Interview on The Observer
Lara Stone: ‘I think naughty photoshoots suit my personality’
With her iconic gap-toothed pout and fuller figure, Lara Stone has become the most dominant supermodel since Kate Moss. Here, the one-time wild child talks candidly about her unlikely emergence, settling down with David Walliams and why she – a size 8 – is uncomfortable as the poster girl for curvier women
The first time I saw the Dutch model Lara Stone she was lying, bleached out and ill, in a metal hospital bed clinging to Agyness Deyn. She looked awful and beautiful at the same time. The image was part of a fashion story that photographer Steven Meisel shot for Italian Vogue in 2007, inspired by the rising trend for young celebrities such as Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan to check into rehab. His photos showed supermodels like Sasha Pivovarova and Deyn being dragged along hospital corridors by guards, shivering through cold turkey and sitting through group therapy. The story featured many top models, some of the best-known faces in the world, but something about Lara’s fragility and unusual beauty stood out.
It’s there in the flesh when I meet her this July, though the circumstances couldn’t be more different. We’re in her suite at the Adlon, an opulent hotel next to the Brandenburg Gate in central Berlin, famous for its many celebrity guests but perhaps most famous for the time Michael Jackson dangled his baby son Blanket over one of its window sills in 2002. Twenty-six-year-old Stone is dressed in a glittering gold sheath dress. She’s here for Calvin Klein’s presentation at Berlin Fashion Week, an event held at Die Münze, the former German Mint, for 700 guests and which costs more than $1m to stage. She’s one of the guests of honour alongside actors Zoe Saldana, Diane Kruger and Kelly Lutz. They all appear in Calvin Klein’s new ad campaigns, but only Stone appears in three.
“One of my career highlights is the first time I saw myself on a massive billboard in New York when I did Calvin Klein Jeans [in 2007],” she says. “Oh my God, it’s me! Massive and half-naked! It was a special feeling.”
Over the past few years she has become one of the most in-demand models in the world. Somehow Stone now represents everything that fashion is interested in: a slightly serious demeanour, a fuller figure (she’s a size 8 to the standard model size 6), a heaving bosom (cup size 34C), even the gap between her front teeth. This season the diastema has become such an essential for models that girls are apparently having dental surgery to acquire one; even the Wall Street Journal has reported on the trend.
Stone’s ascent was started with appearances in a number of controversial fashion stories – like the 2007 rehab shoot – that ran in French Vogue, V and other cutting-edge magazines, but which made the jump into the blogosphere and the mainstream media. These shoots were purposefully inappropriate, featuring models in blackface or beating men to a bloody pulp. They were the perfect showcase for Lara’s wicked, frightening but mesmerising looks. “I think naughty shoots suit my personality,” she tells me. “I don’t mind doing a straightforward fashion shoot, but it’s more fun when there’s something naughty in it.”
At the same time she gained mainstream credibility by starring in ad campaigns for major fashion houses such as Givenchy and Jean Paul Gaultier and appearing on the catwalk for Chanel, Prada and Stella McCartney. This ability to switch from high-end to cutting-edge fashion is rare – especially in a model whose looks are as distinctive as Stone’s.
The image she presented as her fame grew was complemented by the frank interviews she gave. She asked an i-D magazine journalist in 2008 to stop asking questions about her tits and said that men had started wolf-whistling her when she was 11 because she used to wear short skirts and crop tops, but she hadn’t understood why. And she was convinced that Morrissey had written “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now” about her. In 2009 she told British Vogue that she’d started a group with her girlfriend called the We Hate Men But We Can’t Be Gay club. She said that drugs weren’t a problem because she’d already tried everything back in Holland, but that she’d checked into rehab in Cape Town, South Africa earlier that year because she’d become a “complete alcoholic”. She told Interview magazine that she got through the last two rounds of fashion shows prior to rehab with drinks in her bag and that, when drunk, she thought it was funny to go up to people and slap them in the face.
By the end of 2009 it was impossible to miss Lara Stone. She was called “fashion’s It girl” by W magazine and “girl of the year” by British Vogue. She’d had an entire issue of French Vogue dedicated to her. The only other model to receive a similar honour was Kate Moss, who guest-edited the magazine in 2005. The comparison with Moss was starting to be made more frequently. In the 90s Moss had found fame as part of a wave of new waif-like models who replaced the 80s Amazonian supermodels. Stone is very much the poster girl for the new curvier women who are coming into fashion. Both are notable for possessing a unique look.
Despite the fashion industry’s adoration, Stone said that while she didn’t mind the comments about her teeth (the French considered such a gap to be good luck), she objected to the constant references to her weight and shape. She felt pressured to diet because of it and felt self-conscious when shooting in swimwear.
“It shouldn’t necessarily be all about size,” she says now. “I think it should be about diversity, because it’s boring if everybody looks the same. In the real world there are so many different shapes, sizes, colours and backgrounds. I don’t know how much I personally had to do with any of it, but I think it’s great that things are changing.”
At this stage in her career, Moss sealed her fame by dating Hollywood movie star Johnny Depp. Stone made a more unexpected love match when this year, on 16 May, she married British comedian David Walliams. He might not be the husband you would have imagined for her if you’d looked through her portfolio, but the pair looked blissfully happily as they wed at Claridge’s in London in front of family and friends, including Tom Ford, Mario Testino, Barbara Windsor and Christopher Biggins. Toasts were made with popcorn rather than champagne in deference to the bride’s sobriety, and a synchronised-swimming team performed for the happy couple at the reception at Shoreditch House.
“He makes me laugh,” Stone has said of Walliams, with a line that brings to mind Jessica Rabbit. “He’s a proper gentleman. He’s a bit mean, but in a good way.”
Both have since said they’d love to start a family. Stone recently said she’d like to have “little gay boys”.
Despite her recent meteoric rise, success didn’t come easily to Stone. Raised in the quiet village of Mierlo in the south of Holland, she was spotted aged 14 on the Paris metro while on holiday with her parents (she has an English father and Dutch mother) and little sister.
“In school I was always the funny-looking, tall, skinny kid that got made fun of because of my weird teeth. When someone comes up and says you should be a model, it’s the last thing you expect to hear.”
But she decided to pursue the suggestion. She entered a modelling competition held by the Elite agency, and though she didn’t win she was taken on by the company. Stone moved to Paris at the age of 16 and was soon kicking her heels in a flat with other models, woefully underemployed. But that early rejection doesn’t seem to have bothered her.
“There were many years when I wasn’t working, but I was having fun – I was 16 and I was living in Paris on my own. I didn’t want to move back in with my parents so I stuck it out. If I hadn’t, I might be working at McDonald’s,” she explains pragmatically.
In the end, she switched modelling agencies to IMG and her fortunes promptly changed. She started to get prestigious work in 2006 at the age of 22 – old for a model. Riccardo Tisci, head designer at Givenchy, was her first champion: “Lara had this incredible vulnerability about her – so sensitive I just wanted to cocoon and protect her.” He also says she has a “dry, wicked sense of humour”. She made her first catwalk appearance for the fashion house in 2006 and became the face of Givenchy in 2007. Then Tisci introduced her to Carine Roitfeld, editor of French Vogue, and that really was it. “We get along very well,” says Stone of Roitfeld. “She’s a bit naughty and she doesn’t like rules.”
Now that Stone appears in the British tabloids’ paparazzi shots as Mrs David Walliams as frequently as she does in French Vogue as a muse to celebrated stylists and photographers, I wonder what she thinks of the press interest.
“Well, it’s strange. In a way it’s flattering because most people do write nice things – thank God; in other ways it’s funny and sometimes it’s just horrible. I really do not enjoy being secretly followed around on a boat when on holiday or having cameras pointed up my dress.”
Stone gamely smiles her unique and highly lucrative smile for the cameras at the Calvin Klein event that night in July, but disappears before the end of the party. By the time we catch up again in September, she’s added two more Vogue covers, one British, one French, to her collection. She appears on the 90th anniversary issue of French Vogue wearing nothing but a mask, gloves and a choker – everything but her now iconic gap-toothed pout and impressive cleavage is obscured.
She admits she finds interviews quite hard to do. “Most people just ask the same questions. I start to feel really stupid after a while saying the same things over and over again.”
It’s a very sensible reaction to the situation Stone finds herself in. Her skill for posing and her fascinating looks have propelled her to her position as one of the world’s most celebrated models, but she is not responsible for, and really shouldn’t be expected to explain, the vagaries of fashion, which have deemed that her particular assets are so right for our times. How can one woman explain why boobs are considered chic right now or what it is about her smile that makes designers swoon?
In fact Stone has spent her summer in the most unzeitgeisty way possible. For the last few months she’s been a housewife, she says. “My husband has been super busy all summer, so I’ve enjoyed taking care of him as best I could.”
We speak just before the Paris Fashion Week party held in honour of French Vogue’s 90th anniversary at the Hotel Pozzo di Borgo. The party’s theme is the Stanley Kubrick film Eyes Wide Shut. But Stone has an admirable perspective on the event’s importance in her list of things to do that week. “Well, I’m going to Disneyland tomorrow – that’s always exciting and the happiest place on earth! And I’m excited for French Vogue’s masquerade ball this Thursday. How fun – a masked ball! And we’re seeing my family next week in Holland, so that’s always great.”
It’s somehow pleasing that she’s as equally excited to go to Disneyland as to the most important party during fashion week.
Designer Marc Jacobs has cast Lara Stone in ad campaigns for Louis Vuitton, and he compares her to the great models such as Naomi Campbell and – of course – Kate Moss, girls with personalities and individuality who have idiosyncrasies. He’s right, and there’s every chance that, if she wants to, Stone will have a career just as long, lucrative and influential as the original supermodels. Where he’s wrong is to compare her to anyone else at all. It’s easy to think of her as the new Kate Moss. But this year’s model is simply the inimitable Lara Stone.
wiccaprincess-deactivated201107 said: Thought it continued at page 281?XX
Did you see this, btw: http://davidwalliamsnewsnewspage.wordpress.com/2010/10/09/lots-of-pictures-david-walliams-and-lara-stone-live-on-dutch-tv/
There's lots of Lara news, pics there at:
thank you for the tips! =)