“People don’t know how heavily involved I am in my own career,” Nicki says in a no-nonsense tone. “I’m on 15 to 25 conference calls every few days strategizing with my team. I think a lot of artists sit back and have it done for them. Sometimes as women in the industry — if you’re sexy or like doing sexy things — some people subconsciously negate your brain. They think you’re stupid.”
Nicki on her Idol experience:
“Once I did Idol, a lot of people would come up to me and say, ‘Oh, you’re smarter than I thought,’ ” she recalls. “What does that mean? Was I making weird faces [that made you think] I was stupid?” Viewers also saw Minaj’s combative side, in a leaked video that showed her arguing with Mariah Carey, another new judge at the time, during the show’s auditions segment. Both women eventually exited. Still, says Minaj, “Thank God I did that show. At least I was able to show my true self, speak and have a mind.”
Nicki on Anaconda:
“Everything we see that’s labeled as beautiful is very skinny,” she says about Anaconda. “In the song I kind of say, ‘F— them skinny girls.’ But it’s all love. I consider myself a skinny girl.” She adds, “I went overboard with the video to show that I’m not going to hide. And those big-booty dancers I have, they’re not going to hide. Black girls should feel sexy, powerful and important too.” Famed fashion designer Robert Cavalli calls her an “ambassador” for the growing acceptance of a shapelier female silhouette: “She inspires women to embrace their curves, and to be more confident.”
James Harden elevates over the Spurs’ center for the monster dunk.
Kate Moss opens the doors of her world in the December’s edition of British Vogue. For the 36th time she has appeared on the cover of the fashion bible. Vogue’s current contributing fashion editor also plays the role of the cover model by appearing on two different covers for the same issue. Captured by Mario Testino, on one cover she sports a raw, fresh look which also bring her freckles to light. The other cover shows her dark side in a vamp-like appearance.
Vogue reports that the British model has sported various looks including Bardot-haired, Breton-wearing ingénue to sequin-adorned showgirl for Her Infinite Variety shoot. Another photo shoot with David Bailey involves the men in her life including husband Jamie Hince and collaborator Sir Philip Green along with other friends, lovers business associates and mentors.
One feature includes a shoot styled by Kate and contributing fashion editor Kate Phelan. Shot by Tim Walker at Copped Hall in Essex, it bought about 40 artists, models, singers, actors and friends including her half-sister Lottie Moss, actress Suki Waterhouse, makeup artist and illustrator Isamaya Ffrench and singer Beth Ditto in front of the lens.
The supermodel has also shared some of her favourite spaces from within her own home, too, from her garden to her neatly categorised handbag wardrobe. The December edition also holds a story that looks at the Count and Countess von Bismarck’s Belgravia home which is touted to be London’s most glamorous party house.
Vogue December issue is scheduled to hit the newsstands in the UK from November 5.
Sitting down to lunch at the Mercer Kitchen in New York not long ago, Virgil Abloh checked off the most recent stops on the circuitous route that had led him to where he sat: from Tokyo to Copenhagen, back to Tokyo, to San Francisco, to Los Angeles, to Chicago, and then here.
At 6:30 the next morning, he would leave for Puerto Vallarta, in Mexico, for another project whose details remained, by necessity, hazily defined. It seemed to involve work on an album, most likely with Kanye West, for whom he has worked since 2002. Mr. Abloh now has the title of creative director for Mr. West.
“Working on the record, off the record,” he said.
Mr. Abloh’s progress in culture tends to follow these international and often unspecifiable paths. Trained as an architect and an engineer, he left a firm in his native Chicago to join Mr. West, and has since refashioned himself as an all-purpose cultural guru, whose work includes art-directing Mr. West’s tours and merchandise; his own frequent D.J. appearances; his clothing store, RSVP Gallery, in Chicago; and a handful of fashion collaborations and collections of his own making.
It is in fashion that Mr. Abloh, 34, is currently concentrating much of his energy. His line, Off-White, a high-minded take on street wear that borrows equally from the skate brand Supreme and the Renaissance painter Caravaggio, is gaining traction with a global collective of fans and retailers.
Mr. Abloh’s currency and favorite word is “vibes,” which he applies liberally to anything that catches his fancy. For Off-White (so named for the color of blank canvas, onto which he can project his enthusiasms), Mr. Abloh has variously cited Baja style, Mies van der Rohe and even Martha Stewart as inspirations.
Through a spokeswoman, Mr. West said, “Virgil is one of the smartest, fastest, most innovative people I’ve created with.”
Those who have known him the longest say fashion has always been a priority. The restaurateur Gabriel Stulman, who owns Fedora, Montmartre, Jeffrey’s Grocery and Joseph Leonard in Manhattan, was Mr. Abloh’s roommate at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and a co-host of numerous parties there. (True to their future pursuits, Mr. Abloh D.J.’ed and Mr. Stulman served drinks, at a local bar called Montmartre, the eventual source of one of his restaurants’ names.)
“He had the boldest, strongest fashion sense of anyone in Wisconsin,” Mr. Stulman said. “He looked like he was out of a magazine. And he’s in them now.” Off-White’s most recognizable motif is a recurrent pattern of white stripes, whose real-world analogues, on crosswalks and construction sites, label-fans now snap and tweet at Mr. Abloh. But beyond that, anything goes. Off-White includes shirts and sweats plastered with Caravaggio paintings, others printed with sharks, beaded camouflage jackets and shredded jeans.
Anything is fair game to be sampled, a technique Mr. Abloh first practiced with Pyrex Vision, an earlier and more limited collection. (In addition to Pyrex Vision, he also collaborated for a time with Matthew Williams and Heron Preston as part of a collective called Been Trill, which continues to make clothing.) The clearest expressions of Pyrex Vision’s borrowed ethos were its flannel shirts, store-bought from Ralph Lauren’s now-shuttered Rugby line when the label closed, and overprinted with Mr. Abloh’s own graphics. Some wondered about the ethics of upselling deadstock Ralph Lauren merchandise, but not so many that the shirts didn’t sell out.
For Mr. Abloh, it is the mix that defines the moment, with Off-White as much as with Pyrex Vision. He has a particular admiration for the street-style photographer Tommy Ton, who captures fashion-show attendees in their styled-to-the-hilt finery.
We are in, he said, “the era of Tommy Ton street style” and “the age of self-styling,” where the look is a high/low mix: “Girls wearing Céline and their boyfriend’s Air Force Ones. My premise is to create a brand that’s immersed in this young fashion customer. Me, as a designer, that’s what I draw from, that’s the culture that I’m a part of: the music, the restaurants, the Chateau to the Mercer. That sort of premise, that’s where I’m at.”
Navigating Mr. Abloh’s fascinations can require an index for the uninitiated (the Air Force One is by Nike, the Chateau is Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles, the Mercer is the hotel and restaurant we were sitting in). He is fond of gnomic pronouncements and explanations. Discussing the woman he imagined wearing his latest collection, he said: “I have this catchphrase, which is ‘Clearly.’ She says ‘I only smoke when I drink,’ and she says ‘clearly’ as the start and end of a sentence.”
Off-White demands acquiescence to this trippingly referential mode. The spring women’s collection, designed with the “clearly” girl in mind, includes long, irregularly tiered skirts and is called Nebraska. It is a fragmented mix-and-mash, fashion-via-Tumblr.
Actually, Mr. Abloh said, this is “the post-Tumblr generation.”
He is intensely conscious of his place in a new guard, and one of his stated goals is to legitimize street wear — which he has followed from its first flush of ’80s skate brands, through latter-day inheritors like Hood by Air, for whom he used to design graphics — as part of the fashion conversation. He is a breathless fan of fashion, whose practitioners he cites with mononymic reverence (Hedi, Raf, Riccardo) and many of whom he now counts as friends.
That was not the case in 2009, when Mr. Abloh appeared on the fashion scene. His style was, at the time, gate-crashingly brash. In a photo taken by Mr. Ton, Mr. Abloh is seen with Mr. West’s entourage heading to a Comme des Garçons show, in a riot of primary colors: cherry-red glasses, a bright blue Moncler vest, a Jil Sander shirt and blazing yellow sneakers by the Pharrell Williams Billionaire Boys Club label. Later that year, when Mr. West and his friends were sent up in an episode of “South Park,” several of the outfits seemed to be lifted directly from the image.
Though he is still deferential to designers like Raf Simons and Riccardo Tisci, it seems that Mr. Abloh has arrived. Off-White is carried by influential stores including Barneys and Maxfield in the United States, Colette in Paris, Antonioli in Milan and I. T. in Hong Kong, and its retailers report it is selling well.
“A young crowd was coming just for that, that knew that we had that,” said Laure Heriard Dubreuil, chief executive of the Webster in Miami, which was one of the first retailers to carry Off-White. “It was bringing people that weren’t even looking at anything else, but were going straight to where it was in the store.”
The success of Off-White, which has grown to include furniture, has brought Mr. Abloh the fashion success that eluded Mr. West, who in 2011 introduced a namesake collection of designer women’s wear, to middling reviews. It was not produced for sale.
Mr. Abloh was quick to spring to Mr. West’s defense. “His fashion story is long,” he said. “We’re on the verge of seeing what an overwhelming success it will be.” Mr. West has since designed capsule collections for A.P.C. and is at work on a collection for Adidas.
“His projects I leave for him to speak about,” Mr. Abloh said, but added, “To me, he’s the greatest designer that has yet to be seen.”
When lunch ended, Mr. Abloh headed to the boutique Fivestory on the Upper East Side, to discuss a potential event with its owner, Claire Distenfeld.
They were planning a party to be held, maybe during Fashion Week, with the usual Abloh high-low vibes.
“It should be as if it were a house party,” Mr. Abloh said, “but in a mansion. It’s one-half all luxury-cozy, one-half red Solo cup.”
Ms. Distenfeld was in a glamorous full-skirted dress, but professed herself just as much a fan of Off-White, which she carries at the store.
“I can wear this one day and walk down the street and feel like I’m a movie star, or I can wear your stuff the next day and feel just as powerful,” she said to Mr. Abloh.