Thursday, August 18, 2011


Elettra Wiedemann is The Hottest Girl in Town

Elettra and I having coffee at Morandi

I love talking to models and interviewing them for this blog because not only have they had amazing international lives and careers opening their minds and hearts to a much more expansive world than many people, but also because they have seen so many beautiful clothes and fabrics, played with proportions and aesthetics, walked down fantasy catwalks and spent hours on extraordinary sets that their eyes are naturally and artistically trained to put together great interiors and unusual, funky combinations of high and low, vintage and new, combinations that I so love to do in my own projects.

Elettra Wiedemann is a hot commodity these days: she comes from a royal lineage; the daughter of the beautiful and accomplished Isabella Rossellini and the granddaughter of one of the greatest actresses of all times, Ingrid Bergman, who, among many other movies, co-starred in Casablanca with Humphrey Bogart (it really doesn’t get any more glamorous than that).  She’s the new face of Lancôme, went to the Met Ball this year wearing one of her grandmother’s dresses, reinvented by Prabal Gurung, was recently selected by Ferragamo to represent the house's first online trunk show and this week she’s on the cover of New York Magazine  …Wow!

 Mother and daughter on the cover of  New York Magazine's 2011 Fall Fashion Edition

She is one of those people that I feel that I have known forever. It may be because she’s welcoming, easy going, down to earth, smart and funny.  I love her style, her honesty and authenticity.  Elettra is proud of her background, but she is a force of nature on her own, and after all, it’s so cliché-y to talk about her family that we don’t even go there…

Elettra is a born and bred New Yorker who, besides accumulating some serious degrees (New School, London School of Economics), has also been modeling since 2003. She established a charity with her fiancé, James Marshall, called One Frickin Day, which takes small projects that are attainable and have an end in sight, like electrifying clinics in Burundi, Haiti and Rwanda, projects that get funded by asking supporters to donate just one (frickin’) day of their salary. 

 Elettra's collection of photography.  Images by Claiborne Swanson Frank for

She has such fierceness, grace and determination that she tells me that she is absolutely not attached to material things, nor places… to the extent that her luggage was stolen a couple of weeks ago during a family vacation in Iceland and inside she had clothes, a great camera, shoes, vintage finds (imagine the luggage of a supermodel) and she just says: “whatever, what am I going to do?”

Elettra and James' living room on their West 11th apartment.  Images by Claiborne Swanson Frank for

Likewise, I asked her about her beautiful and cozy apartment which was recently photographed for a feature of APT with LSD and she says that since she has travelled so much in the past few years, she has never been  much in the same place, but with the engagement to James and the apartment on West 11th street that she had bought a while ago, there was a need to settle down and to have a home. 

Although Elettra is “new” to decorating, as she says, her great taste and her international model “eye” are easily identified throughout.  The apartment is inundated with style: vintage finds, gorgeous personal and intimate photography including some with her mom in Moscow, shot by Brigitte Lacombe, antiques from one of her favorite places in NYC (David Duncan Antiques and a brand new, beautiful and special painting that her fiancé got for her: a Hawaiian Sunset by artist Eric Tore, a painting that changes colors depending on the light, which Elettra discovered in Maui and got mesmerized by. These things, the authentic ones, the ones with emotional value and connection are the ones that Elettra treasures in her life. 

 Elettra and James hanging out at home. Images by Claiborne Swanson Frank for

By the same token, being authentic and unique is the advice that she gives to people: finding one’s style whether it is in fashion or decorating and sticking to it, regardless of what people think, is much more respectful than just copying somebody else or following what others expect, so as to be a fit.  “Stick to your guns” she repeats, and I happen to agree, since conformity has never been my thing either.  In Greek, Elettra means “shining, bright and radiant” and what a perfect name for her that is!