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The truth is this column was supposed to be about Baptiste Giabiconi, the number-one male model-aspiring pop star (his first video, “Showtime,” is not to be missed), who many presume to be more than a muse to Karl Lagerfeld. The interview was confirmed. I waited 40 minutes at the Marilyn Agency’s Paris office until his agents confessed that Baptiste was still at his Chanel fitting and would not, in fact, be right over. “You know, when it’s Karl…” they said. The next day after the Chanel show Baptiste had lost his phone. The Marilyn people must have lost theirs too because “we will try” turned out to be radio silence.
“Welcome to France,” deadpanned one colleague who works in WWD’s Paris office.
Baptiste and Ariel Wizman have two things in common. They’re French and they have the same hairdo. Descriptions of Wizman include dandy, DJ, chroniqueur — whatever that means — columnist for Grazia, and funnyman who is on TV and sometimes acts. Sounds like a hoot. He is currently starring in “Parce que je la vole bien” (“Because I Steal It Well”), a play about the Bettencourt affair in which he plays the François-Marie Banier character to a full house every night.
Unlike Baptiste, Wizman has not lost his phone. A public relations person at Lanvin, where Wizman has done the music for the show for the past seven years, tells me to text him. Three hours later he calls to say come to his Left Bank apartment at 5:30 p.m., where the door is open and he’s wearing a combination of bespoke tailoring and Lanvin. He is not the kind of DJ dandy I was expecting.
Do I want tea? Do I mind if he smokes?
I want him to explain what he does.
“I’m kind of an amateur in everything that I do,” says Wizman in a tone that suggests the opposite. He says he knows a little about a lot of things, and it seems no subject is off-limits, as he sits across his desk with a lit Dunhill. He is small and not very tall, yet slightly intimidating. He is not short on opinions.
Wizman is not a professional comedian but he’s known for slicing through culture with a sarcastic, ironic sense of humor. He started in the Nineties on a radio show called “La Grosse Boule” with the actor Édouard Baer on Radio Nova. In addition to Grazia, he writes for L’Express, “a very good magazine here, kind of like The Atlantic,” he says. He has written a book on philosophy, having studied under the thinker Emmanuel Levinas, and is in an electronic music group called Grand Popo Football Club. But TV is his main gig. Wizman hosts a daytime news-culture show from 12:20 – 2 p.m. on the French television channel Canal+, which is kind of like HBO. Today’s topic was Marine Le Pen. Acting is new. John Malkovich directed Wizman in his theater debut 2007 in “The Good Canary.” At 8:45 tonight he will take the stage as a younger man who seduces an older woman to the tune of 1 billion euro. He has met the real Banier. “Everyone knows him,” says Wizman. “The art world, the fashion world — he was unavoidable. Then the money made him a sad man.” But the play, he says, is funny. The politics, the money and the mother-daughter lawsuits involved add up to what Wizman calls “a very French bourgeois situation.”
There is nothing more French than classifying something as very French.
“The French are very obsessed with heritage,” explains Wizman. “The French bourgeoisie is very hypocritical and very double-language and everything is, like, a secret. Secrets are power.”
What about French men?
“The French man is driven by the French woman,” he says. “And the French woman is really something — I’ve been traveling a lot, and I think that French women have something that is difficult for other women around the world to catch and imitate. They are easygoing, but they always have this elegance plus, and sexiness, and a kind of freedom that makes them really unique. I think that’s what drives the French man.”
His point is French women are irresistible to French men.
Furthermore, “Paris is a very sexy city,” says Wizman. “If you go to a club, or look at the street, of course, you have bimbos, but in a very small proportion. If you go to Moscow or London, you have a very great proportion of bimbos or “It” girls. In Paris, the girls don’t fall into those traps. They always maintain some dignity, so the French man has to get a balance between beauty, elegance and wit. And if he doesn’t, he’s nowhere with women.”
Wizman is recently divorced.
When he’s not writing, acting, philosophizing or DJ-ing at “all the chic places,” he also makes documentaries. He’s currently filming one about “It” girls, the types who populate the front row of fashion shows. Wizman sees it as a greater social trend and finds the whole thing lamentable. “It’s the kingdom of caprice,” he says. “It’s this laid-back and snobbish ‘it doesn’t matter’ attitude. And it takes the relationship between a man and a woman back to the 19th century culture of women who don’t want to work. They want to be kept women. It’s a very interesting and quite worrying phenomenon.”
Wizman says he’s working with fashion houses, such as Chanel and Alexander Wang, to get access to their girls. Tonight his crew will be at the Jean-Charles de Castelbajac party. Last month’s New York Fashion Week produced a gold mine of material in girls like Cory Kennedy and Annabelle Dexter-Jones. “They don’t have much to say,” he says. “Just that they love fashion.”
With that he shows an American fashion editor the door. What a guy. Thank you Baptiste!