At Elise Ã?verland, News of the Weir
Published February 14, 2011
Elise Øverland’s fall 2011 presentation on Saturday at The Standard’s ice rink [video above] certainly switched up the models-on-platforms status quo: in addition to half-dozen or so models standing on the ice, Øverland enlisted figure skaters to wear her whimsical, colorful creations while they zoomed, pirouetted, and posed to a techno soundtrack (and while guests fought off the cold by sipping Belvedere vodka-enhanced cider). The crowning moment, however, came at the end, after the models had shuffled off the ice: figure skater Johnny Weir, in a costume that melded fur, an armor-like metallic vest, and about a hundred other disparate elements that somehow worked in tandem, took the ice to perform a routine to his own song, “Dirty Love.” We chatted with a triumphant but dehydrated Weir (he politely requested water from his manager in Russian before our interview) after the show.
ALEXANDRIA SYMONDS: Amazing job!
JOHNNY WEIR: Thank you!
SYMONDS: How did you and Elise originally meet?
WEIR: I’ve been a fan of Elise’s work for a really long time. We’re both Norwegian, and that’s something that inspires me, of course, because you don’t meet many of us. And her fashion is just so ethereal and easy and free-spirited, and I love that. When her people contacted my people, as tends to happen in this city, I of course said yes. I was in London at the time and my manager said, “Do you want to do a collaboration and work with Elise Øverland?” I said, “Of course.” I didn’t even think about it for two seconds. I love her. I can’t say enough good things about her, and it’s truly, truly an honor to work with somebody who’s so talented and yet so down-to-earth.SYMONDS: Definitely.
WEIR: Especially when you are talented, when you have a gift, you tend to get a very big head about it. And I support and love the people who don’t even care how talented they are, they just show the world their beauty and their heart. And they live happily ever after!
SYMONDS: Tell me about your look.
WEIR: It’s really incredible, and it came together in a day, if you can believe that.
SYMONDS: You’re kidding.
WEIR: I design all my own costumes, and then my costumer came on to help sew it, because, you know, it’s different, making street clothes and making an athletic costume. And they all got together yesterday and made this up. Elise made the coat, I think, this morning. It’s truly, truly incredible. It’s me: it’s tight, it’s black, there’s some sheer bits, it’s metallic, it’s fur—I mean, everything that is Johnny Weir is in this costume, and it still reflects the sort of ideas of her collection. I’m, in general, all about the rhinestones and the sparkle, and somehow I feel so glamorous and so beautiful. And I think that’s Elise’s strength. I’m a huge fan of her, which is no secret.
SYMONDS: You know the pair of cowboy boots that a five-year-old just will not take off? You need to do that, with this costume.
WEIR: I don’t want to take this costume off for as long as I can keep it on, yeah.
SYMONDS: It’s such a complete look, too—down to your nails.
WEIR: Something I’ve learned from figure skating is that you have to look the part from head to toe. And that’s something I think is very true in fashion, as well. You can’t have this gorgeous Chanel suit on with the hair that’s a mess, or no makeup. You have to costume yourself, you have to style yourself, even down to the fingernails, even down to my socks. That’s how I live. I love an entire moment. Even if you’re not famous, if you’re walking down the street and you’ve got a paparazzi standing there, that’s how everyone should think: what picture are they going to get? And I want my picture to be flawless, all the time.
SYMONDS: What did you have in mind while you were choreographing your routine for this evening?
WEIR: The actual song is my song, it’s called “Dirty Love.”
SYMONDS: It’s wonderful! I was wondering whether you’d do it to “Born This Way.”
WEIR: I love me some “Born This Way,” but it just came out yesterday, and that’s a little too close to call for choreography. But I had to change a lot as I was skating tonight because the ice at The Standard is very small—usually I have lots of room to roam—and there’s an igloo, and there’s a pole, and photographers, and all this stuff! It was a challenge for me, mentally, to get myself together. But I figured, it’s a fashion show, pose, have fun. Just a few technical tricks here and there. That’s one of my strengths, is that I do think on my feet and I can constantly change myself around.
SYMONDS: I didn’t notice! So I remember from your show that you’ve said that you don’t go out a lot, you’re more of a homebody. Do you make an exception for Fashion Week?
WEIR: No, you know—luckily, I’m very busy this Fashion Week. I walked last night for Asher Levine, and then I wanted to get a good rest because I had this performance tonight. The night before Asher, I did Richie Rich. I designed four pieces for Adrienne Landau, so I’ve been very hands-on in the studio figuring out how we’re going to present them, my fur pieces. I’m going to my dear friend Chris Benz, with him, in the car, to his collection. I’ve chosen the people that I love, that are my dearest friends, and that I think are going to be the best for this Fashion Week: Asher Levine, Chris Benz, Isaac Mizrahi, Dennis Basso.