So perhaps “celebrate” is a more apt word, I offer, and Oldham is all for that. After all, House of Style’s original host, Cindy Crawford (Daisy Fuentes and Rebecca Romijn came after her, but really, HoS was partly built on adoring Cindy), and
How were you initially approached to take part in House of Style when the original show was being conceptualized?
Alisa Bellettini is an amazing producer, and it was her show from the beginning. She used to come to my fashion shows; she’s kind of out there and lovely and has great personal taste. So she came to my studio to pull some clothes for the very first House of Style, and we started talking. I had just done my fashion show, which was based on interiors, and she asked if I wanted to do a segment about how I’d put the show together; in those days it was pretty much that easy. So we did this crazy piece in which I talked about my fashion show, and then we did a tour of my apartment to talk about interiors, and then we went to this flea market and were looking at chairs and upholstery, and the whole thing just sort of tied together.
I love those kinds of magic tricks; not real magic tricks, but someone making things happen out of nothing is endlessly thrilling to me. I hope to always create those kinds of moments—it was never really about giving someone permission to try something, it was more this idea of, If this goofball can do it, then so can I. Like the segment in which I showed guys how to cut their own hair because I’ve always cut my own hair. Every two weeks since that segment aired, someone has walked up to me and mentioned it. It was just always about taking this thing that seemed mysterious and showing people they really could do it.
It really was an incredible time at MTV, and the trust level was so great. I was truly baffled that they let me do all that I did; I started editing my own tapes fairly early on and was just handing in finished pieces. It was a super learning experience in TV, but that would never happen today. And no one ever tried to push us to do anything; there was no obligation to use advertisers. But we also were about showing things that were about ingenuity and not money.
It’s true, because it was this perfect storm: MTV was at its most lovely and I was traveling all over the world, and there was this universal kind of camaraderie about it. I interviewed Gianni Versace and Anna Wintour and all these amazing Europeans. It was just a super sweet time, in which you never knew who you’d run into around the offices.
You and Cindy were really what made the show so great during those early years, which also was amazing because they coincided with the supermodel moment of the ’90s.
That’s so true. Cindy Crawford was and still is such a goddess to me. She’s lovely and so smart, and such a charming and sweet person in that great Midwestern way. She’s one of those rare people who have got it all, and yet you don’t hate them. And she also made amazing things happen: If you have Cindy then you can talk to Kate and Linda and Naomi, and it was also easy to get designers to talk to us. I really don’t remember anyone ever saying no to us.
It was because we had MTV’s power behind us; we acted and behaved like the parents weren’t home, but the parent company was made up of the best parents you could hope for. And at the time, the fashion industry was all about celebrating individuality. I’m not sure we do that anymore.
I have a bunch of things: a new book coming out in October, Charley Harper’s Animal Kingdom [Ammo Books], which is my second with him, because the first one made everyone realize they had all this great Harper material. And then there’s my third Kid Made Modern collection, which we just turned in to Target; that will be coming out in March. And I’m also working with the Sundance Film Festival, taking the merchandise that they sell and making it really cool and fun. I’m having a blast doing that.
Well, first it just thrills me that MTV is doing what they’re doing with the archives; what’s amazing is that there really was scant information about it online until MTV did this. There were a few clips on YouTube, but we literally had to drag out all these old VHS tapes and transfer them. When was the last time you went looking for something and it wasn’t already internetted to death?