Fact: most celebrity profiles are boring. Fact: Lara Stone — the "curvy," "old" Dutch supermodel — is interesting. In this battle between medium and subject, who shall prevail? Clearly the one who's prepared to talk about alcoholism and breasts.
The thing about models is that they are rarely the subjects of long, investigative, detailed magazine profiles, leavened with biographical information about their parents' backgrounds and whatever psychological tells the writer can seize upon during his or her reporting. Models are mostly seen in pictures. They're there to entertain our projections, and that's easiest done mute. It's celebrities who are endlessly, redundantly storied, profiled over and over again until such mundanities as what Leighton likes to eat for lunch and the fact that Angelina has a pilot's license have been entirely too thoroughly plumbed for metaphoric depth. The glimpse-of-fame profile is an essential part of the celebrity-sartorial complex, but the problems with it are manifold. As the celebrity profiles proliferate, the pool of unreported information that might actually be interesting or affecting to a wide audience shrinks. The pool of under-covered celebrities — who are (of course) pretty and (nearly always) white and (duh) thin enough to fit sample sizes in the standard lavish photo shoot — dwindles, too, until we're stuck reading about the Deep Thoughts of reality TV stars and teenagers ad nauseam. And as women's magazines' reliance on Big Cover Stars to anchor their issues grows, the conditions imposed by the army of protective flacks — writer approval, preset no-go topics, limitations on access — become more byzantine. (Hence why Elle spiked even this pretty tame profile of Jennifer Lopez at the request of her reps. Hence why you'll never read about the night Charlize Theron's mom shot and killed her dad while 15-year-old Charlize watched in a women's magazine. You will instead be told that she's really pretty, and much too polite to be thought of as having opinions, or as Vogue puts it, "far be it from her to ruin a perfectly nice luncheon trying to prove that she's a serious person.") Models get talked about as images but don't tend to get covered as people. Celebrities talk all too much, but far be it from them to say anything interesting.
So into this morass of diminishing returns steps Lara Stone, and it is just so weird to read a story that starts off in the standard mawkish key of celebrity profile writing — obligatory meaningless quote from Mario Testino; repetitive physical description along the lines of "naked Venus...austere, Flemish face...Her breasts are so perfect even I found it hard not to stare at them"; entirely too much attention paid to what she is wearing — before switching codes entirely.
What's the longest she has stayed in one place in the past two years, asks Vogue's Vassi Chamberlain, after Stone confesses she has spent seven days at a stretch, max, in her London apartment since moving to the city six months ago.
She answers without hesitating: "Four weeks." Was that on holiday? "No. That was to rehab." ... "I am a complete alcoholic," she says. "It used to be so easy to tell someone, 'Get me a bottle of vodka,' and they'd run and get it."
Okay then! Consider our expectations raised.
In the story — which you cannot read at British Vogue's website, but which people have taken the time to scan here and here — Stone goes on to make various statements which aren't "bold" or "interesting," with all the self-consciousness those imply, so much as they are just affectingly real. She doesn't sound like she's talking from a well-rehearsed script when pressed about controversial industry practices, as can the otherwise clever Lily Cole. Cole recently claimed in the Times of London, "I saw eating problems more at my school than in that industry. I do get that there is an aesthetic — it changes generation by generation. There's always been an ideal, from the Fifties or the Eighties," which is an ingenious dodge of the size-zero question and a very disingenuous thing to say. Stone, who despite her 34"-24"-35" measurements is sometimes considered one of the larger straight-size models, calls herself "fat" and says, "If I could have the discipline to be super-skinny, I would be. I think of dieting, then I eat pizza. I'm a woman, and every woman wants to be skinnier. Unfortunately." Cole, testy: "I think drugs are taken all over the world. And I've never really experienced it." Stone, realistic: "I never really wanted to be that model on drugs, the sort who gives head for a line of coke."
Stone isn't interested in running interference for an industry that treated her with standard disinterest for the better part of a decade before she, at the improbable age of 23, started to enjoy breakout success. As a teenager in Paris, she lived in an Elite model apartment with up to seven other girls. She was not a sensation. "We did 15 castings a day, visiting the same people over and over again. They'd make bitchy comments about us in French, thinking we didn't understand." (Sounds...familiar.) Stone also worked in Japan, where her agency measured her weekly, instructed her never to smile, and contracted her to do up to three shoots a day. Models who got pimples were sent back. Not that Stone is dewy-eyed about model solidarity: she pushed a girl who wouldn't get out of her way at the Jaeger show this season. "I kept saying, 'Excuse me, excuse me, excuse me,' because I had to get to the catwalk, but she just kept posing. So I pushed her. It was only a few stairs." It's not easy to imagine Kate Bosworth confessing to something so human.
"Men don't like me," reports Stone. For all her much-vaunted "curves", she says, "I haven't been on a date in six months." She last dated an investment banker in New York; the end of the relationship coincided with her stint in rehab and her move to London. "I've just started a club with a girlfriend," she reports, "called the We Hate Men But We Can't Be Gay Club."
I Hate Women's Magazine Profiles But Can't Stop Reading Them.
Ones like this are pretty all right, though.