Music and fashion are two key elements of our culture that look, sound and work great together, an opinion that is shared by Natalie Joos, a New York-based fashion director, style icon and avid music lover. In her mb! interview she talks about music, not fashion, for the first time in her career
Natalie Joos has a keen eye for beauty. And while she demonstrates this talent when selecting models for shows, campaigns and clients like Phillip Lim, Mario Sorrenti and Mark Fast, she also communicates her enviable aesthetics via the editorial spreads and protagonists of her blog Tales of Endearment.
Born and raised in Belgium, the über-talented fashion fiend began her career after a study of journalism at the University of Ghent and a stint as the personal assistant of Glenn O’Brien, style director at men’s fashion mag GQ. O’Brien introduced her to New York’s creative circles and photographer Craig McDean who took her on as a Studio Manager. In 2003, Natalie, a former model herself, founded her own casting company. She soon made her mark behind but also in front of the cameras, when Tommy Ton named her “the best dressed Casting Agent in the industry”. Nowadays, her vintage inspired ensembles not only guarantee her plenty of attention from the world’s premier fashion blogs, but also regular front row seats at international fashion shows. Always en route around the globe, travelling from one key fashion event to the next, she also contributes to name lifestyle magazines like Wallpaper, Vogue or V magazine.
At the same time, Natalie enjoys a broad range of interests that invariably keep her on the move. From office to casting to campaign shoot on set – this is her average day and life – and one she masters with flying colours. But no matter where her schedule might send her, music is always part of the equation: Every month, she devours the latest edition of Rolling Stone magazine to get new input and inspirations.
With this in mind, we asked the music-loving fashion maven about her aural inspirations and favourite records. Natalie explains: “First of all, I would like to say that this is the first time someone has interviewed me about music – I could talk and write about it for hours! Music is my life. It keeps me going. It’s my rhythm, my beat, my heart. I love singing – I actually have a bit of a singing voice! – and dancing and listening to music. I could not live without it.“
From your own perspective, how do fashion and music connect and interact? How do they influence each other?
The most obvious connection happens when artists wear specific clothing. They not only express themselves through their music, but also in the way they appear in front of their audience. Look at Florence Welch: She wears a lot of vintage and flowy gowns, which are just an extension of her sound. Or Lady Gaga – she might actually need a bit of theatre to make her music sound grander! After all, it is really just pop songs.
I also love the way designers use music for their runway shows. This season, Rick Owens beat everyone out of the water with Ima Read by Zebra Katz, a local Brooklyn band. So genius!
Could you name a particular artist, album or song that has left a huge mark on your own artistic output?
My parents listened to a lot of Marvin Gaye, The Commodores and The Supremes, all the Motown artists. I know all the lyrics and melodies by heart and I think this kind of music has really influenced my artistic approach. Even though I appreciate almost any kind of music, Soul and R&B are still the least challenging to me. I have a natural ear for the structure and sound of this genre. Last summer, I did a couple of DJ sessions and I would always open with Your Love is King by Sade – she is truly phenomenal.
Tell us about a record that conjures up the best summer of your life.
Every one of my summers has its own soundtrack. When I was 17 I went to Biarritz with my new boyfriend and his three friends. Over two days, we drove from Ghent down to the South of France listening to a lot of cassettes – Smashing Pumpkins, Black Sabbath, Faith No More, Body Count and N.W.A.
Two summers ago on Ibiza, it was Pacha records that dominated my private play list. A few months after I moved to New York, I fell in love with the lead singer of Soulwax – we bumped into each other in front of the Starbucks around the corner from the studio where he was mixing Much Against Everyone’s Advice. I played the demo on repeat the months leading up to our reunion in Belgium.
What about a record that reminds you of your first ever crush?
I guess there are two songs that remind me of my first ever boyfriend. I was only 12 at the time. He wanted to profess his love for me with a mix tape. It had all kinds of fun songs on it but he put Glenn Medeiros‘ Nothing’s Gonna Change My Love For You on it at least five times! And his name was Glenn too! He was a young DJ in Belgium, so he always had the latest tracks. My most memorable song of the time is probably Bostich by Yello (1984). It is the earliest electronic song I can remember.
If you could choose: Which song or album would you have loved to have composed yourself – and why?
The best album of all times is and remains Purple Rain by Prince. Unfortunately, I am not capable of anything that genius – because if I were, I would be a billionaire by now. Well, Prince beat me to it!
What is your soundtrack for ...
... melancholic moments?
I try not to listen to music when I am sad because I tend to start listening to the lyrics too much and then invariably identify with them. I start to think that the song has some kind of personal message, to the point where I cannot think for myself anymore.
… happy times?
When I am happy, I need music to dance to, so anything with a beat should work. Songs like Moves Like Jagger or Fame by Lady Gaga.
... cooking a meal?
I don’t really cook, but when I am home on a Sunday morning, ironing or cleaning the house, I either listen to NBC radio – they play classic tunes and disco – or Etta James or Chet Baker.
Any tips, new discoveries or recommendations concerning up-and-coming artists in 2012?
I just discovered this guy Gotye (I know, I know, I am a little bit late to the game…) and when I found out that he is Belgian like me I was really impressed! I also love Azaelia Banks – what a great song. And then there is this young kid from Miami called Cris Cab, one of Pharrell’s protégés. His music is super mellow … and he is dreamy!
So, what’s on your schedule for the future? Any events or fashion shows in the planning?
I am looking forward to a really interesting project – a photo shoot for the new Jimmy Choo 24:7 ad campaign, scheduled for production in Belgium. I will be one of the campaign’s four protagonists to be featured on the associated website. This is really exciting – I have never travelled back home for a job!
More information on Natalie Joos: www.nataliejoos.com
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