Supermodel Karlie Kloss and influential editor Derek Blasberg are among the industry’s most successfuland buzziestof friends. The best part? They still heart STL as much as we do.
St. Louis natives and fashion industry vets Derek Blasberg and Karlie Kloss have reached a point of fashion fame that only a relative few have achieved. While Kloss is busy shooting covers for Vogue, starring in ad campaigns for Oscar de la Renta and walking the runways of fashion weeks across the globe, Blasberg is pulling triple editorial duty as editor-at-large for Harper’s Bazaar, V Magazine and VMAN, in addition to his successful career as a bestselling author and recent appointment at the internationally renowned Gagosian Gallery.
Amid their crazy-busy schedules and accomplishments, though, the fast friends and colleagues remain passionate about the burgeoning fashion scene of their beloved hometown. The pair’s Midwest upbringing—Derek graduated from Affton High School and Karlie is a Webster Groves High alum—sparked a connection from the start. Although the two grew up in nearby neighborhoods, they didn’t officially meet until they were both established on the New York fashion scene. “Everyone said I had to meet this sweet girl from St. Louis because I’d love her, and they were right,” Blasberg writes on his blog. “We were instant family—she’s the little sister I always wanted.”
It’s that innate STL loyalty that makes Kloss and Blasberg all the more charming—and it’s one of the many reasons the Saint Louis Fashion Fund has chosen the pair as the honorees at its inaugural gala on Oct. 17, which Blasberg is attending. We caught up with the two jetsetters to capture their spirited banter on life in fashion’s fast lane, STL love and everything in between.
ALIVE: What inspired you to pursue a career in the fashion industry?
Derek Blasberg: When I was growing up, I didn’t really know that fashion was the industry it is. I’m a little older than the kids today; I came of age before “Project Runway” and “America’s Next Top Model.” But when I moved to New York when I was 18, I discovered what a stylist was and what an art director was, and all the mad, wonderful people who populate this industry. And I was hooked. I knew this was what I wanted to do.
Karlie Kloss: I never anticipated a career in the fashion industry. I always aspired to follow in my father’s footsteps and go into medicine. But when I was 13, I was scouted by Jeff and Mary Clarke [of Mother Model Management] for the Threads for Hope runway show in St. Louis, and I suddenly had this opportunity to pursue a career in modeling. And I took it.
ALIVE: What is life like for you right now?
KK: Between airports, photo studios and fashion weeks—not to mention an attempt at a personal life—life is pretty hectic. But I couldn’t be happier. I feel lucky that I have a job that I love that takes me all over the world—and I get to spend so much of it with my best friend and big brother, Derek.
DB: That’s true. The Met Ball, Paris Fashion Week, Machu Picchu—we’ve been lucky to share so many amazing experiences together. People often ask me what a normal day is like for me, and I tell them the only normal thing about my days is to expect them to be abnormal. For one thing, I’m rarely in the same city for a whole week. But I’m still inspired by travel and seeing new things, so I like that.
ALIVE: What has been your most exciting trip or project recently?
DB: I went to the Virgin Galactic Spaceport last month, which was mind-blowing. Virgin is developing the first commercial flights to space, and it really is like looking into the future. The final frontier. What about you Karlie? You’ve been all over the place.
KK: Last week, I traveled to this very rural part of northern Sweden for a photo shoot in the most extraordinary and ornate tree houses in the world. Let’s just say these were not the sorts of backyard tree houses I had back in St. Louis.
ALIVE: If you were to describe yourself in three words, what would they be?
DB: Can I describe Karlie in three words? “Worth the wait.” Ha, don’t kill me! I always tease Karlie because she’s almost always a little bit late—but she’s normally traveling with her Kookies, so I let her buy me off with sweets. Karlie, what three words would you use to describe me?
KK: Loyal, loving and thoughtful.
DB: I’m blushing!
KK: But it’s true, Derek takes care of the people he loves. Or maybe that’s just me because I’m his little sister and a fellow Missourian.
ALIVE: Speaking of home, what do you miss most when you’re away?
DB: My parents know I have to make three stops every time I go home: Imo’s, Steak ‘n Shake and Ted Drewes, preferably within the first 24 hours of my arrival.
DB: When Karlie and I come home together, we’ll do all three in the same night.
ALIVE: When and how did you and Karlie meet, and how would you describe your relationship now?
DB: I had heard about Karlie before I had met her. My friend had worked with her on a Vogue shoot and kept telling me how much I would love her. Sure enough, a few weeks later I met her at a little cocktail party—and I loved her. She was so young at the time, but still as sweet as could be.
ALIVE: What major accomplishment or turning point in your career sticks out most to you now?
DB: My first job out of college was working as an assistant at Vogue, and within the first year of that job, I learned more than I did in four years of journalism school.
KK: My first New York Fashion Week was a major turning point. I was 15, and I had an exclusive to walk in the Calvin Klein show.
DB: Wasn’t that the same week you started high school?
KK: Yes, it was. I remember doing my homework with my mother backstage.
ALIVE: What would you peg as the key to your success in fashion?
KK: Hard work. I learned my work ethic from my father, who’s an ER physician. My drive always came from him. Fashion can be a fun, fabulous industry— but it’s hard work too.
DB: I’ve always credited my Midwest roots for my success. No, really. I like to say that nice people finish first. Besides, being mean is very ’90s.
ALIVE: What do you love and hate about the fashion industry?
KK: I love the creativity and the freedom, and that—in a way—it’s like a big family. I get to work with some of the most talented, creative people in the world—and they’ve become my best friends.
DB: For me, it’s the people too. Fashion is full of some of the most zany, bonkers, brilliant people. I don’t hate much about the industry, though sometimes I wish things would slow down. I don’t want to miss anything.
KK: I don’t want to miss anything either. But that’s why I follow Derek on Instagram. He doesn’t miss much!
Photo credit: Brayden Olson