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The designer simply calls upon his ever-growing group of celebrity fans, who pose for free in atmospheric snapshots that he takes himself with a Seventies-era Polaroid camera.
This season, Sternberg tapped Michelle Williams, who follows in the footsteps of prior actors-turned-models Jason Schwartzman, John Dewis and Matt Dallas, and musician Bobby Birdman. “Michelle is a ‘Boy’ girl, for sure,” joked Sternberg, who shot the actress on Thursday in Los Angeles modeling his Boy by Band of Outsiders line.
“It’s a very informal thing,” he explained, speaking by phone from Los Angeles. “It’s just us goofing off and having fun. There isn’t hair and makeup, there are no lights or anything. We were just laughing and talking all day. They are not supposed to be self-important and serious [shots]. It’s the antithesis of all that.”
In keeping with that approach, Sternberg shot a mere seven looks, only two of which were in the original fall runway show. “We want to show how someone might actually wear the clothes,” he said. “It’s less of a stylized thing,” though his regular stylist, Tina Chai, was on hand to help with the three-and-a-half-hour session at interior designer Paul Fortune’s Laurel Canyon house.
“It’s basically Michelle snooping in a stranger’s house, that’s the narrative,” he explained of the photos, which show her peeking at Fortune’s belongings.
The pair, who met last year at a CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund event at Anna Wintour’s house, initially had a completely different idea — to shoot outdoors along the Pacific Coast Highway near Malibu, portraying Williams as a young actress looking for her first Hollywood apartment. But that concept got nixed due to the starlet’s current tabloid fame. “I realized she is a paparazzi target,” said the designer.
And likewise, come fall, Sternberg won’t be doing the usual catwalk affair, instead opting to shoot a film with two or three celebrity friends. “I’m doing a totally alternative thing because I can’t bring myself to do a runway show,” he said. “I don’t make runway clothes. These are clothes you wear on the street, so I’m just super-uncomfortable with it. It puts it in totally the wrong context — I want to do something closer to where the clothes are, and let people actually touch and feel them as opposed to seeing them on a 14-year-old anorexic model.”
And for any fans who can’t wait that long for a fix, Sternberg will be opening a shop-in-shop on Aug. 15 in the Los Angeles branch of Opening Ceremony.
— Elisa Lipsky-Karasz