WEB EXCLUSIVE – PAINT IT RED

Photography by Dustin MansyurStyling by Airik Prince | Model Marina Nery @ IMG models
Makeup by Nina Soriano of Artists and Company using Makeup Forever USA
Hair by Gonn Kinoshita using TIGI BedheadNails by Jini Lim using Chanel Le Vernis

RICHARD AVEDON: NOTHING PERSONAL

 New York—Pace Gallery and Pace/MacGill Gallery are honored to announce their representation of The Richard Avedon Foundation with an exhibition of Richard Avedon’s photographs and extensive archival materials drawn from Nothing Personal, Avedon’s 1964 collaboration with James Baldwin. This will be the first comprehensive presentation of this period of Avedon’s work and will be on view at 537 West 24th Street from November 17, 2017 through January 13, 2018. To coincide with the occasion, TASCHEN will republish a facsimile edition of Nothing Personal with an accompanying booklet containing a new introduction by Pulitzer Prize-winning critic Hilton Als and rare and unpublished Avedon photographs.Native New Yorkers Richard Avedon (1923-2004) and James Baldwin (1924-1987) met as students at DeWitt Clinton High School in the Bronx in the late 1930s. They became friends while writing for and editing The Magpie, the school’s literary magazine. Even as teenagers, they, in their writing, dealt with profound issues of race, mortality, and, as Avedon wrote, “the future of humanity” as World War II closed in on them.

George Wallace, Governor of Alabama, November 1963 Photograph by Richard Avedon © The Richard Avedon Foundation

In January of 1963, Avedon photographed Baldwin for a magazine assignment and suggested that they work on a book about life in America. Baldwin readily agreed. “This book,” said Baldwin at the time, “examines some national and contemporary phenomena in an attempt to discover why we live the way we do. We are afflicted by an ignorance of our natures vaster and more dangerous than our ignorance of life on Mars.”

Corresponding frequently with Baldwin, Avedon traveled extensively in 1963 and 1964 photographing portraits for the book while Baldwin wrote the essay. They met up periodically to share and discuss their progress. The collaboration resulted in some of Avedon’s most pivotal portraiture of his middle career, from civil rights icons (Malcolm X) to staunch segregationists (George Wallace); to aging stars (Joe Louis) and young fame seekers (Fabian); to powerful politicians (Adam Clayton Powell) and ordinary citizens; to young idealists (Julian Bond) and elderly pacifists (Norman Thomas); to patients committed to a mental institution who seek love, comfort, and some semblance of consideration.

At the core of the photographs – almost all of which will be on view at Pace Gallery – is the question of how Americans understand race relations and their own identities, and, by extension, the identities and civil rights of others.

“Both Avedon and Baldwin cared deeply about what was (or was not) going on in America in the early 1960s. It was an explosive time, not unlike the one we live in today. The events enveloping our country provoked Avedon’s careful reflection and examination of the place and its people. There is a lot to learn from looking at this prophetic work and considering the very profound statement it makes.”—Peter MacGill

Marilyn Monroe, actress, May 1957 Photograph by Richard Avedon © The Richard Avedon Foundation

Nothing Personal was originally designed by Marvin Israel and published by Atheneum in November of 1964 under the aegis of legendary editor Simon Michael Bessie. Though denounced at the time of publication, Nothing Personal is now recognized as a masterwork whose powerful message of a confused and often compromised society seeking fleeting moments of joy, grace and occasional redemption remains equally relevant more than a half-century later.

Richard Avedon (1932–was born in New York City in 1923 and joined the Young Men’s Hebrew Association camera club at the age of 12. After serving as a Photographer’s Mate Second Class in the U.S. Merchant Marine during World War II, he began working as a freelance photographer, primarily for Harper’s Bazaar, in 1944. Under the tutelage of Alexey Brodovitch, Avedon quickly became the magazine’s lead photographer, while also creating formal portraits for many other sources, including his own portfolio.

First showcased in Edward Steichen’s Family of Man exhibition at The Museum of Modern Art in 1955, Avedon’s work has appeared in numerous exhibitions worldwide. His first retrospective was held at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington,

D.C. in 1962 and was followed by solo exhibitions at the Minneapolis Institute of Art (1970), The Museum of Modern Art, New York (1974), the Amon Carter Museum of American Art (1985), and the Whitney Museum of American Art (1994), among others. Avedon was the first living photographer to receive two shows at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (1978 and 2002).

Avedon died while working on an assignment called “Democracy” for The New Yorker during the 2004 presidential election. During his lifetime, he established The Richard Avedon Foundation in New York City, which now houses his archive and works with curators and collectors around the world.

Patients in a mental institution, February 1963 Photograph by Richard Avedon © The Richard Avedon Foundation

Pace/MacGill, one of the world’s leading photography galleries has been dedicated to advancing fine art photography for over 30 years. Known for discovering artists, representinv masters, and placing important collections and archives into major public institutions, Pace/MacGill has presented some 200 exhibitions and published numerous catalogues on modern and contemporary photography. Founded in 1983 by Peter MacGill, in collaboration with Arne Glimcher of Pace and Richard Solomon of Pace Editions, Pace/MacGill is located at 32 East 57th Street in New York City.

Pace is a leading contemporary art gallery representing many of the most significant international artists and estates of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Founded by Arne Glimcher in Boston in 1960 and currently led by Marc Glimcher, Pace has been a constant, vital force in the art world and has introduced many renowned artists’ work to the public for the first time. Pace has mounted more than 900 exhibitions, including scholarly shows that have subsequently traveled to museums, and published over 450 exhibition catalogues. Today, Pace has nine locations worldwide: three galleries in New York; one in London; one in Palo Alto, California; one in Beijing; and spaces in Hong Kong, Paris, and Seoul. In 2016, the gallery launched Pace Art + Technology, a new program dedicated to showcasing interdisciplinary art groups, collectives and studios whose works explore the confluence of art and technology.

 Members of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, March 1963 Photograph by Richard Avedon © The Richard Avedon Foundation

Santa Monica Beach, September 1963 Photograph by Richard Avedon © The Richard Avedon Foundation

William Casby, born in slavery, March 1963 Photograph by Richard Avedon © The Richard Avedon Foundation

THE WEBSTER OPENS ITS NEWEST LOCATION IN NYC

With the store originating from the tropics of South Beach and having expanded to Houston, Costa Mesa, and Bal Harbour—it was only natural for The Webster to house their new location in the heart of New York City’s, Soho. Laure Heriard Dubreuil, founder of the luxury retailer, has mirrored the same opulent brand formula with a new ingredient—Webster Home. The six story building will handle pieces by Italian artist Gaetano Pesce, Pierre Frey fabrics that are exclusive to The Webster, and Nada Debs brass candy colored pebble table. Throughout the renovation of their new location The Webster befriended Maxi Cohen, photographer, video artist, and neighbor whose piece is now featured on the third floor.

The store is thoughtfully filled with French 50’s sconce lights and wall papers from the 20’s and 30’s and does the historical 1878, 12,000-square-foot building proud. Turn of the century light wells guide you onto a vintage loading dock entrance, and step out into a room that’s a fusion of new and retrograded pieces mirroring the original Webster store, which was redeveloped with the help and design of Christopher Osvai.

Filling the six floored location are thirty male designers and 68 women designers, including but not limited to Isa Arfen, Julien David, and jewelry by Anita Ko, The Webster combines high end clothing interwoven amongst art deco and one of a kind installations. Sculptures such as Aaron Young’s “Below the Underdog, 2010” is set amongst thoughtfully chosen menswear on the fourth floor.

For more information about the founder, Laure Heriard Dubreuil, check out her Iris Woman feature!

All photos by Andrew Rowat courtesy of Karla Otto Public Relations

The Webster flagship retail store located at 29 Greene Street in New York, NY opening in Nov 2017.

 

The Webster flagship retail store located at 29 Greene Street in New York, NY opening in Nov 2017.

 

The Webster flagship retail store located at 29 Greene Street in New York, NY opening in Nov 2017.

 

The Webster flagship retail store located at 29 Greene Street in New York, NY opening in Nov 2017.

 

The Webster flagship retail store located at 29 Greene Street in New York, NY opening in Nov 2017.

 

The Webster, located at 29 Greene Street, opened to the public Monday, November 6, 2017

Shop online here

THE LADY IS A VAMP

Although not one of the typical fashion hubs like New York, Milan, or Paris, Eastern European designers have been vying for attention and pushing the limit in fashion over the past decade. From Vetements to Gosha Rubchinskiy, Eastern Europe has become the leader in fashion and leaving us all wanting a piece of the former Eastern Bloc. We have cast a spotlight on the creatives of one country, Ukraine, and the designers who have managed to enter the global stage.

Photography by Mikhail Vovk @mikhailvovk | Styling  by Nika Kovtsur @nikakovtsur | Beauty by Liudmila Agakhanova @agakhanova_liu | Model Anna Rudenko @rudenkoannaua (MAG @modelagentgroup)

Vest by Alonova

 

Leather coat, pants and shoes by Alonova, Earrings by J.W. Anderson

Total look by Ostel

Blouse by Dafna May, Belt by Alonova, Trousers by Ostel, Earrings Stylist’s own

Trousers by Ostel, Jacket and Shoes by Dafna May

Suit by Nadia Yurkiv, Brooch Stylist’s own

Total look by Alonova

Suit by Nadia Yurkiv, Earrings Stylist’s own

Total look by Alonova

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Style Assistant – Jacob Kotlik @jacobkotlik

BASTING BEYOND THE BINARY – BINDLE AND KEEP

Interview by Rishabh Manocha
All photos courtesy of Bindle & Keep

Adherence to gender conformity, an understated air of snobbery and implicit conservatism are aspects that best describe the setting of a traditional bespoke tailor’s shop. At the forefront of challenging these norms in the garb of a more inclusive world is Daniel Friedman, founder of Bindle & Keep. His firm is dedicated to creating bespoke garments for an audience that seeks to find comfort beyond the dichotomized notion of gender.

Perhaps modernity’s greatest challenge is to acknowledge that there is a landscape beyond the confines of a binary system of identification. This world is best perpetuated in clothing. This space most often concealed, whose glimpses we catch in the fleeting moments of idiosyncrasy remains largely in the shadows of our zeitgeist. And while it exerts a tremendous influence on our times, its most intrinsic needs go unnoticed. The whimsical fantasy of couture or the sombre refinement of tailoring don’t entirely please an audience that seeks both and none.

Design Semantics

Mr. Friedman hails from an architecture background which ascertains his ability to convince one of his imaginative prowess. “Trust is a very important factor in the design process,” he states, adding how pivotal it is to assure the clients that their vision and characteristics will not be compromised in the name of tradition or artistry. Running a business with a ninety-percent cis female and trans male consumer isn’t all that assumptive in nature, and indeed calls for the usage of sensitive language. “Triggers form an integral part of the garment. They can be visual, linguistic or sartorial. And, we translate them into a living portrait of the client in the form of clothing,” adds Friedman. It is years’ worth of social conditioning that is challenged in an in-depth conversation that resembles more of a holistic therapy session. The design process then begins and is followed by several weeks of comprehensive communication and fittings to achieve the desired perfection.

 

Heritage & Space

“Whilst we have great reverence for the tradition and craftsmanship of bespoke tailoring on Savile Row, I feel our clients feel neglected in the binary of the traditional tailoring system,” Friedman claims in a rather pensive tone. The idea of the business is to not only to provide well-fitted, superbly crafted garments but also to create a safe space for the diversity of people. “Our essence is not customary, we are not tipping our hats to one lineage or another, but rather working off the vulnerabilities and strengths of our clients that become apparent in form, shape and structure,” Friedman goes on to explain. The ethos of the business is not to undermine the value of binary, but rather to provide an alternative to people whose needs would otherwise be uncatered.

 

The Business of Bespoke

“We’ve created over seven thousand suits since our foundation in 2011,” exclaims Friedman. He started the business out of his apartment to provide not only a philosophical alternative, but also a monetary one. The business focuses on the usage of the finest fabrics from the likes of Scabal, Abraham Moon to Holland & Sherry. Unlike most bespoke businesses, the price points are much more palatable starting at $995 for a two piece suit. While design, pattern  and fittings are undertaken in the New York studio, garment construction takes place at a small-scale, ethically-run factory in Thailand. “ The demand is on the rise, and our challenge is to keep up the quality with the demand, hence the ten week timeline from inception to completion,” concludes Friedman.

Form, function and feasibility are chief tenets that this firm has well perfected. With the quality of old-world tailoring, sensitivity of a therapist and feasibility in price-point and convenience, Bindle & Keep is indeed an ingenious social and sartorial endeavour to address the concerns of the often singled out.

For more information, or schedule an appointment, visit:
http://www.bindleandkeep.com/

PARSONS TALENT 2017 – POWER, BEAUTY, AND REBELLION

Rebellion, power, and the allure of beauty and spectacle. I wanted to explore the relationship between the excessively opulent, the rebellious spirit, and the bewitching attraction of beauty. From the tale of Narcissus to the advent of the selfie, beauty has been a part of the psyche since the dawn of time and shows up everywhere we turn. The binaries of ugly and beautiful, submissive and rebellious, dull and glamorous, weak and powerful, male and female. I explore these extremes with references to Studio 54, the punk movement, and Imelda Marcos along with personal touches from my own life and point of view.
Photographer Marion Aguas | Fashion Editor and Designer Benjamin Price | Video Director Amanda Picotte | DP Mark Grgurich | Video Assistant Nicole Kugel | Hair by Candice Crawford and Angelo Styles | Makeup by Jaegger Pendoley and Tippy Danger | Models John James Busa, Daniel Walters, Ayumi, Ricky Aiello Jr., and Sebastian Rosemarie 

My research began with a look into the life of Imelda Marcos and her own personal construction of identity as well as the way she was viewed by the public. I wanted to tell her story, but through my research I realized that her story was just an allegory for the struggle of great, but controversial, women in history. Her’s is a perverse brand of feminism. Growing up Imelda wanted stability, respect, and power, and her whole life was directed towards those objectives. By using her beauty and her manipulative intelligence, she was able to marry Ferdinand Marcos and become what many regard as the second most powerful person in the Philippines at the time; an unofficial title that many First Ladies never have. However, in the lens of history, she is only remembered (though still presently living) as an icon of excess, conniving greed, and beauty. Her mark on history has been flattened, much like Marie Antoinette, as a one-dimensional character who brought down her husband and the country’s economy through vanity and sneakiness.

Concept and Fashion: Ben Price | Video Director: Amanda Picotte | Video Editor: Ricky Aiello Jr. | DP: Mark Grgurich | Video Assistant: Nicole Kugel | Music and Lyrics by: Zoe Zelkind and Stjepko Zebec

Women throughout history are seen as either the madonna or the whore. Women do not have the privilege of men in that they cannot be both good, evil, and everything in-between. There is a reason that in fairy tales the princess is virginal and pure of heart, and the witch is ugly, greedy, and prone to trickery. Through my thesis I wish to explore this identity construction. In her own personal history, Imelda made up certain facts in order to appear more lavish and important, and she purposefully acted out against tradition in order to stand out and garner power through other’s perception. Siouxsie Sioux, Madonna, Diana Ross, Bianca Jagger, and many other women of the 70’s and 80’s also rebelled through through their beauty and sartorial choices. There is an inherent power in the way we represent ourselves, and my thesis is about the dynamics between beauty, excess, power and subversion through spectacle.

GLAMOUR:

The idea of glamour comes up in my personal life as well as in the qualities of humanity that I am interested in. There is no interest in reality for me, but only for glamorized reality tv and the absurdity that comes with such excess. The 1970’s and 80’s were rife with excess, as a sort of rebellion against the conservative government in the US and the difficult economic times. We are living in a similar need for glamorous living with the Trump presidency, the defeat of progression and womanhood, and the possibly dystopic, dark future ahead. I predict a resurgence of subcultural escapism and glamorous, surreal nightlife, art, and general creativity.

REBELLION:

The idea of a rebellion in gender is what interests me most, from cross-dressing to gender-fuck and drag, I explore how people have used their clothing in order to subvert and draw attention by making others uncomfortable, and in turn, making one’s self feel more powerful. The punk movement used violence and gender to rebel, and many other forms of rebellion use clothing in order to convey their message, as it is the most powerful form of expression. Clothing tells a story, and one’s appearance can attract or repel others to that story.

BEAUTY:

The ultimate goal for many people is to be beautiful. Beauty is an enigma. A combination of financial privilege, genetics, attitude, and good-timing. There is a power in beauty that is hard to pin down. One feels powerless under the gaze of others, yet simultaneously one can get an intense satisfaction from that recognition which in turn makes one hungry for that same attention and validation. The power of beauty, whether it be the sirens of Greek mythology who led sailors to their death in a transfixed stupor, or Kimberly Kardashian’s selfie book, is an ever twisting and mythical ideal. We all strive to have power, and beauty is just another route to power.

POWER:

Ultimately, that is my thesis synthesis. Power: what it means to each individual person, and what it can provide for them. Power is just another word for validation and importance. If you assert dominance over another person you proved your importance and you prove that your life means something and has affected change. Imelda sought power by marrying a powerful, wealthy man and sharing in that wealth and power, however her greed became her undoing. It is a classic trope of  hero’s journey: hubris leads to eventual demise. The punk movement was a grasp for power and validation as well. By subverting mainstream culture one proves their own identity as being individual and important. Punk says “fuck you!” to all accepted notions, and like all subcultures, garners attention from the mainstream and affects change. Studio 54 and the glamorous years of disco had a similar effect in terms of garnering attention, and it shared in a decadent hedonism that the punk movement paralleled.

“SHE’S BRILLIANT! SHE’S EVIL!”:

In the movie Basic Instinct, starring Sharon Stone and Michael Douglas, Dr. Beth Garner warns that the anti-hero, Catherine Tramell, is brilliant and evil. When I first saw this movie, this scene of over-acting really resonated with me because it highlighted the dichotomy between genius and malice and the thin line that it tows. Catherine Tramell is so fascinating as a character, like most female characters that I adore, because even though she is a manipulative sociopath and likely murdered, she is so intelligent, beautiful, and so perfect in presentation that you cannot help but be charmed and want her to succeed. I have always had a love of strong female characters who may also be insane. This is a love that I believe goes back to my family and the strong, somewhat mentally and emotionally unstable women that I grew up around. I felt that “she’s brilliant! she’s evil!” is the perfect name for my thesis collection because it embodies the dynamics between appearance, identity, power, and ridiculousness that I have explored. Women can be brilliant, evil, kind, caring, sadistic, insane, imbecilic, ugly, and beautiful simultaneously…just like men.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SOFIA BOUTELLA – BY ELLEN VON UNWERTH

Positioned to take the main stage with two summer flicks set to be box office smashes, playing opposite Tom Cruise in The Mummy and alongside Charlize Theron in Atomic Blonde, Sofia Boutella is ready for her close-up.


Photography by Ellen Von Unwerth | Styling by Deborah Afshani | Art Direction by Louis Liu | Editor Marc Sifuentes | Interview by Dustin Mansyur | Dress by J GERARD

Sofia Boutella is about to blow out the candle on a chocolate lava cake served up graciously by the pastry team at Chateau Marmont. Glasses of champagne are lined up across a low wooden table, ready to serve. Swarthy and saturnine, Boutella sweeps her dark locks to one side and leans over the cake, pausing momentarily as she closes her eyes to make a wish, before extinguishing the flame with a flash of her infectious smile. “Bravo!” everyone cheers while Sofia flits a bashful round of thanks. The celebration is actually impromptu during a lunch break, and Sofia is on-set for a photoshoot with Ellen Von Unwerth at the famed West Hollywood hotel. Birthday or no birthday, embodying a femme fatale for a crème-de-la-femme celebrity photographer is all in a day’s work for Boutella, who’s poised to unleash her prowess with two movies in this summer’s highly-anticipated release of Alex Kurtzman’s latest installment of The Mummy and David Leitch’s spy thriller, Atomic Blonde. Maintaining her coquettish sensuality while kicking ass is a razor wire that Boutella jetes upon with ease, even if it involves otherworldly makeup or taking a punch on set.

Hailing from Algiers, the ingénue actress is actually a multi-faceted artist who began her career as an internationally-acclaimed dancer, enrolling in classical dance education at the age of 5. Later, when her family moved to France, Sofia continued dancing, adding rhythmic gymnastics to her education, and joining the French national team by the age of 18. In 2006, with her dance troupe The Vagabond Crew, Boutella went on to win the World Championship Hip Hop Battle, making her an undeniable force in the world of dance.  With several smaller film and commercial appearances already under her belt, she made a breakout appearance in a series of iconic Nike campaigns choreographed by legendary choreographer and creative director, Jamie King. Quickly garnering the interest of several high-profile musicians, Boutella found herself dancing for Madonna, Michael Jackson, Rihanna, Usher and many others. Breaking out on the big screen,  her most recent film appearances include Justin Lin’s Star Trek Beyond co-starring Zoe Saldana, Chris Pine, and Zachary Quinto and Matthew Vaughn’s Kingsman: The Secret Service, alongside Colin Firth and Samuel L. Jackson.

Here IRIS Covet Book shares a conversation with the blockbuster beauty about lesbian love scenes and mystic monsters with heart.

 

Feather Coat by Vanessa Seward, Bra, Panty and Garter Belt by Maison Close, Black Stockings by FALKE, Shoes by Christian Louboutin, Choker, Earrings and Bracelet by Eddie Borgo

You worked with Ellen Von Unwerth at Chateau Marmont for this cover shoot. How did it go? What was it like working with her?
Oh my God, it was amazing! I loved working with her! I think she’s fantastic! I loved her ability to get things out of me. I’ve never shot with her before, but after working with her I felt like I understood how she’s able to get this energy in the photos. Her style really allows people’s personality to shine through in the images. She let me be myself while still giving me interesting, creative direction. It was really cool.

What did you enjoy most about working with her? Was there a specific look or shot that you loved?
I just had a lot of fun because it was going to be my birthday the day after. I was having lunch and ordered some French fries because I hadn’t had them in so long! I came on set still eating, so she started to shoot me while I was having fun with the fries. We had another moment where we were shooting at Bar Marmont and I was dancing on the bar. While we were there, they were using the kitchen for their pastry department and one of the chefs started talking to me. He asked me, ‘Do you want anything?’ I said, ‘Yeah why not. You have chocolate cake?’ So he brought me a chocolate lava cake and I started to eat it for another photo, it was so delicious! There was another moment where we went upstairs on the balcony. I told them to not freak out because I’m very agile and I don’t have issues with heights, so I sat on the ledge of the balcony. Hopefully we got some great images from that. However the photos turn out, they’re going to be so truthful because I was having such a great time!

I’m so excited to see what you created together. I knew that was going to be a dream pairing. All glamour aside, as a child did you see yourself ever acting in movies? Or what did you want to do when you were younger?
When I was a kid I wanted to be two things. I always said I want to raise dolphins. I wanted to work with dolphins because I was obsessed with the show Flipper when I was a kid. Then, somebody in my family got me into this game that was like “Doctors Without Borders.” So I wanted to be a doctor without borders.

Latex Bodysuit by Dead Lotus Couture, Shoes by Marc Jacobs

That is such a different path than what you’re on right now, but I’m sure your fans are thankful that you choose a career in entertainment. You have two summer movies that are projected to be blockbusters, The Mummy & Atomic Blonde. You have the title role in The Mummy opposite of Tom Cruise. How did you get chosen to play this character?
I was finishing the movie Star Trek and I got this script sent over. I met up with [the director] Alex Kurtzman, and he offered it to me. At first, I said no because the part scared me and having just done Star Trek, I was concerned about having to go under an extensive makeup process. I didn’t want to be a monster walking around scaring people, that wasn’t for me. But I gave it more thought, and was very attracted to the character because she had a relevant and interesting background.

What were some of those things that intrigued you about her character?
I think that she had an intriguing backstory. This is the first time there has been a female mummy. My character is a princess from ancient Egypt, the daughter of a Pharaoh and she’s promised to become Pharaoh herself because she was the only child. After her mother dies, her father meets a woman who bears another child which turns out to be a son. The promise of the kingdom and becoming Pharaoh is taken from my character and given to the son, because he is a male heir which leaves my character heartbroken and scorned. She later becomes ruthless when she comes back in modern day seeking what she was promised to begin with.

So then what was the process like working with the director, Alex Kurtzman to reimagine this character and breathe new life into it?
It was lovely to work with Alex! I wanted to care about my character and have her be heard and understood. We developed the backstory so that the audience understands her better and can have some sort of compassion for her. I think a character becomes more interesting when you understand why they do what they do in the movie.

So that she’s not just a monster, but that she has a heart and you can sympathize with her emotions.
Exactly and that was very important to me.

 

Dress by Lanvin, Black Goat Hair Jacket by Adrienne Landau, Shoes by Christian Louboutin, Bracelet by Eddie Borgo, Choker by YVY, and Sofia’s Own Earrings

 

Did you have to do anything special in order to prepare for this role or get yourself into the character?
Well, you know, the makeup process was something that helped me get into character. It would take about 6 hours to do. Of course, it was painful because they’re long hours, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Once I’d have my makeup done, people looked at me different, and I felt physically different. I also researched about ancient Egypt and Egyptian Mythology. Understanding the body language was important because I wanted her to walk around not like a monster, but as a queen since that’s who she was.  She carries herself as royalty, never moving faster than anybody. I also explored playing with the voice and speaking slower to bring in that element of power.

Did you get to have any input on the costume or the look of the character?
Yes, they really let me share my thoughts and we were able to collaborate on much of the character’s look together.

So you star opposite of Tom Cruise, who is a very seasoned actor. What was it like working with him and did he share with you any advice or words of wisdom that you might take to heart as an actor?
Being on set with him was like being at school, in a good way. I learned so much from him; he’s such a dedicated actor who loves the craft. You see him on set figuring out how to make a movie work. I learned a lot about cameras, lenses, and camera angles when I was with him. He examines those aspects and really understands how to tell stories with camera movement, and it’s something that I will definitely use and pay close attention to.

Dress and Rosary Necklace by Dolce & Gabbana, choker necklace by Jillian Dempsey Black Patent Heels by Christian Louboutin, and Sofia’s Own Necklace.

Amazing! You recently were awarded the “Female Star of Tomorrow” from CinemaCon for your role in Atomic Blonde opposite of Charlize Theron. When were you first presented with the role of Delphine and can you tell us a little bit about your character in this movie?
She is a French spy who is stationed in Berlin, just before the fall of the wall. She’s on the younger side and she’s a bit naïve, but she’s good at her job while still exploring her identity. She’s taking in the dynamic and intensity of Berlin at that time, and learning from it. She’s sweet but also a very cool, edgy kind of girl who is a less-experienced spy than Charlize’s character. When they meet, my character is supposed to do her job and carry out her mission, but at the same time there is also this romance happening between our characters.

I went to a press screening and you two have a steamy love scene in the movie.  What discussions did you have with Charlize to prepare for that scene?
I was nervous, I’ve never done a scene like that and this scene was with a girl, which didn’t make much difference to be honest. We both felt the scene shouldn’t feel forced.  But, you know, Charlize made me feel comfortable and very much at ease. At the end of the day, I was very comfortable with my body and my femininity and I don’t feel like I shied away from it. She’s super fun and such a great actress so that made it easy.

 

Dress by J GERARD and Shoes by Giuseppe Zanotti

It was very refreshing to see the openness of a same-sex relationship in this kind of scene being explored in a major motion picture. I was curious do you think that there’s a stigma in Hollywood which doesn’t allow women in cinema to portray and assert their sexuality in the same manner that their male counterparts are allowed to?
Yes, I believe that’s true. It’s much more often seen in European movies if it happens. I think we do need more movies with powerful, strong women. Charlize’s character teaches us that women can be equally strong and powerful. When I saw the movie, I called her and was like, “You were kicking ass in that film!” I’m starting to observe that sexual empowerment being explored more in films. I think that it’s still rare, but it’s good that it’s shown in this film. We need more of it. We need to normalize all these things, until you look at it and it doesn’t make any difference if it was a man or a woman. I think people want to see more of that and not shy away from it. There’s nothing wrong with that, and I think nowadays we need to focus on the opportunity to push that envelope.

I agree with you and also hope that will be the case someday. You have a background as a professional dancer. You’ve been in so many music videos and concerts. You’ve worked with Madonna, Rihanna and Michael Jackson, among many others. I’m curious how you were able to transition from dancing to acting in major motion pictures and what’s the journey been like?
I began dancing when I was five, so almost my entire life. I started acting when I was 17 and went to an audition randomly. I joined a friend of mine who was going to the audition, and I ended up booking the part instead.  I loved acting and enjoyed working on that first project, so I thought I really wanted to explore that more. After doing that film, I wanted to learn about it, so I took classes. I did a few small projects in Paris between the ages of 17 and 19. Meanwhile, I was still dancing and I thought that I should keep dancing because I didn’t feel like I had given it an honorable go. I thought, ‘I’m just going to focus on that one thing that I’ve been doing almost all my life.’ So I did, and I’m happy that I did because I’ve been a part of amazing projects for which I’m very proud.

When I moved to LA, I thought that I wouldn’t mind taking acting classes again in my spare time. My teacher was Marcy Mendoza. She was like the “ballet of acting” in terms of what I learned and I loved my year in the theater. I studied plays like Chekhov and Ibsen and it was very classical sort of material. After that I booked a movie about a year and a half after called Street Dance 2. I thought it was a great opportunity and was drawn to the character because she was a dancer. I thought that I could learn something from the part, but then I wondered, “Am I hiding?” I loved acting so much, but I felt like I was hiding behind the fact that I was a dancer.  Then I questioned myself for about 2 ½ years if I should stop dancing, because, at the time, I didn’t feel like stopping just yet. I woke up one morning and I remember feeling like I was genuinely done. That day, I watched Madonna’s halftime performance at the Superbowl, and I remember feeling like I was ready to stop dancing. So, I stopped dancing and I didn’t work for 3 years after that.

Left: Chain Top by Natalie Fedner, Skirt by Versus Versace, Leather Jacket (worn inside out) by GUCCI, Lipstick by Chanel
Right: Top by Phillip Plein, Shorts by Sonia Rykiel, Shoes by Marc Jacobs, Choker by Eddie Borgo.

 

 What did that feel like during those 3 years?
It was tough, you know. I never thought that I would give up. I never thought for one second about that because I never had a backup option…I felt like [acting] is all I want to do.  It was hard, but I never doubted myself because I knew my choice truly came from my heart. It seemed like an innate decision and luckily in my life I’ve never had to think, “Oh what am I going to do when I can’t dance anymore?” I never wanted to become a choreographer. I just drifted into acting, not for fame or for money, but because I truly loved it so much.

And do you think the discipline that you learned during your time as a dancer is that that you carried over with you into acting?
Yes, absolutely. That discipline is required as a dancer and it’s something that I will carry with me in life. There is a similarity in my approach with dancing and acting. When developing a character, you have to find a rhythm of how they walk and their body language. My experience as a dancer has made me more in tune with my body, and understanding the expression of movement.

During her Confessions tour, you worked with Madonna who is known for being a perfectionist. Were there any lessons or habits that you picked up on while you were working with her or did she ever offer you any advice that you took to heart?
She gave me advice all the time. (laughter) It was all very, very useful. She’s a strong woman who works really hard. You understand why she is where she is now. Her dedication and compassion is really inspiring and she has a heart of gold. When I met her, I was really a tomboy. She came to me and asked me if I wore heels and I said no. So she handed me a pair of heels and said, “There’s a beginning for everything.” She really encouraged me to own my femininity. I loved that she was able to see beyond how I was presenting myself. She challenged me and those were some of my best years working with her.

On your Instagram account I saw that you had a photo of yourself at the Women’s March in London and so I was curious why you found it important to be a part of this historic event and support it?
I think we live in crazy times. I think our children and grandchildren will look at us and say, “What the fuck did you do?” But, to be honest, I’ve decided to look at it as the glass being half full. What is happening now is very important and significant, and we can choose to be empowered by these trials when people get together and unite. Originally I was planning on going to the march in Washington, but I ended up having to go to London that day. As soon as I landed that morning in London, I went straight to the march—I didn’t even call my friends. When I arrived, all my friends were already there so we all got together. Cellular reception was going mad because it was so packed, but we did manage to find each other and ended up having a great time being together and supporting that cause.

I went to the march here in New York which drew crowds around 400,000 so it was grid locked in some places. The crowd was so thick trying to get through. What were the emotions that you were feeling that day? What was your experience like?
I thought it was quite empowering. As a woman, I feel like there’s a level of consideration that is being given to women now that is far more profound than before.  But, there’s still an imbalance between how men and women are treated. It’s still a man’s world. I think that the Women’s March was necessary even if the socio-political circumstances differ from country to country. Things like this are essential and will need to keep happening until things change.

 

Top by Dead Lotus Couture, Skirt by Zana Bayne, Underwear by Morgan Lane, Shoes by Giuseppe Zanotti, Silver Cuff by Eddie Borgo, and Gold Cuff by Jennifer Fisher

Hair by Renato @ The Wall Group Using Moroccan Oil, Makeup by Kate Lee @ Starworks Group, Manicure by Bettina Goldstein @ The Wall Group Using Karma Organics, Video by Heather Sommerfield, Photographer’s 1st Assistant Timothy R. Mahoney, 2nd Assistant Matthew Tyler Ray, Digital Tech Dale Gold, Stylist Assistant Kirsten Alvarez, Production by XTheStudio, Shot on location at Chateau Marmont Hotel. Special Thanks to Matt Haberman, Bryna Rifkin, Annie Butterfield, and Celena Madlansacay at ID PR.