John Waters Brushes Up for the Fashion Spotlight

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly

c.2014 New York Times News Service

If John Waters, the famously dubbed Pope of Trash, does not strike every guest at Monday’s Council of Fashion Designers of America awards show as an entirely obvious choice of host, he has news for these doubters.

“I do follow fashion! I get all the magazines,” he said from Baltimore. “My favorite thing is to read Women’s Wear Daily the day after a national disaster.”

After just a split-second of merry pause, he explained: “Because they cover it from a fashion viewpoint. Which is what they should be doing.”

Waters comes to host duties after attending the awards in 2012, to accept on behalf of two absentee honorees, Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons (whose clothes he wears often and to whom he dedicated a full chapter of his book “Role Models”) and Johnny Depp (the star, early in his career, of Waters’ ‘50s greaser sendup “Cry-Baby”). He follows in the footsteps of Andy Cohen, last year’s host, and Seth Meyers before him.

He is indeed not the beneficiary of stunt casting. He brims with twisted, Watersian ideas about fashion. He’s campaigning for a remake of “Mahogany” starring Lupita Nyong’o and Tom Ford. He’ll have the opportunity to pitch it to both: Ford is receiving the evening’s lifetime achievement award; Nyong’o is presenting the award for womenswear designer of the year.

After this, he’ll hit the road for a nationwide book tour promoting “Carsick,” his first-person account of hitchhiking from his home in Baltimore to his home in San Francisco. He had not, at the time of speaking, ruled out thumbing his way down to Alice Tully Hall for the awards ceremony.

Longtime Guest, First-Time Host

I was on it two years ago. I accepted for Rei Kawakubo and Johnny Depp, and I believe that got me the job. The main reason I’m doing it is, I’ve always wanted to do the Maybelline commercial, because of my mustache, which is heavily put-on with that. So I’m hoping someone there in the fashion world gets me a job.

Currying Favor

I think people should be out campaigning for these, like they do for the Oscars, but no one seems to. I wish they would — because Wes Gordon looks like Chet Baker. I read that he wants his women to look like they could beat you up. I think he should attack, physically assault people from fashion. There are lots of ways to get noticed this year.

Battle of the Icons

I’m thrilled Rihanna’s getting the Fashion Icon award this year, because she’s one of the hardest working models in show business. I always thought that she and Lady Gaga should have a quick-change contest and see who wins. Who could do it faster?

A Presidential Quality

Diane von Furstenberg (the president of the council), she is my kind of gal. I’ll always remember this: I went with a friend on Broadway to see “Long Day’s Journey Into Night,” which is, what, five hours long or something, right? There was one empty seat next to me, and it was Diane. I love that she saw, alone, “Long Day’s Journey into Night.” That is a woman with confidence.

Free Advice

I’ve always wanted to give my ideas to other designers. Even Thom Browne. I want to go in business with him. I want him to do a line of Halloween costumes, children’s Halloween costumes for baby boomer adults to wear every day. Don’t you think that would work? Brooks Brothers meets Captain Hook? Peck & Peck meets Maleficent? I delight in the extremes of fashion.

Less Is More

I think we should give awards for best knockoff and best thrift shop. They do inspire people. Best thrift shop would be Goodwill — before the day they took credit cards for the first time, which ruined everything.

See You at the After-Party?

I don’t know, if I’m invited. After 30, you can’t crash. And you can’t blame your parents. And it is true that if you remember it the first time around, you’re too old to wear it again.