Monday, July 27, 2009

Oh.My.God. Oribe!!

When I converted from Judaism to Fashionology, my new religion had Gods a plenty. The year was 1992. I was a junior in (public) high school, where the only dress code was that our shorts and skirts had to be below our fingertips' reach.

That was neither here nor there. Roxy was alive and kicking and her closet kept me busy for hours. Not to mention that Roxy was a hoarder and had back issues of Vogue from the 80s. Mom was always a fashion plate—and I imagine wanted to shoot herself when I became a victim of the WT trends that permeated my world briefly, until I remembered who I was and where I came from. I mean, my father's mother Lillian, though long-dead, was apparently a chicer-than-thou woman as well. Always turned out in her St. John and Chanel knits. Leaving daddy with his mammy Minnie for summers while she and grandpa Sam went to Europe.

Back to '92. Vogue was my bible; Gianni Versace was my Rabbi; Style with Elsa Klensch was my favorite TV show; and the only thing I watched on MTV was House of Style. My baptism came in the form of the FIT retrospective of Versace's couture gowns from his most vibrant collections. I was moved to tears, embarrassing Meredith, who practically had to pry me off the mannequins. In those days, Fashionology had as many Goddesses as any religion could hope for. These were the wonder years, when these other-worldly creatures took over runways, the fashion world at large and stole the hearts of little girls like me. These were the days of Christy, Naomi, Claudia, Cindy, Linda, Helena and to a lesser extent, models like Karen Mulder and Elaine Erwin (now Mellencamp).

Nobody dressed these women better than Gianni. This was also the time that Gianni discovered South Beach. On the runway, his beaded couture frocks were both art and fashion—Warhol Marilyn Monroe faces composed of beads and stitched to fit Cindy as she strutted the catwalk. Versace spoke to me due partially to his flamboyance as a designer and person, his joie de vivre, his child-like love of his trade, but primarily because he was an artist. A true artist in the body of a son of a seamstress from Southern Italy.

He published South Beach Stories—which Meredith, my fashion partner in crime was luckily enough to have autographed by him, even though he wrote 'Dear Martha'—and I dragged my parents down to South Beach to stay. As kids we only went to Miami for bar/bat mitzvahs and weddings. But even they wanted to see what this South Beach thing was all about. Interview magazine—Warhol's print baby and one of my regular rags growing up—had just done a South Beach roundup, so that was my Fodor's. I led the way up and down Ocean Drive, where the ill-fated Versace Manse was still under construction.

In my junior year I began saving up all my allowance, birthday, whatever money for shopping. New York shopping. I'd save up for a while then head up to New York for a week-long spending spree. Arriving back at Samuel W. Wolfson high school—which was named after our family friends—clad in Versace, Anna Sui, John Fluevog and Norma Kamali, I was subjected to some ridicule. Wolfson: one-half African-American bused in from the 'inner-city,' one-quarter WT, and one-quarter Jewish and non-WT whites. There were not many kids there who took shopping trips to New York. Thus, I still remember wearing a pair of black Fluevog—Google it—clogs, walking down the hall and being called out by one of my WT friends:

"What are you wearing, are you alternative now?" I just rolled my eyes, but I should've said, "Yes, didn't you hear? I officially changed my label from 'popular' to 'alternative.'

So there was Vogue. There was Versace—God rest his soul and burn in HELL Andrew Cunanan. There were the fierce supermodels. And there was one more idol for me and Meredith; the man responsible for the glam, over-the-top hair that characterized that era. He was behind the scenes at every couture and pret-a-porter show, appeared in Vogue nearly every month, and was just ripe for idolizing. Oribe. Pronounced Or-bay. Before Fekkai, before Blandi, before all the stylists with their eponymous, Sephora-approved lines, there was Oribe. He didn't just cut or style hair, his work was the cherry on the sundae of a Versace catwalk ensemble. The crowning coiffure in a Vogue editorial. The king of hair in an era when big, luscious hair was the rage. He was, in short, one of our Gods. Meredith and I used to talk about him like he was a high school boy we had a crush on.

"Did you see what he did in the Lacroix Paris couture show? To die for!"

Yes, we were retards with big dreams. Meredith had the advantage of growing up on the UES and attending the same private school that Roxy did. One of those Gossip Girl schools. After Meredith and I met at a summer program at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, my New York shopping trips escalated and I'd go stay with her for weeks. We covered every area of the city. She introduced me to Patricia Field when Patricia was actually working the counter and Richie Rich bummed cigarettes from me. (He's now 1/2 of Heatherette.)

Meredith and me 15 years later:

Then came the Grunge Phase of Fashion—Marc Jacobs was the man and Kate Moss, Shalom Harlow and scary Kristen McMenamy stomped around covers of Vogue in Doc Martens and flannels. Natch, we rejiggered our wardrobes to fit in with the trends. Soon I was running around in flannels, vintage Levis and Docs collected from New York to London.

My first-ever clip was a letter to the editor in Vogue. I actually wrote about the ground-breaking grunge cover that was a collage of diverse models from black to white to albino—I mean, Kristen. I was 17 years old.

Sixteen years later. I always thought coming full-circle would mean a story in Vogue, which I still aspire to write. Instead, my full-circle moment has come via my friend—who happens to be the EIC—at Aventura magazine.

As I mentioned, I'm on the Aventura Arbiters of Style list with ORIBE. Me! Adjacent to one of my longtime loves and idols. I emailed Lori about my life-long obsession with Oribe. Next thing I know, I was on the phone with her and she had a big surprise for me. She'd told Oribe all about me, how honored I was to be on any kind of list with him. And she so generously offered me an early birthday present—a cut with Oribe. (He's based in South Beach now.) The best birthday present ever, no offense mom and dad. Money can't buy this kind of treat.

So I've had two post chemo cuts, but this is the real one. Post-Japanese, post all major surgeries, I will now have the fingertips of one of the most talented tressers in the world touching my humble head. And it's Oribe, so I'm in his hands. So this is my full-circle. And I'm going to try really hard not to drool or cry when I meet this amazing man. Thank you so, so, so much Lori!! xoxo

These are my two favorite shots that Tomas Loewy took of me for the Aventura shoot.