Shalom Harlow: Made for Haute Couture

She was part of the anti-supermodels—waiflike beauties who seemed more tangible than the out-of-reach superstars like Naomi, Linda, and Christy. Shalom Harlow represented an elegant and graceful idea of beauty with a face and body that was made for haute couture. Tim Blanks looks back on the career of the Canadian native and her rise to the top.

Released on 12/11/2014

Credits

Starring: Tim Blanks
Featuring: Shalom Harlow

Music:
"#1 In Heaven" by MNDR
"Certain Something" by Letters
"I Don't Care" by Peter Black

Images:
Shalom Harlow in1997 Dior Couture show, photos by Giovanni Giannoni

Transcript

00:00
I don't think of the camera as a camera.
00:02
I just give whatever the photographer's looking for.
00:06
And sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.
00:09
(dance music)
00:10
♫ You better step away
00:12
♫ Number one in heaven
00:14
♫ With a bullet
00:16
♫ I'll go for you when I can
00:17
♫ Tell them I'm smiling
00:22
This is Throwback Thursdays, and I'm Tim Blanks.
00:24
Today, we've got an interview with model Shalom Harlow.
00:28
(girls laughing)
00:29
Like her close friend, Amber Valletta,
00:31
Shalom was considered to be one of the wave
00:33
of models that was almost an antidote
00:36
to the supermodel era, although, of course,
00:38
the irony is that in the end they turned out
00:41
to be almost as super as those original girls were.
00:44
I was scouted at a concert, where I'm from, Toronto.
00:48
And they just asked me if I'd ever
00:51
thought of modeling.
00:52
No. Would you be interested?
00:54
Maybe.
00:55
Here I am, in Paris.
00:56
Shalom was a real, sort of quintessential model.
00:59
With legs that were probably six inches taller
01:01
than my entire body height.
01:03
Funnily enough, when I look at Karlie Kloss
01:06
on the runway now, I'm reminded of Shalom,
01:09
a tall girl with a very balletic grace.
01:11
I danced back home for
01:14
about seven years, ballet, tap, jazz, whole bit.
01:19
[Tim] In this interview from 1995, Shalom is 18 years old.
01:24
But you can see why she became such a firm
01:26
photographer's favorite.
01:27
There's a real elegance about her.
01:29
She had a face and a body that were made for
01:31
haut couture,
01:32
and so she worked for the greatest couturiers.
01:35
[Interviewer] Do you ever think, wo, is that me?
01:37
Yes, most of the time.
01:39
Because they make you look so different.
01:42
The wigs, the makeup, the attitudes,
01:45
changes you completely.
01:47
[Tim] There was always that sort of
01:49
alternative edge to her.
01:50
I'd see her backstage, she'd be listening to Sonic Youth,
01:53
and she'd be reading a very deep book.
01:55
She always struck me as a very thoughtful model,
01:57
a very socially conscious model.
01:59
I guess you could say my parents were
02:03
hippies.
02:05
How did your parents react to the fact
02:06
that this is the world that you're working in?
02:08
I mean, they're not thrilled about
02:09
my being in this business.
02:12
But, I mean, they're not my value points,
02:15
and that's what's important.
02:16
So, it's okay, I mean they're happy
02:18
that I'm getting a chance to travel,
02:20
see the world, learn.
02:23
Even though I'm not in school, I'm still learning.
02:25
She and Amber were very concerned with
02:27
environmental issues after the world
02:29
had got used to the idea of supermodels
02:31
as these untouchable ice queens.
02:33
These women wanted to be more approachable.
02:36
[Interviewer] Strapping yourself trees
02:37
as an environmental activist?
02:38
Absolutely.
02:39
[Interviewer] At first?
02:40
Yes.
02:41
It's something we actually, we need to do something.
02:42
We need to get on top of that.
02:44
We're putting that out there.
02:46
If there's any--
02:47
That's true.
02:48
Yeah.
02:49
Any way we can help, let us know.
02:51
[Tim] Amber and Shalom became one of the modeling
02:53
world's great double acts
02:55
and were often photographed together on and off
02:57
the page.
02:59
We're gonna take you through a lot of people's
03:00
closets this year.
03:02
But first, we're gonna take you through our own.
03:03
[Tim] Like her friend, Amber, Shalom did make
03:06
a move into movies eventually.
03:08
Oh, keep your cheeks clenched.
03:10
Not those.
03:11
(smacking) These.
03:13
My most memorable moments in Shalom's career
03:15
generally come from the shows of either
03:19
Alexander McQueen or John Galliano.
03:20
She was the model who was hosed down by the angry
03:24
robots at the end of the McQueen show,
03:27
creating that image of her spinning slowly
03:29
while she's sprayed by paint.
03:31
That is one of the most unforgettable fashion images
03:34
of the last 50 years, I would say.
03:37
She also modeled for John Galliano, one of the couture shows
03:40
in which she ran through a gorgeous garden in Paris
03:44
almost stark naked.
03:45
You got the feeling she would loan herself readily
03:48
to this kind of opportunity.
03:50
There was something daring about her, I guess.
03:53
And I'm not an analytical sort of person.
03:55
I just kind of go with my instincts.
03:57
So (laughs) it's difficult sometimes.
04:01
But it's all right.
04:02
Just be yourself.
04:04
[Tim] She has an enormous body of work to show,
04:06
and I think people will look back in the future
04:09
and really appreciate what she brought
04:11
to the wild party of fashion.
04:14
[Interviewer] Will we be seeing your faces forever?
04:16
I like to think so. I think so.
04:17
And even if it's not this real thing,
04:21
somehow there's a part of us--
04:23
Left behind. Sort of immortalized.
04:26
Forever. That's kind of great.
04:27
(lively music)
04:39
What do you think about models now versus models then?
04:42
Leave us some comments below.
04:45
This is Throwback Thursdays.
04:45
I'm Tim Blanks.
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