Amber Valletta’s Life in Looks Covers 30 Years of Iconic Fashion
Released on 04/01/2023
This dress, I think,
has been Googled more times than any other look in history.
Literally broke the internet when she wore it,
so kind of cool to be a part of that history,
but I wore it first.
[upbeat gentle music]
I'm Amber Valletta, and this is my Life in Looks.
[gasps] Oh, that's my very first Vogue cover.
It was with my best friend Shalom,
and Brana Wolf was the stylist
and Arthur Elgort was the photographer.
I remember we shot this on the beach in Santa Monica
with my freshly minted tiny short pixie hairdo.
It was kind of the epitome of the waif.
I had this kind of long fringe and shaggy, you know,
short sides and my hair naturally curls,
and that's where you get the little flips.
The haircut changed my career overnight
and became sort of the haircut everybody had.
Oh, this is from my first Jil Sander fashion show.
Jil Sander used me a lot.
I loved working with her.
She was just such an interesting,
powerful woman ahead of her time.
And I did a few campaigns for her that were really cool.
Coupled with Peter Lindbergh.
They were very, like, poetic and emotional,
and Peter really allowed me to express myself.
And so if I was, you know, moody or feeling strong or tough,
he let me kind of be that person.
Let's see what the next one is.
The infamous Todd Oldham show.
This is such a funny moment in fashion,
and I can see Miss Saucy Thing
coming up behind me in this image.
Here she is, that's Shalom.
And very soon she will take me over
at the end of the runway in this image.
What's funny is people do like to make this into a drama,
which is hilarious to me because it was so not a drama.
I don't know why I was walking so extra slouchy.
Thank you, Ms. Shalom.
She was walking extra saucy.
She was just on fire.
She was feeling it.
She was feeling that short skirt,
all of a sudden was in front of me at the end of the runway,
which obviously don't normally do.
We start walking back,
and I remember her saying to me, like, Keep up with me.
So I'm like, you know,
walking obviously as fast as I can
'cause she's walking at a breakneck speed,
and then she says, Now turn.
And so of course I listened
because she was in charge, and I turned,
and it looks kind of fun and fabulous, I think.
But I will say that day,
for some reason, I was walking extra slow
and I'm gonna blame it on the shoes.
There's moments I remember in fashion, especially at shows,
you get kind of like the body chills when you walk out.
You, like, know it's electric.
I opened the show with this outfit,
and it just was like you could just feel it.
Tom Ford just, I don't know, he just hit a note here
that, like, the hair, the makeup, the clothes
it was so different than what we had been seeing in fashion.
It was still a play on the simplicity
that we had been seeing,
but he gave us kind of sex back
which I think we had been missing for a bit in the '90s.
Oh la la, Versace.
This is one of many Versace shows.
My first Versace show would've been in '93.
I have had so many amazing years
of work and collaboration with Versace.
From working with Gianni in the beginning
and being a little Versus baby.
And then working my way up to Versace,
and then working with them all the way through,
and then Donatella, and doing so many campaigns together
and having so many incredible iconic moments.
I'm just really grateful and fortunate
that I've been a part of their history
and they've created such an important part of my history.
Oh, I remember this.
This is such a cool story.
Now, I don't know if it still currently holds this record,
but at the time this dress,
they called it the Leopard Dress, I believe,
took more hours to make than any other dress in history.
It was like over a thousand hours of artisanal work beading.
And Karl was really proud of that.
I remember he told me that fact.
It was a really beautiful dress.
I kind of felt like it looked like Cleopatra,
but I love that it's called the Leopard Dress.
1993 is when I started, I think, working with Karl.
And I did Chanel, I did Chloe, I did Fendi,
I did Karl Lagerfeld.
And I just thought Karl was so magical,
and interesting, and witty.
He knew something about everything.
I'm working with Karl Lagerfeld
as their sustainability ambassador for the entire brand.
It's an amazing journey
to be still a part of the Karl Lagerfeld legacy.
And I'm really lucky that we're doing something
that's modernizing the industry by being sustainable.
Oh yeah, this is a beautiful image.
This is Helmut Lang,
and Steven Meisel shot this for American Vogue.
Helmut Lang was super cool in the '90s.
He was sort of the antithesis
to everything that was going on,
which was especially during grunge.
There was a sort of ragtag feeling or hippie feeling.
And his idea of that was this more modern structured,
but there was an edge to it.
He had a really strong point of view,
and his shows were really cool.
We walked super fast,
and I probably gave Shalom a run for her money in that show.
This was the first Prada shoot with Glen Luchford.
This moment actually was shot
on the Tiber River outside of Rome.
And the image is, I think,
inspired by a film called Time of the Gypsies.
And I remember they lit these little fires,
and I was in this little, tiny boat,
and you have no idea what kind of impact
an image is going to make.
And this campaign in particular was another one
of those really impactful iconic moments in my career.
And also, I think, for Prada.
It struck a chord.
Mm-hmm, she is a blonde bitch.
I think this was like pinnacle
of, like, fierce Versace sexiness, blonde ambition.
It was just like Donatella, Donatella, Donatella.
The infamous Jungle Dress.
So I wore it on the runway,
then obviously I did the campaign,
and then J.Lo wore it to the Grammys.
And again, massive iconic moment when she wore that dress.
Nobody went out like that ever.
I mean, nobody had ever shown skin, like,
in the front like that down, you know,
past the navel, and then big slit up the front.
I think it was just so, like, ahead of its time,
and it just said, I'm a woman, and hear me roar.
Literally from the jungle.
Oh, my baby boy.
This is my Vogue cover shot by Annie Leibovitz
with my son Auden.
He was the first child to ever be on American Vogue,
and I think the third male.
He was so big.
He was 18 months old, and I remember people wrote in
because they were so upset
that they put a three-year-old naked child on the cover,
but he was only 18 months.
It was a difficult shoot, I have to say,
'cause he didn't really wanna model.
He wanted to walk and run around the property.
I've worked with Auden quite a bit in my career
or he's worked with me, I should say.
We've been photographed over the years of him growing up.
A really beautiful story
with him with super long hair by Steven Klein.
Another one by Steven Meisel
where everything was wrapped in plastic in my house.
I think Auden thinks it's pretty cool
to be on the cover of Vogue.
Oh, Maria Antoinette.
Anna asked me to come to the Met,
and she said, Come up to the offices and we'll dress you.
The part that's really important
about this whole thing is she said,
I really want you to go for it.
And at the time, people were dressing to theme a bit,
but it really wasn't like people really went for it.
And I remember fashion people were kind of like,
Oh, you really went for it.
Or You look sort of like George Washington's wife.
Just like kind of teasing me a little bit.
And I was a little embarrassed that night,
but I was like, Screw it.
I'm just gonna go for it and enjoy myself.
I'm not saying that I influenced people to, like, go for it,
but people did start going for it after that.
This was one of the first moments
of a big dress-up for the Met.
Hitch. What a fun film.
Allegra Cole, she was a very sweet,
trust fund society, young lady with a heart.
Working with Will, and Kevin James,
and Eva Mendes was just so much fun.
And working here in New York City,
we got to be in places that, you know,
normally people don't get to shoot.
This is from the Met 2009, Model As Muse.
This was a really cool Met
because it was all about the models,
and we got to wear whatever we wanted.
We all got ready together,
which I think about it now,
and I'm just so grateful we got to do that.
I picked this Galanos dress,
who was a famous American designer from the '50s and '60s,
and I just thought his stuff was so beautiful.
Model As Muse is our part of the creative process
in whether it's photography or a runway show,
even just something like this, like the Met.
It's our part in creating a fashion moment,
and we're often the muses.
A really cool moment that connected the Model As Muse
was in Vogue for the May issue of that year,
we did a photograph of all of us muses
around one of our greatest collaborators, Steven Meisel.
This was closing the memorial show for Alber Elbaz.
Different designers did their interpretation
of Alber's clothes.
They asked me to be the closing look.
That bow tie I'm wearing was actually his bow tie.
I just always remember him at the end of his shows
kind of doing this sort of
slightly three-quarter little bow with a little smile.
I thought I'll just do it slightly
and see if anyone understands and gets the nod.
It was kind of a way to say goodbye and thank you to him.
And there it is in that moment.
This was a really nice moment.
I was giving the Environmental Sustainability Award
to the UN from the CFDA,
and this beautiful woman pictured with me is Amina Mohammed,
who is the Secretary Deputy General of the UN.
And we were honoring them for their work in sustainability
with the SDGs, which are the sustainable development goals.
And their guidelines for all of us,
especially us in fashion,
to follow, to become a more sustainable
and equitable industry.
In the early '90s, I went to school here at NYU
for Politics of the Environment.
It's been a gradual learning process for me.
It has inspired me to come back to work
with a new passion and set of values
that actually keep me in this industry
because I want to see this industry change.
And I also think that fashion has the responsibility
and the ability to be one of the greatest changemakers
when it comes to environmental and social justice.
It's incredible to close this Life in Looks with you
with my most recent cover of Vogue.
And it's so exciting.
We shot this in Paris not that long ago
with Annie Leibovitz at the Grand Palais,
that was under major reconstruction and extremely cold.
I got to be with Shalom, of course,
Shalamber reunited again.
I'm so excited that they're honoring Karl Lagerfeld
this year at the Met.
And I can't wait to see it all because, I mean,
it's just gonna be incredible
from Chanel, Fendi, Karl Lagerfeld.
He has such a big history with fashion,
and he was such an iconic man in fashion.
So to honor him by having a cover
and cover story solely about him
and everyone's interpretation of him is just really special,
and it's kind of full circle.
And that's it for my Life in Looks as of now.
I hope maybe we continue this book.
Maybe we have more chapters ahead of us together.
I loved the walk through memory lane with you all,
and I hope you enjoyed it too.
And here's to many more.
♪ Love ♪
[upbeat gentle music]
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