You’ve worked in so many areas of fashion, from running Meisel’s studio to casting fashion shows for Marc Jacobs to consulting for advertising campaigns. Which was your favorite?
I like them all. Really the common thread is that I like making things happen. I love when Steven Meisel would come to me at 5 p.m. and say, "I need a vintage carousel on set tomorrow." They’re all projects I really believe in, and I’ve always been very lucky to work with great people.
In one issue of V, you featured an actress from Buenos Aires, an American composer, Catherine McNeil, and Gwen Stefani. With such a diverse range, how can you tell if something is really V?
We think of V like standing in front of a TV store where there are 50 different screens each on a different channel. It’s fashion, it’s wacky, it’s witty, it’s all that great stuff.
We have six covers a year, so we aren’t concerned about what actress has a movie coming out or whatever. With Gwen Stefani, it wasn’t like, "Oh, she has an album, let’s put her on the cover." Rather, we just pick the people we want to celebrate and serenade. And V Man just became a quarterly, and our first cover will be the winner of the V Man’s Model Contest photographed by Hedi Slimane.
V found model Amanda Laine with the V! a Model contest earlier this year. Why did you pick her?
Well, we wanted to create a modeling contest where the winners would actually work. Where are Tyra Banks's girls going? We wanted to find someone who would work the runways and showrooms and, of course, editorials. We had the huge group narrowed down to two girls and couldn’t decide. Then I saw Amanda’s walk — very confident, a little sassy but not in a TV way — and we knew. She went on to be the fit model for Miu Miu and Prada and walk incredible shows.
What was the first designer item you bought?
Back in Australia the first thing I bought was a Helmut Lang coat with a soft shoulder. In New York, the first thing I can remember is a Prada coat. I’d been working for Steven Meisel for a year, and I decided to treat myself. I blew my whole bonus on it. It’s from when Miuccia first started at Prada, so it’s military-inspired, almost a uniform.
Which designers do you love?
Yohji Yamamoto, Y-3, Givenchy, YSL, Junya Watanabe, Dolce & Gabbana, Maison Martin Margiela, Sonia Rykiel. And Lanvin’s pretty great too. Those dresses are so ultimately flattering.
And up-and-coming designers?
I think it’s hard to be a young designer nowadays. People say Phillip Lim is a new designer, but he’s got a store! We're more concerned with designers so new that they can’t pay for their fabric. Those are the ones we can really help, and we’re really committed to nurturing that young talent. But I do like Ohne Titel, Adam Kimmel, and Louise Goldin.
How would you describe your personal style?
Simple. I’m very busy with my two kids and my two dogs and two magazines and a husband at the bottom of that list. So what I wear has to be functional. I have to be able to move around. But I also like pieces that are edgy — I love Japanese design. Also, back in Australia we have a saying: “mutton dressed as lamb.” I think it’s very important to dress your age.
What item should every woman have in her closet?
A good granny brooch, I’m talking with diamonds or real jewels. You can pin it on a shirt or a sweater when it’s colder. It’s just important to have a very personal piece of jewelry.
Any fall trends you’re excited about?
Luxurious, understated bags in skins. Architectural shoes. Tartan. Black lace, lots of black.
What trends do you wish would go away?
None really, because that’s what makes fashion great. What comes around goes around. The shoulder pad came in, then it’s gone. The legwarmer came in, then it’s gone. I embrace all trends.
What fashion objects are you lusting after right now?
I mean, I’m not going to buy it, but Chanel did a bicycle. It’s in our next issue, all black. How fun would that be to ride around on?
Where do you shop?
I love online shopping: Net-a-Porter and eLuxury. Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus have great online sites too. You can sit down at your computer on a Sunday afternoon, order something, and have it by lunchtime on Monday. I also love American Apparel. Once in a while I go into one of my favorite stores and try on everything. Then, of course, you only buy what you like, but it’s really, really fun. Also, sometimes people offer you Champagne or whatever, and I never take that. For me, shopping is business: I do it, and then I get back to my life.
What’s the last thing you bought in a store?
Pierre Hardy ankle boots in tan leather with a cutout toe and stacked heel. They’re pretty great.
Gladiators: pro or con?
I like gladiators on the right leg.
Is your closet organized or messy?
Very organized. I clean it out once a month and shop in two monthly installments. Sometimes you see pictures of celebrity closets and they have like 300 pairs of jeans. It doesn’t make sense. If you know your body and your style, you don’t need all that.
What can't you live without?
Chuck Price's twelve-foot-high gold lightning bolt.