Cutrone is a smart lady who spends a lot of time thinking about the fashion industry–from what’s wrong with it, to what fashion people will always complain about, to what it takes to break into it, to why runway shows are important, to how she’s building her own fashion business. Basically, she knows what she’s talking about and we think you should hear what she has to say. We caught up with her over “tea” before she headed out to a Van Halen concert a few evenings ago.
Why did you decide to to say yes to being an ANTM judge?
First of all, I like being on TV. It’s a great platform for me, because a lot of the kids who watch the shows I’ve been on in the past watch that show; a lot of the people that buy my books watch that show. It’s my demo, so that’s perfect. Secondly, I was born to judge. I give people advice every day! And thirdly, it’s a great way for me to support my family. And after the hurricane, my garage got destroyed in the hurricane at my country house. I was like, “Yay, I can buy a new bridge for my country house!”
What’s your model judging style?
I mean, I’m straight up Cutrone. I mean it’s not been altered. I don’t say “fuck” I guess, like I don’t swear a lot.
Did you feel like you had to filter yourself?
I don’t really feel like I had to filter myself. If anything, they wanted more of me. I tried to hold back a little, I mean, some of the things that I was seeing, it was like oh god, like, I’m going to have to tell it like it is. Like they want the show to be real and to be very direct. They’re not having me on because I’m like the queen of sweetness and they want me to sprinkle fairy dust on people.
People often wonder why models from ANTM don’t always go on to become successful working models. Any thoughts on that?
Yeah, I don’t know if that’s really fair though because, did they try? Or were they just so burnt out on the industry by the time they had gone through a season on Top Model that they didn’t want to do it anymore. I mean a lot of times people follow the yellow brick road to find that it’s not full of fun and games and like the modeling world is not an easy world, so if you’re a girl who’s already gone through 12, 14, 16 weeks of that, and then have to wait another 4 months for the show to come out, I mean you might already be over it.
I know that I see it in PR a lot of times, these girls that come in wearing all black because they’re gonna have an interview with Kelly Cutrone and you know, they’ll do anything! They’re dream is to be in PR and produce fashion shows and they saw me on MTV and they want it more than anything and they’ll stay up all night and they’ll get my coffee and and they’ll work for free. Three months later, they fucking want $80,000 a year and they want to go home!
Your Bravo show Kell on Earth was one of the first fashion reality TV shows. Why do you think there’s been such an explosion of fashion reality television?
Most of the people that live In the middle of America don’t have the opportunity to go to a 4-year school like BU and get a communications degree. They come from a different socioeconomic background that doesn’t support that kind of dream, so they use TV as a way to explore those opportunities for themselves and they try to get connected to ways to get into that industry that might not necessarily be so easy to get into. So those shows actually become this amazing dangling carrot that for some that allows them to get up off their couch in their trailer and get into a job pool in New York.
Do you think that might be attracting people to the fashion industry that aren’t necessarily prepared for it?
Sure, but let me tell you something. I employ a lot of kids that have four-year communications degrees, and they don’t know how to take a phone message. So I say to them, “How much did you pay for your education, $150,000? You should go ask for a refund. You didnt get your money’s worth. You have a communications degree and you say, ‘um um um, ya ya, like like like’ and you can’t take a phone message? Or write a paragraph about what we just did? Go ask for a refund, ’cause if I bought a car, and it had two wheels, I’d fucking return it.” So, I think a big part about my brand, is about saying, it doesn’t matter where you come from. [...]Do you have the heart for this business? Are you willing to take criticism? Are you willing to do the work? If so, come join us. There are hundreds of jobs. But at the beginning, you’re gonna have to fucking get coffee just like everybody else. (Next page for more!)