Robert Verdi Knows the Look
BY Harrison Pierce
June 08 2009 12:00 AM ET
Modeling shows like She's Got the Look help make certain models -- like season one winner Tanya Hutchinson -- household names. Do you think this familiarity will help restore models to the covers of fashion magazines or is the actress-as-cover-model trend here to stay?I think we're in flux right now. But with the collapse of the economy people don't have the singular focus on celebrity and fabulosity and wealth. They're connecting with models once again because, in some strange way, celebrities are totally out of touch with real life and models aren't. Models are, you know, kind of somehow closer to us. We deify celebrities but we no longer deify models and I think they become more relatable because of that. The Metropolitan Museum of Art has an exhibit that's currently running that traces the origins of the supermodel and the model as muse -- I think that the model's starting to come back to a powerful place.
So, Robert, at what age did you realize you could make the world a prettier place?I was very young I think -- I love that question because I do make the world a prettier place! When I was young, I understood that you could manipulate people's minds with objects, whether they were decorative objects in an environment or the clothing one wore. I remember seeing my Mom dressed up -- like, all gay men tell this story about seeing their mothers dressed up -- and going "wow, she's the most beautiful thing ever" -- and then coming to an understanding that it's the stuff that makes her -- the jewelry and the earrings and the makeup and the hair.
Growing up in New Jersey, what did Manhattan represent to you?Manhattan symbolized to me in New Jersey what it symbolized to everyone everywhere -- it's cosmopolitan, it's chic and it's where all the fabulous people went and it's where all the creative people were. You know, it's the epicenter of so many industries, from the publishing industry to the fashion industry, the financial industry to the art community. It's the creative crossroads of every practical and impractical business of the world.
Now, you first came to Manhattan as a jewelry designer, correct?I started as a jewelry designer when I was a kid but I wasn't a trained goldsmith. I was just gluing things together, melting pieces of plastic together, sewing pieces of fabric together. I was creating accessories and then I went to F.I.T. and became a trained goldsmith. But, up until that time, I was really just being creative. Anything I could get my hands on, I turned into something else. Now, I have a jewelry line on QVC, so it's like homecoming for me.
Eventually you became an on screen television personality, hosting shows like Metro TV's Full Frontal Fashion and E!'s Fashion Police . Were you always comfortable in front of the camera?The camera never really intimidated me. It is what it is -- I mean, I'm aware of it being there, but maybe it works in my life because I gesticulate a lot. I'm very animated and I can connect with people through it. Like, it doesn't get in the way of my relationships with people. It's not an obstacle to me.
I know you have a vested interest in the world of celebrity styling, but do you ever secretly wish celeb stylists would disappear so we could see more train wrecks on the red carpet?Yeah, I mean I love women who are free spirited and independent and don't necessarily have the fashion tutor with them all the time telling them what to wear and what to say and how to do it. I do love the irreverent and outrageous women of the red carpet like Cher. I think they bring a kind of vibrancy that feels exciting and independent and enthusiastic and is honest and real and isn't fabricated because a lot of times, when you're working with a stylist, you're kind of working on the fabrication of a public image.