In one of the best Sunday Styles profiles (hell, one of the best profiles period) we’ve read in a long time, the Times‘ Eric Wilson tells the compelling story of Courtney Love as fashion icon. (Remember this?)
The narrative is entertaining, well-paced and just entirely fascinating. You have to read the whole article to fully appreciate its brilliance, but we’ve picked out the piece’s best fashion moments.
As Wilson explains: “Fashion people, a self-selecting group of eccentrics and misfits, are pretty much the only ones who are willing to embrace Ms. Love exactly as she is — as a star… By her own design, she is using fashion to undo some of the damage that has been done to her reputation, and the designers, never shy of publicity or celebrity, are using her like a virtual karaoke machine that will perform rock renditions of “Bad Romance” and “Like a Prayer” on command at their parties. In a sense, they are manipulating one another, fashion and Ms. Love, which could some day make for a highly interesting social study, provided Ms. Love can refrain from self-destruction.”
Yeah, it only gets better.
1. In which Courtney owns jewelry from Hollister and gets faxes from Grazia:
There were two full-size rolling racks packed with designer clothes, a pile of jewelry from Hollister, a shopping bag from Lululemon, a pack of Marlboro Gold cigarettes, fashion magazines, a guitar, faxes from Grazia, three wilting bouquets of peonies and roses, a nondisclosure contract, chocolates from Vosges and a neatly stacked pile of books with titles like “Talking the Winner’s Way,” “100 Words Every Word Lover Should Know,” “Getting Even,” “How to Instantly Connect With Anyone” and “What to Say to Get Your Way.”
2. In which she does not wear Jill Stuart:
“Is this Courtney’s?” one asked, picking up a black coat.
“What is it?” asked the other.
“Courtney doesn’t wear Jill Stuart.”
3. In which Eric Wilson veers into Horyn-level undermineyness:
The answer to that question might be found in what Ms. Love was wearing on this occasion, one of Ms. Kirke’s conservatively tailored dresses in a perversely transparent black fabric, with a full skirt and a 1950s shape, and a black bolero jacket by Narciso Rodriguez. She looked, as she has for several months, remarkably well put together. Her appearance is a startling contrast to the very low standard she set for herself during the years when she relapsed into heavy drug use, went overboard with plastic surgery and behaved in a manner that could hardly be described as rational.
4. In which Wilson reels it back in:
Our conversation stretched on for more than five hours, during which time Ms. Love demonstrated, as is widely acknowledged, a keen intelligence and a remarkable understanding of the fashion industry, both about its history and the way things work today. She came across as calm, funny and well read.
5. In which kinderwhore enters our lexicon:
Ms. Love was shown on the cover wearing a baby-doll dress and a tiara, a look that became known as “kinderwhore.”
6. In which Gucci Group houses extend a hand:
Five years ago, no designer would touch her, let alone take her call. Attending the Grammy Awards at a particularly low point, after the release of her solo album, “America’s Sweetheart,” she could not get a dress. “I’m talking Versace, Westwood, not one of them,” Ms. Love said. In 2006, after completing a court-mandated rehabilitation, she decided to attend the Paris collections, but only two houses — Yves Saint Laurent and Stella McCartney — invited her to their shows. “I was taking it like a man,” Ms. Love said. “I would pay my dues.”
7. In which Courtney is embraced by Givenchy:
“She was already an icon of fashion,” [Ricardo] Tisci said in a telephone interview on Tuesday. “But she had been out of the scene for a while.” He remembered Ms. Love’s appearance in the 1998 Versace advertising campaign, photographed by Richard Avedon, and her polished red carpet appearances while promoting “The People vs. Larry Flynt,” when Ms. Love was working with the stylist Arianne Phillips. “We met at the Ritz and had breakfast together,” Mr. Tisci said. “She knew everything about art, politics, fashion. Breakfast probably lasted for three or four hours.” Ms. Love became part of the Givenchy family and gave a performance in Mr. Tisci’s couture studio the next season.
8. In which she defends her style:
“For years, despite having impeccable taste, I didn’t understand how to convey that I had impeccable taste,” she said during our interview. “What is the word for the one pill that you took in your life that made you far more conservative and stop cursing so much? I don’t know what that pill was, but somehow someone slipped that in my drink.”
Seriously, read it.