The Do-It-Your self Manufacturing behind Padma Lakshmi “Style the Nation”

In “Style the Nation,” which debuted its second season this month on Hulu, Padma Lakshmi, the longtime host of the reality-television competitors “High Chef,” visits numerous immigrant communities all through the US, not solely consuming their meals, however interviewing the individuals who make it.

A lot has been written about how the present is a radical departure for meals tv, with its capability to focus on the best way historical past, reminiscence and trauma are woven by what we eat. Whether or not Ms. Lakshmi, 52, is breaking the Ramadan quick with Arab Individuals in Dearborn, Mich., or making piroshky with a queer Ukrainian-American chef, she manages to shine a highlight on how politics and tradition sit downstream from meals. Its D.I.Y., documentarian fashion — not not like earlier meals exhibits from hosts corresponding to Anthony Bourdain — manages to keep away from turning these communities and their delicacies into objects of fascination.

Much less consideration has been positioned on her look on the present. Right here, not like on “High Chef,” the previous vogue mannequin presents herself as she is: unfussily, with minimal hair and make-up, and with out a lot pageantry. In an edited interview, Ms. Lakshmi spoke about her clothes decisions, why she prefers to do her personal make-up and different aesthetic choices that go into making “Style the Nation.”

Do you assume the tradition has modified in the best way we discuss girls, particularly girls of coloration, on TV?

I’ve all the time been the identical. I’ve continued to attempt to create work for myself that’s attention-grabbing to me — as a result of that’s the best blessing you’ll be able to hope for, to do the work that you simply love and receives a commission for it. However it did take folks a while to catch up. Individuals are permitting me to be my full self, permitting me to be each an clever thinker and look good as properly. These two issues aren’t mutually unique. The foundations for me as a lady on tv are utterly completely different than they’re for my male counterparts. That may be a truth of life that I simply agree to simply accept and battle towards.

Do you assume being a former mannequin — in different phrases, being thought of historically lovely — made it simpler for the media to exoticize or stereotype you?

You don’t need to be a vogue mannequin to know precisely what I’m speaking about or what that looks like. That’s true for company girls, for girls in academia, girls in meals, girls in publishing.

In “Style the Nation” your look is fairly easy. Is that this intentional?

I wished the present to look completely different from “High Chef.” My job is to offer my platform to all of our individuals to inform their tales as they see match. I additionally wished to be comfy. In the event you’ve seen “High Chef,” that I’m in stilettos, I’m in a variety of tight sparkly clothes. However with “Style the Nation,” I wished to appear like myself. I didn’t wish to stick out like a sore thumb in these communities the place I embed myself for a few week.

What have been the opposite issues that went into your wardrobe?

My wardrobe particular person, Rachel Wirkus, doesn’t journey with me. As soon as we nail the episodes down, we glance up the climate round that point of the 12 months. And we make it possible for if I’m going fishing with former Cambodian gang members, which I did within the episode set in Lowell, Mass., that I’ve some tall gumboots. Although once I rewatched that episode, I joked that I regarded like I used to be out of an L.L. Bean catalog. However that’s by no means intentional.

You additionally put on a variety of flare denims.

I’m carrying flares as a result of we don’t have a sound division. Our sound man, Dimitri Tisseyre — who has performed nearly each episode with us from the start — is such a tyrant, but it surely’s solely as a result of he needs the present to be nice. He doesn’t wish to see that mic pack. So I’m carrying a belt round my ankle that has the mic pack. After which the wire is snaked from my ankle all the best way as much as my bra, the place the microphone is commonly hooked.

I assume you could have hair and make-up for the present?

My hair is completed by my longtime hairdresser, Jeanie Syfu, who travels with me. She is going to typically plug her curling iron into {the electrical} socket subsequent to the air-conditioning controls on the entrance dashboard. For the primary episodes of the primary season we did have a make-up artist, who was beautiful, however I felt like there have been too many individuals on set. In documentary, the much less you disturb the surroundings you’re making an attempt to seize, the higher.

Did you discover a distinction once you decreased the variety of folks within the room?

I did. It’s important to perceive, we’re driving round in solely three vans and a kind of vans is for our digicam gear, after which an S.U.V., and that’s it. There are not more than 12 or 15 folks at any given time on the highway with me. At the back of my S.U.V. is my wardrobe.

You’ve come a great distance since being described by a critic as having “come-hither poses” on “High Chef.”

There aren’t any come-hither poses. I’m simply standing there.

I discover you put on the identical jewellery repeatedly on the present.

All the jewellery you see me put on, whether or not it’s a Rolex or gold hoops, is mine. I maintain it quite simple. I often all the time put on the Saint Christopher medallion that was given to me by an outdated lover who handed away over a dozen years in the past. I additionally put on a three-stone necklace, which is one thing that my daughter and her father made for me a number of years in the past for my birthday. Dimitri [the sound person] and I’ve a continuing push and pull about that, as a result of he can all the time hear them jingling. However I don’t care as a result of in life you hear issues jingle.

I’m now remembering you took off your Rolex — and these are your phrases — “to fist” a pig you’re getting ready to cook dinner within the episode set in Tarpon Springs, Fla., the place there’s a massive Greek neighborhood.

Sure, as a result of it’s a Rolex!

It may be difficult for girls to decorate in a means that’s unobtrusive. We’re typically anticipated to look good. But when we gown down, that’s additionally remarked upon in a unfavorable vogue.

Sure, that’s proper. How do you look good with out calling consideration to your self? All of us noticed that with E. Jean’s wardrobe lately in her trial towards Donald Trump. I assumed she was masterful in the best way she dressed. I can’t conceal the truth that I’m who I’m and have a Rolex in my wardrobe. However on the similar time, I simply wish to be very approachable. Attractive and sensible, however easy.

Supply hyperlink

Related Articles


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Stay Connected

- Advertisement -spot_img

Latest Articles