Stylist’s Tom Gormer recalls three spectacular days in LA with Ms Minogue, then hands over to her famous fans to ask the pop icon their burning questions
It's 25 years since Kylie released her first single (The Loco-Motion, 1987). So let’s celebrate. Let’s get 25 designers to contribute to a 25-page fashion spread. And let’s do it over three days in Los Angeles. There’s a reason I sound slightly panicked. No-one ever gives you three days of their time. Never mind someone as high up the fame chain as Kylie Minogue. But she said yes. Alexandra [Fullerton], our fashion director, had the challenge of approaching fashion’s elite with an unattractive deadline that fell just after Christmas, but we soon discovered the K word had a lot of influence. Whether it was a twist on her most iconic looks or designing a totally new piece, they fell over themselves to create for Kylie; Tom Ford gave us two looks, while Roberto Cavalli spent his festive break personally making the black bejewelled mini-dress she wears in our photoshoot.
Our nerves were soothed by the fact that Kylie’s creative director and best friend of 15 years, William Baker, will be our photographer and with hair (Danilo; responsible for Gaga’s Coke can rollers and Rooney Mara’s Dragon Tattoo look) and make-up (Kabuki, who does Gaga, Gwyneth Paltrow, Marion Cotillard) booked, we’re off to LA.
On time and raring to go, Kylie greets us all with a warm handshake after being dropped off by her ridiculously good-looking boyfriend Andreas. And I know this will hardly be a surprise to you but she is tiny. Like, minute. And she’s wearing amazing Charlotte Olympia flats with cats’ faces on. And she’s Kylie. This girl doesn’t like hanging around; one of our covers (in rollers, semi-naked, holding up a Mark Fast dress with tissue between her toes) is the result of Danilo being held up by an appointment with Rooney Mara and Kylie instructing William just to start snapping anyway.
We’re shooting at famed Los Angeles architect John Lautner’s Harpel House in the Hollywood Hills. With each costume change, Kylie transforms from cute to camp to vixen. This chameleon quality is partly responsible for her career longevity, but it’s also her ability to laugh off mistakes; musical and sartorial. We’re in hysterics when she places the crownless Stephen Jones hat on her backcombed curls, conjuring memories of her first album, the first I ever bought.
I’ve loved Kylie for 25 years and when she stops mid-shoot to teach me the dance moves to Can’t Get You Out Of My Head I’m pretty sure I’ll love her for 25 more. This year she will release orchestral versions of her biggest hits (one per month) and is planning an ‘anti-tour’ (her b-sides and demos); all part of K25. It’s going to be phenomenal. She’s also the least ‘diva-like’ star I’ve worked with, her only want was decent coffee, which she got for herself from the in-studio bar. She ate lunch every day with us – nothing fancy, just chicken, salmon and cookies.
"I’ve loved Kylie for 25 years and when she stops mid-shoot to teach me the dance moves to Can’t Get You Out Of My Head I’m pretty sure I’ll love her for 25 more."
Day three and we’re all exhausted. But the pictures are amazing and we all have satisfied, if slightly tired, smiles on our faces. The next day she sends me an email saying she loved every minute and to wish us a safe flight home. Best. Email. Ever. But we’re not the only ones in love with her. Some recognisable faces wanted to ask Kylie a question too…
Naomi Campbell, supermodel
How many costume changes per show do you do when touring?
About seven or eight. I really fret about them. I’m so freaked out by everything; I just want to get out of the stalls and get going. It’s like a Formula One pit stop. I have three or four girls helping me with only a few minutes to change. The blue Showgirl costume is probably my favourite but I can’t tell you how difficult it was to perform in and even more difficult to sing in. To have that kind of corseted waist doesn’t make it easy to breathe and sing and open your diaphragm and your ribs. With the crown you have to walk like you have a book on your head. It impeded me in many ways but it was worth it.
Dame Edna Everage, @RealDameEdna, international icon
I’m tall and my height is a bit of a problem when it comes to attracting suitable arm candy. How do you keep so short?
[Laughs] Just old-fashioned gravity. I’m still waiting for my growth spurt. It’s never too late. I’m sure I’m going to end up about 4ft 10. My boyfriend is around 6ft 4, so we’ll end up communicating with walkie-talkies in the future. But I guess that’s why god invented high heels.
Rob Ryan,@IamRobRyan, artist
You stole the show at the Sydney 2000 Olympics; which British musician would you love to see opening our Olympics this year in London? (For me it has to be Elton!)
That would be appropriate; Elton is a living legend. It would be sensational. And having just seen Coldplay recently that would be spine-tingling as well. What I mostly remember from my performance at Sydney 2000 is fear. Fear, excitement, and also pride. The pride in the country was so immense at the time. To be in the stadium, centre stage and know it’s being broadcast to four billion people; it was just such an honour.
Jackie Collins, @JackieJCollins, writer
What is the sexiest quality in a man? Looks? Humour? Or being great in bed?
Can I choose a combination of all three? You definitely have to be able to laugh. I can’t imagine a relationship where you don’t get each other’s humour. Looks are lovely but I think if you’re attracted to someone you find what’s attractive in them anyway. And in the bed department, that’s a bonus… In recent times let’s say I’ve gone for the Latino type. Andreas is Spanish, Olivier was French and I had another director boyfriend [Stephane Sednaoui] who was French. The common denominator is being creative and artistic.
Caitlin Moran, @CaitlinMoran, columnist & author
When people ask you, “Do you still want to have kids/adopt kids?” do you feel like punching them in the face and shouting, “GET OUT OF MY OVARIES YOU NOSEY A*******, YOU WOULDN’T ASK PRINCE THAT”?
Well said! Yes! It’s such a personal question and between my age and being a cancer survivor, it’s a different story to when I was asked this 25 years ago. I get it; I get that people want to know and all of that but it does get boring slash annoying. I have started to refuse to answer certain questions but it took me a while to understand that this was fully acceptable. I think that confidence only comes with time.
Jo Whiley, @JoWhiley, DJ
What’s your current board game of choice? Have you ever tried Mr & Mrs or Pointless?
No, I haven’t tried them but I will take your recommendation! I love a board game, especially good old Scrabble, which the Minogue/Jones [Jones is her mother’s maiden name] clan always bust out at Christmas. There’s a dice game I’ve been introduced to in Spain called Kiriki. It’s great, fast paced, and involves tactics and poker-faced lies.
Keri-Anne Payne, @KeriAnnePayne, swimmer
If you were an Olympic athlete, what sport would you do?
In my dreams I would run the 100 metres. It’s so succinct, thrilling and iconic. I used to be sporty. Needless to say, at school things like long jump, high jump and anything involving height were not my forte. But I was pretty good at gymnastics and a zippy little netball wing attack. In my late teens I got into yoga and things like spinning and dance aerobics. Late 20s, I took up snowboarding and was heli-boarding after only two weeks (there were three guys in our group and I was not going to be the girl who couldn’t keep up!). A couple of years ago I tried something a little safer in the form of golf. My boyfriend is a keen (read borderline obsessive) golfer, so I was roped in. Actually I liked it, getting fresh air and spending time together.
Nicola Roberts, @NicolaRoberts, singer & make-up entrepreneur
Do you have any pale beauty icons, and if so, what is it about them that you admire?
For many years now, I’ve been careful in the sun. Growing up in Australia I was exposed to more than my share and we weren’t very sun-safe back then. I give myself a micro-sun tan once in a while but always, always take care. When I take a happy snap on my phone camera, my boyfriend and I always look like salt and pepper, or like we’ve been Photoshopped into the same shots as he’s got that gorgeous olive Spanish skin and I am this glow worm next to him.
Jamie Oliver, @JamieOliver, chef
We all love your music but can you cook? If so, what’s your best dish?
I’m a family joke. My brother and sister are both fantastic, natural cooks. Through the years my role has been relegated to ‘dinner table setter’. If it’s Christmas time in Australia, as in most households, the kitchen is where it’s at; everybody is in there. I’m basically chopping or clearing; I’m the help. If I was to cook it would be something really simple like salad or pasta. If you want to give me a private lesson Jamie, I’m there.
Olivia Inge, @OliviaInge, model
What is your favourite tipple?
Oooh, a beautiful red wine. Medium to full body. On special occasions Australian Penfolds Grange or Vega-Sicilia Unico from Spain. If I’m under the weather, it’s a hot toddy. The last time I went out it was after filming The Michael McIntyre Christmas Comedy Roadshow with my band. We went to a small London club that has live karaoke with a cool house band. Of course I thought I would never get up and do anything but to cut a long story short (with the addition of several festive drinks) we ended up bashing out a raucous version of Can’t Get You Out Of My Head. How good it was is another matter, but it was fun.
Emma Day, @LadyDayMakeup, make-up artist
Have you enjoyed your time living in London? [1987 to present]
I felt like a visitor in London for a long time. I started coming to record when they could write me out of Neighbours for a couple of weeks. Once I finally based myself here I still thought I would be going home soon. I truly felt part of the London scene when I started mixing with London culture. I would trawl Portobello and Camden markets for vintage finds, and go to clubs. I was exposed to so much creativity.
Gemma Cairney, @GemCairn, DJ
Have you ever mooched around the house in one of your stage outfits?
Ha, good question! Not quite with the Marigolds on, but I have spent some time wandering around in a Mr Pearl corset to wear it in. At home, the heels come off and the track pants go on. If I had a job where I was in the same uniform every day I would need an outlet for fashion but luckily I get that fix often enough, so home is the place to chill.
Julian Clary, @JuliqnClary, comedian
What’s your worst ever outfit mistake?
How long do you have?
Roberto Cavalli, @Roberto_Cavalli
After 25 years career: how can you manage to reinvent yourself to be always cool, modern, sexy, glamorous and at the same time, be the sweetest person I have ever met?
Wow, that’s very kind. I most definitely have not always been all of those things but over time, I discovered what worked for me. Part of my work as a performer is solitary, in that I am the one up there doing it, and I have to deal with all the mental and physical challenges that brings: accepting and working on my abilities, my insecurities etc and doing the best I can. But from the very beginning, working in television, I was part of a team. Everyone has their job to do and the show doesn’t happen without every part of the machine working in harmony. I guess I carried this through with me and to this day I appreciate all the work my team do to help me shine.
What is the next reincarnation of Kylie likely to be?
Hah!...how long is a piece of string???
You are sweet, but what are you like when you lose your temper?
Scarily quiet. Like the thunderstorm is coming, impending doom! It takes a lot to make me snap and there are a few who have lived to tell the tale!
Richard Nicoll, @RNicolldesigns
What is your favourite pop song both from yourself and from someone else and what is the last album you bought?
An impossible question to answer, there are so many amazing, genius, life changing songs. Just off the top of my head, a favourite is Betty Davis Eyes but it seems wrong to even say that because there are hundreds that I’ve fallen in love with again and again. They are like gifts that keep on giving because once you fall in love with a song, whenever you hear it, the love story continues. Last album I bought was by Kimbra.
Mark Fast, @MarkFastKnit
If you have time to go to fashion week, what shows will you see?
I love to see fashion shows but it’s not so much fun when you have cameras photographing you through the entire show. I should go stealth mode! Get my Anna Wintour glasses and bob and sneak in so I can just WATCH!!
Do you get many invites?
Yes, and it’s so lovely to be invited as I love fashion and I love the performance and excitement or beauty of a show. My Grandma taught me how to sew when I was young and I learnt to pattern cut and all of that. There was a time I would have loved to be a fashion designer but performing won in the end and now, I couldn’t even imagine being a fashion designer, it’s so HARD!
What has your favourite show been in recent years?
The couture show for Gaultier Paris is just extraordinary. It takes you to another place and yet he is so human. It’s such an intoxication contradiction.
Mary Katrantzou, @MaryKatrantzou
Some of your biggest hits (Spinning Around, Can't Get You Out of My Head) were songs that had originally been written for someone else. Do you believe that sometimes songwriters and the audience have a set perception of you and offer you a certain type of song or associate you with a certain style?
Definitely, a lot of songs are submitted for an album which sound like the smashes from the last one. There is validity in that because it’s something that has worked for me, even become part of my musical DNA, but it’s essential to bring something new to the equation.
Do you feel that by singing a song that had been originally written for someone else you are able to actually show yourself in a different light?
Not really because those songs were written for a pop/dance female so it’s not showcasing something that different. I am able to showcase myself in a different light with something like the Abbey Road recordings I did late last year. I reinterpreted a number of hits from my career, all in acoustic form. Some are with just one instrument and others are with a 24 piece orchestra. That was a chance to sing and perform differently.
William Baker has been incredibly influential in your career so far and responsible for some of your most iconic outfits and shows. Your meeting was quite incidental; do you ever think how your career and image would have been different if you had not met him and what it might have been like?
Yes, it was a random meeting but I think all meetings are as much random as they are fate. We’ve done some incredible work together and I can only imagine what I would have done if we hadn’t met. As much as we work together, we are still on our own journeys but it’s great to collaborate and our work together has a unique quality. What he has created and achieved is greatly admired by so many people.
QUICK FIRE EXTRAS
What does a typical night in at Kylie’s entail?
One of my favourite things, TV dinner with my boyfriend.
What is your biggest indulgence?
Travel in the pointy end of the plane.
If you’re having a tough day, what do you tell yourself to get through it?
You’ve been through worse and it will be probably BE worse than this at a later stage. Doesn’t sound like it, but it is optimism!
Are you secretly on Facebook?
No, I have a professional page but yes, I would LOVE to know what everyone is up to. It’s like the modern version of the gossip over the back fence in curlers.
What was the one moment where you thought ‘I’ve made it’
The first time I heard Locomotion on an Australian radio countdown chart at number 1! Actually it was not so much an ‘I’ve made it’ moment but I was completely shocked and elated.
What’s the biggest misconception about you?
That butter wouldn’t melt?
What is the one golden fashion rule you have learned over the years?
A safety stitch is worth the extra 5 minutes.
Kylie will be celebrating K25: 25 years of making music, with releases and events throughout 2012; kylie.com
Questions compiled by: Debbie McQuoid, photography: William Baker, Hair : Danilo for Pantene at The Wall Group, Make -up: Kabuki for Myface cosmetics, Nails: Ashlie Johnson at The Wall Group, Digital artwork: Provision Kylie shot at Milk Studios in LA