Arts & Entertainment
3 min

Fashion fags

Carole Pope pays tribute to her stylin' man-friends






Three of the most extraordinary men I know are fashion fags.  They’re charming, intelligent, politically astute and, in Michael Schmidt’s case, an inspired artesian who creates intricate jewelry designs.

 

I’ve known Tim Blanks since the late 1970s when we double-dated with Kim Catrall and Pierre Trudeau. I remember shooting a faux-travel video with him on the roof of my apartment on Toronto’s St Joseph St, which Tim aptly renamed Fagu-strasse. We were rocking a bandaged ripped up ‘80s look. I’m sure we’ll see a rehashed version on the runways next spring. 

 

Blanks is a contributing editor and has a talking avatar on Vogue’s Style.com. He has contributed to Interview, GQ, V and virtually everything else out there that’s au courant.   He’s the editor at large of Flare Magazine.  Blanks was the host of CBC’s Fashion File, which has been pulled due to the recessionista for fashionistas. Let’s face it: Blanks was the brand, the image for that show.

 

He jetsets across continents to fashion shows and fêtes at the Met or in Milan, Paris and Rome. He’s BFF with Armani and Elton. He has lunched at Cate Blanchett’s house in Australia. He has the best fashion and showbiz gossip ever, none of which I can relate here. He lives with his partner Jeff in London’s Maida Vale.  Bjork and Chrissie Hynde are neighbours. Blank’s reportage is insightful, intelligent, and witty.  Last spring in London we had several dinners, lunches and ‘80s song fests which still make me laugh when I think about them.

 

One of my illusive oases of sanity is Michael Schmidt. He double dips as a clothing and jewelry designer and entrepreneur. He created a dress made out of 5,000 razor blades for his good friend Debbie Harry. In the ‘90s he ran Squeezebox in NYC, which is where we met and I crushed out on him.

 

The club was the launching pad for The Toilet Boys and a platform for fierce queens like Mistress Formica and Jackie Beat to  unleash  their inner rocker.  Schmidt has created pieces for Joan Jett, Pink, Aerosmith, Cher, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Lenny Kravitz, Ozzy and the Rolling Stones. As for the Madonna, Schmidt has created several pieces for her including a belt imbedded with 4,000 Swarovski crystals and a chainlink football breastplate for the Sticky and Sweet Tour.  The last time I saw Michael we toured New York’s rock’n’roll hall of fame and found it sadly lacking.

 

Cut to the ME Hotel during 080 Barcelona Fashion Week. The glittering metallic building juts on a precipice as if ready to crash to the street. The rooms are high tech with lube, condoms and an ass ring of some sort in the honour bar. I’m here in part because of my friendship with Glenn Belvario, whom I met through Schmidt. Belvario is the New York editor for Diane Pernet’s blog, A Shaded View on Fashion. The blog has no editorial policy so Belvedo lets loose gonzo style.  Camille Paglia is a close friend. She hates blogs but is a big fan of his writing and photography.

 

Belvario gets invited to off-the-radar, exotic, less pretentious fashion weeks. He loves Rio, which he says is paradise with an undercurrent of danger. He has attended fashion weeks in Brasilia and Belo Horizonte.

 

Belvario’s travels have taken him to Harbin in northern China for a Chinese punk rock festival.  Harbin was once ruled by Russia and there are still Russian imperial buildings in the city. From 2002-2004 Belvario contributed to West East magazine in China. He has been lost in nightmarish back alleys where the sight of people who were mutilated and thrown on the streets to beg is still hard for him to talk about. 

 

At 080 Barcelona Fashion Week I meet Euro fashion plates Frédéric  Bidoyet from Modem Online and Jean-Luc Dupont  from Systeme D  Paris who organized the media for the event.  Dupont is all about his pants, which ranged from shocking pink to MC Hammer “Can’t Touch This” during the three-day event.  There are bespoke charmers from Latin American Harper’s, Nylon, Flaunt and El Reformo.

 

We watch the collections fortified with espresso, red wine and mojitos. Model Miranda Kerr, who is dating Orlando Bloom, models Canadian Mark Fast’s knitwear. Fags are fighting over whose closest with Lydia Lunch, who moved to Barcelona in 2005. Belvario jets off to Turin and then to Seoul for their fashion week.  I’m off to Vegas for a hedonistic media binge.

 

Just back from Seoul, Belvario tells me he was so jetlagged that he zoned out a couple of times and almost fell face-down onto the runway. Seoul is so polluted that people wear SARS masks to protect themselves from yellow dust that blows over from China’s factories on toxic winds. He says the menswear (some of which was modeled by Asian baby dykes) was fab and the women’s wear was crap.  I love his honesty.

 

Now if I could only find a female fashion fag…