Last night, Kelly Cutrone made her debut as the newest judge on America's Next Top Model: British Invasion, a perfect role for someone known for being blunt and unfiltered on and off television.
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!)
What's going on with Electric Love Army, the clothing line you launched with Chris Burch? It’s going great, I’m excited, it’s probably what I’m working, after Peoples Revolution, the most on right now. We're opening in February 2013. We have three stores in New York; we’ve been planning all the seasons and what we’re going to open with and all the different inspirations.
What's inspiring the you at the moment? Helmut Newton-meets-Rocky Horror-meets pop art. We’re not using any real leather which I’m really happy about, so the whole line’s cruelty free, not to the inventors or the people who work there but to the animals. [Laughs]
How do you feel about all of the recent criticism of the fashion industry, like about model health and the format and scheduling of fashion week and runway shows being antiquated... They’ve been saying that for 10 years just so you know. Fashion people bitch about the same stuff over and over again. The models are too skinny, there are too many shows; nobody has any money; how much longer dow we have to do this; nobody buys anything by watching a fashion show.
There are a lot of rituals that fashion people do when they have money and they have a real brand. A fashion show is one of the few times, with the exception of when the model’s out on the catwalk ‘cuz she can fall, that a brand is in control of their image.
Is there anything you think should change about fashion shows? If you really want to get me talking about fashion shows, why aren’t people paying to be on the media riser? Why are fashion designers content providers and what’s happening to that content? Who's policing the content? You don’t think somebody who's shooting on the end of a media riser is selling that content to to a 7-up billboard in Ginza? The music industry has a publishing company. They found out that people were playing artists’ music on the radion and they said, 'you have to pay the artist,' but there’s nobody monitoring whats happening to all these fashion images that are created.
Would you ever want to have your own reality show again? I don't know if I want to do a reality show again. I’m into television for sure and I’m working in TV a lot now; I’ve been on Dr. Phil and I might like to have a talk show. I think that would probably be a good thing for me to do. I think it’d be really fun to talk about real women's issues and things that are going on in the world.
What else do you want to do this year? You don’t want to be so busy that you don’t get to enjoy the things that you’ve worked so hard to buy, so for me that’s like being a really good mom and making sure that Ava does her homework and that I get to use my house upstate a little bit so I'm not just like, "ahh I gotta drive upstate I gotta enjoy my house whaa oh my god it's sunday night I gotta come back!" I’d like to be one of those people that can like take a month and work from their house upstate. I haven’t gotten that far yet, so I’m trying to do that. I’ll be shooting Top Model again in L.A., so I might become LA-ified. Maybe I’ll dye my tips blond or something. Maybe get some colored streaks.
Stop wearing black? No I can’t stop wearing black. I’ve tried; it doesn’t work.