"Covid-19 is shaking the very essence of theatrical representation, which is an art form that requires the convergence of the community to tell a story," says Jordan Roth, on the phone from New York. President and owner of the majority share of five Broadway theaters, the Jujamcyn Theaters, producer of very successful shows (from the revival of Angels In America to Moulin Rouge, Kinky Boots and Hadestown), winner of five Tony Awards, at 44, Roth is also a prominent figure in the New York LGBTQ community: "I wouldn't really call myself an activist, above all I try to tell, to articulate my path to produce a resonance in the path of others: when you have a problem, the worst thing is to believe that you are alone to face it. We can share our experiences to strengthen and support each other in everyday life."
In this story, fashion as a liberating force and vehicle of self-expression plays a fundamental role. There is no fashion addict who does not remember his sensational outfits on the red carpet, from Iris Van Herpen's living sculpture hood with the trompe l'oeil of a theater worn at the Met Gala and the red coat with crystals from the newborn Givenchy Haute Couture for men at the Met Gala 2018, the red coat covered with flowers, also by Givenchy, at the Tony Awards 2018, the evening cloak of Zac Posen at the premiere of his musical Moulin Rouge, up to another imaginative hood, this time by Viktor & Rolf Couture, at the premiere of the film Cats. This flamboyant style, adopted recently, was enhanced also in this four-handed shooting with the photographer-artist - Ellen von Unwert and her friend, Anna Cleveland, during the Paris Haute Couture Week. The son of a theater producer and a real estate tycoon, Roth used to dress in a uniform, adopted when he was young and he feared he would not be taken seriously in the theater environment. It was a classic (smart) businessman uniform: many black, blue or gray suits, preferably Prada. "When I gave myself permission to express myself also through fashion, because I finally felt confident enough of my position in the world of theater to be able to abandon the uniform, a college friend of mine sent me a photo of when we were kids, and I realised that back then I was already using fashion to express myself creatively, to make visible what I felt inside. It also applies to hair: now they are very long, for years, my head was practically shaved, but as a boy I used to wear them long to differentiate myself from others. My fashion "awakening" started in Spring 2017 - I was looking for a dress for the Tony Awards and Anna Wintour suggested that I dress in Gucci. Michael Philouze (stylist for various editions of Vogue, ed.) had prepared two outfits for me, a formal suit and a cherry red tuxedo with a tiger head embroidered with crystals on the back. My first reaction was: it's too much! But I tried it and went crazy. I was still doubtful, but the approval of Anna Wintour ended up convincing me definitively. And at that point I no longer experienced the prize-giving evening with the anxiety of winning or losing, but as a playful adventure. At the beginning, I allowed myself this expressive freedom only on big occasions, then I started to feel the lack of connection with daily life, I said to myself: I am like this, yet I don't accept to be so in everyday life! Because the alternative is not between fancy and casual, but between self-expression and self-repression, and once you have tasted the pleasure of freedom, depriving yourself of it makes you feel completely alienated." In fact, his Instagram profile is now a gallery of equally creative outfits, but maybe be a bit more casual and by brands such as Richard Quinn, Alexander McQueen, and Thom Browne.
«I really like Iris Van Herpen, both as an artist and as a human being. Working with her to create the hood of the Met Gala was like creating a play, where neither of us could have ever imagined at the start where we would end up. Iris has constantly amazed and fascinated me with her unique way of incorporating a sort of devotion to the natural world and technology, a seemingly impossible tension that also, thanks to her head and hands, becomes possible with a result that seems devoid of effort. And I love Clare Waight Keller for her instinctive and also effortless interpretation of Hubert de Givenchy's legacy, his classic and exquisite couture (the announcement of the departure of Clare Waight Keller was released as soon as our telephone conversation ended, ed.). I also really like Thom Browne for his brilliant exploration of gender stereotypes that he manages to detonate both iconographically and functionally." Richard Quinn says that "colours, patterns, volumes, scale games have allowed me to give voice to my exuberance." When wearing Ungaro or Norma Kamali, Roth claims that it gives him the feeling "as if he was entering a treasure cave."
«Fashion is the opportunity to express oneself through the work of others, fashion photography is the moment of excellence when fantasy becomes reality. Sometimes I get dressed and I say to myself: this outfit is very Martha Graham, this is very Audrey Hepburn, but sometimes I understand only later, reviewing an image, a gesture, the reference model that guided me unconsciously in the choice of a dress. I have incorporated so many fantasies into myself since I was a child. A special person was my grandmother, who passed away in December, at almost 98 years of age, with whom I had a total complicity. She had an exuberant style and beautiful clothes, not of luxury brands, but found in the flea markets. When I wear her hats, her jewellery, I feel her with me."
Photo Ellen von Unwerth
Text Fabia Di Drusco
Styling Gaultier Desandre Navarre
Hair Stylist Shay Shaz @ B-Agency
Make-Up Artist Natsuki Oneyama @ Agency Aurélien
Manicure Chloé Desmarchelier @ Atomo Management
Props Stylist Jade Boyeldieu d'Auvigny
Producer Zoé Martin @ Producing Love
Assistant Photographers Stan Rey-Grange, Peter Kayser, Nine David and Matias Brigidano
Stylist Assistant Camille Ayed and Celine Sabbagh
Special thanks to La Réserve Paris