Socialite and Photographer Todd Selby, also known as The Selby, describes himself as a man who’s lived a thousand lives: according to his bio, he has been “a translator and Tijuana tour guide to the International Brotherhood of Machinists, a researcher into the California strawberry industry, a Costa Rican cartographer, a consultant on political corruption to a Mexican Senator, an art director at a venture capital firm, an exotic flower wholesaler, a Japanese clothing designer, and a vermicomposting entrepreneur.” Despite these many hobbies and personal ventures, he’s also found time to become an illustrator. His talents are currently put to use depicting the many celebrities featured in Anna Wintour’s cryptic anecdotes for Vogue’s Youtube series, “Ask Anna.” After getting high and marathoning all nine episodes last night, I have some questions.
His illustration featured above is purportedly based on photographs of Kendall Jenner and Cara Delevingne. Ok! Here’s The Selby’s take on... *checks notes*... Rihanna.
In this particular video, Wintour praised Rihanna’s then-recently launched fashion brand with LVMH, which she claimed will be very successful for the corporation. The illustration, though, reads to me like a threat: Give me the exclusives to the next Fenty launch or else. Yikes! I’m also told that the illustrations below are meant to be Pharrell and Kanye West. The third man is a mystery!
Sometimes, Wintour pairs her savagery with a story. Below is her recollection of Donatella Versace’s glowing visage while riding a horse at a dude ranch somewhere in the Midwest. What hidden messages are conveyed through the horse with lipstick, a wig, and mascara on? Perhaps it’s subtly shading Versace’s alleged history with plastic surgery. Rude!
Horses are a recurring theme in The Selby’s work. In a separate video, someone I’m told is Bella Hadid also rides a horse.
Thankfully, The Selby also uses the power bestowed upon him by Anna Wintour to (allegedly) bully the English monarchy. Here’s the Queen of England:
And Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle:
U.S. politics are similarly unspared. Here’s Wintour complementing Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in one video: “I like the red lipstick and hoop earrings.”
While I was initially perplexed by The Selby’s approach to illustrating the bourgeois—maybe the confusion is the point! (I could also still be high.) It’d make sense if Anna Wintour, famed for her power over the global fashion landscape, would want to remind celebrities that they might look beautiful in Vogue, but they should never forget who’s boss. And with print sales withering across the media landscape, it’d make sense that Vogue needed something punchy to assert itself within Conde Nast’s pivot to video. Or Todd Selby, between researching the California strawberry industry and mapping the Puerto Rican coastline, simply doesn’t remember what celebrities really look like.