sometimes a cab driver tells me the most amazing stories. That’s one of the reasons I don’t really fit into this business.

Really? You still feel like an outsider?
It’s how I’ve always felt: it’s part of my personality. I love diversity and individuality, but I don’t feel like this industry celebrates that in human beings. It’s very narrow-minded. I’ve always been the rebel, punk rocker that’s walked to the beat of my own drum.

Who was your mentor?
Well, when I first left Ohio, I moved to LA to follow a kooky boyfriend I didn’t even really like. In LA, I started working for Fred Segal, who I really respected because he didn’t follow the pack. He wasn’t interested in being in fashion. That still inspires me.

What happened to the boyfriend?
I think he’s in jail! No, I’m kidding. I actually ran into him in Paris not too long ago. He was an art dealer many years ago. I hope he’s well. Thank you, Mark!

Back to Fred Segal. 
I’d only worked with him for three months, and he asked me to go with him on a buying trip to New York for the boutique shows. I was 21, and it was the end of the seventies. I remember being in the car and seeing the skyline thinking, ‘I’m home.’ Six months later I was in New York, and the rest is history.

How has fashion changed?
When I first moved to New York, the fashion industry as we know it today wasn’t formulated yet. It was very Seventh Avenue. You worked in a showroom or in retail. The job of a stylist was kind of nonexistent, and back then, ‘stylist’ was a dirty word. If you weren’t an editor at a magazine, sort of that prim and proper person, you did catalogues and that was it. I’ve really watched it grow and become more artistic, individualistic, and corporate.

How did people treat you at first?
It helped that I thought outside the box, but when I started out, you couldn’t get clothes unless it was for credit. So if there weren’t credits for Madonna’s album cover, I couldn’t borrow clothes for her. Now, you can say Joe Shmoe is walking on the red carpet, and they’ll throw clothes at him for free.

What do you think of the red carpet?
I hate that phrase, ‘red carpet.’ That’s so not my world. As much as I could love those clothes, I can’t use them in a shoot since they’ve been all over the red carpet a week after they’re on the runways. It’s really diluted the brilliance of fashion.

Is there a solution?
In the old days, the Oscars were so glamorous, but after years of overexposure and watering-down, they have no meaning. There are a lot of incredibly talented actors and actresses who deserve to be celebrated for their craft. It shouldn’t be, ‘What are you wearing, Meryl Streep?’ It’s just gross. That’s what the word ‘gross’ was invented for. Mediocrity has become the norm. My generation was able to experience individuality and eccentricity. We might need an Occupy Red Carpet!

How long should someone assist before they break out on their own?
I never assisted, but that’s rare. I’d say two years. There are logistics to learn, and that takes time. Everyone wants this instant gratification. I watch so many people who aren’t ready to go out on their own. It’s a hard world. It’s freelance, and it’s about so much more than having great taste. We take our jobs very seriously. It’s amazing how serious the industry is!

Too serious?
In certain ways, of course, but not when it comes to shoots and wanting to get the job done well. I had jobs in the beginning of my career where I put extraordinary pressure on myself. I didn’t sleep the night before the shoot for the first 10 years of my career. I know now that no matter what, things will go wrong, but we’ll always have an amazing shoot in the end.

What project are you most proud of?
Off the top of my head, the Versace campaign with Steven Meisel. Also, all the Italian Vogues. That was a moment in my career that was a crescendo of creativity and teamwork with friends.

What was your first meeting like with Annie Leibovitz?
We both were two nuts, saying things like, ‘OMG, she doesn’t like me,’  and ‘Well, I don’t like her either.’  We’re artists! We’re insecure! After traveling together for shoots, we finally realized how similar we are. She’s a mentor, after Fred. We have a great respect for each other, and we love each other now. Our relationship spans 20 years. She’s my family. I got married on Annie’s farm, although I’m divorced now. She has a big heart, and she’s an intense woman. She’s also a goofy, crazy kid.

What do you and Steven Meisel like 
to do when you’re not working?
He’s one of my closest friends. He sees the world in the same twisted, sick way I do. And he makes me laugh. We love to go to plays and hang out. We like to watch silly TV shows. We just went to see Hugh Jackman on Broadway. Hugh pulled me up on stage, and the next thing I know we were dancing. Why not? I was holding my own. Life’s an adventure. I’m just going for it.

How did you meet Testino?
Mario and I became friends in the days when we were hanging in clubs. Mario came to New York, and I needed a roommate. I was living with my boyfriend at the time. Mario loves a great time. When you work with him, there are dinners and you go out. When you travel with him, he always finds the local people to show you that great time. I’m so proud of him. He’s fearless.

How long did you live together?
He would come and go for about a year and a half, since he also lived in London.

Who’s messier?
We were all messy back then, but we're not messy now. In those days, you waited until you had nothing else to wear to do laundry.

What’s your funniest roommate story?
When we were living together, Mario thought my boyfriend was gay and in love with him. He wasn’t!

You're also close 
with Sorrenti.
He's one of my favorite people—he’s really kind. I love watching him grow as a photographer and as a person. I feel like when we collaborate together, the end result is a Lori and Mario collaboration that’s different from what he does with other stylists.

Have you ever looked at a past shoot and cringed?
I haven’t ever completely cringed, but I’ve had those moments. I have a critical eye and I’m always going back thinking things like, ‘Should I have used that much jewelry?’ But there’s no right or wrong. Learning to stop is a big lesson. So is learning to be proud of your work.

You’ve worked at both “old” and “new” W. How do they differ?
I’m currently W's style editor at large—it’s a freelance position. I’ve always said I never had a real job, and it kind of fits into my world perfectly. I love that it’s more of a collaboration with a group of people rather than being totally freelance.

How's your rapport with Tonchi?
It’s professional. I don’t know Stefano that well as a friend. We’re just getting to know each other. I respect him, and I love that he’s diverse. He’s not just about fashion but culture in general, which mirrors the world. So far, so good!

What designer has made an impression on you lately?
Herbert Kasper. He’s very talented, and it was very nice to work with him.

What mags and blogs do you read?
Dlisted cracks me up, even if it’s negative. And Tommy Ton’s pictures are one of my favorite things about Fashion Week.

Do you prefer Tommy over Bill Cunningham or Scott Schuman?
Tommy is my favorite, for sure. He photographs the same people in the same way as I would.

Is tweeting important?
I don’t think it’s important for anyone to do anything. People just need to do what they love. Tweeting just fits my personality. I always say I have Tourette's. I like to spew things out.

Do you watch reality TV?
It’s enthralling! It’s all about psychology, and I’m obsessed with psychology. I don’t watch Keeping Up with the Kardashians, but I’m into The Bachelor. Ashley should have picked him on The Bachelorette! I love Celebrity Apprentice.Toddlers and Tiaras blows my mind. Celebrity Wife Swap ended up being a sweet show. I’m for the people. I’m into life—with an addiction to clothing.

Thoughts on Brad and Rachel?
No comment.

What are you reading?
I’m usually reading heavy books, which are such a drag! Over the holidays, my friend introduced me to this great book called It’s All About the Dress by an overlooked designer named Vicky Tiel. It’s a great guilty pleasure on my iPad. I’m always reading spiritual or self-help books, too.

Any recommendations?
Baba Muktananda's Where Are You Going? Life-changer.

What’s on your iPod?
Everything from chanting to disco, but sometimes, I love silence.

Six things you can’t live without?
My dogs, bath oils, gratitude, shopping sprees, assistants, and family.

PLUS: 10 Things You Never Knew About Lori!

1.  “I prefer comfort over extreme glamour.”
2.  “I’m really good at impersonations.”
3. “I’m a Leo with a Pisces rising.”
4.  “I would rather be nice than fabulous.”
5.  “I’m a dog lover.”
6.  “My guilty pleasure is Domino's thin crust pizza…”
7.  “...but I’m allergic to wheat!”
8.  “I’m over the cold weather.”
9.  “I love a meaningful tattoo.”
10. “I live for Broadway!”

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