Lots of celebrities live in New York so it's not unusual to spot one on the street. And when you do spot one, being a New Yorker and being super cool and jaded, you pretend you don't care or notice and then quietly freak out to your friends over text, 'OMG Pat Kiernan was in line in front of me at Trader Joe's and he likes the dark chocolate lacy cookies too!!' (because that would be mine).
But when it's Karl Lagerfeld that you run into on the street, and when you are a serious fashion fan/artist who makes necklaces in Karl's likeness, and you are wearing said necklace when you run into Karl on Prince St. and end up having an impromptu photo shoot with him, you freak out loudly. Like real loud. This is what happened to Victor-John Villanueva a few days ago.
During the day, Victor-John Villanueva, 34, is the art director for the New York City Opera. He's also an artist with a serious passion for fashion whose work tends to incorporate fashion icons. You know those Perler beads that you ironed together to create coasters or whatever at camp? Vallanueva uses those beads to create giant pendants of fashion greats like Bill Cunningham, Anna Wintour, Andre Leon Talley and of course, Karl. "I love fashion and art," Villanueva told us. "It's an homage to that world as well as these ideas of pop art--celebrating celebrity and creativity." (He has an Andy Warhol pendant too--check them all out here.)
Villanueva and a co-worker, Kyle Fox, were in SoHo on Wednesday for a work event. Obviously, they were both wearing Villaneuva's necklaces--Villanueva was wearing Grace Jones (which he made specifically for the work event, 'Divas Shop for Opera') and Fox was wearing Karl. They were walking along Prince St. when Kate Bosworth (seriously, she just happened to be around too) stopped them, gestured toward's Fox's Karl necklace and said, "He's right down the block if you want to see him."
For proof, see Kate Bosworth's retweet about the incident here:
In Villanueva's words: "We were like 'Whaaaat!?!? Oh, OK thanks, Kate!' So we walked down the block and literally all I saw was this white mane and it was like oh.my.god. Karl was the very first piece I made. He's been such an icon in my own mind so to see him on Prince St. I was just starstruck."
But then, how to approach the Kaiser? Do you say hi? Do you even dare?
Villanueva told his co-worker, who was wearing the Karl necklace, to walk by with his chest out. To no avail. Lagerfeld did not notice. Emboldened, Villaneuva called out, "Karl!"
We'll let Villanueva take if from here:
As if in a scene from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, all these people apparated from somewhere like out of the sewers and [Karl] had a handler that had an iPhone that started to shoot pictures of us. I wanted to shoot pictures of Karl and Kyle. Karl said 'For this type of photo we should move over here because the lighting is better, no?' And of course he was right. And then all of a sudden, I'm styling my piece next to Karl Lagerfeld with my artwork and my model. And I'm saying, 'Karl can you move over just a little?' It was insane. I'm taking pictures, the guy who came out of nowhere is taking pictures. Then I put on the Karl necklace and hopped into the photo and I look and there are legions of people and then he said, 'This is why I don't like to stop and take these pictures.' So I was like, 'I'm sorry!', and he said, 'Don't apologize you're different--not everyone makes my picture.'
From there, Villanueva gave Lagerfeld a bunch of his business cards, made plans to send him a special Karl pendent to Chanel HQ in Paris and Villanueva and Fox walked back and "jumped up and down like Reese Witherspoon in Election."
Now if that's not a good New York story I don't know what is.