Kanye West and Scott Schuman Share Quite a Few Similarities

Scott Schuman.
Scott Schuman. Photo: Juan Naharro Gimenez/2009 Juan Naharro Gimenez

Scott Schuman’s lengthy profile in this month’s GQ  is interesting for many reasons, but primarily because Schuman used to have a monthly page in that very magazine, which played an integral part in legitimizing his career as a style expert. (The page entailed Schuman giving detailed advice about men’s clothing like exactly how many eighths of an inch one’s French cuffs should protrude from one’s suit-jacket sleeves and whatnot, all illustrated by his own photographs.) This GQ profile boils this relationship down into two short sentences: “Before long he had his own page in GQ, also called The Sartorialist. That relationship ended in 2010, but it opened doors.”

Regardless of whatever happened between GQ and Schuman, this profile may be some attempt to patch things up, although it doesn’t hold back when it comes to a thorough portrayal. Between a fancy lunch in Florence with all of Schuman’s favorite subjects (including Kanye!) to the shows at Pitti Uomo in Milan, the piece covers a number of topics regarding Schuman’s life (oh, and Kanye). Here are the most interesting ones:

1. Kanye wants to get into photography.

“I think I’m going to start getting into photography,” he says.

“Stop,” purrs Terron Schaefer, as if this is the most perfectly goddamn delightful thing anybody has ever said out loud. “Renaissance man,” he says to Kanye.

Kanye talks about how the flash on the BlackBerry blows out people’s faces when you try to take their picture with it. He says he wants to invent a camera where the flash comes at the subject from the side, somehow. He says this to no one and everyone, as if maybe someone here will take a note, jump on this sideways-flash project immediately.

Kanye talks for most of the next hour. About the fashion writers who panned his first women’s collection, in which he paired leather booty shorts with fur as a summer look. (They were wrong.) About the architecture of Florence and what it does for a man’s understanding of how short our time is on this planet. (A lot.) Jesus. Paintings. Swords.

2. Schuman had some beef with Dolce & Gabbana for a while, but now it’s over.

Last season Dolce asked Schuman to host a party for them during Pitti Uomo, for free, and he said no — not so much because they wouldn’t pay him, he says, but because Pitti Uomo’s his busiest period and they wanted him to host a party at four o’clock in the afternoon, prime shooting time — and so they wouldn’t give him and Garance tickets to their womenswear show later that year. And then the day after that show, someone from Dolce & Gabbana actually e-mailed Schuman, he says, and asked him if he’d come to this fence-mending breakfast meeting, and Schuman didn’t even write them back …

And a month or so later, he calls me at home to make sure his gripes about D&G are contextualized, saying he’s come to understand that signiori Dolce and Gabbana themselves had nothing to do with the decision to bar him from the women’s shows after the party-hosting thing, that it was a decision made by one set of functionaries, that other functionaries have since stepped in to smooth things over, and that all is once again chic between Schuman and D&G.

3. Schuman really cares that Ron Frasch knows who he is.

Ron is Ron Frasch, the president and chief merchandising officer at Saks Incorporated. Schuman says they actually worked together years ago when Schuman was at Valentino, but Frasch didn’t pay much attention to who he was. Later on, during Schuman’s stay-at-home-dad period, they were introduced at a party. “He’s looking right over my head,” Schuman says, “and I remember thinking, I’m gonna make this fucking blog so he looks at me when I’m talking to him.”

4. Schuman sometimes says hilarious things about being good at sex when he’s had a few drinks.

The one thing I know about Schuman is that sometimes, when he’s had a few drinks, he becomes an unbelievably wonderful quote machine.

From “Sex and the Sartorialist,” written by Amy Verner, published in the Toronto Globe and Mail on July 25, 2009:

Q. You look fit — just not big like a quarterback.

A. I’m pretty good at the sex. And pretty good at picture taking. That’s about it. Garance is pretty happy. And the hotel-room neighbours are pretty pissed. You can write that; that’s totally fine with me.

Q. You want people to know you’re good in bed?

A. Yeah. Yeah.

5. We’re not the only ones who are slightly tired of hearing about Schuman’s relationship with Garance Doré.

Schuman seems genuinely butt-stupid in love with her, which does not make the numerous magazine stories about their relationship any less creepy. It is a matter of public record that Schuman encourages Garance to eat muesli with fresh raspberries and gives her face massages at bedtime “using a special oil from Kiehl’s.” Few besotted newish couples would seem any less insufferable if asked to detail their cuddle rituals for the readers of French Elle, but that doesn’t make it okay.

All in all, it’s an elaborate profile portraying a talented man navigating the uncharted waters of a deeply politicized industry. Schuman comes across as smart, resourceful, and hardworking, but also with more than a slight chip on his shoulder. (Not to bring up Kanye again, but doesn’t the comparison just make itself?)

Kanye West and Scott Schuman Share Similarities