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Friday, August 08, 2014

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres




Photographs: left, by Jessica Antola; right, by Christophe Mourthé


"Vanity Fair writer William Stadiem follows the trail of the legendary Madame Claude, who in 1960s Paris became known as the world’s most exclusive madam. Stadiem, who met Claude in the 1980s in an attempt to partner with her on a tell-all book that never materialized, speaks with Claude’s friends, confidantes, and former clients about her rise to success and her cultivated stable of women, many of whom married into wealth and power. According to Taki Theodoracopulos, longtime 'High Life' columnist for London’s Spectator, by the late 1950s, Claude 'was already a legend' in Paris. 'Going to a hooker was not looked down upon then. It was before the pill; girls weren’t giving it away.' He tells Stadiem, 'Her place was off the Champs, just above a branch of the Rothschild bank, where I had an account. Once I met her, I was constantly making withdrawals and heading upstairs.' Stadiem writes that Claude—who relocated to Los Angeles in 1977 after French authorities began pursuing her for tax evasion—had an enviable client list of very powerful men and no lack of stories to tell: 'There was John Kennedy requesting a Jackie look-alike ‘but hot.’ There were Aristotle Onassis and Maria Callas showing up with depraved requests that made Claude blush. There was Marc Chagall giving the girls priceless sketches of their nude selves, Gianni Agnelli taking a post-orgy group to Mass, the Shah and his gifts of jewels. There were such disparate bedfellows on the client list as Moshe Dayan and Muammar Qaddafi, Marlon Brando and Rex Harrison. There was even a story about how the C.I.A. hired Claude’s charges to help keep up morale during the Paris peace talks.'" (VF)


"This is a terribly serious interview but it didn’t feel like it at the time. Dr. Valerie Steele, author, historian and Director and Chief Curator of the Fashion Institute of Technology, was smoking and drinking Sancerre when I arrived (it was 11 am but, as she put it ‘It must be five o’clock somewhere.’) I had some too, which gave me the thrill of the mild naughtiness of drinking early in the day. She’s got this really dirty, smoky laugh, sadly impossible to convey in print. She told me she was a high school dropout and even though she’s now garlanded with Yale degrees and a prestigious title, she’s no goody-goody. I bet she was rebellious, quietly or otherwise. ‘A lot of people think that fashion people are like the skinny rich girls from high school but as many friends of mine in fashion have pointed out, in fact there are more people in fashion who were the geeky outsiders who were shunned at high school and who have managed to find, or make a place for themselves in fashion,’ she said. Her greatest love is curating the shows at FIT but of course her day is largely spent dealing with administration and funding and the other boring things that make the world go around. Her latest FIT show is Gothic: Dark Glamour and runs until February 21st.  So I have to start out by saying that I was worried about what to wear today! [She laughs] But then I decided to wear ‘honest’ clothes, ones that were not going to portray something that I am not. [For the record, and since this interview is about the language of clothes, I wore black pants, an Indian printed silk top and sandals, an outfit that JH informed Valerie was further evidence of my continuing lack of style. He himself wore jeans and a vaguely grubby yellow polo shirt and Valerie wore black pants, expensive-looking flats – I forgot to ask by whom – and a truly wonderful top by Jun Takahashi of Undercover that at first glance looked to be a flower-print but on closer inspection was actually a pattern of dripping vampire fangs.]" (NYSD)

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