Monday, April 20, 2015

Good Morning, Juan Betancourt!

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Of course, if we looked like Juan Betancourt we'd probably take pictures of ourselves all day long, too.

The gorgeous Cuban model, who was recently chosen by Tom Ford to be the face of his new grooming line for men, is quite the selfie aficionado. 
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What a nice surprise to see him tweet a picture of himself in bed on Wednesday morning, shortly after waking up in Milan:
And because we take our job seriously, we put our best research skills to the test and decided to compile our favorite selfies from Juan Betancourt's twitter feed. Enjoy!
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Juan Betancourt for GQ España

Cuban delight Juan is looking smoking hot in this editorial for Spanish GQ shot by Felix Valiente. 
Photographer: Felix Valiente

Who is Tom Ford's Man: Cuban born Juan Betancourt?

 
The 6′ 3″ Juan Betancourt was born in La Havana, Cuba and is repped by Elite Barcelona.
According to models.com, Juan was discovered walking on the street and Edgar, from Elite Barcelona, literally assaulted me. Mmm?
Juan enjoys playing tennis, traveling, going to the beach, hanging out with my friends and his favorite places in the world are Rome, Milan, Venice and New York.
His favorite modeling experience so far was the first time he saw himself in a magazine!
Juan Betancourt, from the Cuban capital Havana, was scouted closer to our shores on the beach in Barcelona whilst on holiday back in January 2011.
Since then he’s shot various editorials but it was summer of 2013 that Juan hit the headlines landing Tom Ford’s Fall/Winter ’13 campaign and grooming campaign.
Age: 24
Birthplace: La Havana
Ethnic Origin: Cuban
How were you scouted: I was on holiday walking on the beach in Barcelona and my agent spotted me…
What’s your best feature: Honesty
Hobbies: Sports, hangout with friends and dance
Fitness Regime: Go to the gym between 5 or 6 times a week
Favourite Movie: Forrest Gump

What was the last track you listened to on your iPod?: Vivir La Vida (Marc Anthony)
Do you have any Guilty Pleasures?: Pleasures shouldn’t make you feel guilty… hahaha
What is your biggest fear?: To be alone in the world
What is your dream country to visit?: Brazil
If you were not modeling, what would you be doing?: Studying sport and sport sciences at university
If you got to relive one day in your modeling career it would be…: My first fashion week…
If you could be on the cover of any magazine, it would be: Vogue Homme

What’s the funniest thing that has happened to you on a shoot?: When I was shooting with one of my best friends and we had to fight in a serious way……. I couldn’t stop laughing!
What’s your favorite fashion city and why?: NY… because you never know what’s gonna happen…
Who are your idols?: My grandmother
What was the last dream you remember?: That I was playing in the final of the Champions League
One word to describe yourself: Tenacity
How much money would you need to shave your hair off? I hope no one offers me enough money to do that hahahahaha

Tom Ford for Men Skincare & Grooming!

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Tom Ford launches his debut male skincare and grooming line this autumn, following the huge success of his men’s fragrances.

The nine product range includes moisturizer, cleanser, a mud mask, concealer and bronzing gel. Two new fragrances will also be added to the unisex Private Blend collection.

Preview the campaign and product offering below as modelled by Cuban born Juan Betancourt who was featured in the FW RTW. 
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What does Tom Ford think About McQueen & Galliano!

Tom Ford claims he loves women but it just so happens he falls in love with men. He once said: “I love women. But I lust after beautiful women in the way that I lust after a beautiful piece of sculpture.” He has felt up Natalia Vodianova; he has put the artist Rachel Feinstein’s breast in his mouth. Plus, as a fashion designer, he’s extremely knowledgeable about the female body.
Bearing in mind that the physical structure of an Asian body can be very different from the form that Ford is accustomed to, and with the best intention of trying to understand whether he can design for a demographic that will inevitably generate significant profits for his burgeoning business empire, we wanted to know if he understood the Asian body. Ford didn’t like these questions. He thinks of himself as ‘international’. So for us to have broached such topics was, in his judgement, considered ‘regionalistic’ and even ‘borderline racist’.

Do you understand the Asian body?
[Cautiously] I think so…


What do you see as the characteristics of an Asian body?
[Narrows eyes] I don’t think they are that different. I mean often Asian bodies have a slightly longer torso and less long legs, but they are generally very thin.



For this spring summer you cast Liu Wen, Du Juan and Rinko on your catwalk. What made you gravitate towards them?
Well, first of all, two of them are models and they are beautiful, and Rinko is an actress who I adore and I loved her in Babel. I’ve always been quite multicultural and it’s funny that someone asked me in an interview yesterday if I had any Asian friends. I felt that was such a strange question. When you grow up in America, contrary to popular belief, we are racially blind because we’ve had Japanese and Chinese families, five generations, living in America. So we grow up with Asian-Americans, African-Americans, European-Americans. And I don’t think she’s my Asian friend. She’s my beautiful friend, she’s my dumb friend that asks me crazy shiii… she’s my fabulous friend, she’s my chic friend, she’s my… I’m colourblind. When you do a fashion show it’s very important and it’s a responsibility to represent a multicultural cast.


What do you see in Liu Wen and Du Juan?
Well, both of them I don’t know very well personally, so I chose them for pure physical beauty. Women with strong character. With strong look. So I took the top five models that I like now in the world, visually, who I knew because I worked with them. And I took some models like Leah who I find very inspirational and who I gave her very first job to. She’s a beautiful black model at Yves Saint Laurent. But what I really wanted to do at that show was to show all different types of women. Women with curvy body types, Rachel Feinstein and Lauren Hutton who’s 70 years old. Then of course I also wanted to mix in some models because I wanted a range of different body types.

Du Juan and Liu Wen I don’t know as well as I know Rinko, who I got to know at the Tokyo Film Festival. I sat next to her at dinner and I loved her. I found her captivating and charming and so I wanted a multi-racial, ethnic and different body types. Because that’s what today’s fashion is all about. Helping every woman to find her own best version of herself, rather than creating a step where every woman has to look like this.


A friend who works at LVMH said of Liu Wen: ‘She looks Caucasian because of her face, her straight nose, her cheekbones…’ Do you think people regard these Chinese women as beautiful because of their perceived Western features?
[Mildly irritated] No. I think, and don’t take this the wrong way, all of your questions have a very odd racist slant, because you have grown up here. And don’t take that the wrong way; it’s not a negative thing at all. Honestly, growing up in America and Europe, I don’t think as racially as the questions you are asking.


Well, for one…
[Interjecting] I had a journalist earlier ask me a question which, I had to say, found really shocking. He asked me if those flowers are fake. And I said ‘No, they’re not fake, they are real.’ He said ‘I don’t believe you’. And he went over and looked. And I said, ‘They are cymbidium orchids wired to long stems because you can’t get cymbidiums in long stems. But they are real.’ So he looked at them, came back and sat down. I said, ‘Why did you ask me if they were fake?” He said, ‘Well, you are American’. [Laughs] I was like: ‘What does that mean?’ He said, ‘Well, you know often Americans are very fake and you have fake things and so I thought they might be fake.’ And I said: ‘That’s such a racist comment!’ [Lowers voice] He was German.


But I was talking about the Western perceptions of beauty in the Asian face. The yardstick that people measure or judge beauty...
[Interjecting again] I find a lot of different women beautiful. Some women, you know… I hate Jewish girls having their noses done. There’s usually a balance to a face that your cheekbones balances with your nose. So the width of your face balances with the width of your nose. And the width of your nose is very different than a Caucasian nose, you know, from England. But you know their face is going to be more narrow. I see beauty, or maybe less beauty. But within every race there are very beautiful examples.

You see beauty in terms of ratio and balance.
Of course, more than… I don’t really see race. I always feel really sad when I see, and I don’t mean this in a racial way, other than maybe more Korean… I feel really sad when I see girls who have had their eyes, you know, Westernised, so to speak.

What do you mean, Westernised?
Often you see women who’ve had surgery to eliminate the hood over the eye to make their eyes… It’s a very common surgery; they have their hoods removed to look more Caucasian or European than Asian. I find it very sad because I think they are very beautiful like they are. Their faces have a balance to them and beauty.


Why is everybody so serious?” asked Tom Ford at a cocktail party held in his honour later that evening.
Possibly because the party had been engineered to create a tone of speechless reverence prior to your arrival, Mr. Ford. Champagne was served with the label always facing. Canapés were mathematically positioned on their serving trays. Lights were dimmed to oh-so-hushed levels. Tables blocked up the space in the center of the room, thereby forcing people back against the walls as if awaiting a royal encounter. Everyone looked serious, Mr. Ford, because even the level of joy had been thermostated.
 Instead of beauty, the guests endured an artificial paradise of politesse, lip service, and the clement coldness of unsmiling assistants. One could certainly feel this warm alienation during the interview. He nonchalantly uses his charm to disarm (“I like your green shoes”, “I love your dress”), and his use of diversion tactics to stave off alarming questions is obviously a skill he honed over a great length of time. We know Ford as a confident, powerful, softly masculine yet very strong man. But we are almost certain there are various sub-personalities jostling beneath that unruffled exterior.
 Why this need to control the environment whenever journalists are in close proximity? Why this translucent shield of armour for a man who’s over 50? When I told Ford I had tried on some of his clothes, his immediate reaction was to act like Shelley’s Sensitive Plant – seizing up his beautiful petals for fear of being closely examined. It was, perhaps, the first time I had seen the shimmering surface of a deep well of insecurity within the soul of the
great designer.


I came to try on some clothes yesterday…
[Uncomfortably] And did they not fit?


No, I mean…
I think that, well, first of all, we did have some fitting problems with this collection and you know this is my first collection and I did it in three months because I was working on the Oscars until March and then I had to hire my team, find manufacturers, find my studio, set it all up, and finish [the collection] from April to July because that has to be ready for New York. So it’s a tiny collection. And to be quite honest, there were some fit discrepancies between things. [Thinking aloud] Umm, but no, it would be fine.
I feel you’re designing for someone very slender, very tall…
I don’t agree with you, Kawai. I think I can put any dress on you and hem it to the right length and I think I can alter it and it’ll fit you.


But would it fit everybody?
Well, I have to say if we have to talk about things like this, Americans are too fat. And in London they are starting to get fat too. So I have to say that if we have to talk about race system and nationalism, I find it refreshing that everyone [who is] Chinese is slim. The only thing we changed [at Gucci] was the width of the nose bridge on eyeglasses because it won’t fit an Asian nose if it’s made for someone’s nose like mine.

 
We changed the shoe width because, traditionally, in Asia, certain men and women have a wider foot in the front. Our buyers should be buying our shorter jackets. We made a kind of petite version, which my mother for example, 5ft 3in, or 5ft 2in, you could say she has an Asian body. Long torso, short legs and she’s 5ft 3in. She needs a kind of petite jacket. And she’s German and Irish. So I don’t know, you know?

Let’s move on. Enzo Ferrari would never sell his cars to somebody with bad taste. What does Tom Ford feel about this?
I don’t feel that way. But I do design for a specific person who appreciates… who’s probably thin, quite honestly. She takes care of herself. She understands the quality of a stitch, understands the quality of the fabric. She’s most likely urban. You know, my clothes are expensive. As I told you earlier on, I used to make jeans that cost US$50 here, and at this stage in my life, after 25 years in the fashion business, what interests me the most is the best. The best fabric, the best stitching, the best quality, and that is, by nature, expensive. It doesn’t mean I’m trying to exclude or make a social judgment about not wanting people who can’t afford my clothes to be stylish. By the way, style has nothing to do with money.
 And the fact that you [points at my dress] know who you are and are wearing something that’s different than anyone else in here who’s come in, even though [they are] traditionally Chinese, you’re the first person in China that I’ve seen in traditional Chinese clothes since I’ve been here. So that to me is exciting. Because you know who you are and you have your own character.

Thanks, but…
[Continuing] So what I’m doing now is more about style than fashion. So I wouldn’t say, no, I wouldn’t sell it to somebody I don’t like but because of the things that I’m designing they are targeted towards the kind of person that I would normally want to [dress].


So you’ve auto-selected your clients during the design process already...
I think one does do that when they design. You do design for a kind of ideal. The ideal comes from me, from menswear. I’m my muse. So no, you’re not gonna go in there and find elasticated waist bands and flip flops. Because I’m not that kind of person. So clearly I’m not going to sell that kind of person because we don’t have it.


How much pressure exists in the fashion industry? And how do you feel about what happened to John Galliano [sacked for anti-semitism] and Alexander McQueen [suicide]?
Well I certainly relate. First of all, I brought Alexander McQueen to Gucci group and I loved him and he’s a true, true artist. I do understand that pressure, because I used to have it at Gucci. You work for a large company like that and it’s three billion dollars a year in business. And if you do a bad collection, the company’s sale drops dramatically. And the other thing is that everyone who works for that company gets their pride from feeling proud of the products that are created. If you have a bad collection and it’s reviewed badly and it’s not selling the [softens voice] pride and the whole company drops and you feel responsible for it.
With the work at Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent I couldn’t have gone on much longer because I was designing 16 collections a year and I was the vice chairman of the company and was working in the acquisitions committee, bringing in Stella McCartney and buying all these different brands and designing collections. There was enormous pressure and you have to be very strong. And you become isolated. Even though I really helped build Gucci from nothing to where it was, well, as that happened you become isolated because you’re like a racehorse. People just say: ‘Keep ‘em happy! Keep ‘em happy!’ because they want you to keep working. They want to get more out of you. You need to perform, perform, perform.

How do you feel about Galliano?
I don’t want to comment. I know John, I like John a lot. Obviously he’s very troubled. I feel very sorry for him. Historically, Yves Saint Laurent had drug problems. A lot of different fashion designers had drugs and alcohol problems. It’s a very tough, tough, tough business. You have to be very strong.


Do people say ‘yes’ to you all the time?
Of course they do.


And is that part of the pressure?
Yes. You lose perspective. I hadn’t flown on a commercial plane for 10 years when I left Gucci. I now fly on some commercial planes. It’s a good awakening for me.

Tom Ford: Naked Designer..

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Fashion designer Tom Ford has been an object of desire for so many people (including himself) over the years that I felt obligated to bring you the nude photo of him that appears in this month's Out magazine.

Shot by Terry Richardson, this is the first nude photo of Tom Ford to appear anywhere, unless you count that airbrushed side-butt shot that appeared in W a couple years ago.
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Sunday, April 19, 2015

Tom Ford: The Sexiest Designer Alive

"Someone asked me recently about male nudity, and I brought up the subject that, in our culture, we use female nudity to sell everything. We’re very comfortable objectifying women. Women go out and they are basically wearing nothing. Their feet and toes are exposed, their legs are exposed, their breasts are exposed. Everything is exposed—the neck, the arms. You have to be really physically perfect, as a woman, in our culture to be considered beautiful.
Ford

But full frontal male nudity challenges us. It makes men nervous. It makes women nervous. Other times in history, male nudes have been regarded in a different way. The Olympics were originally held nude. The reporter I was explaining this to said, 'This would make a great story.' I explained how when I come home I actually take off all my clothes, and I wear no clothes until I leave. I eat naked. I do everything completely naked. He said, 'That would make a great interview.' I said, 'Fine, we have to do it nude.'"

He was in very good shape. Anyway, we did the interview. The interviewer was straight, and I made it a point to desexualize the interview even though I was sitting with my legs wide open, completely naked. At the end of the interview, I put on a dressing gown and he put on his clothes, and I sat next to him on the sofa and said, “Was that sexual?” He said, “Absolutely not.” And I said, “That’s because I didn’t make it sexual. Sexuality is in the eyes, it’s an expression, it’s in a look.” Then, all of a sudden, I looked at him in a very different way, and it made him very nervous.
When Tom Ford walked away from womenswear more than six years ago, he wasn’t just vacating his post as creative director of Gucci Group, where he designed for both Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent—he was leaving an industry that he helped shape and reinvent. He’d brought a new understanding of glamour, beauty, sophistication, and, above all, sexual seduction to fashion, so when he announced in 2004 that he was quitting to try his hand as a film director, it sparked something of a communal identity crisis. Who would fill the void, rise to the occasion, and, more importantly, have both the creative talent and business acumen to fulfill the dreams of customers and the expectations of stockholders?
No doubt, in Ford’s absence—shorter than some imagined, as he launched his eponymous menswear label in 2007—fashion has changed significantly. But so has the man himself. In 2009 he delivered A Single Man, a poignant, wrenching, maturely expressed drama based on the Christopher Isherwood novel, which revealed him to be a cinematic force as well as a sartorial one. And then last fall, the man who famously got out of the game because he was fed up with the business came back to the land he once ruled—and did so in a sensational way.
Tom Ford’s Spring 2011 womenswear collection, presented at Ford’s Manhattan store to a select few journalists, editors, and fashion-world heavies, was the biggest show of the season that you never saw, partly because Ford decided to mark his return to dressing the female form as a way of protesting the current state of the industry: fashion as impersonal, aggressive, and aloof; fashion as playing to the critics instead of the customers; fashion as instantly accessible via the Internet to a global audience that obsesses over trends without ever experiencing the quality, the complexity, and the refinement of the clothes themselves.
The presentation was Ford’s manifesto-like argument for bringing back to high-end fashion the excitement, intimacy, immediacy, and sense of fun—all qualities that have been arguably sacrificed over the last decade for the mass-takeover approach favored by many of today’s designers.
Ford invited only 100 guests to his Madison Avenue showroom on the evening of September 12, 2010. Playing emcee on the microphone, with photographer Terry Richardson and his team securing the show’s only visual documentation, Ford announced each look as it came down the runway worn by one of the many actresses, artists, models, musicians, socialites, and muses the designer had personally chosen to walk in the show—among them, Julianne Moore, Beyoncé Knowles, Daphne Guinness, Lou Doillon, Lauren Hutton, Karen Elson, Marisa Berenson, Natalia Vodianova, and Stella Tennant.
While Ford refused all requests for media sneak peaks and red-carpet opportunities, what was evident in the collection was that Ford’s continuing obsession with and glorification of the female form had not gotten tame—he brought out the slips and curves of the body with silk fringe, leopard print, suede, and leather.
Ford hasn’t abandoned his second career—in fact, he is in the process of finishing the screenplay for his next film project. But as his friend, the painter John Currin (husband to another of Ford’s presentation muses, the artist Rachel Feinstein), caught up with him in Los Angeles, it was clear that Ford relished being back on his home turf, making clothes for women and making women feel the way only he can.
TOM FORD: We have to be careful. Everything we are saying is going to be recorded.
JOHN CURRIN: [laughs] The small acorn that will grow into a great oak of a scandal later, right?
FORD: [sighs] Ah, yes, I know what that’s like. You say the littlest thing, it gets misinterpreted.
CURRIN: Well, I’m here to ask you some questions, and I think a good one to start off with is about your childhood. What were some of your first memories of seeing beauty?
FORD: That would have been as a little kid living in Texas. My grandmother was probably the first person who I thought was beautiful. She was incredibly stylish, she had big hair, big cars. I was probably 3 years old, but she was like a cartoon character. She’d swoop into our lives with presents and boxes, and she always smelled great and looked great. She always had the latest things. She was larger than life to me, even as an adult, but when I was a child it was really like she was from another planet. It seemed like she lived in a different world, and wherever that was, I wanted to go.
CURRIN: So it wasn’t natural beauty, then. It wasn’t sunsets or mountains or trees.
FORD: No. In fact, I didn’t learn to appreciate those things until much later in life, because I grew up mostly in New Mexico, which is famous for sunsets and mountains and trees. That’s the reason I have a place there and spend so much time there now. When I was a little kid, all I wanted to do was to escape what I thought was the country and get to a city. Probably film and television had influenced me so much, I really thought the key to happiness was living a very artificial life in a penthouse in New York with martini glasses.
CURRIN: Your movie had some of that feeling; for instance, with its collection of small moments of cultivation—the way things are folded or put in a drawer.
FORD: Well, I do that myself, and that character was very, very, very autobiographical and very different from the character in the Isherwood book. That’s really about putting on a sort of armor to go out in the world. The character played by Julianne [Moore] was quite literally based on my grandmother. It’s funny, that movie was cathartic for me. It was really my midlife crisis on the screen. [Currin laughs] It was! I was working through all of those earlier notions of what was important in life. And George has a moment where time stands still, and he really feels his connection to the universe and understands the meaning of life, in a way, and that he doesn’t need to live any longer, and he dies. I never used to say that he dies, but I think enough people have seen the film by now, so I can give away the ending. But as an adult working in the fashion industry, I struggle with materialism.
And I’m one of the least materialistic people that exist, because material possessions don’t mean much to me. They’re beautiful, I enjoy them, they can enhance your life to a certain degree, but they’re ultimately not important. Your connections with other people are important, our connection to the earth. And that’s why I go to New Mexico as often as I can. And what I find to be the most beautiful thing in the world now is nature—sunsets, trees, my horses.
CURRIN: I didn’t mean it pejoratively that your aesthetic is always about cultivation.
FORD: My fashion aesthetic. I guess I’ve yet to express another aesthetic.
CURRIN: What’s interesting in the movie is that the aesthetic is so unsexualized. It was orderly and beautiful, but with this tragic panic underneath. But it was weird how it did look like you and your world to a degree, or how most people envision it.
FORD: Well, I think most people don’t actually know me. They know the projection of me that I use to sell things. And they know me from an expression of material beauty. I’m actually very introverted. I’m very shy. I’m very emotional. I think those are human experiences that everyone can relate to. So this movie wasn’t about sex. It was about love.
 That was on purpose, because a lot of people equate homosexuality with sex and not necessarily with love. It was important that I keep the movie not about sex. It was about the same struggle that everyone goes through, if you’re intelligent, at some point in your life. You ask yourself, What is this all about? Why am I living? What does this mean? Why am I here? Those are the questions George is asking himself.
CURRIN: If I could segue then to—
FORD: To high heels? Yes! Let’s get to high heels. That’s a great segue right into fashion.
CURRIN: Actually, yeah, because you are saying that people associate homosexuality with sex—or oversexed men and sexual relationships. But when you’re making a sculpture or image of a woman, is there a sexual aspect to it?
FORD: It is never even calculated. When I’m making an image of a woman, or dressing a woman—I have a reputation for sex and making a woman sexy, and men as well—but I don’t start out saying, “Oh, I’m gonna make this woman look sexy or sexual.” I simply stand there and put her in front of me and say, “What can I do to make her more beautiful in my eyes? Let’s pull in the dress here, let’s do this, let’s do that.” The end result is something that other people consider sexual, but for me it’s just beautiful. My expression of beauty is something I do naturally. I love the human body—the female body, the male body.
 I work in a way to try to enhance the body, and so you often see a lot of the body or the silhouette or outline, and that’s what people equate with sex. But I’m very comfortable with sexuality. It’s not anything that’s ever freaked me out. I’m very comfortable with naked bodies. Someone asked me recently about male nudity, and I brought up the subject that, in our culture, we use female nudity to sell everything. We’re very comfortable objectifying women. Women go out and they are basically wearing nothing. Their feet and toes are exposed, their legs are exposed, their breasts are exposed.
 Everything is exposed—the neck, the arms. You have to be really physically perfect, as a woman, in our culture to be considered beautiful. But full frontal male nudity challenges us. It makes men nervous. It makes women nervous. Other times in history, male nudes have been regarded in a different way. The Olympics were originally held nude. The reporter I was explaining this to said, “This would make a great story.” I explained how when I come home I actually
take off all my clothes, and I wear no clothes until I leave. I eat naked. I do everything completely naked. He said, “That would make a great interview.” I said, “Fine, we have to do it nude.”
CURRIN: How old was the interviewer?
FORD: Oh, 55 or 56. [Currin laughs] He was in very good shape. Anyway, we did the interview. The interviewer was straight, and I made it a point to desexualize the interview even though I was sitting with my legs wide open, completely naked. At the end of the interview, I put on a dressing gown and he put on his clothes, and I sat next to him on the sofa and said, “Was that sexual?” He said, “Absolutely not.” And I said, “That’s because I didn’t make it sexual. Sexuality is in the eyes, it’s an expression, it’s in a look.” Then, all of a sudden, I looked at him in a very different way, and it made him very nervous.
CURRIN: I wanted to ask if you’ve ever felt any remorse in your work, because that is something I’ve felt before in my work. You don’t seem like someone who feels a great deal of remorse about anything.
FORD: No, I don’t.
CURRIN: I sometimes get the feeling that I look at women to objectify them, and I start to feel guilty. I wonder if that ever plagues you?
FORD: I think I detach the physical from the spiritual. It’s my business to make a woman or a man beautiful, and I’m working with a model in a fitting, and I’ve objectified them to the point that they become an object. They’re something that I’m modeling or shaping or sculpting, but I’m very aware that even though I make them physically beautiful, their soul and personality and character is somewhat detached from that.
It’s great when you have a combination of the two— that’s what makes a true beauty. Some people are physically beautiful but yet they’re completely uninteresting, and thus they’re not beautiful. I detach the two. And I turn the same eye on myself: When I look in the mirror, I say, “Well, this eyebrow is starting to sag,” or “I’m going gray right here, I need to fix that.” Or “I’ve eaten too much. I need to do a few more push-ups, blah blah blah.” But that’s completely separate from me as a human being. It’s purely the body that I move through the world in, and people react to it on the surface. So, no, I don’t have any remorse, because I separate them. Do you?
CURRIN: Yes. I think it’s mixed up in my lust for women, or my sexual desire for women . . .
FORD: That’s why I think gay men make better designers.
CURRIN: Are gay men free? Are you unburdened by lust? Is that an advantage of being a gay man?
FORD: I lust after beautiful women. First of all, I love women. But I lust after beautiful women in the way that I lust after a beautiful piece of sculpture—this will probably get me in trouble—or a beautiful car. I believe everyone’s on a sliding scale of sexuality. There are moments where I am sexually attracted to women. But it doesn’t overpower my first impulse; my lust for them is the same as my lust for beauty in all things. It’s not like I ever think, “Oh, my god, I’ve got to spread her legs and fuck her.”

CURRIN: Isn’t that the sticking point—
FORD: What a well-chosen word. [both laugh]
CURRIN: But the very thing that is required by art, which is to isolate and objectify and to look from a distance at something, is the thing that is considered oppressive when men do it to women. And that’s what gets you into trouble.
FORD: I think that’s wrong. I’m an equal-opportunity objectifier. I think it’s the exact same thing. I’m sorry, I don’t understand why our culture both worships and objectifies beauty, and then slams those of us who participate in it. Because I make that detachment, I’m capable of objectifying a beautiful woman, but that doesn’t demean her in any way. She’s beautiful because she’s a creature who exists physically, in the physical world, who happens to be in a moment of prime.
CURRIN: That would seem to be a theme of your fashion work: the complete freedom from guilt. Part of the fantasy of the ad campaigns—which I think Americans look at as a leisurely European playboy—is the evocation of a person not really hampered by guilt or remorse or worried about the unhealthy aspects of their lifestyle.
FORD: This may sound corny, but the only thing I feel remorse about is when I hurt someone, hurt their feelings, or make them feel bad. I’m obsessive about that. “Oh, my god, did I say the wrong thing? Did I hurt them? Did they understand what I meant?” But the creation of visual images or design, I have no remorse over. I’m not somebody who regrets anything, because I’m very happy with where I am and everything I’ve done in my life. Everything that’s happened to me, I’ve learned a lesson from—or if I didn’t, I was foolish, and I will repeat the same thing and eventually, hopefully, I will learn a lesson.
CURRIN: Do you think that is an unusual trait among Americans?
FORD: I think we’re very uptight in America. You have to remember that we’re descended from Puritans. Whether or not the country is now composed of immigrants, our culture as American really begins with the landing of the Pilgrims and a puritanical view of things. It was a group of people who escaped Europe because they felt it was depraved in a certain way, and that culture still permeates. I’ve lived in Europe for the last 20 years, so I’m kind of a hybrid. I feel very American in certain ways, and in lots of ways I feel more European.
CURRIN: How do Europeans feel about you? Do they see you as a stereotypical American who’s hardworking and controlling, or do they see you as one of them?
FORD: I think the Italians feel like I’m one of them. I think that’s because I resurrected a brand that was very close to their hearts, and I lived in Italy for a long time and speak Italian. The English, who knows? As for the French, the first thing out of every French reviewer’s mouth was something about being an American. The French are very nationalistic, which I think is very backward, honestly. I think today you have to be international and global. It’s very narrow to think in a nationalistic way. Unfortunately, Americans do the same thing, because most Americans don’t even have a passport. They don’t travel.
CURRIN: I’m so envious of Europeans for their history, their painting ability, their style and aesthetic, and I sometimes think “American painter” is an oxymoron. I wonder if it’s the same way for a designer.
FORD: Just remember that you’re descended from Europeans. You’ve just grown up in this country. You can still call yourself a European who’s living in America.
CURRIN: Northern Irish. That’s not quite European . . .
FORD: Not continental . . .
CURRIN: It’s not Monte Carlo.
FORD: That’s not one of my favorite places in Europe.
CURRIN: [laughs] I’ve never seen it. I’ve never been there. What I know of Monte Carlo is probably mostly informed by your advertisements.
FORD: That’s not what Monte Carlo is. It’s really a lot of people who are overly tanned and have too much collagen and too much money and diamonds that are too big.
CURRIN: It’s like Los Angeles.
FORD: On steroids.
John Currin is a New York–based artist. His recent exhibit, “New Paintings,” was shown at New York’s Gagosian Gallery.
This is an excerpt of the cover story.