While some models go the acting route when expanding their portfolios — to varying degrees of Oscar nomination potential — Hailey Gates is diving head first into television journalism on Vice magazine's new and much-hyped network Viceland. (That said, last year's Miu Miu campaign star did have a role in last year's Meryl Streep-starring "Ricky and the Flash.") Along with the Ellen Page's "Gaycation," which explores LGBT culture around the world and Michael K. Williams' "Black Market," in which the former Omar Little takes a deep dive into car thievery in Newark, the Gates-hosted "States of Undress" follows the former model as she travels to conflict spots around the world under the guise of attending fashion weeks.
While embedded in the country, Gates explores the role fashion and beauty play in local cultures and the hot button issues we read about in the daily news. In the premiere, she heads to Pakistan to attend Karachi Fashion Week, which takes place within an elite (and heavily secured) hotel. But the intrepid host takes investigative side excursions, including buying her first burqa in preparation to visit hard-line cleric and ISIS supporter Abdul Aziz Ghazi.
"States of Undress" reminded me a bit of Anthony Bourdain's shows and the way in which the celebrity-chef-turned-journalist investigates (and enlightens us about) a country, the culture, the people, the history and all the political issues using food as the conduit. In this show, Gates examines how fashion allows people to make political, personal and cultural statements — and the consequences that can result. [Ed. Note: It also reminds us of Vice's 2011 web series "Fashion Week Internationale" in which, similarly, a former model traveled to fashion weeks in exotic countries with very different cultural norms.]
While the model-turned-journalist isn't as polished as the "Parts Unknown" host just yet, her wide-eyed freshness helps convey to the audience the gravity of what's happening in that moment. When Gates prepares to meet Ghazi, she's visibly scared and apprehensive and it comes across as genuine and authentic. But she's ballsy, too — pressing an acid-throwing husband (face fuzzed out, adding an even more ominous vibe to the scene) on what drove him to disfigure his wife. In future episodes, Gates visits Venezuela, the Congo, Russia, China and the Gaza Strip. I'll definitely be watching — and looking at fashion in a whole new way.
Watch the trailer for "States of Undress" here and the premiere episode tonight at 10 p.m. on Viceland.
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