Celebrity Interviews & Designer Profiles
From their intimate studios to charming Parisian cafés, fashion designers and celebrities alike have graced Sheri Chiu with their presence and shared their knowledge in these exclusive interviews. Sheri has met and interviewed supermodels, emerging talents, great artists, and world-record breaking athletes. This non-exhaustive list includes: Coco Rocha, Janice Dickinson, Pierre et Gilles, Alessia Glaviano, Guillaume Nery, Jean-Claude Jitrois, Philippe Starck, Desiigner, Manish Arora, Charlie Le Mindu, Anne-Sofie Madsen, Jean-Paul Lespagnard, Julien Fournié, Owlle, Seth Troxler, Formento + Formento, Katherine Ryan, Asim Waqi, Thomas Lelu, James Murray (The Tenderloins), Laurie Lynn Stark...
Charli Howard was fired by her modeling agency in London for not being thin enough, despite being a size UK 6-8 at the time. Little did she know the course of her life would completely change when she decided to speak out against the fashion industry's narrow standards of beauty. Here, she explains why she was miserable when attempting to fit in, and how she's finally comfortable in her own skin while standing out. As a body positivity ambassador and curvy model, Charli opens up on her former self-esteem battles and how keeping a healthy state of mind is an ongoing process.
Last summer's chart topper Panda was just the beginning for Desiigner. The rapper tells us about his roots, his future, and why he is embracing every moment in between.
Sidney Royel Selby III, better known by his stage name Desiigner, has a lot to be proud of, having won two Billboard Music Awards this year for his track Panda. At 6'4", one might assume he'd be an intimidating figure, but he immediately puts one at ease, standing up to shake hands and flashing the biggest toothed smile. He chooses a number from his upcoming album to play from his iPhone, as he sings along and dances. Glowing in a red Comme des Garçons sweater, his enthusiastic nature is undeniably radiant. "If I can make you dance," he says, "that's how I overcome my challenges. I put positivity on top."
Sheri speaks to the supermodel about social media and why the modeling world is like the Wild West...
"In today's world of fashion modeling, it takes much more than a pretty face to make it to the top. Knowledge of the industry is crucial, but instead of leaving their fates to their agents, an increasing number of models have been taking charge of their own careers through personal social media handles. One such frontrunner is none other than Canadian fashion model Coco Rocha. Described as the "tech-savvy" supermodel, Rocha broadcasts her voice via Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, and Weibo to connect to fans and aid multiple charitable organizations. I chat with the role model to discuss how fashion, formerly untouchable, is now a universe we can all be a part of."
Pierre et Gilles
As traditional painting meets photography, fashion is married to the very best of kitsch to create a unique niche in art. Sheri catches up with French artists Pierre Commoy and Gilles Blanchard.
"Entering Pierre et Gilles' home in Le Pré-Saint-Gervais is like stepping into one of their artworks. Plastic vines wrap around windows, framing the life-sized green Buddha kneeling in the middle of the living room and the Batman statue, idly placed on the side. A Hello Kitty clock waves hello with her paw. The walls are covered with portraits of the artist duo, going back to the period when they first met at the opening of a Kenzo boutique in 1976. Renowned for their extremely stylized, hand-painted photographs, Pierre et Gilles discuss the humor and gravity in their work, and why two is better than one."
Sheri speaks to the Senior Photo Editor of Vogue Italia and L'Uomo Vogue on the future of photography and why an image must have soul...
"Alessia Glaviano has dedicated her entire life to photography. Having been raised by a fashion photographer father, then working at Pier 59 Studios in New York where she was taken under Wayne Maser's wing, Glaviano has had the artist upbringing of champions. Thereafter, she has worked at Vogue Italia since 2001 and L'Uomo Vogue since 2006, and also lectures at Istituto Europeo di Design, Bocconi University, and Polytechnic University of Milan.
In this exclusive interview, Glaviano explains how photographers and photo enthusiasts alike should harness the accessibility of photos in our digital age. I go on the phone with the influential editor to discuss the PhotoVogue project and how photographers can develop their eye to stand out in a multitude of artists."
Sheri sits down with Jean-Claude Jitrois, creator of the luxury leather label that bears his name.
"Ever so slowly, I walk down the corridor, my eyes dancing on the photographs hung on the walls like trophies. Rihanna, Lady Gaga, and Léa Seydoux, encased in leather bodysuits, all exude sensual ferocity. I am in the Jitrois headquarters facing the magnificent Jardin des Tuileries in Paris. A jovial "Bonjour!" awakes me from my Catwoman daydream and I turn to see Jean-Claude Jitrois himself, wearing a fitted white t-shirt and a pair of black leather trousers."
Sheri discusses a vision for a fairer planet with iconic French creator, designer and architect Philippe Starck.
Since starting his career in the 1980s, Philippe Starck has gained immense popularity for his inventive structures in interior, product, industrial and architectural design. The son of an aeronautical engineer, Starck knew at a young age that it was his duty to create and received his education at École Camondo in Paris. A champion of bionism (finding inspiration in living matter to design technology better suited to humans), Starck creates from an ethical and ecological standpoint, inventing objects that demand the most from the least.
Sheri plunges into deep conversation with triple world champion free diver Guillaume Néry.
"With a single breath, Guillaume Néry has the power and skill to plunge 125 meters below the water's surface without any assistance, holding his breath for seven minutes, 42 seconds, with lungs harboring between eight to 10 liters of air. However, this Frenchman proves that he is much more than just an athlete - but also an artist who collaborates with his wife Julie Gautier on hauntingly beautiful videos that demonstrate nature's immense power and man's impressive adaptation to the elements. Néry harnesses free diving as a healing tool to understand the link between mind and body and the fundamental importance of patience to achieve harmony when exploring the unknown."
Charlie Le Mindu
"As I descend the steps to Charlie Le Mindu’s atelier in Paris, he explains how he changed studio locations because of his plans to relocate to Los Angeles. “I’m going there to work with one of my best friends, Peaches. Plus, I’m moving for the sun,” his eyes dance. It’s a rainy day in the French capital, which may be reason enough for an artist of such vivid caliber to seek sunshine."
Sheri jumps in the fast lane with the self-proclaimed world's first supermodel.
"Janice Dickinson was dripping in Givenchy as she took the inaugural Concorde flight from Paris to New York, modeling for Air France. Photographers snapped images of the legendary supermodel with the Prime Minister of France as a hostess handed her a large bag of caviar and champagne. It was the epitome of a model getting star treatment. However, it wasn't all smooth sailing. Dickinson had to fight to get where she is today, after coping with physical abuse from her father and battling a drug and alcohol addiction. She talks me through her hardships and recovery, her surgeries and how, despite the rush of it all, perhaps the fastest button is pause."
Jane Campion par Jane Campion
As the 2014 Cannes Film Festival came to a close, President of the Jury Jane Campion is reborn in a new book devoted to her life’s work. The retrospective, titled Jane Campion par Jane Campion, takes a fresh look at the creative process of one of the influential contemporary filmmakers through a series of interviews conducted by Michel Ciment, French film critic and Editor-in-Chief of Positif Magazine. For nearly three decades, the two have regularly met to discuss cinema, making this book not only an honest account of the human relations and desire of women that are so thoroughly explored in Campion’s films, but a testament to a beautiful relationship between film director and film critic.
Laurie Lynn Stark
If you're looking for luxury without conformity, look no further than cult label Chrome Hearts. I catch up with Co-Owner and Artistic Director Laurie Lynn Stark.
"Before partnering on Chrome Hearts with her husband Richard, Laurie Lynn Stark turned her hand to a number of creative ventures, starting with selling clothes from her car as a teenager and designing her own bikini range aged just 18. After graduating from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in California, Stark had a successful career as a fashion stylist and then as an art director. Did I mention she's also a photographer?
The multi-talented Stark talks me through the history and philosophy behind the company, collaborations with Rick Owens and Gareth Pugh, and why she refuses to compromise on quality."
Formento + Formento: Japan Diaries
After capturing the women they met across their United States road trip for their first series Circumstance, photographer duo Formento + Formento have now explored the mysteries of Japan. BJ Formento and Richeille Formento will present their engaging new series, Japan Diaries, at the Fahey/Klein Gallery in Los Angeles at the end of July. The husband and wife team traveled journeyed to the East and embarked on a project that focuses on highly staged and cinematic images inspired by theater, 1950s Japanese filmography, the photographs of Nobuyoshi Araki and Daido Moriyama, Edo woodblock prints, and the erotic imagery of Ero Guro paintings.
Jean Paul Lespagnard
Jean Paul Lespagnard has known ever since he was a young boy that he wanted to be a fashion designer. Having studied Social Economy and Visual Arts in Liège and Luxembourg, Lespagnard naturally progressed towards clothing design. He showcased his fashion collection at the International Festival of Fashion and Photography in Hyères, France and was awarded the Public Prize and 1.2.3 Prize. With seven collections under his belt, Lespagnard has ventured into realms beyond fashion. At Galerie des Galeries in Paris, he has fashioned the Till We Drop exhibition to his own image: eccentric and socially conscious.
Manish Arora is not just a fashion designer, he crafts happiness. “Clothes are just a medium to express joy because that’s the medium I’m trained in,” Arora says. The creator of Indian descent started showing his vibrant collections in India, then tapped into the international sphere by presenting in London and shortly thereafter, Paris. Known for his extravagant use of colour, Arora looks to his own culture for inspiration. He has done many collaborations including, but not limited to, Swatch, Reebok, Nivea, Nespresso, MAC, Walt Disney, Swarovski.
Manish Arora sits down with me in this exclusive interview to discuss the business and creativity behind fashion. He explains how he sees no end in sight for his empire.
French “dream pop” singer Owlle is making waves in the music industry with her debut album titled France, which was released this past January. The 27-year-old with flaming red hair and piercing blue eyes originally studied scenography and video at École des Beaux-Arts, but realised she was already integrating music in her art pieces. Owlle eventually changed her priority to songwriting and began creating her own demos.
Filled with electronic beats, Owlle’s songs transport us to her dark universe with her hauntingly captivating voice. There is a delightful juxtaposition of dance and melancholy in her catchy music video Ticky Ticky and her new video Don’t Lose It, that recently came out. I sat down with Owlle to discuss her new album in depth.
Parisian fashion designer Julien Fournié is forging a path between Haute Couture and technology. An ambassador for Fashion Lab, a technology incubator by Dassault Systèmes that utilises 3D engineering in clothing design, Julien is taking strides towards the future. Likewise, he is making his mark in the Asian market after showcasing his collection in Singapore in the Fidé Fashion Show, creating a ready-to-wear line for Love, Bonito, and acting as a mentor in Vietnam’s Next Top Model.
Having originally studied biology, Julien not only aims for sharp precision in his anatomically cut designs, but also strives to help women in expressing their emotions. I sit down with the haute couture creator in this exclusive interview.
James Murray (The Tenderloins)
Sheri has a laugh with the stars of hit comedy show Impractical Jokers.
"The ringtone reverberates in the air, only to be cut a few moments later. I redial to hear snippets of a jovial voice, but am quickly disconnected. This happens two more times. Finally, James Murray reveals that he is on a ship about to set sail for the Bahamas, which explains the faulty wireless connection. “We’re filming an entire episode on a cruise line,” says Murray. “It’s all hidden camera, so no one knows we’re on this trip!” Murray is one of the four members of The Tenderloins, a comedy troupe formed in 1999 between high school best friends. After university, he reunited with pals Sal Vulcano, Joe Gatto, and Brian Quinn to start a TV show doing what only the best of friends do: playing jokes on each other."
Sheri talks house music, psychedelics, and rib-sticking grub with one of techno's most iconic DJs.
"Seth Troxler is not your ordinary DJ. He is perhaps one of the few who champion an authentic rave experience, where music - not commercialization - is at the core of it all. He has played at major festivals such as Coachella, Glastonbury, Burning Man and Sonar and, in 2015, founded three music labels. As well as a new album planned for 2016, he is about to open a restaurant in London and release a DJ-Kicks album this October."
Sheri explores the ever so graceful and joyous world of Baby Dior.
Christian Dior was by far one of the most influential fashion designers in the 20th century. After World War II, Dior’s designs alleviated post-war blues and assisted in rebuilding Paris as the cheerful fashion capital it once was. In 1946, The House of Dior was founded at 30 Avenue Montaigne. In the following year, the fashion house launched its first collection titled Corolle, meaning ‘circlet of flower petals’. The ground-breaking collection featured cinched waists and full-bodied skirts that would influence other designers and the fashion industry for years to come.
When I meet artist Thomas Lélu at Café Etienne Marcel, a retro futuristic Parisian brasserie, Lélu beckons the waitress and orders, “Un moelleux au chocolat s’il vous plaît.” With this, we start our conversation. Growing up in Brittany, France, Lélu started drawing at a very young age. From there, he transitioned into painting, and continued the practice all throughout his teenage years. He entered École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs with the intention of studying classical painting. While it was clear he wanted to pursue what he had already been doing for a large portion of his life, Arts Décoratifs provided opportunities elsewhere. “I discovered a lot of other alternatives such as visual communications, graphics, design, and photography,” Lélu says. “I think I was getting bored with painting, since I already had a formation in it. Painting is very solitary, and I’m not projected as a solitary individual. Suddenly, there was something much more open, and I was deeply interested in artists who had training in applied arts.”
At the end of the halls of a Brooklyn photo studio, I find comedian Katherine Ryan in the middle of a friendly row about the Kardashians with fashion photographer Ryan Michael Kelly. “I understand what you’re saying, but I am one of the great supporters of the Kardashians,” Katherine tells Ryan. She turns with a warm smile, as they put their conversation of celebrities on hold, and offers a soda. I sit down to instantly discuss Katherine’s humble beginnings in Canada and forming a sisterhood with her co-workers when working at Hooters. While she narrated her story, quick wit seemed to roll off her tongue. The fact that she doesn’t let criticism crawl under her skin made her that much more charming. We dabbled in fake news and how society is a consumer of fame. Katherine went on to explain what good comedy really is and how it can deliver the sincerest form of truth.