A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to chat with television's best baddie and one of my all-time favorite fashionistas: Vanessa Williams. My time with her was limited, but it was a total treat nonetheless. After discussing "Ugly Betty's" finale (craziness ensues!), the future of the show (a musical episode is in the works!), and her new album (out June 2!), our talk quickly turned to fashion.
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Vanessa's wicked character, Wilhelmina Slater, is the editor of MODE, so she obviously has to be knowledgeable about designers and trends, but I was slightly surprised to learn that the actress/singer/activist also happens to be a style expert in real life. I suppose that shouldn't have come as a shock seeing as she's spent 25 brilliant years in the entertainment industry strutting down innumerable red carpets, attending thousands of star-studded soirees, and by simply being fabulous.
In any case, enjoy the following excerpt from my interview with Vanessa. She totally aced my fashion quiz!
Who inspires your look?
Jackie O. in the sense that the stuff she wore, the signature Gucci bag that they just reissued, is still phenomenal and fresh. I think she's phenomenal.
Favorite designer or label?
In terms of wearability, Chloe.
Do you have a personal stylist?
It depends on what it's for. Like for a photo shoot, when I know I'll have to have tons of looks, I'll definitely hire a stylist. Recently, I've been using the team that's been on the show just because we do fittings all the time. They know my body ... and I'll just say, "Get that Balenciaga dress in pink, and I know it's in aqua, so just pull that." And luckily, at this point now, I have relationships with the designers where I can say, "Matthew Williamson, can you send me over a bag of stuff?" I've always had people that I enjoy ... and been able to use their stuff for a long time.
Most fashionable city in the world?
Ummm ... I would say New York.
Favorite shopping spot, whether it's a city, neighborhood, or store?
I like Miami just because you're outside and it's international. I would say Lincoln Road.
Which article of clothing can you not live without?
A comfy sweater
What kind of clothing do you spend way too much money on?
Shoes ... oh, and probably handbags.
I have a Sergio Rossi ... I don't know whether it's python ... but it's not tobacco and it's not taupe. It's kinda somewhere in between, but it's a great neutral and it's rounded … and [has] two braided handles and it's large enough to fit stuff in but it's not huge and it's just sleek enough that it just finishes off the outfit.
Is a bag the most important accessory?
Bags are OK, but I like jewelry. An earring. A great ring or a great cuff. If you're wearing nothing or just plain black or a crisp white shirt or something, a great earring can really make the outfit.
What would you never be caught dead in?
Well, stirrup pants are back. Guess what! (Laughs) Probably knickers, which I used to wear in fifth grade and I think they were purple and orange polyester. I had two pair. They were kinda puffy and under the knee. They ain't gonna happen.
What's the biggest fashion mistake somebody can make?
Wearing stuff that doesn't fit properly. You need to check yourself in the mirror before you leave the house.
LOVE her! Don't you?
Anyway, don't forget to tune in to the season finale of "Ugly Betty" on Thursday, May 21 at 8 p.m. on ABC to see MODE's mean girl in all her glory.
- Vanessa Williams
- Ugly Betty