The Season of Stephen Sprouse Mania

With a new coffee table book, an art show, and a limited-edition collaboration with Marc Jacobs for Louis Vuitton all out at once, the pop-punk genius of the late Stephen Sprouse shines brighter than ever. Sprouse’s muse, transgender model Teri Toye, has her own opinion regarding how the shy visionary would react to his ascendance to modern legend status. “Stephen Sprouse did not want to be a star,” says Toye, whose elongated frame and deadpan glamour proved a potent inspiration for many a Sprouse Day-Glo ensemble or sleek erogenous cutout. “He just wanted to create. His life was about producing work. He was driven to produce. And if you were his friend, you went along with that.”

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Going along with Sprouse’s working life certainly had its perks, not the least of which was access to collections embraced feverishly by both uptown and downtown clientele. Sprouse’s career, as defined by the fashion press, had several peaks and valleys (including an infamous retail flameout in 1985, followed by a slow rebuilding of the brand, his emergence as an artist in the 90s and collaboration with Marc Jacobs for Louis Vuitton in 2001), but enthusiasm for all things Sprouse among the avant-garde has never wavered. “His showroom on West 57th Street was like my closet,” says Toye, who famously convinced Sprouse to use his own graffiti on designs rather than hire a street kid for the task. “I stopped in constantly. I never thought about keeping much of what I wore — I usually returned most of it. And what I did keep, I wore to death.”

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Sprouse’s mash-up of the bold with the blasé, of punk’s edginess with couture’s classic lines (he had, after all, dropped out of RISD to work with Halston before launching his own brand in 1983) gets a full-scale multimedia revival this month, with a show of his rock ’n’ roll inspired paintings at Deitch Gallery, which opens today, and a collection of his fashion drawings at the John McWhinnie @ Glenn Horowitz Gallery opening tomorrow, followed by the launch of a deluxe Rizzoli coffee table book, Stephen Sprouse, by Roger and Mauricio Padilha, and a limited-edition re-release of the graffiti-covered bags and shoes that Sprouse had collaborated on so electrifyingly with Marc Jacobs.

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Stephen Sprouse was ahead of his time and very much of his time, living large at the white-hot center of the downtown New York early ’80s art scene ruled by Andy Warhol. Flanked by Toye and photographer Steven Meisel, Sprouse and his terrible twosome were cool and enigmatic, turning heads and upping the electricity in any club they stepped into. Despite his tough urban guerrilla appearance — scrappy build, stocking-capped, usually dressed in black — Sprouse, to those who knew him, was shy. “He wanted to get out and absorb what was going on,” recalls Toye, who met Sprouse in the ’70s while studying fashion design at Parsons, “but Stephen was much more comfortable in a private setting. I had to drag him out.”

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Given Sprouse’s low-key personality, the current revival might actually have been a little stressful on the creative genius were he alive today, says Toye (Sprouse, who privately battled lung cancer in his later years, died in 2004 at age 51). “I think he’d be a little bit embarrassed by the attention,” says Toye, “and I think he’d be pleased. He liked to have complete control over his work, so I know he’d want everyone to get it right.”

Book Reviews: American Dreamers

Crack smokers, cashiers, rifle holders, a security guard, men and women with tattoos, scars and burns—these are the characters who make up Zoe Strauss’ first monograph, America, a gritty ode to life in pockets of the U.S.A. extending from Las Vegas to Philadelphia. When asked what she’s drawn to when choosing a subject to photograph, Strauss, a former professional babysitter who vaulted to art-world fame with an entry at the Whitney Biennial in 2006, says, “A real strength and pride is of great importance. I’ve never been able to articulate what that really means, even though I am absolutely certain of it when I am taking the photograph.” The often-ravaged faces of America may not make anyone’s hot list, but still have a glory of their own, making a visit via Strauss’ lens strangely exhilarating and utterly unforgettable.

The teens who populate New York-based photographer Danielle Levitt’s We Are Experienced are economically more well-off than Strauss’ subjects, but similarly self-possessed, their confidence broadcast through a fireworks display of personal styles. “There’s a reason teenagers spend so much time perfecting their thing, whatever that is,” Levitt explains. “They understand celebrity and fame, and what it affords people in our culture.” And so, in this joyous and sometimes heartbreakingly poignant portrait series, a generation of beauty queens, campers, jocks, hippies, grungy couples and punks in mohawks declare their reason for being through artful self-expression. “Asserting yourself is still one of the toughest things to do, no matter how familiar it may seem to an adult,” says Levitt. “And these kids are really good at it.”

image From America: McDonald’s, Biloxi, MS

image From America: Mattress Flip, Philadelphia, PA.

James Franco on ‘Milk,’ Heath Ledger’s Death, and Going Back to School

For the past decade, actor James Franco has built a career based on huge talent, killer looks and enigmatic charm. Now is clearly his time, as the buzz on Milk—the Harvey Milk biopic in which he stars opposite Sean Penn, under the direction of Gus Van Sant—follows his summer smash, Pineapple Express. But Franco wants more: this year, he’s enrolled in two graduate schools while continuing to conquer Hollywood. For a smarter approach to life and art, Franco’s got an academy or two he’d like to thank.

James Franco steps into a dimly lit, speakeasy-style restaurant in TriBeCa, his face stricken with apology. “My last class was running way over and I couldn’t get a cab,” he says, a knapsack slung over his black leather jacket, his dark wavy hair tousled, his features flecked with sweat and dust after a long day spent shooting a film for a class at New York University, where he is working toward a master’s degree in film direction.

Then he smiles a winning smile, big and toothy. There’s an easygoing charm about Franco today that contrasts with some of the complex, charismatic men he has portrayed over the years, from James Dean (in a 2001 biopic which propelled his career out of the land of TV fare like Freaks and Geeks) to the impetuous, stringy-haired pot dealer of Pineapple Express, to his solid supporting work in the upcoming Milk, with Sean Penn as Harvey Milk, the first openly gay politician elected in California, and Franco as Scott Smith, Milk’s longtime lover. In person, with a five o’clock shadow giving him longer sideburns and a hint of a mustache, it’s clear that Franco has more on his mind at the moment than looking camera-ready at all times. In addition to his graduate courses at NYU, he’s also simultaneously pursuing an MFA in creative writing at Columbia University. “Going back to school has been life-changing and lifesaving,” he says, taking a banquette seat, placing his knapsack by his side and leaving his black leather jacket on. He leans forward, hovering over a lit votive candle as jazzy music plays in the background. “I wasn’t on the point of suicide,” he says, “but I wasn’t satisfied.”

But how, exactly, can being a handsome leading man, with the Spider-Man franchise thrown in for good measure, trigger existential despair? Isn’t it the actors who don’t get any work who feel this way? For Franco, who comes from a brainy family—both his parents attended Stanford and his dad, a Silicon Valley executive, graduated from Harvard Business School—the Hollywood lifestyle just wasn’t enough.

“Movies have their own rewards for an actor,” he says, his voice a kind of tough gym-teacher rasp, familiar to those who know him by his villainous Spider-Man character, the vengeful rich boy Harry Osborn. In person, Franco uses the rasp to humorous, gregarious advantage. “You can feel satisfaction for doing a movie that you believe in, or with critical praise, or good box office,” he says. “As an actor, you can tell yourself that your self-worth isn’t measured by how your last movie did at the box office. But I found when acting was all I had, inevitably I would be emotionally affected by how well a movie did.”

“School offered a way to focus on something that had a new criteria for success, and its own rewards,” he continues. “It’s the reward of knowledge and learning things that I’m interested in. What it does is release me from pressure that I put on myself, where everything has to be perfect. Now I go into a project and I turn myself over to the director’s vision. And if a performance doesn’t come out exactly as I wanted because I’m not in complete control, that’s fine. Since I’ve taken this appraoch, I haven’t had a performance that I’ve hated.”

When it comes to performances that he hated, or even just disliked, Franco can be blisteringly, but hilariously, harsh on himself. When he’s told that a BlackBook fashion assistant declared Franco her favorite actor, and his 2006 epic Tristan + Isolde her favorite movie, Franco groans and puts his head on the table.

“Wow, I feel bad for her,” he jokes. “She probably hasn’t seen too many movies.”

What about the film, in which Franco plays the titular Tristan, a medieval English warrior, lit like a Caravaggio, doesn’t he like?

“It’s okay,” he says, with reservation, as if evaluating a used car. “It was shot well. And there are good performances. But it just felt, to me, that the movie wasn’t doing anything fresh. You’ve seen that character before.”

Next, I tell him, while searching for the highlights of his 36-plus film career, I consulted my local video store clerk, asking him what his favorite James Franco films are.

“And he’s like… None.”

“He recommended Fly Boy,” I say.

Flyboys… it’s plural… Fly Boy would be like In Living Color.”

Shot in 2006, Flyboys showed Franco in full-on Tom Cruise, Top Gun mode. Playing a noble World War II fighter pilot, Franco gave the kind of performance that in another era might have placed him in the ranks of matinee idols. But, as with Tristan + Isolde, and a naval academy film, Annapolis, completing his 2006 trifecta, mainstream success wasn’t meant to be for him—yet. “I went into Flyboys hoping it would be Gladiator,” he says. “I did a lot of work for those films—five to eight months of preparation for each one.”

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So much for epics. It took a stoner flick, this summer’s runaway box office hit Pineapple Express, to catapult Franco’s career to the next level. “I find it ironic that I did a lot of serious movies that I worked hard on, and now I’m getting the most response to the movie where I roll a cross joint,” he says about his reunion with Judd Apatow, the director who gave him his first big break by casting him as Danny Desario, the popular high school hunk in the television series Freaks and Geeks. As Franco puts it, the low-key, playful atmosphere Apatow created on set dovetailed with his own more carefree approach to filmmaking once his graduate studies got underway. “The m.o. on that set was to have fun.”

One of the things that makes Franco so good as an actor is his fluid changeability, and this catch-me-if-you-can quality is what keeps audiences eager for the next surprise. Watching him on film, at first glance he might just be typical Abercrombie, but there’s something deeper going on with Franco, something in his eyes, something mesmerizing and just a little bit lethal that both raises him up to the realm of the gods and connects him to the real world, giving his looks traction. In person, there are even more contradictions at play. He’s jovial, chatty and congenially self-effacing, but in a flash he can take on the visceral urgency of his Spider-Man villain, or hint at the volatility of the hustler he played in Nicolas Cage’s 2002 directorial debut, Sonny. In a matter of seconds, something flickers across Franco’s features that suggests he’s got a powerful alter ego coexisting with, and perhaps protecting, his inner friendly guy.

He refers to this other, less breezy side when talking about his life, pre-and post-Pineapple Express and Milk. “I think I’m hopefully a much easier guy to be around with on set now,” he says, “just because a) I think I’m more communicative and b) It doesn’t always have to be doom, gloom and pain every second of the shoot.”

Franco is justifiably proud of his work in Milk, a project that teamed him up with one of his all-time favorite actors, Sean Penn, and director Gus Van Sant, whose 1991 film My Own Private Idaho inspired Franco to become an actor. “On the most basic level,” Franco says, “River Phoenix’s performance was incredible. And Gus brought in so many elements to that film, from Shakespeare to George Eliot.”

With his hair lightened and curled for this 1970s-era story, his frame outfitted in jeans and a series of flannel shirts, Franco as Scott Smith, Milk’s long-time lover, brings tenderness to the scenes between Scott and Harvey. He breathes life into what could have been a two-dimensional character, making the performance look effortless. “Whenever Harvey went out and failed at something,” Franco says, “Scott would be there to support him. That was the main function of the character in the film—to provide support.”

On choosing Franco to play Scott Smith, Gus Van Sant says: “We wanted a romantic couple, and James seemed a perfect combination with Sean. I had seen James’ plays, met him a few times. He was also really interested in the part.” As for any similarities between Phoenix and Franco, Van Sant says, “There is a physical resemblance, I think, but they have very different approaches. River was not schooled, but could be great. James has a little more practical study going on.”

Penn and Franco had known each other for years, their friendship beginning when Penn called after witnessing Franco’s breakthrough, Golden Globe-winning performance in the 2001 James Dean biopic. Penn had written a script and had a part he thought would be great for the young star. “It was a world-weary kind of character,” Franco recalls, adding that the film has yet to be made, but it’s still on Penn’s wish list. “After we wrapped Milk,” Franco says, “Sean said to me, ‘We’re definitely doing that other movie, but I’m sorry to say that I’m going to have to break up with you now.’”

Gay themes have appeared in Franco’s work before, most notably in The Ape. Franco wrote, directed and starred in the likeably raw 2005 film about a young writer who leaves his wife and baby to set up shop in a Hoboken apartment for three months where he can presumably work on his novel, but ends up contending with a talking ape in the room. The ape has much to say about the main character’s hidden life, his motivation for moving out: “You’re gay. This writing thing is just a front. This place is supposed to be your bang-fest bungalow, your delicatessen of dick.” The ape then taunts the Franco character by singing a Judy Garland song from Meet Me In St. Louis.

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“The ape stands for his id, his sexuality—and also, his ultra-masculine side,” explains Franco. “The ape is a projection of Harry’s insecurities about his masculinity. So when the ape says things like that, I hope it’s not coming off like the filmmaker is homophobic. It’s the character dealing with his inner self. I’m not trying to say that that’s me. I’m just trying to address the issue.”

Going from this depiction of internalized homophobia in The Ape to playing Scott Smith in Milk, did Franco receive any new insights about what it might be like to be gay, or in a gay relationship? Franco responds: “As soon as I got out of high school, I was like, I don’t care if anybody’s gay. It doesn’t matter. Doing Milk, I don’t know if it broadened my mind at all. I like to think that I was as open as I could be at that point.”

Franco is continuing to explore themes of conflicting sexual identity in a short film he’s currently directing at NYU, inspired in part by an Anthony Hecht poem about the darker side of locker room horseplay called “The Feast of Stephen.” Poetry is a medium that has fascinated Franco since childhood (his mother, Betsy Franco, is a published poet and children’s book writer). At UCLA, Franco took poetry workshops, and developed a style of writing that he says involves combining fragments of existing texts, like Strunk & White’s The Elements of Style, with his own poetry “for unusual effects,” he says, “and as a kind of response to the previous text.” It’s also the form of expression he turned to after learning about Heath Ledger’s death.

“I was in between classes, waiting in line at a café,” Franco recalls. “Somebody wrote me that Heath had died, and it really upset me. It was weird, because it seemed like a lot of incredible people died in the past year—Sir Anthony Minghella, Sydney Pollack. Brad Renfro died the week before Heath and I’d worked with him twice. It was really adding up. So I wrote something about it, that I actually read at the Hammer Museum in LA… ” he says, his voice trailing off. “Whatever… ” He looks embarrassed for a moment, and then explains: “I’m so shy about talking about it, because in print, it sounds like ‘Oh, James Franco likes poetry!’ ”

The education of James Franco, and the actor’s road to discipline, focus and achievement began, he says, with a streak of delinquency. Growing up the oldest of three boys in Palo Alto, California, Franco’s early friendships consisted of bonding with a neighbor over his subscription to Fan magazine. “There were cheesy shots of actors in it, and my friend had them all over his wall, like Christian Slater in Gleaming the Cube. I had posters up of Justine Bateman in Satisfaction, the cast of Stand by Me and the Lost Boys poster—I got that even before I saw the movie. I thought it was the coolest thing.” This led to a skateboarding phase (“which was a little cooler”), and then a period in high school of hell-raising. “I had to stop hanging out with a certain group of people, because I got in so much trouble with them,” Franco says. “For some reason, I was like a magnet for the police. I would get caught for the stupidest things… wandering around drunk, stuff like that. They weren’t the worst people in the world, it was just that I was really dumb when I was around them,” says Franco, who these days orders black espresso rather than happy hour cocktails, even when taking meetings at a chic TriBeCa bar.

Former Fan magazine reader Franco now regularly appears on the cover of glossies, but the persona he projects in a photo shoot and his real-life personality seem so different. Does he have any secret narcissistic tendencies? “When I was in sixth or seventh grade,” he offers, “I remember thinking that I wanted to be really buff, and work out a ton. That seemed really attractive to me. And now, I fucking hate to work out. I hate spending time on anything physical like that.” Anything else? Franco pauses, thinks for a moment and says: “In the morning, I throw some kind of gunk in my hair. The product is by Jamal Hamadi, the guy who cuts my hair.”

What designers is he wearing today? At this, Franco sets his spoon down with a determined clink. “Here’s the problem with these questions,” he says. “I don’t mind them, but when I answer them, it sounds like it’s what I want to talk about. Like, Yeah, I’m wearing my Gucci jacket. And you know what I put in my hair today? I put in some Hamadi goo! That’s what I like to talk about in an interview! You know what I mean?” But then Franco good-naturedly reveals the elements of his style: John Varvatos black boots. Acne jeans. A plaid shirt of indeterminate origin. And American Apparel underwear. “I have quite a few colors,” he says, pulling out his shirt to reveal the waistband. “It’s so easy.”

Hopefuls on either side of the gender divide should be advised that Franco is taken. He refers to a girlfriend whose birthday he dashed off to celebrate after his BlackBook cover shoot. “We went to see a play, Boeing-Boeing, which was funny, and I took her to dinner.” Did he meet her at NYU? Is she a fellow student? “She’s an actress, and she lives in L.A.,” Franco says, not encouraging this line of inquiry. (Over the last three years, he has been photographed at premieres with actress Ahna O’Reilly.)

Franco will, however, mention a thirtieth birthday party that she organized for him. “It was a ‘This is Your Life, James’ party. I walked in thinking we were about to have dinner, and the bar was filled with UCLA professors, everyone from my hometown, all my high school friends, everyone I’d done movies with, Tobey [Maguire], the cast of Milk.”

In a convenient tying together of his current preoccupations and pursuits, James Franco will spend his winter holiday starring in Howl, as Allen Ginsberg, the gay beat poet. He’ll also play an alt-rock singer in a movie called Sympathy for Delicious, directed by Mark Ruffalo. After the month-and-a-half long break, his studies will resume uninterrupted, as they have for the past three years. “I have faith that my school and acting schedules will work out,” Franco says. So, what’s at the end of this paper chase? A PhD? “Yes,” says Franco, adding that teaching is something he’d like to do in the future. “It sounds more appealing to teach creative writing students than a general composition class,” he says. “I like the idea of teaching people who I know are interested in a subject, and not because it’s a general education requirement. I want students who want to be there.”

The bill arrives, but the restaurant doesn’t take credit cards, and Franco offers to pay. “Let me give you some cash,” he says, and without a lot of fanfare hands over a twenty. Out on the street, he lights a cigarette, and we walk a few blocks together. Suddenly, he darts over to two young women standing outside the bar holding unlit cigarettes, and offers them a light. A breeze keeps blowing out the flame. Franco keeps flicking the Bic, until he hands one of the young women the lighter and tells her to keep it. The excited gleam in her eyes reveals that she knows who he is, but is keeping cool. Franco seems exhilarated by this brief moment of romantic urban poetry. He may have sucked face with Sean Penn in the past few months, but he hasn’t lost his winning touch with the ladies.

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See also: James Franco’s favorite spots in New York and his favorite restaurants in Los Angeles.
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The Day-Glo Graffiti of Stephen Sprouse Gets Its Due

“To me, Stephen was kind of a rock and roll Halston,” Marc Jacobs says of Stephen Sprouse, a defining genius of ’80s fashion and art, whose legacy and still-fresh style gets the deluxe picture book treatment (four different Day-Glo covers!) by Rizzoli. Authors Roger and Mauricio Padilha, two of the world’s most voracious collectors of all things Sprouse, were given access to the late icon’s archives by his family for The Stephen Sprouse Book, due out in February, which delineates the wild creative’s life in chapters with titles like “Cyber Punk,” “Future Rave,” “Legend” and “Andy.”

Whether designing a futuristic line of cashmere coats for Bergdorf Goodman or a neon-and-camouflage album cover for his friend and onetime neighbor, Debbie Harry, Sprouse blended the pop mastery of Warhol with the graphic punch of Keith Haring, adding a shot of space oddity Bowie and a dose of skateboarder cool. Perhaps most famous today for collaborating with Marc Jacobs in 2001 on a line of Louis Vuitton bags, branding them with his raw, tribal script, Sprouse infused his work, life and art with the spirit of rock and punk. As the book’s extensive interviews with friends Anna Sui, Iggy Pop and Kate Moss attest, Sprouse was both very much of his time and way ahead of it.

Take Cover (Art)!

Ever tried to picture Liberace simmering tomato sauce in his boxers? What about Babs with the body of a black Lab? In Sleeveface: Be The Vinyl (Artisan Books, 192 pages), editors Carl Morris and John Rostron have collected images of album covers placed with deliberate and devious accuracy on everything from canines and Chryslers to the guy who drives the Fairfax 417 city bus. Don’t call it a remix.

Icons: Phillipe Starck, The Big Bang

Having placed his signature touch on everything from the interiors of hotels like the Delano and the Mondrian to toothbrushes and motorcycles, Philippe Starck, France’s Zen master of the modern, diversifies into New York rental apartments, underwear and the first sightseeing shuttle into outer space.

Philippe Starck may be known for a very particular, lofty aesthetic that has defined an era of überchic luxury, but personally, he is not at all fussy. Built like a rugby player, dressed today in jeans, a T-shirt and a motorcycle jacket, he looks more like a rock legend or a fashion photographer than an interiors maven. He speaks volubly, passionately, heavily French-accented, his gray-green eyes earnest and curious. Meeting in a suite of Dwell95, a New York apartment building where he’s been hired to give the entire complex his signature surreal fantasy gloss of gallery-white walls, fine fixtures and Austrian crystal chandeliers, he stands to shake hands, then hastens to sit at the one clear plastic chair placed at the meeting table. “I always have to be on the seat I designed,” he says, a twinkle in his eyes.

You’ve said that when you design, you pay more attention to what isn’t there than what is. Does that mean you might look at a space and say, This needs more fun? I never think that intent of the design or the architecture of the design is important, if you consider design to be just steel, wood, concrete, metal, glass and plastic. The real intent is to create a scenario or a set where people will feel better, where they can upgrade their lives. For that, you don’t need to use architecture. You just make use of a vibration… it’s like a perfume in the air, a management of energy. It includes poetry, humor, surrealism, all of that in a very strong vision. And this vision is mainly about our mutation, because we evolve every minute. As a people, it is our duty to evolve, to work, to be aware, to think and to dream. That’s why if I continue to make a hotel, or an apartment building, it’s not because I love architecture. It’s because it’s the best place to move people, to shake people, to surprise them. For me, it’s purely a political weapon. Maybe it’s not the best one, because if you want to be political, it’s better to be a politician, to sing a song or to make a movie. I try to express political ideas through design. It’s a lot more complicated to do this. But it’s my cross.

Which of your projects do you feel are the more iconic ones? For me, it’s always about the next one. Because once a project is past, I see how I was lazy, weak, venal, cynical or stupid. I always hope that the next will be the best. And strangely, it is. So, why we are here today is very important, because Joe Moinian, developer of Dwell95, has commissioned, with the same quality and creativity, the same type of building with apartments that were once sold for millions of dollars, but now you can rent one. It fits perfectly with what we need today, because we don’t know the economy of tomorrow. When you don’t know these things, you must stay light in movement.

Of all that this building has — including a Delano-like roof deck, a state-of-the-art gym and concierge — what’s your favorite feature? Could it be the complimentary breakfast available to all tenants? I love this idea! Deeply, I love this idea. It’s always fun to have a free ready breakfast. But, for me, it’s a symbol that says, Hey, you are home. It’s your home. You’re there with your mum, who has prepared a breakfast. And that’s a strong statement to make for a building in the U.S., in New York, on Wall Street, which is so menial, so dry, so much about drive and stress. Here is someone saying, “Here, your breakfast is ready.” It’s a very strong icon.

Speaking of amenities, you’re the creative director of Virgin Galactic, which is preparing to launch brief flights into the stratosphere in 2009. What stylistic details will be enjoyed by people traveling in outer space? Oh, the rocket? I have spoken a lot about it with Richard Branson, and I was thinking at the beginning to give people a small bag with a lot of things in it, but then I realized that I won’t be doing that. Because you will be out of the earth, lost in the space, wearing a spacesuit we have designed, which is almost nothing. You will be naked in the middle of nowhere, with no gravity. You are just to see our world, to understand its dimension, and how it is so small. So when one person recently asked me, “Shall I bring my iPod?” I said, I love iPods. I have twelve iPods. But, if you are somewhere out in space, I think you can be alone with yourself.

Genius physicist and A Brief History of Time author Stephen Hawking is scheduled to be on this first shuttle flight into space with you. What sort of small talk do you think you’ll be making with him? I do have one question for him: I want to check if I understand that he did indeed write that before the big bang, there was God. I want to check if he really thinks that, if one of the most intelligent people alive in our world today continues to be a believer. I cannot accept this idea.

The big bang makes me think of your own creative explosion — over the years, you’ve designed baby bottles, glasses, sailboats, watches, lemon juicers, a line of underwear called Starck Naked and much more…you’ve described your creative process as making your mind the printer of your subconscious. It’s the only way to work. Today, the power of marketing is so strong. If you work with your consciousness, then you are in the mainstream of thinking. How can you have a fresh, original idea with this incredible weight on your shoulders? The subconscious speaks less, but never lies. Consciousness speaks a lot, but always lies. That’s why my wife and I lead a different kind of life. We live far from everything, in small cabanas, with no electricity, no water, no cars. We don’t watch TV, we don’t go to the movies. We just read literature. It gives us time and energy to have perhaps, I hope, a different creative vision. We make it our duty to bring fresh, new, useful ideas to our tribe.

According to what you’ve said in the past, the best way to feed your creativity is with sleep and with sex. Yes, yes, yes. To feed your subconscious, the best thing is to fill it with diversity, and this is not about knowing what is the new Porsche. It’s better to know what is the best orgasm of your wife. You must try to understand everything, and that’s why sex is very important, because everything is sex. It’s not the only one barometer.

With all that you’ve created, is there any stone left unturned? Do you wake up and look at things around you and say, This toothbrush could be better? This frying pan? Everything. Ev-ery-thing. Everything I’ve done, I’m ashamed of. I repeat. That’s why I continue to work, because I hope that it will be better. But I have no design dream. I have dreams for new concepts, for new action, new political action, new subversion, new rebellion. But it’s mainly more and more conceptual, and hopefully less and less material.

You’ve said that the BlackBerry was not well designed. How would you redesign it? Darling, I have no more telephone. I am not interested in having one. The BlackBerry is perfect. The iPhone is perfect. I don’t need either.

How do people get in touch with you? They are not in touch with me. Some people know the number of my wife. But the idea of people sending me e-mails all day, speaking all the day? Ah! No more telephone! It’s done. It’s out of my mind.

Since you’ve usually got three hundred projects going at once, I was going to ask how many e-mails you get a day. Me, zero, because I have no computer. Mine is a very strange company. It’s a sort of abstract miracle. And it’s because I work alone, naked, at the kitchen table, in front of the sea at my oyster farm in Bordeaux. I am five feet from the water, the mud, the oysters. Because of this, I can focus deeply on the work. My team is the same team I’ve had for 25 years. They know me, they are friends. I send the work out to them, and that’s all, it’s done.

Your method sounds like an incredible luxury. But it’s a life of work to organize this sort of abstraction, to live in a crystal bubble — a productive crystal bubble.

Photo by Victoria Will.

MGMT Teaches You How to Party

MGMT’s Andrew VanWyngarden and Ben Goldwasser, creators of insanely catchy electropop tunes like “Kids” and “Electric Feel,” give pointers on partying naked, stoned and succumbing to the temptations of cookies and sparkling water.

A Typical Night Out: (Andrew VanWyngarden) When we’re on the road, we tend to party a lot on the bus. The best times we have are when we’re up until six in the morning, listening to music with some random folks. They’re not groupies, just girls we got to know. (Ben Goldwasser) I am definitely more of a night person than Andrew is. One thing I miss about living in New York is that there is always something to do, no matter what time of night. I like the bars in Brooklyn. We used to go to this bar called Lost & Found in Greenpoint. It’s not very popular, but it’s on the corner right where we practice. They have free hot dogs, and hardcore bands on the weekends. We usually go on the weekdays.

Nighttime Playlist: (AVW) It’s always pretty mellow on our bus, music-wise. Recently, there’s been a lot of Hawaiian music, a lot of flat-key guitar and falsetto voice, dub reggae, Tangerine Dream and Spiritualized. Funkadelic definitely gets the party started, and Shuggie Otis is always good.

How The Night Inspires Us Creatively: (AVW) We write songs, but not really music we’re going to put on an album. We get inspired and do crazy things and record weird stuff. We should tape more. I like staying up very late, but only occasionally. I think it makes it more special when it’s not every night. (BG) It usually takes me all day to wake up. The time that I am most awake and have the most ideas is usually around 10 or 11 at night. I don’t know why that is. I definitely like involving a lot of daylight in my schedule — most of the album was written during the day. But I think most of the conceptualizing, the putting together of ideas, comes together at night. I am also inspired by being a little exhausted and delirious.

Life Imitating Art: (AVW) Touring is pretty crazy, health-wise. I’ve been drinking a lot less, taking it easy and preserving my health. I stay away from fast food, and try not to do ecstasy every night. Smoking pot allows me to be silly and weird and dance by myself. I’ve also been drinking a lot of sparkling water lately, which tickles my fancy. I think it’s amazing that sparkling water is not any worse for you than normal water. It tastes like a treat, like there’s sugar in it. And also, I love cookies, ice cream and desserts. (BG) Andrew is definitely the dessert person. I’m trying to steer clear of beer. In Japan, I tried something called Umeshu — a liquor with lower proof. It’s really refreshing. You can mix it with other drinks.

Lethal Beverage: (BG) We played a festival in Budapest, and it was the backstage drink special called the Lamborghini, with three different layers of colored liqueur in a martini glass. You take a straw on ice, and you put it on the bottom of the glass, light the drink on fire and drop cinnamon in it, and it makes fireworks. You have to drink the whole drink, and as you’re drinking it, the bartender pours a shot of absinthe into the glass. It was a really decadent night, because there was also a booth set up for massages at the festival. So I drank this ridiculous drink, got two massages and felt out of my mind. I think jet lag was part of it, and the massage released toxins that had been building up in my body. I had an out of body experience.

Kinkiest Party: (AVW) As students at Wesleyan University, we lived in a clothing-optional dorm where the real concentrated nudity happened at naked parties held twice a year. At the beginning, it’s less sexually charged. People are so nervous, and everyone’s self-conscious about their bodies. There’s lots of eye contact and conversations, because people don’t want to stare at people’s penises and boobs, but then you end up doing it anyway. The whole campus was welcome, so a dude from the football team with a 10-inch penis might just be behind you. (BG) I realized that most people look really weird naked.

Original Dance: (AVW) A praying mantis that we kept as a pet as college roommates inspired the riff in “Time to Pretend.” It’s not a dance that is recognized by the dance community. If you know how the praying mantis looks, it’s pretty simple to figure out how it might dance. Mostly, it’s in the arms. (BG) It’s like a T-Rex in attack pose, and moving your arms up and down. Our praying mantis would actually dance when we’d play the Combat Rock album by the Clash.

How You React to Hearing Your Songs On A Playlist: (BG) I usually try to block it out. (AVW) I get self-conscious. If I’m drunk enough, I’ll dance kind of ironically to it.

Creatures of the Night: A Gallery of After Darkers

In the booming, bustling world of urban nightlife, things are neither silent nor still, nor necessarily what they seem. Here, when most people have begun cashing in on their eight hours of rest, we hit the streets with our most beloved, insatiable crew of revelers—from deejays and drag queens to one very poised 92-year-old single gal—to experience the debauchery and decadence of the world after dark.

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The Downtown Dynasty: Geordon Nicol, Leigh Lezark and Greg Krelenstein of The MisShapes with Sophia Lamar and Spencer Product, photographed at the Annex, New York City. Never mind the fickle nature of the deejay lifestyle. The enduring hipster phenomenon known as the MisShapes — Geordon Nicol, Greg Krelenstein and Leigh Lezark — continue to garner momentum while other club kids simply spin out of control (Lezark has even managed to leverage her downtown success into international stardom, most recently as one of the celebrity faces in this fall’s GAP campaign). When not living out of suitcases — filled, almost exclusively, with black clothes — they most often frequent the Annex, a casual, beer-soaked club on Orchard Street overrun with irony and seam-defying denim. “I want to feel excited and sometimes nostalgic when I’m out listening to music.” says Krelenstein.

Their close friend Sophia Lamar, a trans-gendered Cuban refugee, style visionary and onetime member of the Michael Alig crew, shares the same passion for the deep, dark bowels of evening revelry. A nightlife fixture for years, she cops to having witnessed some strange sights: “I once saw a performer who was naked on stage eating corn on the cob. She then blew popcorn out of her ass.” Lezark and Nicol chime in with their own memory: “We saw someone in a bear suit catch fire, and his friend pissed on him to extinguish the flames.” In response to a question about rest, Lamar’s longtime friend and party conspirator, deejay Spencer Product, whose mix album …Product was released last month, asks, defiance in his tone, “Sleeping pattern? What sleeping pattern?”

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The All-Nighters: Deborah Harry, musician, actor, and Justin Bond, cabaret performer, photographed at The Diner, New York City. Rock goddess Deborah Harry and international cabaret star Justin Bond (aka Kiki of Kiki & Herb), friends for over 10 years, revel in pleasures of the evening — creative and otherwise: “I look at it like this,” says Harry, casual and still utterly iconic in her white blouse and stripey pants, hair platinum blonde, fresh from Blondie’s Parallel Lines anniversary tour. “My favorite part of the day is from about 4 a.m. to 7 a.m. I love those hours. I think that being in the city, staying out all night and facing the dawn offers an amazing perspective. It’s a very creative time. I either get there from the back side or the front side.”

For Bond, charismatic and festive in eyeliner and quilted jacket, the hours between 10 to 12 offer the first window of nocturnal magic: “Putting on my makeup is like zen meditation, especially if you have girlfriends to get ready with,” he says, seated across from his partner in crime over blue plate specials at a Chelsea diner. “Then, three to five is good, because all the hardcore people are left, the risk-taking people who’ve come out from their buildings to mingle with each other.” Living in one of the world’s 24-hour cities, both agree, is a major perk. Bond’s after-hours itinerary includes catching up with moonlighting deejay John Cameron Mitchell at Mattachine, a Thursday night blowout at Julius in the West Village. Harry, whose favorite clubs over the years have included Jackie 60 and Mother (“high on the list, if not the top”), CBGB, Max’s Kansas City and Studio 54 says: “At least in New York, you can act like an adult. You can be responsible for your own irresponsibility.”

When it comes to their choice libations, Bond, whose boozy chanteuse Kiki has a celebrity-addicted following, says that he likes “a nice slug of Jack and Coke.” Harry, the quintessential diva of the night, whose seductive “Heart of Glass” and “Rapture” are inevitable pleasures in any nightclub (the endurance of the songs “is the best thing that happened to me, but I prefer now to the past. I’m not really a nostalgic person,” she says), gets her thrill from champagne, Cristal to be precise: “It’s the ultimate. You can always rely on it. I never get hangovers.” But if they mix their poisons, or have one too many, what do the dedicated nightbirds turn to for hangover cures? “Advil, or a hamburger,” Bond offers, “and sex. Anything that makes me sweat.” “There you go,” says Harry. “Best cure yet.” — Ray Rogers and James Servin.

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The Late Bloomer: Zelda Kaplan, nightlife legend, photographed at Bungalow 8, New York City. Zelda Kaplan, 92, sits tucked away in a booth at the back of Bungalow 8, one of her favorite New York City haunts, sipping from a champagne flute. Scheduling an appointment with her days earlier came with the following caveat: “Remember, sweetie, don’t call until four or five in the afternoon. Otherwise, I’ll still be in bed.” A trained ballroom dancer, the twice-married humanitarian has traveled throughout Ethiopia to raise awareness about female genital mutilation (“It’s excision, not circumcision,” she says). These days, she saunters about town at all hours of the morning, wearing that cylindrical hat of hers, draped in rich fabrics she discovered while touring Africa. “I like to go out,” she says, her sharp eyes shielded by sunglasses. “I like to be with nice people, although not the types who get sloppy, sloppy drunk.” She remembers, after the loss of her second husband, “going home at night and thinking, My gosh, this is so boring! But how could I possibly go out without an escort? And then one night, I went to Bungalow 8. There were people in line, but I was let right in. I went straight to the bar. To take up a table by oneself is awful, and besides, I wanted to talk to people.” Which is precisely what she did, forming a core group of friends, many of whom could pass as her great-grandchildren. And that’s just fine with Kaplan, who has little patience when her few remaining nonagenarian peers complain about rheumatoid arthritis. “After two or three minutes, I’m like, Whatever,” she say, smiling. The club scene, of course, has changed drastically since Kaplan first hit the dance floor, and she’s the first to notice: “Women today, these girls, present their fannies to men by bending over at the bar. And the men, they come up close behind them, you know, moving. I’ve presented myself to men like that before, but never in public.”

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The Firestarter: Luke Worrall, model, photographed at his “mum’s house” in Croydon, London, U.K. Luke Worrall was only 17 years old when he made his second appearance on the cover of Dazed & Confused magazine, the lascivious proposal “SEX ME UP!” brandished over his body, which was tightly braided in an embrace with two other naked models — one male, one female — colorful phallic blow-ups adorning their heads. A few months later, in January of this year, Worrall cracked the pages of W in little more than an Ann Demeulemeester coq feather vest, actress Hilary Swank on all fours in front of him. Photos like these, along with his closely monitored romance with Kelly Osbourne (about which he’s chosen to remain reticent), have positioned Worrall as quite the party boy. It’s a label he’s quick to discard, and one of the reasons he vows never again to model naked. “I like to go out,” he says. “But I also party at home with my family.” A run-in with a torch might explain his preference for celebrating on his own turf: “I was recently at the Versace party in Milan during Fashion Week. I had just modeled in a show where they had done up my hair in fine cornrows. I walked past a hanging lamp and, the next thing I knew, my hair was on fire.”

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The Stone Thrower: Perez Hilton, celebrity blogger, photographed outside of the El Rey Theatre, Los Angeles, California. At 5:40 a.m., merciless Hollywood blogger Perez Hilton, 30, sits down at his computer to defile a few well-known faces with the hand-drawn semen he’s become famous — and reviled — for. But while most guerilla gossips remain faceless, if not altogether nameless observers, Hilton has built an online empire on the promise of full disclosure and constant exposure — which hasn’t always worked in his favor, especially among certain members of the tight-lipped, West Coast nightlife set. “Getting kicked out of Chateau Marmont was shocking,” he says, “because I didn’t do anything to deserve it. They just knew who I was, what I did for a living, and made it clear that I was not welcome there.”

He has, however, befriended the inspiration for his eponymous website. “Paris Hilton knows how to throw a really good house party,” he says. “At her place, I always see the most random group of people, from A-listers to D-listers.” When asked if he’d rather throw down in New York or Los Angeles, the self-appointed “Queen of all Media” says, “New York is dangerous because the clubs don’t close until 4 a.m. My favorite place in Los Angeles, which I go to pretty much every weekend I’m in town, is Akbar in Silver Lake. There’s no velvet rope. There’s no cover. They have a dance floor, but they also have a jukebox in the other room, if you feel like lounging. In L.A. — even though clubs close at 2 a.m. — you can get in a lot of trouble because you still have to drive home. And we all know how much celebrities love to drink and drive.”

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The Keepers of the Faith: Michael Musto, Andre J., Joey Arias and Amanda Lepore, club kids, photographed in the bathroom at BBar & Grill, New York City. Outside of the tiled bathroom at BBar & Grill on Manhattan’s recently sanitized Bowery strip, hundreds of fragrant men cluster together in shape-defining jeans for Erich Conrad’s notorious Tuesday night happening, Beige. They sidle up to one another, impatient for cocktails. Inside, in front of a wall lined with urinals, French Vogue cover model Andre J., dressed in a hot pink halter with matching booty shorts, bends down to cool his face with the breeze from a nearby hand-dryer. Next to him in a black pinstripe suit, The Village Voice columnist Michael Musto jokes with drag cabaret performer Joey Arias, while Amanda Lepore, photographer David LaChapelle’s muse — and “the world’s most famous transsexual with a fully-functioning vagina,” according to her voicemail greeting — places the scarlet heel of her right Louboutin into the urinal beside her.

But despite being crammed together in that scant, airless room, business proceeds as usual for the club kids who discovered themselves and one another throughout the 1980s and 1990s. The surroundings don’t faze them, especially not Musto, who used to ogle Michael Jackson at Studio 54 and dodge streams of projectile breast milk used to make White Russians at Susanne Bartsch’s infamous bacchanals. Because he doesn’t drink, Musto describes himself as “a eunuch at an orgy,” and says, laughing, “I think heaven will be awfully boring — Mother Teresa and Angelina Jolie tending to the children and Julie Andrews singing ‘Chim chim cher-ee.’ Give me hell anytime!” Of his relationship with the other three assembled here tonight, Musto says, “They are people of the night! My kindred spirits pursue their dreams, living as their most extreme and fabulous versions of themselves. Most people don’t have the balls to do that.”

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Les French Fries: Yelle, singer-songwriter, photographed in Paris, France. French siren Yelle (pronounced “gel,” not “jelly”) first performed the acerbic lyrics to “Je veux to voir” last fall, to a sold-out sea of neon tights and tattered T-shirts at one of France’s trendiest nightclubs, Le Paris Paris. “I wanna see you in a porn flick,” she sang, “Getting busy with your potato or French fry-shaped dick.” The audience went crazy, and one can’t help wonder if that’s why the spud theme has stuck. “I love a good hamburger with French fries,” she says, adding, “But a plate of pasta with butter is also pretty perfect after a long night out.” Since stomping her cyber footprint on MySpace only a few years ago, Yelle, 25, has taken control of French airwaves with tracks from her bold, brash debut album Pop-Up — sex toys, lesbian desire and love are all explored in her songs — for which she is currently touring America alongside her two bandmates. With her electro-sexpot look and wide, bewitching stare, one imagines she attracts plenty of attention when out with friends. “The worst pick-up line I ever heard was, ‘Your father is a thief. He took all the stars from the sky and put them in your eyes,’” she says, rolling them.

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The Playboy: Sébastien Tellier, musician, photographed at Santos Party House, New York City. It’s nearing dusk when French musician and deejay Sébastien Tellier breaks from conversation in search of another drink at the Tribeca Grand Hotel. He returns, his Herculean sunglasses still firmly in place, and says, unprompted, “I drink one glass of white wine before every show to loosen up my throat. And, of course, I smoke a joint.” After a reflective pause, he adds, grinning, “I smoke a lot of joints, actually.” On tour in support of his latest album,Sexuality, a warm, writhing toe-dip into Gainsbourg territory that was given its pre-release exclusively at American Apparel, Tellier explains that his creative focus has shifted from politics to sex. “I used to make music for a room of French intellectuals,” says the self-described “enemy of convention,” who has worked closely with the members of Air and Daft Punk, with whom he also spends most nights out. “And now, I see young women in the crowd who are barely 15 years old. Their spirit and youth are wonderful. I don’t even really want to see people dance to my music, but I do want to see them kiss.” Has Tellier ever played his own love jams to set the mood? “Holy shit, no. I’m not that much of an exhibitionist.”

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The Anarchist Gypsy: Eugene Hütz, singer for Gogol Bordello, actor, photographed at Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel, Providence, Rhode Island. In the dank, wood-paneled Bulgarian bar Mehanata on Ludlow Street, Eugene Hütz, the churlish but spirited creator of New York’s gypsy punk rock band Gogol Bordello, spins beat-driven songs for a messy crowd of dripping, drunk Lower East Side dancers. “I’ve never really liked hipsters,” says Hütz, 35, after being called one. “They’re an unfaithful bunch. I’d rather rely on intelligent people who can see past what’s of the moment.” His homespun, bedraggled looks inspired Frida Giannini’s breakthrough Fall-Winter 08/09 collection for Gucci, and his star will certainly rise this month with his top-billing role in Madonna’s feature directorial debut, Filth and Wisdom, but his heart still belongs to the New York night and his riotous weekly parties. “I’ve spoken to a lot of people who were brought up by 1970s New York underground culture, which was disorderly and uncompromising in a lot of ways,” says Hütz, who was born in Ukraine before immigrating stateside. “So, I came to New York with a democratic mentality. Someone would be playing an acoustic guitar in a little after-hours club with people who didn’t give a fuck, and something special happened — talent knew no borders, hierarchy was thrown out of the window. I live for that atmosphere.”

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The Globe-Hopper: Nigo, fashion designer, photographed in Tokyo, Japan. Japanese fashion designer Tomoaki “Nigo” Nagao still calls Tokyo home, but he goes where the energy flows for inspired nights out. These days, that means New York. The nightlife there, he says, maintains a “genuine craziness. I can really feel the excitement.” It’s been 15 years now since the former magazine stylist and hip-hop deejay changed the look of streetwear — and the backstreets of Harajuku — with the creation of his fashion label A Bathing Ape (BAPE). Looking back, Nigo, 37, can’t help but notice a change in tenor throughout the Tokyo nightlife circuit. “Going clubbing in the ’90s, everyone cared about how they looked, and it was creative and progressive in terms of fashion. Today’s scene is much smaller and more disparate.” No matter — Nigo keeps that creative flame alive with his labels, which include BAPE, but also Billionaire Boys Club and Ice Cream, with friend and co-founder Pharrell Williams. A retrospective of his work comes forth next month in the form of the Rizzoli tome, A Bathing Ape. But he’s got a tall order if he wants to top his most exciting night out to date with Pharrell. “I remember going to Miami for the first time ever, to the video shoot for ‘Frontin” from Pharrell’s first solo record. We went to some big club to celebrate, and almost every song the deejay played had been produced by the Neptunes. Pharrell really doesn’t drink, but we were all going wild.”

Photos: Victoria Will (MisShapes, Sophia Lamar, Spencer Product; Deborah Harry, Justin Bond; Zelda Kaplan; Sébastian Tellier), Atlanta Rasher (Luke Worrall), Brian Lindensmith (Perez Hilton), Lizzy Sullivan (Michael Musto, Andre J., Joey Arias, Amanda Lepore), Yoann Lemoine (Yelle), Isa Wipfli (Eugene Hütz), Maria Amita (Nigo).
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Alexandra Richards & Jill Stuart: Frock Stars

When model Alexandra Richards wants good vintage clothes and cool shoes, she raids the closet of her parents, Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards and iconic ’70s and ’80s model Patti Hansen. Designer Jill Stuart, who has featured Alexandra on her runway and in an upcoming Japanese campaign, mixes her own ultra-feminine designs with rare vintage finds. The two fiends for classic chic speak with James Servin about fashion, family and the best Stones tunes.

JILL STUART: So where are you right now, Alex — New York? L.A.?

ALEXANDRA RICHARDS: I’m in Connecticut, driving through Westport, on my way to a shoot in Boston. I’m with a girlfriend who’s just moved out of her apartment. We’re headed toward Main Street, on our way to an art store where I’ll be getting my dad some colored pencils and charcoal paper.

JS: I hear that he’s a really good artist.

AR: He is. I’ve been trying to push him more, because he’s finished up with the Rolling Stones for now, and I’m helping him get into his art again. He went to college in Dartford for photography, and then somehow ended up with a guitar.

BLACKBOOK: What’s new with your art, Alex?

AR: I’ll be going back to school this fall — to the School of Visual Arts, for photography. I’m modeling, and pursuing my degree.

When you did runway for Jill, what was your favorite piece?

AR: A high-waisted pencil skirt. It was so timeless, and it’s so back in. Jill designs a lot of clothes that you can bring into any era or generation.

JS: Mix it up with what you have.

AR: Dress it up and dress it down.

JS: It’s very individual, you know? I like that about my clothes.

What would you mix Jill’s clothes with, Alex?

AR: I’ve got a lot of vintage pieces, hand-me-downs from my parents.

JS: Those must be awesome pieces!

AR: In high school, they weren’t appreciated. I went to a public school, where you kind of just wore jeans and sweaters. But in the city, I’d walk around wearing all this old designer jewelry and people would come up to me and ask where I got it. And I’d say, “Oh, from my parents.” I didn’t realize what I had until I moved to the city.

Jill, when Alex worked on your show, did you see a connection between her and the clothes?

JS: She looks great in them. She fits right in. She’s got the right energy.

AR: I remember loving a dress you made, with a beautiful pattern of cherry lips. It was very sexy pin-up, and to this day, that’s still my style. What are you both excited by in fashion right now?

AR: I didn’t make it to the shows this year because I was traveling, but Zac Posen was great. Vera Wang was pretty good, too.

JS: There are a lot of long dresses, with the bohemian ’70s vibe, which I can totally see you relating to.

AR:Yeah, I’ve been feeling that. I have a very eclectic kind of taste, from bohemian to sexy pin-up. I also like my grunge.

What in pop culture is inspiring you right now?

JS: Contempt, the Godard movie with Brigitte Bardot. She was just amazing in it.

AR: We were sitting around playing a celebrity game two nights ago, in which people have to ask a couple of yes or no questions and guess who you are. I was Brigitte Bardot. She always looks good. Sexy chic. She’s dorky too, you know? She was funny. You could laugh at her and with her. Jill, do you wear all of your own designs?

JS: I mix them with vintage.

What kind of pieces are you attracted to?

JS: A lot of bias-cut dresses from the 1930s, all the little 1940s dresses, and London designers from the ’70s like Ozzie Clarke and Zandra Rhodes.

BB: Alex, what sorts of vintage pieces have you inherited from your parents?

AR: My mom had some very simple, sexy chic dresses from Hugo Boss. Gucci is still around, but she had ’80s Gucci, which had a very bold, smart look. My mom went through a business-suit-lady era, and I got a couple of her jackets. As for my dad, I used to steal his boots, like green pull-up shaggy, slouchy boots that had a lot of holes in them by the time they got to me, but I thought they were so cool. He’s got smaller feet, and I’ve got big feet for a girl, so it kind of works.

What is fashion’s place in your world?

JS: Fashion is a big part of my life. I think about it every day. I have three daughters who totally inspire me. They’re all totally different and have their unique styles. My older daughter is more flirty and feminine and sexy. My middle daughter, who will be studying fashion design at Cornell, is more eclectic, more bohemian, kind of a hippie. And then my little one is so precocious, I don’t even know what to say about her. She likes sexy dresses, and she’s 12 years old. You know that age, 12 going on 13.

AR: Going on 30.

JS: She’s a girly girl, she watches Gossip Girl, she’s got that type of style. They’re all very individual. Alex, what sort of fashion advice does your sister [Theodora Richards, also a model] give you?

AR: She’s like, “Spend money, Alex. It’s okay. Just do it! You need more color.” I’m such a cheap person. She’s the happy, little one, and she’s the only person I can really shop with.

JS: I shop with my daughters all the time.

AR: It’s nice to find someone you can spend money with.

JS: I love what my daughters pick out.

AR: Yeah, and you’re thinking, “I’ll borrow that later.”

JS: They take all my clothes! AR: It’s your family! You have to. But I have my iconic piece, my “You can’t wear that” piece. It’s a black hat that first belonged to Theodora, but I can’t give it back to her. It’s just this black, simple, kind of floppy hat from the ’70s. She got it at a vintage store on Portobello Road in London, and I’m über-obsessed with it. JS: You’re modeling a lot.

AR: Yeah, well, I’ve been working a lot. I’ve been very lucky. I’ve been making money, and I’m trying to do an art show by the end of the summer. Alex, how’s shopping for your dad’s art supplies going?

AR: My girlfriend is helping me pick them out right now. We’re getting charcoal and crayons. He’s working a lot with charcoal. We just got two French bulldog puppies — one is named Etta Belle, and my mom’s is called Sugar — and he wants to draw them tonight. Do either of you have a favorite Stones song?

JS: All of them.

AR: Mine would be “Under My Thumb” or “Ruby Tuesday.”

JS: “Ruby Tuesday,” for sure! “Under My Thumb” is pretty good, too.

AR: Especially if you hear it in a dark, candlelit room with the fireplace going.

The fact that it’s your dad’s song doesn’t change your experience of it? AR: Oh yeah, it’s like, get the whole family in there.