Halloween Costume Ideas for the Modern, Independent Slut

If you ask me, the key to a great Halloween costume is looking hot without looking like a desperate skank–it’s a fine line. A trick I’ve picked up over the years is: if you dress like a straight-up slut–i.e. like a sexy cat, a sexy nun, or Malibu Barbie–you just come across like a trashy basic-bitch. However, if you dress like a slut from a movie, you seem cultured and self-aware, while also “accidentally” looking totally fuckable. Success! Below is a list of some of my favorite film hotties, whose wardrobes make both provocative and functional Halloween wear.

Patricia Arquette in True Romance:

Trailer trash has never looked as good, or as fun, as on Patricia Arquette in her role as a call girl in one of my favorite movies of all time, True Romance.

Laura Dern in Wild at Heart:

The perfect excuse to wear skimpy body-con, a bright red lip and giant 80s hair.


It’s hard to pull of frilly, off-the-shoulder two-pieces and baby braids in real life, so you might as well seize the opportunity.

Eva Green in The Dreamers as Venus de Milo:

For the more adventurous party goer… 

Pam Grier in Jackie Brown:

A gun is the prefect accessory for a stewardess uniform.

Nastassja Kinski in Paris, Texas:

The most beautiful stripper in the most beautiful sweater.


One of the Heathers, from Heathers

Sexy, sophisticated and evil…

Jodie Foster in Taxi Driver:

The most iconic hooker look of all time.

Regina George in Mean Girls

A potentially obvious, yet classically good option.

Catherine Deneuve in Belle de Jour:

No prostitute has never looked as classy or as chic as Catherine Deneuve in Belle de Jour, in her wardrobe designed by YSL. Fuck Halloween–if I could look like this every day, I would.

Religious Fashion: So Sexless It’s Almost Sexy (Pt. 1)

I recently interviewed a series of people who grew up in strict religious communities about clothing, sex, and how those two things sometimes overlap. Over the next week or so I’ll be posting the interviews one-by-one. Here’s part one!

Sex and religion have both been around for a pretty long time, and since the beginning they’ve had a love-hate relationship. At certain times their marriage has been more civil than others–the pagan orgies of ancient Rome come to mind–however for the most part, almost unanimously, religions have viewed modesty, in both behavior and appearance, as inextricably linked to holiness. And modesty isn’t generally thought of as being super sexy.

But then again, sometimes covering-up has its own perverse appeal. Clearly, a primary objective of religious dress–particularly that of women–is to strip away any notion of sexuality–to “hide the goods,” so to speak. But in doing so, the wearer can become a symbol of the forbidden, or the hidden, which has its own allure. It’s a catch 22: the ambition to negate the body puts the focus on the body. It’s about having what you’ve been told you can not have, eating the apple you’ve been forbidden. It’s for precisely this reason that religious clothing has become so widely fetishized and appropriated in the secular world, from Lady Gaga’s translucent pink burqa, to Jean Paul Gaultier’s collection inspired by Hasidic apparel, to Madonna’s entire career.

Thirty or so years go, the religious blended far more seamlessly into society, both in their philosophy on sexuality and in fashion. Even in the 80s, a decade of sexual provocation and excess, there was still the implicit understanding by society at large that lewd or promiscuous behavior was “naughty,” and not done in polite company. However, as the Western world becomes increasingly secular, modesty is beginning to look a lot more alien. Miley publicly masturbates in latex underwear; Rihanna gives lap dances in a leather harness onstage; the average girl on the street wears either a Kim-Kardashian-inspired microdress or an American Apparel see-through crop top… and no one bats an eye. In a world where skimpy is the norm, our gaze naturally shifts to the most covered-up person in the room, thus isolating those in religious dress more than ever before.

I recently interviewed a series of people who grew up in strict religious communities about how their religious clothing has impacted both their sexual development and their personal identities. We also discussed the various ways that certain people bend the rules of their religion, in order to look more attractive or fashionable–from Muslim fashion bloggers creating stylish ways to wear hijab, to Saudi women wearing designer dresses under their abayas, to the special wigs Orthodox Jewish women wear when (almost) no one’s watching.

Part 1: Amish Fashion

Saloma Ferlong

The Amish like to think of themselves as humble pilgrims passing through Earth on their way to eternity, and therefore don’t get attached to the things of this world, like Louboutins and Instagram. Most of us know the Amish as the guys in the plain clothes who drive around in horse-drawn buggies and refuse to accept the greatness and convenience of modern technology. But for the Amish–a group of traditionalist Christians–plain dress is a symbol of their humble way of life. Although individual Amish communities differ in accepted dress, the style in each community is uniform, generally hand-sewn, and never flashy. Most sects believe that even buttons are too decorative, favoring plain, functional hooks or pins.

Amish women and girls wear conservative long dresses, and must cover their hair in public. Their hair should never be cut and is usually worn in a braid or a bun and covered by a white prayer cap, and sometimes with a bonnet as well, if they’re married. Amish men wear dark shoes and pants, and use suspenders instead of belts, as they’re considered less flashy. They wear practical straw hats in warm weather, and dark-colored felt hats during the winter. Single men shave their faces, while married men must grow an untrimmed beard, although mustaches are never allowed (they associate mustaches with military officers, and the nonresistant Amish refuse to perform military service).

Saloma Furlong grew up in an Amish community in Ohio, in a family of seven children. At age twenty she escaped her community, seeking freedom and higher education (the Amish tradition is to stop formal schooling in 8th grade). However, she was soon found and brought back against her will, only to leave again nearly three years later. Now in her fifties, her memoir Why I Left the Amish was published in January 2011, and the sequel, Bonnet Strings: An Amish Woman’s Ties to Two Worlds, was released in February of this year.

When you’re young, what are you taught about the significance of Amish clothing?

Saloma: The Amish have a very humble and quiet faith. People don’t moralize about things, or even say, “women should have their head covered because the Bible says so.” It’s more about tradition–you learn what’s expected of you based on what people have been doing for generations. And if I questioned it growing up, I would hear, “Oh Saloma, that’s just the way it is.” That’s a very common way the Amish explain things. You never get any satisfactory answers, so eventually you just stop asking, and that’s really what those answers are designed to do–to shut down a child’s desire to be informed or curious. But as a child you do understand that your clothes set you apart from the rest of the world. When I was five I entered public school because there wasn’t an Amish school near us at the time, and I became keenly aware of the beautiful dresses and patent leather shoes that I couldn’t have.

But did you understand, to some extent, that the look was about modesty?

Well, even though Amish clothing is meant to be modest, that doesn’t prevent someone from stripping you of your clothes with their eyes. For the Amish, a primary element of the clothing is that it removes any element of individuality. A big emphasis in the Amish community is on humility–they believe that individuality equals pride, and to be proud is selfish and wrong, and therefore everyone should look the same. In the dominant culture, being an individual is valued, but in Amish culture being a good person is equated with fitting into the group.

Right, but it seems to be a natural human instinct to define oneself. It’s like when girls in Catholic school wear accessories even though it’s against the rules. Do you find that in Amish communities at all?

Yeah, it sometimes feels like there’s a competition of who can be the most different while still keeping within the rules. Like some girls open the necklines of their dresses more than others, or wear shorter, more form fitting dresses, or lighter colors. That’s more common when people are young, in the rumspringa years. Rumspringa is when you start dating, and sometimes during those years parents will get more lenient, and will look the other way if you have a radio or something. Some parents don’t, and would certainly smash a radio or bury it if they found it. There tends to be a hierarchy in Amish communities, and people at the top get away with a lot more than the people at the bottom.

What were you taught about sex when you were growing up? Is it similar to most other forms of Christianity–basically, “Don’t have it until you get married”?

No, it’s literally just never even talked about. At all. There have been stories of young women who left the Amish and knew absolutely nothing about the facts of life. They would know that babies appear, but not why or how, and once they were out in the real world they were raped, and they had no idea what was happening to them. That same thing also happens within the community, which is even worse, because the predator could be you brother or father or cousin, etc. And sometimes sexual knowledge is used as a way to get close to you, by saying, “Do you know how babies are made?” As if it’s some kind of a secret that’s being passed around. And then it becomes, “Well, may I show you how it’s done?” In many Amish families, if girls weren’t sexually abused, they may not know the facts of life until they’re married.

So is sexual abuse more prevalent within the Amish community than outside of it?

I’ve been asked that question many times, but it’s hard to say. There’s so much secrecy that shrouds abuse, and in a culture like the Amish, the secrecy that shrouds abuse becomes so thick, you can’t penetrate it at all. The only thing I have to go by is that if you talk to people who have left the Amish, usually, not only can they tell you their own abuse stories, but they know of many other victims as well, and they often talk about how rampant it was in their communities. There’s research showing that the more male dominated a culture is, the more prevalent abuse is. In that regard, I would say that the way Amish girls are taught to obey their brothers, fathers, uncles, and elders of the church, which makes them vulnerable to abuse.

Are there occasionally people who learn about sex, or the ways of the outside world, through secretly having a radio, like your mentioned, or through conversations with an outsider?

Well nowadays some people have technology on the sly, like smartphones, and some Amish will actually have a TV in their basement that they rig up with a car battery. So some people are very well versed in sexual stuff. The people who don’t know anything about sex come from the strictest of the strict–the Swartzentruber groups. They wouldn’t dare have a cell phone, even on the sly. People can be really in the dark. There are a lot of young women who don’t know what’s going on when they get their period for the first time.

And you allowed to wear tampons?

Well when I was young, we had homemade pads made from cloth. Today, some Amish women may wear tampons, but in the strictest groups they still wear homemade cloth pads.

I guess a homemade pad is not that much worse than a regular pad, though.

I disagree. I’ve tried both, and believe me, having to wash your pads is way worse than throwing them out.

You win. Is it common for Amish people to have sex out of wedlock?

Okay, now you’re getting into the area of Amish culture that’s one of the biggest secrets. Some Amish communities, including my home community, still practice something called bed courtship. This was practiced back in Switzerland, where our ancestors came from. They were being prosecuted for their faith, which meant that sometimes young people would hide in the attick of their home, and in Switzerland it’s very common to have a haymow above your living quarters. So they would lie up there in a bed and talk, and they would place a board down the middle to separate the man from the woman and that was basically a “date.” Today, some Amish still do this, except the board has long disappeared. And even though you’re supposed to remain chaste until you’re married, it’s very common for girls to get pregnant beforehand, partially because of this practice. I personally think the reason bed courting is still done is because it traps the woman if she does get pregnant. Entrapment is one way of maintaining the culture.

What about the clothes Amish men wear–are they intended to desexualize, and convey modesty, in the way the women’s clothes are?

Kind of, yeah. There’s nothing really attractive about their baggy pants suits. I mean, they look like grizzly bears because of the shaving restrictions, and their hair has to be long. And Swartzentruber men don’t bathe often. Men get more privileges though, like they’re allowed to have buttons on their shirts but women have to use straight pins.

Are there variations in the way women dress in different Amish communities?

Yes, in the most conservative communities they’re not allowed to wear underwear with elastic at the waist, and it has to be homemade, so the only choice is cotton bloomers with a button at the waist. They’re not allowed to wear bras, and they have to wear these long, baggy slips underneath their dresses, even in the heat of summer.

When and how did you leave the Amish? Was it a hard choice to make?

It was hard, because for the Amish, the ultimate judgment is against those who leave. They don’t condemn anyone else to hell, not even murderers. But my life had become really unbearable. My family was dysfunctional–I had a mentally ill father, a mother who did not protect us, and an abusive older brother. I felt I had two choices: I could commit suicide or leave the Amish. And I thought, “Well, if I commit suicide I’m going straight to hell, and if I leave I’m told I’m going to hell too… but at least I’ll get a whole lifetime on Earth before that happens.”

Very rational.

I know, right! I was twenty when I left the first time, and I escaped in secret. But after four months I was blindsided when a van load of Amish came from Ohio to Vermont, where I had moved, and took me back. The bishop was in the van, along with my uncle, who is a minister, and his wife, my sister and my older brother, who had a great deal of influence over me at the time. I didn’t trust that if I refused to go my brother wouldn’t physically grab me and put me on the van. There are many stories of people being surrounded and physically prevented to leave. But the second time I left, I told my mother and my sisters what I was about to do, and I left with a lot more confidence, so they let me be.

Now that you’ve left, do you think any of the Amish philosophy has stuck with you?

Well, now that I’m part of the dominant culture, I kind of resent the modern fashion that is shoved down our throats. In the Amish you have to conform, yet in the dominant culture, if you don’t keep up with fashion, there’s a stigma that goes along with that too. We think we’re so free, yet who’s to say we’re not as conditioned as the extreme religious people? And it’s largely not even women who are determining what’s in style for women, which today tends to be very revealing. I have a Catholic friend whose theory is that the new fashion of showing so much skin is like giving someone a gift without the wrapping on it, and I kind of like that image. And if you look at it from a slightly different angle, you could say that actually, the Amish are the one’s who are refusing to comply.

An NYC Sugar Baby’s Guide to Eating Out

The below was originally written as part of my “Sugar Babies” column for VICE:

Madeline is a 24-year-old artist living in New York. She’s been supplementing her income by dating men she meets on sugar daddy websites for over three years. I interviewed Madeline about her nightly exploits about a year ago, and we’ve since become close friends. She’s always making me jealous with all her stories about the fancy restaurants and bars she goes to on her sugar dates, and she knows more about fine dining menus and upscale hotels than anyone else I know, so I thought she’d be the perfect person to kick off Sugar Babies. Now we can all live vicariously through her stomach.

MUNCHIES: The general idea is that what separates a sugar baby from an escort is that sugar relationships are more like actual dating, whereas escorts just have sex for cash. Does that mean you always get fed before sex?
Madeline: Dates usually involve dinner, yeah. Or at least drinks. Most sugar daddies—or the good ones, anyway—understand that the sugar experience is supposed to be extravagant, kind of like a fantasy, so you get to go to some pretty nice restaurants. Over time, you start to learn that the restaurant a sugar daddy chooses for a first date is a good way to gauge his taste, and also how comfortable he is with spending money—it’s like a screening process. This one guy recently messaged me through a sugar daddy website asking if I wanted to meet him at a juice bar in the East Village… like, shoot me. The point is to take me somewhere I can’t go in my normal life, to impress me. I mean, if it’s not at least three dollar signs on Zagat, I’m not showing up.

What’s an example of a sugar daddy who went out of his way to impress you?
Well, I once had a client who was from a royal family in Saudi Arabia. He was married, so he flew me to meet him in Paris and put me in the Royal Monceau Hotel, which is so gorgeous. It was designed by Philippe Starck, who designs high-concept, luxurious hotels around the world—like he did the Delano in Miami, for example. The Royal Monceau feels a bit like the set of a David Lynch movie; there are these hallways with stripes running circularly around the walls, ceiling and carpet, with mirrors at either end. When I arrived to the room there was a bottle of Dom Perignon from my birth year (1989) on the bed. Apparently, 1989 is a really good year for wine, so that’s been “a thing” with some of my clients. When they find out my age they bring me ‘89 champagne.

Where did he take you to eat in Paris?
The first night, we went to a French restaurant called L’Ambroisie, in Place Vosges. Realistically, there are few non-French restaurants in Paris; the French aren’t big on variety. So L’Ambroisie has three Michelin stars and is really decadent and indulgent, but it’s kind of too much, actually—the total opposite of subtle. Like if you leaned forward in your chair to stand up, one of the staff would run over and move your chair for you. Every review I read of the place was like, “This is where people go to flash their cash—not because it’s the best food or the best experience, but because it’s the highest price tag in the city.”

So was the food bad?
I mean, you’d have one bite of something and be like, “that tasted nice,” but if you were to eat a full serving of any of it you’d feel sick because it’s so decadent. The Saudi guy was a very alpha-male type, so he ordered for me—he didn’t even look at me to see what I wanted. It was a twelve-course meal and everything had so much cream and caviar and gold flakes in it. I thought I was going to die.

Like literal flakes of gold?
I guess… like edible gold though, who fucking knows. I remember one course was foraged wild mushrooms that had been boiled in cream for five hours. It tasted like a weird, savory cappuccino. There were also soft-boiled eggs filled with caviar.

Ugggh, how do you have sex after that? I’d feel so fat and unsexy.
We had sex before we went to dinner. He was thinking ahead.

Phew. So what’s an example of a sugar date that felt extravagant, but in a more subtle way?
I like Jean-Georges in New York. It’s sophisticated and elegant, but the staff aren’t up your ass the entire time. The restaurant is on the ground floor of the Trump Tower. You know a sugar daddy is legit if he takes you to Jean-Georges and then tells you he lives upstairs.

Oh, I know Jean Georges because Samantha goes there on a date in Sex and the City. Who took you there?
He was an Indian lawyer. He was really young, actually, like 35. Most of my clients are in their 40s and 50s. It was his first time meeting someone from the sugar daddy site, so he was really giggly and nervous, and he kept talking about how India has a “super butter”—they boil butter and remove the extra liquid and just keep super fat; I think it’s called ghee or something. After dinner he gave me the really cliché sugar daddy line of “You have to come upstairs see the art in my apartment.” So I went up, and all the apartments at the Trump have crazy views of Central Park. He fucked me up against the window, obviously.

Hot. Do you remember the first time you were taken out for a really nice meal, when you felt like, “Wow, I never would have thought I would eat here”?
The first time I felt that was at Nobu, the Japanese restaurant in Tribeca. The sushi is amazing, but in hindsight it’s not even that crazy nice or unattainable. That was a few years ago, when I would have never spent $50 on a meal for myself. There was a point when my goal was never to spend more than $7 on food ever, like, ‘Why would I buy a glass of wine for $12 when I could buy a whole bottle of wine for $3 at Trader Joe’s?’ But now I’m an idiot with money, because it feels so disposable to me. When you’re handed $1k for one evening of easy work, you’re a lot more frivolous with your money than if you worked long and hard for it.

Who did you go to Nobu with?
Someone off Craigslist, actually. There was a time when I was going on a lot of dates with guys just for the dinners—so I wasn’t having sex with them—just because I wanted to try different restaurants. There are sometimes rich guys on Craigslist who post ads asking girls out for fancy dinners, because they’re lonely or have expense accounts or whatever. The first time I went to the Four Seasons was from a Craigslist ad actually. I remember cracking up in my head while sitting at the Four Seasons in my Louboutins eating oysters, sitting across from this tiny little bald man.

But isn’t that a major red flag? Like, “Hey I’m a hot blonde with a troll at one of the most expensive restaurants in the city.”
Yeah, but I can get off on that. I think it’s kind of hot that people know, or that they’re wondering what’s going on, or making assumptions. I don’t really care what a room of strangers thinks about me for an hour. I once winked at a guy and his wife who kept turning back to stare at me.

Lol. So what’s one of your favorite restaurants in New York?
I really love Milos, a Greek restaurant in Midtown. They have amazing fish—I always get market fish or some kind of raw fish. There’s some kind of baby octopus appetizer that’s incredible, too. My favorite thing about Milos is that when you ask about the wine, if you’re not savvy enough to know what every bottle is, if you describe what you want, they’ll bring you three different glasses and let you sample them so you end up getting something you really like. Also, Milos is really spacious with a lively atmosphere, and as an escort you learn that it’s best not to go to really mellow places where you’re shoulder-to-shoulder with other tables, because you inevitably end up having conversations that you don’t want other people to hear.

Do you sometimes negotiate the money over dinner?
Often, yeah—if it’s the first date. Actually, one of my dates at Milos was with an Academy Award-winning documentarian. It was a threesome thing, so I was there with one of my girlfriends who I escort with sometimes. So we told they guy that it’s going to be $1k each and he was like, “Well, I don’t know how much money I have on me.” It’s so annoying when guys are unprepared—like, how stupid are you that you didn’t remember to bring cash to meet your hooker? So my friend was like, “Well, I guess you’re going to have to go to the bathroom to count your money, aren’t you?” It was so funny. He shuffled off with his briefcase to count his cash in the bathroom stall.

One client actually paid me at the table. He told me it really turned him on to pass a girl a wad of cash under the table, and to know that it was making her panties wet. He’s a player who likes the idea of super slutty girls who would do anything for money. I don’t mind getting into that role play.

Where was that?
Well he told me that at Pravda, this subterranean Russian vodka bar in Nolita. He was really into martinis. And then the money was at Masa, which is this really amazing, insanely high priced Japanese restaurant in Columbus Circle. I like eating there because they have these cool Japanese toilettes with a bidet in them, which are really useful for cleaning your vag before sex, ha!

So do you always dress up?
I do. It plays into the fantasy experience I was talking about. For the first date I always try to wear something that shows cleavage and is fitted, but is still sophisticated and expensive looking. Around the third date you can tone it down a bit and wear something “cooler.” I’d never wear a mini skirt or anything really slutty because while I do like getting looks, I don’t want to get looks for being a cheap hooker. I want to get looks that say, “I could never afford her.”

Good tip! Have you ever been taken to eat somewhere really awful?
I once went to meet a client in Atlanta. He’s really sweet and has a lot of money, but he just has no taste for food or clothing, mainly because he just doesn’t care. So he told me we were going to Pappadeaux, and I’d never been to Atlanta so I didn’t know what anything was, and we show up and it’s this awful chain restaurant with a logo of a cartoon crustacean. It wasn’t as bad as Wendy’s, but it was the kind of place where there are stand-up menus with pictures of hurricane drinks. I obviously wouldn’t mind going there in my regular life, but I’d flown to Atlanta, and I was way overdressed in this Missoni dress and stilettos, and the guy next to us was literally wearing a bib for his oyster sauce [laughs]. And my date was just like, “Isn’t this great? So tasty!” He was so happy.

Jamie Bochert Makes Me Feel “Confused”

Modeling: since the dawn of time it has been revered as one of the world’s most challenging and creatively extraordinary professions. However, there is one thing that makes American model Jamie Bochert even more special (in my eyes) than most of her beautiful peers: she’s alt!

Aside from wearing clothes, Bochert is also a musician who performs under the name Frances Wolf. Over the years she’s become famous for her androgynous features and overall “gothic crow” look, drawing many to compare her to Patti Smith. As Karl Lagerfeld once said, “The secret to modeling is not being perfect. What one needs is a face that people can identify in a second… what’s needed is to bring something new.” And Bochert–with her chiseled cheekbones, angular frame and sultry, dark eyes–has carved out a new type of iconic, epicene beauty. (AKA the sort of beauty that makes gay men weep, straight guys feel intimidated and straight girls feel all tingly and “confused.”)

A long-time muse for Marc Jacobs, in her decade as a model Bochert has been the face of mega-brands like Lanvin and Jimmy Choo, has walked for designers like Alexander McQueen and Rodarte, and has been in every important fashion magazine ever. She’s also in a long term relationship with actor Michael Pitt, star of The Dreamers and the wet dream of every alt girl the world over. Talk about an indie power couple! I recently chatted with Jamie about what’s up with fashion, art, music and the glamorous state of New Jersey.

Hey, what’s up?
Jamie Bochert: I just got back from Paris where I was working with Chanel for their couture show, and now I’m in New York working with Marc Jacobs, and I’m in the middle of rehearsing to record an album, and I’m working on some other projects, like photoshoots. I’m kind of all over the place right now. I’m really jet lagged too.

That’s cool. You’ve been working with Marc Jacobs on his collection for six years. What do you do for him?
I basically just stand around in his studio wearing clothes.

Being a muse seems like a good job.
It’s a funny, funny job.

So what is your process of writing and recording music? I read that you do a lot of DIY recordings in your bedroom.
Yeah, I usually start a ‘voice memo’ on my iPhone, sit down at the piano and press record, and then hope that whatever comes out is good.

What is your album about?
Oh God. I guess if I think about it there’s a recurring love theme, but it’s hard to say.

Love like in a Taylor Swift way where all of your songs are about really specific–
Taylor Swift? No, I wouldn’t say that. I don’t know Taylor Swift’s music but I would probably say it’s not anything like that. I don’t mean “love” just as in “I love you.” Although I’m not really sure what Taylor Swift’s songs are like.

Well she’s become notorious for writing really specific songs about her famous ex-boyfriends, like Jake Gyllenhaal for example, and using their real names in the lyrics.
Yeah, I don’t mean songs about boys or girls. I just mean loving something, or being obsessing with something, or abstract feelings of love—that type of stuff.

So what are your tips for being sexy? You’re someone who pulls off being sexy without dressing too revealing, or being too obvious or trashy about it. Is that something you consider?
Wow, thanks. I don’t think myself as sexy. But I also don’t think people who dress “sexy” are sexy. Sometimes I find it more attractive if a girl is dressed like a boy. I mean, it just depends. But I don’t find dressing revealing very attractive, and it’s certainly not necessary in order to be sexy. I think sex appeal it more about someone having their own personal style and not trying to be something they’re not.

How do you relate fashion to style? Are they different things?
Well, fashion is making clothes and style is how you wear them.

In recent years it seems the distinction between fashion and art is becoming increasingly tenuous, especially with museums like the Met hosting fashion exhibitions. Do you consider fashion an art form? Do you put fashion in the same context as painting or sculpture?
I asked myself this question recently, and yes I definitely consider fashion a form of art. Every day at work I watch people make clothes, and the process is very meticulous and considered, and I think that’s really incredible. I think if someone is authentic, and creating work with feeling, then it’s art, whether it’s a painting, a piece of music, clothing, whatever.

Who in the world of fashion inspires you?
Ann Demeulemeester. She does what she wants and she does it really well. Her Spring 2012 collection was one of my favorites of hers– very elegant but also very cool, with beautiful fabrics. It inspired me to art direct a shoot in Morocco using her dresses.

Who were your fashion icons when you were young?
I’ve liked PJ Harvey for a long time. When I was about five I really liked Michael Jackson. I got the glove and bought clothes that looked like his and I wore them everywhere.

What were you like when you were a teenager in New Jersey? Were you into fashion?
No, I was into ballet. I was dancing. I was in my own world.

I just started doing these popular workout videos called Ballet Beautiful, created by the ballerina Mary Helen Bowers. Have you heard about it?
Oh my god, it’s amazing, I love Mary Helen! I’ve worked with her forever. Before she did the video stuff I would meet up with her and do private classes.

The videos are really sneaky because you barely even move—you just wave your limbs around a bit– but the next day you feel like you’re dying.
Yeah, it’ s an intense workout. She does a very good job at figuring out how to work muscles you didn’t even know existed. She’s amazing.

So were you cool in high school?
No, I just danced. I didn’t have boyfriends and I didn’t do anything. I went to dance and then I went home.

OK but at lunch were you at the nerd table or the goth table or what?
I just hung out with the people I danced with. It was a performing arts school. But no, I wasn’t cool, and I didn’t go to school dances or anything like that.  

Do you keep in touch with people from high school now? Like do you get weird Facebook messages from people saying, “Hey, it’s cool that you became famous.”
I don’t do any of that stuff. I don’t do Facebook, I have a very small group of close friends, and that’s pretty much it. I’m not looking to connect with people. I’m just happy to be doing what I love to do.

So, are there any specific periods of time or places or subcultures that you credit with having great style?
I did like the 90s. I mean, I’m not big on the 80s, but I liked the 90s.

What 90s look? When I think of 90s fashion I think of She’s All That, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”—stuff like that.
I was thinking more like goth and grunge, Nirvana and the Cure. I like both of those styles.

What do you think about this 90s-throw-back look that’s going on in New York right now—this sort of cyber punk, ying-yang, sea punk, blue lipstick, neon dolphin thing. Like basically people who are dressed like Tumblr.
Are you serious? What is that? I don’t know what the internet dress code is. I need to get out more. Honestly, I have no idea. I mean, I ride the subway here and there, but…

These people mainly hang out at warehouse raves. I don’t know if that’s where you frequent.
No, not really.

Next question.
That’s a good idea.

OK. Andy Warhol had this idea that if you wear a uniform you’ll never go out of style. So if you always wear the same thing then you can wear it for eternity and always look stylish, because the look will be more associated with you than with a certain time. I was wondering what you thought about this, because it seems that you have a very distinctive look that doesn’t shift with changing style trends.
Well, I just wear what’s comfortable to me, what I feel good in, and that’s probably why it’s all the same. I read that Einstein wore the same thing every day because he didn’t want to waste brainpower picking out clothes, and I think that’s really smart.

And what clothes make you feel comfortable?
Different things at different times. I like my pajamas. I feel comfortable in those.

Have you ever heard Karl Lagerfeld’s quote about sweatpants? He said, “Sweatpants are a sign of defeat. You lost control of your life so you bought some sweatpants.”
I’ve never heard that.

OK. So being a model, do you ever feel a pressure to look a certain way, or insecure about the way your body looks?
No, not now. I feel comfortable and I’m happy with myself. I’m not saying I never feel insecure because that’s a natural feeling that everyone experiences, whether you’re a model or not. Whether it’s to do with how you look, or the way you play music, or the way you cook—whatever. People are going to judge you no matter what–whether they think you’re pretty, ugly, tall, short, fat, skinny, androgynous, whatever. You just have to let them say what they have to say. Have your own opinion, be yourself. Not in a narcissistic way, but believing in yourself is important.

But sometimes believing in yourself is so hard. How do you do it?
I think it’s important to do things that you love, and to challenge yourself, read inspiring books, and those things will give you confidence.

What books have you been reading lately?
Right now I’m reading a book by William Blake, The Book of Thel. Before this I was reading Forced Entries by Jim Carroll, and before that was Patti Smith’s book Just Kids.

Just Kids is like the new indie bible, right? It’s really sentimental in a way I didn’t expect it to be.
I know, I was crying on the train while reading it. I have a problem finishing books. I get really sad when I get to the end, so I always have to go back a little bit, because I don’t want to finish it, and when it’s over I feel really sad.

Weird. I feel like that could be psychoanalyzed as a sign that you can’t let things go.
Yeah, probably. Yeah, thanks.

You get compared to Patti Smith a lot. I know you played guitar as back up with her band in Paris once. How did that come about? Did she approach you and say, “Hey, everyone says we look alike so we should play in a band together”?
No, actually Ann Demeulemeester introduced us.

But was she aware of the comparisons that are always being made about you two?
I don’t know, we didn’t have that conversation.

Yeah, I guess it would be awkward if the first thing you said to her was, “Everyone says I look like you.”
Yeah, that would be really weird. I mean that was the last thing I was thinking about when I met her. I was actually thinking, “Oh my God, I’m standing next to Patti Smith.”

You’ve been dating the actor Michael Pitt for ten years. I was intrigued by the fact that you’re both from New Jersey because it seems like you guys would be from somewhere more glamorous.
Yep. I don’t really want to talk about my relationship, but yeah we are both from New Jersey.

That’s hot.

The Age of Iris

Photography by Jeff Bark, styling by Robbie Spencer
I interviewed the incredible Iris Apfel for the cover of this months issue of Dazed and Confused!

“I want to make something clear,” says Iris Apfel, one Sunday afternoon in Manhattan. “Fashion is not my trade and it’s not my life. I don’t live to get dressed. I think getting dressed is wonderful and I love it, but there’s a whole big world outside of the closet.” Apfel, now 91, is reminding us that despite her recent rise to pop stardom and omnipresent distinction as a “style icon”, her life’s achievements span far beyond her wardrobe. Nonetheless, the textile tycoon and interior designer has become famous later in life with respect to – dare we say it? – the way she looks.

In a culture that fetishises youth, Apfel has become an unlikely idol, inspiring younger generations with an immutable confidence and a witty, more-is-more style. In 2005, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC premiered Rara Avis (Rare Bird): The Irreverent Iris Apfel, an exhibition of her clothing that celebrated her flair for mixing haute couture, flea-market finds, furs and tribal trimmings. The show, which was the Met’s first exhibition about a living woman who is not a designer, brought in over 150,000 visitors, and went on to travel to numerous cities around the globe. As the New York Times art critic Roberta Smith put it, “Before multiculturalism was a word, Mrs Apfel was wearing it.”

“Oh yes darling, my Met show was an enormous smash,” she says with a flip of her heavily bangled wrist. “My nephew made a habit of bringing his friends to the show on weekends, and he’d overhear people talking about how they thought I was dead. I told him, ‘The next time you hear that just tap them on the shoulder and say, actually, my auntie is still very much alive, she’s just walking around to save funeral expenses.’”

The exhibition’s success propelled Apfel to heroine status – photographed by Bruce Weber for Vogue Italia and profiled in practically every fashion mag on earth, she also had her wardrobe documented in a book of photography and modeled in a Coach ad campaign. The acclaim has garnered her some new careers – she now has her own make-up collection for MAC, a line of eyewear for Eyebobs and an accessory line for the Home Shopping Network. (Despite all this, she still has a prehistoric cell-phone that lacks even texting capabilities, and refuses to use email. When I contacted her for quote approval, she asked to be faxed the article. When I said I didn’t have a fax machine, she responded, “Send a bike messenger.”) But the newfound attention is little more than a form of amusement for her. “I think it’s hysterical,” she says in her New York drawl. “My husband and I laugh about it all the time, because I’m not doing anything different than I did 70 years ago, and all of a sudden I’m so hot and so cool, and whatever the hell the kids say I am. It’s fun, but it hasn’t gone to my head.” She shrugs, then says, flippantly, “I call myself a geriatric starlet.”

“Fashion” and “art” have long been two different conversations, but in recent years, the distinction has become increasingly tenuous. It is commonplace now for museums across the globe to host fashion exhibitions – McQueen, Gaultier and YSL have all had major museum shows, to name just a few. And it’s people like Apfel, with her visionary style, who have helped contextualise fashion as a modern artform. “I think these exhibitions are very important, because they bring new people into museums,” she says. “Some people are afraid of museums because they feel inadequate, like they don’t know enough about art. But people wear clothes every day, so they find fashion less intimidating.” Tellingly, museums have reported great surges in membership following their fashion exhibits, due to visitors feeling like they could relate to the work shown.

“I absolutely consider fashion a form of art,” smiles Apfel from behind her signature owl-frames. “Of course, there is some fashion that is not art at all – it’s utilitarian, made for the purpose of covering up. And there are a lot of people out there who put a lot of effort into looking awful. But there are also people putting the same amount of energy into making bad art. It’s not what you do, it’s the way that you do it.”

Apfel grew up in Queens, New York. Her father owned a glass and mirror business, and her mother owned a fashion boutique that sold mainly accessories. Both parents clearly made a lasting impression on young Apfel. “My father was really quite a master,” she recalls. “He did exquisite mirror-work, and he worked for a lot of great interior designers, so he really put the bug of interior design in my head. And my mother was very chic, and very accessory-conscious. I always say that my mother worshiped at the altar of the accessory. She taught me how transformative accessories are – how they can take the same simple, unadorned outfit from the office in the morning to a cocktail party at night.”

In 1948, she married Carl Apfel. Sixty-four years later, the pair are still very much together. In the 50s, they founded textile firm Old World Weavers, which they ran together until they sold it in 1992 (although they stayed on as consultants till 2010). “We did exact replications of 17th, 18th, 19th and early 20th-century fabrics,” she explains. “I accumulated wonderful, antique fabrics from all over the world – not your standard, run-of-themill textiles – and we recreated them in exquisite quality.” With Iris as creative director and her husband running the business aspect, the company became a great success, and together the pair travelled the globe looking for new design inspirations. Devoted clients included Greta Garbo, Jacqueline Onassis and Estée Lauder. They also did work at various museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and were hired by the White House to perform historic restorations during the administrations of nine presidents.

“We did major work at the White House,” she says. “But what people often don’t understand is that when you do a historic restoration, you can’t just do whatever you want. You work alongside the fine-arts commission and are obliged to create a replica of the past, as close as humanly possible. It’s a historic institution, not a showhouse. The presidents have nothing to do with the way things look, and neither do their wives. If presidents’ wives got involved in the decorating, God knows what we’d have.”

Today, in a Manhattan photo studio overlooking the Hudson River, Apfel is wearing pieces from the new Comme des Garçons collection for her Dazed cover-shoot. Seeing Apfel standing regally in Rei Kawakubo’s playful 2D designs, her own oversized frames and a towering wig brings to mind a quote from long-time Comme fan, John Waters: “Rei Kawakubo’s work is never funny, but her wit is so ferocious, so elegant, so scary, and sometimes even so ridiculous, that her customers never have buyer’s remorse. How could they feel that they overspent when they look so courageous, cult-like, superior, and even slightly insane every time they get dressed in one of her outfits?”

“I think Rei is a great artist,” Apfel says, “and that wearing her clothes is an artistic experience. It’s art in the shape of clothes!” She smiles. “I’ve bought a couple of her things in the past, but they were always very strange and I couldn’t figure out how to put them on. But these pieces are extraordinary, because they’re so different. Rei is a contrarian – if everybody else is doing black, she does white. I read somewhere that she decided to make 2D clothes because other designers had become so concerned with 3D elements, like the way the back of a garment looks.” She looks down at her tiny frame, lost in a gigantic, electric-pink overcoat. “I mean, look at me, I look like I’m down the rabbithole! But I don’t mind. I don’t think fashion should be taken so seriously. It’s something you should adapt to your mood and spirit.”

Also at the studio today is the famous documentarian, Alfred Maysles, who Apfel lovingly calls the “granddaddy of documentary film.” Maysles is currently making a film about Apfel, to be released next year. “That face is something special,” he says of Apfel. “And adorned by those big glasses – you can stare at her for a long time, she’s so striking. You know, there’s a photograph of her in the Observer Magazine, and it’s a full page of just her face, and you really can’t peel your eyes away. It’s just enjoyable to see somebody of that age who’s so active and so engaging.”

“Just because you get to a certain number doesn’t mean you have to roll up into a ball and wait for the grim reaper,” interjects Apfel. “We were put on this earth to do something! If you stop using your brain, at any age, it is going to stop working. It’s like if you stop using your hand, it will atrophy. I think doing nothing is a curse.”

Unsurprisingly, aging is a topic upon which Apfel is often called to offer words of wisdom. “It’s a terrible thing how women these days are silently and subliminally bombarded with a fear of aging,” she says solemnly. “The advertising is disgusting. Cosmetics companies, in their ads, use 16-year-old models with flawless skin, then they retouch them until they look unhuman. Who can look like that? And if you have a little bit of confidence and half a brain, you shouldn’t be upset by this, but people are. American women are really psychopathic about the way they look – and it’s becoming the same way in Europe, so I’m told – and it’s pitiful and very sad. I mean, relax, have fun! You can look beautiful at any age, but you have to be intelligent enough to know that if you’re 90 and you go and get your face carved up, no one is going to think you’re 25. Trying to look like a spring chicken when you’re not makes you look ridiculous. I think it was Chanel who said, ‘Nothing makes a woman look so old as trying desperately hard to look young.’”

It doesn’t take much time with Apfel to get the sense that, from a very young age, she was equipped with a rigid sense of who she was, and little need for the approval of others. “I was never hurt by what anybody said about my clothes,” she says plainly, “because my feeling has always been to dress to please myself. If somebody doesn’t like what I’m wearing, it’s their problem, not mine.” Though she looks sweet, there’s a toughness about her that’s very charming. She’s brutally frank, and she’ll be the first to tell you she doesn’t care to bite her tongue.

“I was at this business occasion not too long ago,” she says, “and a woman came up to me and asked me how I thought she looked. And I said, ‘Do you really want to know?’’ and she said ‘yes’, and asked me to please be very honest. So I said, ‘Well in my view, you look like a hooker.’ And then everybody’s jaws dropped and their eyes bulged, and I thought, ‘Oh God, I really loused myself up this time.’ I thought she was going to smack me, but lo and behold she threw her arms around me and kissed me. She said it was the nicest thing anybody ever said to her.”

Somehow, Apfel’s honesty never comes across as insulting. In her dry, irreverent, witty drawl, everything she says seems like casual words of wisdom relayed from the gods.

“The worst fashion faux-pas is looking in the mirror and seeing somebody else,” she asserts. “Just because Angelina Jolie looks divine on the runway doesn’t mean you’re not going to end up looking like a horse’s ass in the same outfit. You have to know who you are and what you can carry off. And learning who you are is not easy, so you have to work at it. Because you’re never going to be elegant or stylish mimicking somebody else. You might be fashionable, but fashion and style are two very different things.”

We worship great artists because of a fundamental belief that the magnificence of a creation reflects a magnificence in its maker. Apfel, in her transcendent style, has made herself into both the artist and the work of art. The painter and the painting. “I think to follow something slavishly, just because everyone is doing it, is nuts,” she says, eyes wide. “It’s OK to take risks. The fashion police aren’t going to come get you and put you in jail. All you can do is make a mistake, and what’s so bad about that?”

Late Twenties

Photo by Richard Kern

I turn 27 in a week, which is tragic. Well, not really. To be honest I gave up caring about getting older after I hit the quarter-century mark (which temporarily destroyed me), because I realized that as you age, you gain more than just some cellulite. You gain some positive things, too. For example: knowledge; confidence; the ability to tell what clothes and hairstyles actually suit you; Facebook friends; the will to work more and be a drunken slob less; success; the confidence to weed-out the shitty people in your life and surround yourself with people who actually care about you and act as a positive influence, be that friends, lovers or even family members (cheesy but true); and ultimately, you just gain the ability to think for yourself. Or, at least this is how aging should affect us. Sometimes it doesn’t work out this way, which is when getting older becomes #tragic and depressing. Thankfully, I think I’m doing reasonably well at most of the things I listed above, although now that I’m officially entering my LATE TWENTIES (aka almost 30 aka old) there are a few things I want to change about my life. First, I’ll tell you a story:

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of interviewing one of my idols, the 91 year old style icon, Iris Apfel. As expected she was extremely nice, smart and funny, but there was one thing in particular that she said that really stuck with me. She said, “Darling, you really are a beautiful girl, but you could do with dressing a bit more more conservatively. You’d look a lot better. You really could be smashing, but you way you dress is, well… let’s put it this way: it’s not elegant.” This, as you can imagine, put me into a state of mild panic. I am not elegant?! I thought. I guess I’d never really thought about it, as I was always less concerned with looking elegant and more concerned with looking, like, “hot”. My response to her was, “But I like wearing tight clothes. It makes me feel sexy.” (I should probably mention that I was not even wearing my trashiest attire. I was dressed in a way I thought appropriate for a professional interview with a 91 year old woman, in a red leather shirt and turtleneck crop-top, which revealed about an inch, or slightly less, of my midriff.) To this Iris responded, “You can wear tight clothes, and you can be sexy, but being sexy is not about being trashy, because that comes across as desperate. I think a little mystery is sexy, and that dressing too revealing reveals something bad about a person.” At this moment, I had an epiphany: I don’t want to come across like a desperate, Kim Kardashian ho who’s constantly dying to be railed. I want to be an elegant person whose overall appearance says, “Hey or whatever, I don’t need your attention because I’m casually aloof about my natural sex appeal. And p.s. you could never sleep with me in a million years.” I’m almost 30, for fuck’s sake.

So… following this moment of revelation I immediately went home and manically threw out all of the trashiest clothes in my closet. This included all of my see-through tops (i.e. 50% of my wardrobe) and things like plastic stripper heels and the $19 mini-dress made of neon pink mock-lace that I wore almost every day this past summer. I then went to Beacons Closet and bought a variety of sweaters and modest blouses, as well as a pair of boots with a sensible, 2.5 inch heel.. Then, still in my state of ‘needing to feel elegant’ panic, I cut five inches off my hair with a pair of those giant Ikea scissors with the red handle, feeling like a shoulder-length bob somehow better exuded elegance than whatever Brigitte-Bardot-copied haircut I had before. The following day, when I asked my friend Ally what she thought of my new hair, she cocked her head sideways and said, “Well, before you had, like, sexy hair, but this is sort of, well… it’s like… I guess you could call it post-sexy?” And I was like, “Damn gurl, I like the sound of that!” Post-sexy: it’s more than just a hairstyle, it’s a way of life.

But moving on, there are some other things about my life that need improving. For one, I want an actual bed frame that stands up off the ground. I’m done with sleeping on the floor like a peasant. I want to sleep risen into the air like the superior being that I am. Also, I want to get a dresser so that I can store my clothes in a drawer, rather than in a giant trash pile next to my floor bed. And lastly, I think I want to start eating meat again, because I swear to god all the tofu I eat is making me fucking fat. I feel like I’ve been deceived into thinking that tofu and soy milk are lean forms of protein, but recently all I hear is people talking about how overly processed and unnatural tofu is, as well as these horror stories about how tofu suppresses thyroid function and turns people into fat fucks. GOD. And what even is tofu anyway? No one knows. It looks like it’s from space. Well, listen up, I’m not a fucking scientologist and I don’t want want any of your space tofu, thanks. And why did I even decide to become vegetarian in the first place? I literally hate animals. The only thing I like about being veggie is that in restaurants and at dinner parties I get to say things like, “Excuse me, is this vegetarian?” and “Oh no, I won’t have that hamburger, I don’t eat meat,” which immediately makes everyone around you understand that you’re better than them. Which is, clearly, the sole point of existing.

Bullett Heart

The new issue of Bullett Magazine is the Romance Issue, and I acted in a short film they made in honor of its release. The film was made by Peter Spark, Adri Murguia and Noah Paul, and you can watch it above. GOD, shooting this film was REALLY hard for me, but as a professional, I managed to push through.

Also, if you’re unfamiliar with Bullett mag, you should check it out! The issues are themed, and I’m currently OBSESSED with their recent ‘Obsessed’ issue. I’ve taken some pics of the inside of it, to show you what I’m freaking out about.

It has pages that look like this.

It has a page of celebrity head stickers, including hotties Christopher Owens from Girls, Jesse Eisenberg, and Honor Titus from Cerebral Ballzy.

It has cut-out paper dolls of Tavi and Alexa Chung. Actually.

And–brace yourselves–there is a feature in which six of our favorite film and TV characters of all time are resurrected by the actors who played them. So basically Melissa Joan Hart, Rose McGowan, Heather Matarazzo, Rider Strong and James Van Der Beek each write an essay about what happened to, respectively, Clarissa, Courtney Shane, Enid Coleslaw, Dawson, Shawn Hunter and Dawn Wiener, and take up their character’s stories from where the original writers left off. FINALLY… CLOSURE!

And that’s just a taste…