Fashion Shoot: Veronica Webb - The Mother of All Multi-Taskers
The term “Renaissance Woman” is used so frequently these days, it’s almost cliché. But in the case of multi-hyphenate Veronica Webb, the descriptor is completely apt, and almost too limited to do justice to her many disparate endeavors. Who else can lay claim to having been a supermodel/actress/music video vixen/TV host/Revlon spokeswoman/magazine columnist/book author/philanthropist/AIDS activist/marathon runner/designer and – oh, yeah – mother of four?
Through it all, the 48-year-old, Webb has become an international style icon, cementing her place in the fashion firmament through her decades-long modelling career, her role as muse to designers such as Karl Lagerfeld and Azzedine Alaïa, and her appearance on Vogue’s Best Dressed list not once, but three times (she’s also been nominated for the Vanity Fair Best Dressed list three times, as well).
“Icon is a lovely word,” says Webb as she sits in the makeup chair before the shoot, chatting while the beauty team works its magic. “I’m happy whenever people refer to me that way. The whole point of fashion is to inspire people to take a dream and make it a reality.”
Making dreams a reality is something the Detroit native knows a little bit about, having been discovered by a modelling scout while she was a freshman scholarship student at Parsons.
“I grew up with a mother who made everything: all our clothes, our socks and hats,” explains Webb. “We made down jackets every winter. My fondest memories are standing with my arms out making balls of yarn from skeins or doing fittings with my mother for Easter Sunday clothes and school clothes. So to me, the whole process of deciding what you want to make, picking out the fabric, doing the fittings – that’s the really fun part of fashion.”
Is it any wonder, then, that designers love Webb as much as Webb loves designers?
When she first met Mr. Alaïa in the mid-1980s, recalls Webb, “He couldn’t speak English and I couldn’t speak French, but we instantly became family. He’s incredibly warm and open and nurturing.”
When asked to name her favorite Alaïa pieces, Webb says, “Oh my God, that’s like choosing between my children,” before narrowing it down to her Alaïa motorcycle jacket (“I probably did over 100 hours of fittings on that jacket!”) and the dress he designed for her recent wedding to longtime beau Chris Del Gatto, CEO of Jacob & Co. (Between them, the couple has four children: Len, 13, Aly, 11, Leila, 10, and Molly, 9.)
Today, Webb – who cites Jacob & Co two-carat diamond stud earrings and a rose gold Rolex as her everyday go-to accessories – has taken the knowledge gleaned at the knee of her mother (and Messrs. Lagerfeld and Alaïa) and put it to good use with Royalton by Veronica Webb, her new collection for OpenSky.com, where she has over a million followers.
“What I like about it is the connection to the customer is very direct because it’s hooked up to your Facebook feed,” Webb says of OpenSky.
“I talk to customers all day long about what they want, what they need, what they like, what fits. My goal here is the same thing I’ve been doing with my sisters and my best friends for years, which is taking everything I’ve learned in fashion and helping people build an ultimate wardrobe that looks really extravagant, but is economical because everything works with everything else.”
To this end, she launched a five-piece collection with versatile tops designed to flatter a range of body types from 0 to 26, along with a new segue into accessories with a rose gold and pink crystal cupid’s arrow bracelet that was a huge hit with Royalton by VW fans. “One of the great things about fashion is that we can all get swept up in a trend together, whether it’s colours or shapes or an attitude, and we can remember the time that we all wore leggings or flares or Nik Nik shirts,” says Webb. “That’s one of the things I love about fashion.”
As befits her status as a fashion-forward trendsetter, Webb is inclined towards more directional styles, like the Pre-Fall looks she wears here from Dior, Louis Vuitton, Michael Kors, Valentino, and Calvin Klein. “I think it’s always important to see the big idea,” she says. “And you may not want to live out the big idea, but it inspires your day-to-day ideas on how to get dressed. And I think that it’s really important for people to push the envelope design-wise because it defines our time.” Spoken like a true style icon.