She's maneuvering the world of high fashion using instinct, experience and a WILD and ROWDY past!
I depended on Javier Lopez and his twin girls. They lived in my grandmother’s building and looked out for her, ran errands, checked in every day without fail. But when he got arrested, I couldn’t let her stay. I cancelled several gigs and hauled ass from the south of France to the South Bronx to pack her up. She was mad as hell. So I spent a small bundle on a furnished, 2-bedroom home in a pricey Seniors community out on Long Island. I moved her boyfriend in, too. They love it out there. But the twins. They were in private school, it was not cheap and Javier was facing five years. I couldn’t let them drop out. They looked too cute in their uniforms. So, with their mother’s okay, I took over the tuition. But I was real clear with the headmaster. “They believe Papa is making this happen. Make sure they never hear anything different.”
Winona’s coat by Azzedine Alaia
It had been a rough few months. I was angry most all the time and everywhere I went, somebody would get in my face. The media was ruthless. No matter what, I was the bad guy. But then REVLON cancelled my contract. That ate me up. It wasn’t losing the three mil. It was the smear campaign. I didn’t know why they were piling on or how to cope with it. So when I left my agent’s office that day, right away a group of tourists surrounded me with cameras. I warned them to get out of my face. But one dude was ALL OVER me. So I introduced his head to my 10-lb. backpack. They stepped back then. I got into a taxi, turned to boyfriend still sprawled on the concrete, and gave him the finger. The son-of-a-bitch took another picture! NATIONAL ENQUIRER. Cover. Just five days later. See? That’s what I was dealing with back then.
When I first hit Paris to walk for Givenchy, I was nineteen and you couldn’t tell me squat. So when I saw that cabaret chanteuse Sherry Rogers was in town performing, I invited some of the crew to her show. She’s my cousin, you see. But then I got grand. I sent a note backstage that I was in the audience and would love to visit and say hello. She replied, “Dinner plans. Sorry,” and broke my face. But Sherry wasn’t feeling me or anyone from the Bronx. I knew that. Bitch didn’t even come home for her brother’s funeral. Okay? Years later, though, she had the balls to send me a note backstage after a Versace show. She wants to bring her granddaughter back who’s “dying to meet her supermodel cousin”. You know I had to drag her. How could I resist? I wrote — “Sorry diva. They say every dog has it’s day? Well it looks like today is mine.” Haven’t heard from Cousin Sherry since.
I spotted the hoops at Harry Winston’s on 5th Ave. and pointed them out to my racket jockey boyfriend. Ranked #1 at the time, he promised them for my birthday. But then Wimbledon happened. He got whipped. Badly. And swallowed a fistful of Seconal. Of course the press blamed me for it. Right? Because I was off working and not there to hold his hand. So I invited them all to kiss my ass—it made headlines—and purchased the diamond hoops myself. But I couldn’t wear them. For ten years I kept them locked away in a safe-deposit box. But finally I got them out and after taking a couple of deep breaths, I put them on. It was bananas. I couldn’t take them OFF! They became my energy source. My special sauce. The boom in my boom-boom. And here we are. I’ve been wearing them for years. I still don’t cut a deal or sign a contract without my hoops. Isn’t life funny?
JFK Jr. was hot. Way hotter than you ever dreamed. We both grew up in NYC so over the years I saw him around town. Back when Belle and I were shoplifting, we were casing the Thierry Mugler boutique one day and he strolled in. Poor Belle almost died. But it was years later, while rollerblading near the bandshell in Central Park, that he and I literally crashed into each other. I knew him of course but this time, he knew me, too. My first Revlon billboard had just gone up in Times Square and my face was three stories tall. He and I hooked up, locked ourselves inside his loft for four days and kee-kee’d over how insane it’s gonna get when the world finds out. But then duty called. He took off for China and I had several gigs in Rome. Our thing simply fizzled out. Just one regret, though. I really wanted to meet Jackie.
Fashion models and music videos. Like gin and tonic, right? The perfect mix. Especially back-in-the-day, during the reign of MTV, VH-1 and BET. Christy Turlington and Linda Evangelista did George Michael. Cindy Crawford did Jon Bon Jovi. And who doesn’t remember Naomi with Michael Jackson? Well I got a call too. From MILLI VANILLI. They were hot off their Best New Artist Grammy win and ARISTA RECORDS wanted me for the upcoming video. Other models were cast also but I was the lead chick. And the set was stank with envy. But it was a long and rough shoot and by day three I was pissy and over it so completely that in spite of the video never airing (you know why), and requests for me coming in from major artists—yep. even MJ—I turned them all down. One music video experience was enough for me.
I was still in my twenties and supermodeling all over the world but while in New York, I lived with Daniel, a Wall Street financier. He was fifty-two, separated from the wife, and so weak for me that he commissioned an artist to paint my portrait. Things went off the rails real quick. It was nothing for me to shoot fashion spreads for VOGUE or BAZAAR but, under the portrait artists’ gaze I felt weird. So to take the edge off, we started screwing. But the idiot fell in love with me! And after finishing the painting, he wouldn’t let it go. Daniel wasn’t stupid. He put it together and kicked me out. Homeless, I ended up at the Morgans Hotel down in midtown. It started out as temporary, just until I got my act together, but I discovered right away just how cute hotel-living—with all the amenities—can be! Trading on my celebrity, I snagged a two-year lease on a suite with a balcony. We renewed it five times. But I never could get my hands on that portrait.
I caught the tail end of FEUD last night. Bette Davis? Now THAT was a bad-ass lady. I met her early in my career, while working a PATRICK KELLY show in Beverly Hills. Tiny and frail then, she adored Patrick and came backstage to invite us all out for cocktails. Some of the models declined. Silly bitches were basking in the glow of true greatness and had no idea. She took us to Musso & Frank’s Grill. The maitre d’ tossed Steve Guttenberg and his group out of the New Room like yesterday’s trash to set it up for Miss Davis and Party. They knocked themselves out accommodating us. There were platters of appetizers and martinis by the trayfuls. A waiter was stationed nearby just to light her cigarettes. We went through two and a half packs together and I’ll never forget what she told me. “Fight for what you want in this life, kiddo.” And I do. Every day.
It was many years ago when the media first flipped on me. No one knows why really, but I was feeling crucified and started acting out. Cocaine. Champagne. I was one pissed-off party girl. I don’t remember getting behind the wheel of his Fiat that day. Or releasing the clutch and stomping on the gas. But there I am, captured by the paparazzi in the streets of Milan, wearing only pumps and a white LA PERLA slip while standing over my lousy cheat of a boyfriend, the son of a shady Greek hotelier, lying crumpled on the pavement. He refused to press charges against me. But my agent strongly suggested that I take some time off, dry out and enroll in a no-nonsense anger management program. Immediately. I was one of the highest paid models in the world. I’d just turned twenty-three.
Winona is to FASHION WEEK what fireworks are to the 4th of July. The show might go on but without her it sure won’t be the same. Back in the day she was in such high demand on the catwalk that designers were known to adjust their show dates to work around her schedule. And now, as the agency owner with six of the fashion industry’s top models on her roster, they still do! Ah…it’s nice to be on top. But it’s hard as hell to stay there.
Covering her fashion choices for the next seven days is just as important as anything happening on the runway. Stay tuned. What She Wore During Fashion Week starts NOW—