Claudia Schiffer is on a roll. She has just returned from Paris’ most beloved store, Colette, where she was promoting her work as executive producer of the new film Kingsman: The Golden Circle, as well as signing copies of her new Rizzoli tome, "Claudia Schiffer." Despite the constant threat of a downpour, fans from all over the world queued up on Rue Saint Honoré for a copy of her book, while unwittingly tourists stopped dead in their tracks when they noticed the blonde supermodel through the store window.
It certainly wasn’t the first time that Schiffer has brought unknowing passerby to a standstill. “There was a campaign for Valentino, and we were filming with Arthur Elgort, in Rome” she reminisced. “It was insane because thousands of people came to watch. I was standing on the balcony of the Valentino atelier, and I had to wave for the picture, but all the audience thought I was waving for them, and everyone went mad. It was one of those crazy things." These images of Schiffer by Elgort, along with well over 100 spreads by all the major photographers you’d expect—Steven Meisel, Mario Testing, Richard Avedon, et al.—were compiled by Schiffer herself, with some help with her team and “many, many mood boards on Pinterest,” she said.
Today, she is situated at the newly restored Hôtel de Crillon, in the heart of the 8th arrondissement with the Eiffel Tower providing a quintessential Parisian backdrop, getting ready for the only show she would attend at Paris Fashion Week: Balmain. Schiffer met designer Olivier Rousteing only about a year ago, when she reunited with fellow supers Cindy Crawford and Naomi Campbell to star in the brand’s 2016 campaign. “[It was] just like old times. Whenever we meet up over the years, it's always just the same between us. There's a bond there that will never be broken and when we meet we catch up as if we spoke the day before,” she said.
A little over a week earlier, at the Versace show in Milan, Schiffer had an epic reunion with her fellow supers, one filled with lots of joy and excitement but also reflection—Donatella Versace’s collection was dedicated to her brother Gianni, who had passed away tragically 20 years before. “Donatella wanted to do something to honor Gianni, who was a dear friend and loyal supporter, and I was happy to be a part of it." said Schiffer. "Gianni was the designer most associated with the supermodel phenomenon and really supported us all as a collective as well as individually, so we were all happy to be able to come together to his incredible legacy.”
Schiffer admitted with a laugh that sitting front row at Balmain was much less stressful than staging the tribute to Gianni. “There were a lot of nerves, but also a huge amount of excitement,” she said. “Not many people knew what we were about to do, and since it was for such an important reason—with the eyes of the world watching—we just all felt the pressure to get it right and pay tribute to Gianni in the way he deserves.”
While her favorite fashion week memory was certainly the tribute to Gianni Versace, some of her first memories of starting out as a model are from her time in Paris. Schiffer had just finished up school and signed with a French modeling agency, and moved into an apartment in the Marais. “I never looked back,” she said. And that’s true—30 years later, she is still working everyday. This year alone, she has a slew of new creative projects, including the book, a collaboration with the shoe label Aquazurra, and a make-up collection, Claudia Schiffer Make Up, whose baby pink packaging is so chic, it will give Glossier a run for its money. “If someone had told me 30 years ago when I first began modeling that I would still be working in this industry and loving what I do in 30 years I would never have believed them,” Schiffer said.
And while no one may have told her she’d still be working 30 years down the line, that doesn’t mean she didn’t receive some great modeling and life advice along the way. “I was painfully shy as a teenager. It's not what makes you one of the popular girls," she said. "My shyness was probably the biggest hurdle I had to overcome. I was the model who would sit in the photo studio and think, 'I hope they're not going to choose me today, and then it'll be six o'clock and we can go home.’” Yet Karl Lagerfeld saw it another way, and after meeting the burgeoning model for the first time at Chanel’s Rue Cambon offices, he offered up a sound piece of advice. “He always said, ‘Just be yourself. You don’t have to follow anyone’s path, just be yourself.' It was really good advice that I’ll never forget.”
It seems to be true that Schiffer has held that piece of advice close to her heart. As she decided between a few different Balmain looks for the show, she leaned towards a more casual option. Even though she can still be the glamazon, in a short sexy Balmain mini dress (like she wore to her book signing), she felt like it was time to go for a more laid-back look. A strong choice, when many of her front row mates opted for glam, glam, glam. But it makes sense; her personal style is self-described as quite casual. “I'm obsessed with denim, long-sleeve shirts, soft knitwear and lots of accessories,” she said. Today's final look? A classic pair of straight leg jeans, a striped knit, and a pair of suede slouchy boots. “I'd describe it as Seventies with an Eighties edge: blazers, silk shirts and jeans are my staples," she continued, approving her outfit in the mirror. Surely, one of the best things about being a supermodel who has worked successfully over the last 30 years may just be the wardrobe that she’s acquired along the way. “I have kept so many fashion items that some of them are now considered vintage and I love to pull them out and mix them with the latest pieces,” she explained. "My fashion rule would be try new things, but always be yourself.”
Getting ready with supermodel Claudia Schiffer before the Balmain Spring 2018 show in Paris on Thursday, September 28th. Photo by Molly SJ Lowe for W Magazine.
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