lara stone: when you see her, say a prayer and kiss your heart goodbye
Lara Stone's the girl that guys want to be with and girls want to be, as she sizzles on the cover of The 35th Birthday Issue and scorches across the streets of East London in our latest film, we throwback to her interview in The God's Gift Issue...
Lara Stone sits with bleached eyebrows lowered to eye level, cheeks sucked in and grunts in her direct Dutch drawl, "will you stop asking me questions about my tits?" "Oops sorry, but the world seems rather obsessed with them..." Since Lara shot with Carine Roitfeld for French Vogue three years ago, the then unknown model - who had been working for some 10 years in the game (which marks her decidedly long in the gappy tooth by fashion standards), has turned the fashion world upside down thanks to her negative attitude, her imperfect teeth and those enormous, perfectly formed and magnificent breasts.
They are a powerful force, cover stars in their own right, they could turn gay men straight, straight girls gay and hopefully mark a decided turn in the trend for skinny girls in favour of a more powerful female form, with a little meat hugging their elegant bones. Lara's shape is loud and proud, so get used to it. She is what men want to be with and what most women would want to look like, but ever since Riccardo Tisci paraded her down the catwalk to walk for Givenchy couture, debate has been fuelled by burning bras the world over, as to how, where, why and who exactly is this girl?
Born in the small village of Mierlo in the southern part of Holland, Lara was trouble with a capital T ever since she discovered her sexuality and hit puberty with a baseball bat and duly knocked out all the men in the local town, as she states rather matter of factly, "My mother tells of when I was 10 or 11 and I would wear really tight, short skirts and crop tops. All the local men would wolf whistle and stop and stare, but I didn't realise why at the time." Whether fact or fiction is by the by, because such raw, wanton sexuality - dressed up or down - cannot be contained. She is Bridget Bardot, Ursula Andress, a blonde Betty Blue era Beatrice Dalle and voluptuous 70s porn star wrapped up in one perfectly formed European package. She could've and should've been cast in early Paul Verhoeven films as the female counterpart to a rippling, blonde, thugged out Rutger Hauer.
During her formative years, Lara's interest in boys was neatly surpassed by her interest in men. "The boys in school were all too young for me." She was drawn to older men, partly she says, due to her genetic makeup and family background, "My dad is 20 years older than my mum." Lara would date men of 10, 15, 20 (even 30?) years older, but she has never been interested in the idea of a sugar daddy, this is all about unabashed, unashamed, primal lust and pure basic instinct. "Why would I want older men for their money? I can afford to pay my own rent!" It was on a family holiday in Paris where Lara was scouted with the promise of becoming a fashion model. "I was aged 13 or 14 in Paris on the subway and this woman who was married to one of the scouts in Paris asked me to be a model." This didn't faze or interest Lara. Such petty things as fashion and clothes hold little interest to her or her family, but still she entered a modelling competition and duly... lost. "Back in the day I was really skinny and really tall. So everyone would make fun of me, I had funny teeth and I was way too tall, way too skinny."
Back home at school, the three R's left grumpy old Lara somewhat bored and the devil will find work for idle hands to do. Her teachers would rally against her and upset her no end, which had the cause and effect of landing Lara in hot waters with the authorities. "I grew up in a little village, it was very boring, very small, a thousand people, I didn't get along with my teachers very well. Apparently, I was always causing trouble. I don't know what trouble I caused, it wasn't that bad. They had enough of me." Aged 16, she arrived at school only to be told to do an about turn and head on home. She had been expelled. "It wasn't one incident which led to my expulsion, more like a series of events, my teachers were rude to me, so I was rude back." She remains vague about the experience but insists it was nothing to do with fisticuffs; she is a lover, not a fighter. "I'm not a fighter. I'm not strong enough to fight."
The modelling continued and she upped sticks, left her large family and moved to Paris. Following a few years of being another jobbing, good looking girl on the modelling circuit, she switched agencies after a seven year itch and went for another casting, but this time at Givenchy, where Riccardo Tisci, (with his impeccable taste), clocked Lara and straight up speed dialled French Vogue Editor-in-Chief Carine Roitfeld, telling her of this fabulous new creature he had just discovered. "When I went to see Riccardo, he called Carine and said 'Oh my god you have to meet this girl', I met Carine, the next day we were working together and we've been working together ever since." The rest is fashion legend and history in the making. Together Carine and Lara have made some of the most potent, challenging and sexy fashion images known to man. "Carine is amazing, she's really nice, a little crazy but in a good way; she's always fun. She's definitely one of my favourite people to shoot with." During the shoot Carine bleached Lara's eyebrows, which remain a signature to this day. Even though she dyes her brows, she doesn't dye her hair. From that point on, Lara was walking 70 shows a season and shooting with the biggest photographers and stylists in the world, including Inez and Vinoodh, Terry Richardson, Mert and Marcus, Steven Meisel, Willy Vanderperre, Bruce Weber and of course, Alasdair McLellan for her i-D cover feature. "I loved shooting with Alasdair, he's such fun to work with."
Lara Stone cannot walk in high heels and is the first to admit the fact, partly down to the fact that her feet are a whole size smaller than the sample size, which is why she stomps rather than struts on the runway, more aggressor than mannequin. "I hate catwalk because 1) I'm not very good at it, 2) I'm always scared shitless and 3)... I suck at it. I cannot walk in heels. At all. I'm always completely terrified I'm going to fall over, which I did three times my first season. I fell over in London, Milan and in Paris. I had a Chanel fitting that afternoon and it was really embarrassing I was like, 'Sorry Karl', he didn't have a clue what I was talking about!" Under projected hair and make up ideals, Lara is always unmistakably Lara. She is a welcome addition in the ever-growing new Supermodel camp, along with Agyness Deyn, Jourdan Dunn, Natasha Poly, Du Juan and Raquel Zimmerman. These girls mark a welcome return to womanhood, the rise of the individual and a celebration of the female form in all its guises. A tonic in times of the weight debate, sadly, it looks like Lara's curvier shape hasn't kick started a trend. "I think it would be nice if I wasn't the only person with tits and an arse, but I am. I don't know how things are ever going to change, I agree that some girls are too skinny, but most girls are alright. I don't think I'm starting a trend because it has been about two years since I started getting covers."
Back to the subject of Lara's breasts. They are ample in comparison to normal fashion models, but decidedly average when it comes to real life. Well, most of the time as a recent over the shoulder, boulder holder buying experience attests. "My bra size differs a lot. The bra I'm wearing is a 34C but the other day I had to buy an E cup! I don't know what happened..." More often than not, Lara appears in magazines out of clothes, due to the obsession with her body but being au naturelle is something this sexpot hardly bats an eyelash at. "When I was 16, being naked was a problem, but it has never really been an issue for me. Better naked than wearing really tight corsets. I don't put myself in situations that I feel uncomfortable with, you know, someday my children are going to see this. My tits are not really that big. Next season I might go for a more dressed up Lara, like a librarian or something buttoned up." I'm sure Lara's mother (who shares her lips, but not her teeth, "no one has these teeth") would approve if she does.
"Everyday my mum looks at style.com and fashionspot.com to see my pictures. The first time she saw me naked she sent this whole big long email, that was sooo sweet. She had seen the pictures from Purple by Inez and Vinoodh of me, butt naked, stood in the studio. She was like 'Lara, if you don't want to do this, you can just say no, you can always move back home with us'. She's so sweet." Self effacing, Lara coyly says she never looks sexy, even though she constantly looks like she just crawled out of a compromising situation and claims her teeth are nothing special, a dentistry mistake and a tad yellow. "When I was little the family dentist insisted that when I grew my wisdom teeth my teeth would grow back together. Now every time I go to the dentist they always say, 'you really need to fix that gap of yours' I'm like, 'my gap is paying your dentist bills..."
Her permanent scowl betrays her inner mood, but although she may seem intimidating, a little daunting, maybe even a tad rude, the reality of the matter is, well, she is a bit of a soft boiled egg, all hard exterior with something gooey and delicious underneath, exposed as soon as you start to crack her and get a glimpse of the real Lara. "I am generally grumpy and moody, I think because I'm shy. If I'm moody then generally I don't have to talk to anyone, except if I like somebody. It always takes a while. That is why you thought I was terrifying! In reality I'm just a big wuss and a big geek." Her sometimes-abrupt turn of phrase and direct stare slips to expose the geek she was referring to when asked about her favourite films... "I really like Paris Texas, it's so intriguing and pretty and the girl is so beautiful." So far so cool, "And I really like..." go on, "no I can't say..." yes you can - "Love Actually!"
Lara is a girl with attitude, she doesn't so much as have a chip on her shoulder, more a lightly salted pack of French fries, quite lucky really seeing as pommes frites are her favourite thing to eat. "With mayonnaise not ketchup, I'm Dutch! Have you never seen Pulp Fiction?" She dresses in Rick Owens, top to toe, but would choose to wear her newly purchased Alaïa heels and a Balmain dress if going out for the evening. A lot of drinking would surely follow such proceedings, but never any dancing. "At the moment vodka is my favourite drink, with soda, it used to be whiskey for a very long time but I kept having blackouts so I switched, but I can't dance and I don't have any sense of rhythm or balance. Yesterday I was really good and went home at 1 o'clock. Today I'm planning a pub crawl because I have never been on a proper pub crawl and I want to move to London because I love pubs." Lara passes the time with one of her four iPods and likes to listen to "anything depressing. Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now is my favourite song, I'm convinced Morrissey wrote it about me," she says. After finishing her wine, we are ready to start the shoot and the topic of conversation swerves for the last time to her magnificent mammary glands. "Stop making me blush," she coyly laughs. " I sometimes think I'm too shy for my job!"
Text Ben Reardon
Photography Alasdair McLellan
Styling Jane How
From The God's Gift Issue, i-D No. 293, November 2008