Is it just us, or does the British press have the market cornered on snarky profiles? In a lengthy piece for London’s Daily Telegraph, Kate Finnegan treats subject Nicole Richie as though she’s a hostile witness in a war crimes trial. (No offense, Naomi.)
The interview was ostensibly granted under the guise of drumming up press for the Richie’s second Winter Kate collection, which is why it’s not so surprising that her publicist would instruct Finnegan not to ask any “personal questions” — a request which Finnegan, like any good journalist, promptly ignores. But given the context, it’s also not surprising that Richie would give flat, one word answers to questions about her personal life. And yet Finnegan soldiers on and seems actively insulted by Richie’s responses — so much so that most of the profile is peppered with some of the most underminey descriptions we’ve ever read. An example:
Richie, tired, jet-lagged, sits in a comfy-looking chair while I am directed to a wool-covered cylinder on which I have to perch and lean precariously towards her, making me feel like a visitor at a sick person’s bedside.
Apparently, as bloggers, we missed the memo where interviewers were entitled to comfy chairs. That said, either Finnegan really has it out for Richie, or Richie could use some media training on how to show her clothing line.
“What are your favourite pieces in the collection?” I ask, pretty sure this doesn’t count as a personal question. She cranes her neck and squints at the rail. I suggest we have a look up close. Usually designers can’t get their hands off their own garments. Richie doesn’t quite sigh as she pulls herself up from the chair. After she half-heartedly strokes a few jackets we sit again and she talks about her inspiration.
But Finnegan, who in her piece admits it’s “Richie’s role as a designer that we are here to discuss,” spends a meager paragraph and a half discussing the line before deftly turning the topic back to Richie’s weight.
I quite like its boho 1970s vibe, which is reminiscent of how Richie has dressed since she ditched the Juicy Couture tracksuits of those chubbier Simple Life years, got thin and hooked up with the celebrity-stylist (turned reality-television star, author, fashion designer) Rachel Zoe.
And that’s why we can’t really blame Richie when she clams up about her personal life — though Finnegan really seems to want to make a fight out of it.
Her godfather was Michael Jackson (hell, in for a penny, in for a pound) – what are her memories of him? “I have pretty much great memories of all my childhood.” Smile. I try another tack: how do her parents like being grandparents? “They like it a lot.” The smile is now less a smile and more a soundless swear-word.
It’s the closing lines, however, with which Finnegan imbues the most bite.
That night there’s a dinner at a private club for Richie and invited press. Apparently the feedback from journalists who met Richie the day before has not been positive.
Halfway through dinner, as she tinkles on a glass and announces a game, I realise with a sinking feeling that Richie is about to turn on the “fun”. She instructs guests to share with the table something new they have learnt during the day. Frozen grins crystallise.
Richie kicks off with an anecdote about how if you chew each mouthful of food 40 times it’s better for your digestion. A muted expression of collective amazement greets this revelation.
She stands up and demonstrates, waving her arms energetically over her head and laughing. She looks happy at last but I feel unaccountably sorry for her: Ballerina Girl dancing on command.
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