Legendary Stylist (and ELLE Fashion Editor-at-Large) Lori Goldstein on the Stories Behind the Pictures
In a new book, ELLE fashion editor-at-large Lori Goldstein gives us her paean to the world of fashion, glamour, and more! more! more! Joe Zee talks shop with an old friend
a ripe pregnant belly on the cover of Vanity Fair. They’re all indelible fashion moments, and all crafted in the unrestrained style of ELLE fashion editor-at-large Lori Goldstein. This month, the renegade stylist releases Lori Goldstein: Style Is Instinct (Harper Design), a collection of photos by the biggest names in fashion photography (Leibovitz, Testino, Weber) all bearing the distinct Goldstein stamp: the fearless mixing and matching, the riotous prints and colors that reflect a life spent living, eating, and breathing fashion—and still being able to truly go wild for, say, a McQueen armadillo shoe. Writing the book’s foreword, legendary photographer Steven Meisel credits his longtime friend and collaborator with bringing vintage fashion into style, and with being the first stylist to combine vintage with current season. “What really sets Lori apart is her unrivaled ability to mix,” he says. “She loves mixing everything: periods, collections, fabrics, colors, prints, new, old, everything…yet she puts it all together, and it works.”
Congratulations on the book! It’s great to read the stories behind the pictures.
And that’s the part that people don’t know: What is a fashion story? It’s starting at the top with these incredible clothes that we’re so passionate about. It’s never looking at a story and thinking, I can’t wear that! You’re not supposed to wear that.
You’re supposed to dream it.
Exactly. This book is my story and what’s true to my world. Really, for me, I just loved fashion. I’ve learned to tell a story for magazines, but I just want to play with clothes.
Steven Meisel writes in the foreword that you’ve worked together so long, he can’t even remember how you two met—can you?
I met Steven through Anna Sui, who I met when I first moved to New York; I met Patricia Field, and it was all happening downtown. We were all in the same scene, Mudd Club and all of that. And then I started working with [Meisel]. One day we were on location out on Long Island and he said, “Do you want to spend the night at my house tonight?” I was like, “Yeah.” That’s how our friendship began.
Do you remember how you and I met? I was assisting Polly Mellen at Allure, and I came up to you at the magazine’s Christmas party?
Yes. Oh my God. I do remember that Christmas party.
Wherever it was.
Some dungeon! Dark.
I said, “I have to work for you. I’m your biggest fan. I’m obsessed with your work. I love the last story you did”—it was for Italian Glamour, with the girls in the bathing suits and knit hats with the blow-up pool. It must’ve been ’91 or ’92. That shoot was iconic for me.
And all of a sudden we were on trips together. You were my assistant.
In the book, you say your credo is “anything can go with everything.”
It’s spontaneous. I never like to plan things to the point where they’re “done”—that’s boring to me.
Like, people who style out looks in a closet?
Totally. There were years when I was like, “Am I doing this wrong?” But then I realized that I can’t work that way.
Is that why accessories are so important to you?
I can’t help myself with the accessories—I have to try to pull back. I’m just not into minimalism! I think you can have so much on, but it can still be minimalistic if it works together.
You tell the story of working with
Madonna for the first time—you were picking out her “Take a Bow” looks.
This was a great moment for me,
because Madonna and I had both moved to L.A. at the same time, and we were the same age, basically. You know when you just know? I knew one day I’d work with her. For “Take a Bow” I met her in Paris, and we went to [John Galliano’s Dior] show and picked out everything we wanted. And she never looked more beautiful. She was that woman.
Moments like that—is that where the passion comes from?
Yeah. It’s everything coming together. When you have a team that’s all there for the purpose of having an incredible shoot, you leave pretty happy that night.