In Medias Res: Christopher Wallace
In Medias Res: Christopher Wallace
- Words Christopher Fenimore
- Date December 18, 2017
"In Medias Res" is a column in which photographer Chris Fenimore links up with some of fashion's most interesting people to see what they're wearing throughout the week.
How old are you and where do you currently work?
Forty. And, anywhere they'll have me, really—I write essays, articles, profiles‘n’things here and there to support my novel-writing habit. Wait, why, are you hiring?
Where did you grow up and how did that impact you? Where do you currently live?
I grew up in Los Angeles, on Fairfax and Wilshire, which at the time was a sweet spot for skate culture and spray can art. That had to have made some sort of impact—beyond just my reformed-tagger's handwriting. When I was a kid, the coffee shop at the Farmer’s Market on 3rd was a kind of gathering place for all the old Russian and German jewish emigres who had fled their homelands in the ‘30s and ‘40s—the ultimate coffee klatch, where Brecht and Isherwood used to hang. I would love to think that eavesdropping on all that kibitzing hooked me on the value and spice of good storytelling. Nowadays I'm on the Upper East Side, which I love. It's like the fantasy version of New York I had in my head before I moved here. The New York of martinis and the MET, of white stone buildings and wrought iron curlicues, of gentlemen's clubs and Bemelman's Bar at the Carlyle.
What's your favorite place to shop in NYC and why?
There is a weird, wonderful store called de Vera across from the Rick store on Howard and Crosby. I love all the old curios and objets there loaded with a history of mystery: like, where did these weird twisted fingers of coral come from, and this porcelain bust, and that gnarled silver bracelet; and what sort of sagas have they seen on their way from there to here? I guess you could just walk across the road for all your fashion needs as well. I also love Drake's up the street, and P. Johnson, and my beloved Miller's Oath.
What's a typical weekend look like for you?
I don’t tend to differentiate between week and weekends, except during the fall when I degenerate into a frenzied, nail-biting football maniac. Otherwise I’m just a frenzied, nail-biting writer, over-caffeinating and then gymming in the mornings; cooking, reading and watching stupid Seth Rogan movies with my girlfriend in the evenings.
You’ve traveled a lot. If you had to pick one, what is your favorite place in the world?
It’s hard to beat Positano for pure, postcard beauty, and I have a bit of a sentimental attachment to it because it is where my pops and I went when we sort of reestablished our relationship in 2003. But nothing in the world is better than Venice. I’ve been going there a bunch of late, visiting Rick and Michèle when they are there, and tripping on the bizarre, baroque bonanza of the place.
Speaking of Rick, you have a pretty unique relationship with Grailed favorite, Mr. Rick Owens. This interview of yours is a favorite for me and I think it’s necessary reading for any Rick fan. Can you tell me a bit about how you met and describe him in a few words?
Well, shit. Rick is... I mean, he's one of my heroes, a spirit guide, and one of my best friends. I was very lucky to meet he and Michèle when I was 16 and started bussing tables at her restaurant Les Deux Cafés in Los Angeles during my first summer home from college. In the time since, they have become like my second parents, mentors, champions. Temperamentally, Rick and I are sorta similar. Which is to say that we are both Californians, dude, both sort of solitary, monastic, and extreme in our routines—I just happen to lack his genius, his drive, his puckish sense of humor—so I really look up to him, as an exemplar, as a kind of North Star. He also happens to be one of the best writers and funniest people I know.
How did you get into fashion?
The lines between cultural designations—fashion, film, celebrity, etc.—are becoming a bit diffuse these days, irrelevant even. So if you're writing about a cultural figure, phenomenon, or product of any stripe, they will as likely as not lead you into politics, aesthetics... and fashion (even before they manifest the inevitable merch). And, in a way, all of us who work in the culture mines serve the same overlords, and a lot of them are brands, fashion or otherwise. But, it's been fun recently to jump from the strictly editorial side of things to, for example, working with Raf's team at Calvin on the men's underwear campaign with the cast of Moonlight, and on the women's campaign with Sofia Coppola. It's like being on the other side of a conversation, the side that speaks first.
Normally when I shoot these, people either have three variations on a similar style or fit, or three vastly different outfits under the umbrella of their own personal style. Yours are rather varying, can you explain a little more as to why (outside of the reason you’re currently wearing a suit being you’re headed to a Christmas party)? How would you describe your personal style?
Those are sorta my three speeds these days. When I am at home I look like a retiree on Alderaan. My girlfriend clowns me mercilessly for looking like a genie that issued forth from some dusty urn in the basement of a Rick Owens store, but you'll have to pry those droopy, hole-y cashmeres from my cozy, warm hands. If I'm running around town, I'll put on a line of defense, some jeans and a leather jacket to weather the slings and arrows, but end up looking like one of the shitty assassins who gets killed in the beginning of a B movie. I still love a suit and tie. A lot. And if I'm going to a meeting or, like, a real job, I'm aiming for Hercule Poirot on a budget—though I somehow always ending up looking like a 7th grade history teacher.
What are your current favorite pieces in your closet?
This cashmere Rick hoodie in "dark dust" is heavenly. I'm kind of crazy about the color. I want to upholster my entire life in it. I also wear the bejesus out of my Rick stooges and intarsia jackets.
What's your ultimate grail?
There are a couple of Navajo serapes from the 1880s I have dreams about. Ditto some antique Japanese farmer jackets with all the quilting repairs done in boro stitching. I would however settle for a Visvim Lhamo shirt.
What do you think of the current state of fashion? Has it impacted us negatively, or do you see its growing popularity as a positive?