Exclusive Interview With Model and Entrepreneur Karlie Kloss
I’m leaning back against a plush, red velvet couch at the Majestic Hotel in Cannes, observing as studio executive, Harvey Weinstein—husband of Georgina Chapman—cracks a joke at the table directly across from me, his voice commanding the attention of all around him. Suddenly a man appears in front of me and exclaims, “Vittoria!” —“No, I am Caterina,” I reply. “No matter,” he responds stepping over the red rope and joining me on the couch. He hands me his card. Fabrizio Cerina, Chairman of the international investment banking group, Crédit des Alpes, it reads. A man who has a reputation of being “a banker and a gentleman” for once personally covering clients losses with upwards of USD$46 million of his own money.
Well, well, this is Cannes, after all, where it doesn’t seem out of the ordinary to serendipitously mingle with some of the world’s most fascinating and dynamic people.
Speaking of fascinating people, I’m waiting—now, along with Fabrizio—for Karlie Kloss to arrive. Karlie is a self-described all-American girl. That is, if the average all-American girl was…a supermodel.
I’m here to discover, first-hand, what it is about Karlie Kloss that has elevated her to iconic status within the fashion industry. Her “je ne sais quoi”. Sure, she’s tall, she’s beautiful, she can work the catwalk better than most—but isn’t that more or less the definition of a model? Why is Karlie the face of Jean Paul Gaultier, Lanvin, Donna Karan, and Lacoste? Why is Karlie, at the age of twenty, already heading into her eleventh season? Why, when asked about Karlie, does photographer Mario Testino say, “I think that of all the girls I’ve seen, she really is the only one that has that potential of really going big.” Why, of Karlie, does hair stylist Sam McKnight say, “She really is one of the all-American greats, in the leagues with Turlington.” Why, in almost every issue of Vogue is Karlie looking back at me? And, at seemingly every show I go to during Fashion Week, sooner than later, out walks Karlie.
This will be the second time I meet Karlie Kloss—the first, an impromptu meeting at a Starbucks in Paris. I had just seen the Stella McCartney show at the Opéra Garnier; Karlie, as usual, walked, dressed in a boxy, oversized grape-colored coat that did a splendid job of hiding her perfectly proportioned and athletically toned body. It was an early morning show, and afterwards, I did what any non-French Editor would do: I headed over to the neighborhood Starbucks. As it turned out, “all-American” Karlie Kloss had the same idea. I spotted her in line, thumbing a paper, wearing slim jeans, mid-sized black heels, and a black, leather jacket. No “look at me” onesies or loud basketball caps for her. Karlie was chic and unassuming, and while she dressed like the girl-next-door (if you lived in the sixth arrondissement in Paris)—she didn’t look like one. In line with the “rest of us”, she radiated “supermodel” and it hit me like the librarian had thrown a book at my head. Often, in the industry, when you have a model standing right in front of you, it can be a disappointing encounter. They just don’t look like you thought they would. But Karlie was different.
Knowing that she had never before spoken to Middle Eastern media, I abandoned my frappuccino, tried to feel as tall as possible, and walked over.