||Main >> News Listing >> June 2004 >> Article ID 5080
| 'The clothes became more and more sexy. So did we'||Type: Internet Article|
|'The clothes became more and more sexy. So did we'||Jun 06, 2004|
The time Rocky and Louise danced the night away with good friends Christina Aguilera and Donatella Versace, backstage at Milan Fashion Week. The time Rocky spent £27,000 in Gucci, in one visit, because he could.
Read on for the whole article.
|Their line of crazily expensive slag-hippie scraps made the Mazzillis the Kings and Queens of gaudy glamour. But now Rocky, heir to the throne, has decided he's had enough of decadence and parties ... He wants to be an actor. By Polly Vernon. |
Rocky Mazzilli, frenetic, hollow-eyed glamour boy of considerable notoriety, is bored. For the past seven years he has dedicated himself to the tireless pursuit of decadence and the beau monde and the next great party, officially in the interest of promoting the family firm - upscale fashion concern Voyage - unofficially because: 'I like drinking and parties and sex! I love them!' But enough is enough. Rocky wants more. 'I have a passion,' he says. His eyes are wide, lightly kohled and sincere; his voice is nonspecific Euro-accented, on account of his Italian father and Belgian mother. His syntax is amusingly random. 'I have a talent,' he continues. 'Well, I think - I hope - I have a talent. I want to show everybody this. I want to act.'
Rocky's ambition makes some sense. His life date has played out like a preposterous soap opera, and technically, he's qualified.
Louise and Tiziano Mazzilli were successful ghost designers for a string of high-end labels Italy - including Valentino, Cerruti and Benetton - in the Eighties. In 1990, when Rocky was nine, they moved him and his sister Tatum to London, where they attempted to sell a collection or two to Joseph Ettedgui, of Joseph fame, who hesitated about the deal until Louise lost patience and decided to launch her own label and shop instead. Voyage was born. Following an inauspicious inaugural couple of seasons ('When the collection was too clean and too new and everyone hated it,' says Rocky), Louise had a creative tantrum, and threw an entire season's clothes into a washing machine with a bunch of tea bags. 'We were like: "OK, let's hope this one works, or else we'll be on the streets,"' Rocky remembers.
It worked. The resulting look - described variously as 'The New Old', 'tie-dyed hippie de luxe' and 'new bohemian' by people as revered as Suzie Menkes of the International Herald Tribune - was a wild success. The Mazzillis were flung, headlong, into a furore of parties and celebrity and sex and bitching and glamour and divorce and controversy and financial ruin and liquidation, and finally, more success again.
There was the time when Kate Moss, Madonna and Nicole Kidman were barely seen out of the original, opulent Fulham Road store. The time Naomi Campbell was ejected and banned, because she had a fight with Tatum. ('She's a model,' Rocky snapped at the press, subsequently. 'It's not like she's a superstar or anything.') There was the time Louise and Tiziano argued and argued and finally divorced. They work together better that way, they say. Tiziano lives in New York, Louise lives in London, they meet and design in Milan. The time the first incarnation of Voyage went into liquidation after the wholesale business proved unsustainable, and the press and the fashion industry (which, on a whim, had fallen firmly out of love with the Mazzillis) crowed. The time it rose, phoenix-like from the ashes, and the family rode to the launch of their brand new store in a tank (rather unfortunately, on the same day war broke out in Iraq).
There was the time they were widely referred to as 'The Addams Family of Fashion', the time Voyage's reviled and envied members-only policy on punters landed it the label 'the most pretentious shop in the world'. The time they created a speakeasy in the basement of the Conduit Street store, and Pamela Anderson attended. The time Rocky went out with Lady Victoria Hervey, who mentioned him giddily in her Sunday Times gossip column. 'He may not be the love of my life,' she wrote, 'but he is just the kind of thing you want dangling off your arm - as well as a new Balenciaga handbag, of course.' The time Rocky and Louise danced the night away with good friends Christina Aguilera and Donatella Versace, backstage at Milan Fashion Week. The time Rocky spent £27,000 in Gucci, in one visit, because he could.
It was a great life, but now Rocky is bored of it - and more crucially, aware that it's inhibiting his progression on to the boards. 'I am Voyage, I have always been Voyage, it takes a lot of work to be Voyage, and I am very proud to be Voyage,' he says. He swings his head from side to side with each 'Voyage' for added dramatic impact. 'But [the theatre] they said: "Voyage, who is this Voyage boy? Who cares about Voyage?" They wouldn't see me, they wouldn't hear me read, they wouldn't cast me!'
Rocky is therefore in the midst of a personal rebranding exercise of epic proportions. But before he renounces the parties, the booze, the celebrities, the fashion and the fabulousness, before a very specific and glittering façon de vivre dies, Rocky Mazzilli has agreed to give one last guided tour round his life.
I first meet Mazzilli in the physical incarnation of his new, ascetic and disciplined existence - the hall of a cosy church in Notting Hill. He's rehearsing for Timothy Ackroyd's production of Cocteau's Les Parents Terribles. He landed the role after a severe warning: 'Tim, he said: "I'll cast you, but you promise me, you don't get drunk, promise me you don't go into scandals, you promise me you'll work and you're not just doing it to get into the fucking papers and to be the star!"'
In the flesh, Rocky is as tall and limply elegant as his pap shots and gossip-column mentions suggested: slightly fey, slightly gothic, slightly otherworldly. But he's also much more subdued in his anxiousness, unsophisticated and puppyish in his desperation to please. He's clearly out of his element. He's by far the least experienced actor of the five-man cast, and he's well aware of it. Although he's dressed for the day, in uncharacteristic neutrals and nondescript jeans, he still looks awkward. He's shuffling round the edges of the main business, listening intently, berating himself for getting things wrong.
'I really fucked up today,' he whispers, from the corner of his too-pretty mouth, moments after we are introduced. Mazzilli over-shares constantly, as indulged fashion kids are inclined to do. Partly because he assumes that you, like everyone, must be interested, partly because he operates on the assumption everyone's quite as fun and well meaning as he is, and can therefore be trusted. 'Last night,' he continues, 'I went home and I said to my mum: "Mum, this is easy! I can do this!" Then today, I really fucked up.'
One brief hour later, Rocky Mazzilli is transformed. He's prancing jollily round the Voyage shop, an unprepossessing, plate glass-encased corner store on central London's Conduit Street. Officially, he's guiding me through the stock - the gaudy, slag-hippie scraps of absurdly expensive tiedye trashiness, which dangle from the ceiling like installation art. Actually, he's showing off. He ruffles £400 worth of diamante-encrusted vests; he swaps the top he's wearing for another in the middle of the shop floor, revealing a sprawling angel-wing tattoo as he does; he wonders about the purpose of a very small pocket attached to a tan leather belt. 'Hmmm, what could you fit in there? Apart from cocaine?'
'This,' he says, with relish, 'is what we call a bitch dress!' He's clutching a purple slip of gauziness, designed to expose maximum cleavage.
A bitch dress? 'Yeah, because when you wear it, every girl who sees you says, "Bitch."'
Watching Rocky buzz round the room, all wary indulgence to his high-octane capriciousness, is Tatum, his sister. She's propping up the elaborate, baroque-styled counter, lounging alongside the shop's lone customer (a fortysomething regular whose hair is in plaits, whose T-shirt is decorated with daisies, and who is in the habit of spending thousands of pounds at Voyage during bi-monthly visits). Tatum barely speaks, preferring to chew gum with extreme nonchalance instead. Received wisdom insists that Tatum is the hard-edged business force behind Voyage. Regardless of whether or not that's true, there isn't any mistaking Tatum's attitude of extreme power.
Having tired of the Voyage wares, Rocky settles himself into one of the store's chaises longues, and begins to tell his story.
Rocky Mazzilli, schoolboy shop assistant, became Rocky Mazzilli, all-drinking, hard-living, excess-embracing social phenomenon, at the tender age of 16. Having left school a touch early ('I hated it. I was so bad at it. Because I'm dyslexic, yes, but also... stupid') he had dedicated his life to Voyage, which was well into its first flush of success.
'But at that time, we never went out. Until this Hong Kong client, this beautiful woman, an actress called Aleen, spent £80,000 in the shop. She said, "I want to buy everything in the shop!" I served her. And she kept coming back. And she's always joking with me, she always wanted me to go out with her, drinking. I was like: "No, no, no I can't, it's a woman! Oh my God! She's probably going to drug me and sell me in China!" But my mum was like: "Go, go, she's beautiful, she's young, she's rich, she's a star, go on, you'll have fun!" And the girl was literally begging me to go out. So I gave in and said, "Fine, I'll go out with you."'
That same night, Aleen poured Rocky into a limousine, introduced him to her party (which included Jackie Chan) and took him to the Met Bar, where she got him drunk on Chinese drinking games. In the course of one night, Rocky discovered cocktails, members' bars, power socialising, beautiful people and... 'No, not sex. She told me: "Oh, you're a bit fat. You've got acne and your hair..." So after that, I started working out like crazy. I cut my hair. Aleen was beautiful, I had to be beautiful like her.'
Encouraged by the new and improved Rocky, who was in turn encouraged by Aleen, the Mazzilli family launched themselves on to the most glittering element of London's social scene. They hit it hard, with varying agendas. Rocky wanted to impress Aleen. Louise, who was in the process of divorcing Tiziano, announced: 'I like drinks, and I like boys, and I like dancing. I don't want ice-skating and the cinema and Austin Powers! Take me out!' Which Rocky did. Teetotal Tatum quickly assessed the networking and brand promotional possibilities of a social life, and started carrying a Voyage look book with her, and recruiting clients, everywhere she went. Tiziano, though estranged, realised his eccentrically beautiful family was a walking, dancing, charming, decadent ad campaign for his designs, and sent them forth in head-to-toe Voyage. 'Then the clothes became more and more sexy,' remembers Rocky, 'because we became more and more sexy. At the beginning we weren't conscious of that, but when you start going out, you're like: "Shit, I want someone to notice me!" And people began expecting a look from us. They were like: "Rocky, put on some make-up! Louise, put on something shorter, show more your breasts! Louise, sit on Rocky's lap! Tiziano, you look like a mafia boss! We love it!" And then that was it, we had our look. Like the Osbournes have their look.'
The Voyage-wearing alpha-celebrity scene embraced the Mazzillis as their own, and their progression up the social hierarchy was smooth and assured. Not even the liquidation and fall from fashion grace dented the Mazzillis' standing among the party crowd, who were among the first to champion the family business revival.
Later, when Tatum has finished styling up the lady with the plaits, and Rocky has selected 'a semibitch dress' for Frida, his 'kind-of girlfriend', Tatum locks up and we retire across Conduit Street to the perennially fashionable Sketch bar, the Mazzilli family's local. We are here for champagne, to track down Tracey Emin (another Sketch regular, who agreed to design the set for Les Parents Terribles but who has proved a little elusive subsequently) and to find Frida, the sort-of girlfriend.
Rocky first met Frida 18 months ago at the Central School of Speech and Drama, where he was studying for a year, and Frida was putting the finishing touches to an already extensive, pan-European training. Frida didn't like Rocky at first. It was only after they were cast opposite each other in a low-budget vampire flick (Rocky's only other acting gig) that they became closer. Although they don't seem to like each other enormously, even now. 'The problem with Frida,' Rocky reveals, 'is her other boyfriends. I mean, I don't mind, as long as she doesn't make them my problem.' It seems that Frida does make her other lovers Rocky's problem. Most recently, she introduced him to one particularly jealous type. Rocky had to pretend to be gay, in the interest of not getting thumped.
Frida arrives. She's beautiful in that indistinct way actors often are: she has long, long hair and the kind of versatile, pretty, nondescript features (accessorised with suspiciously pneumatic boobs) that get actors cast regularly. Rocky and Frida air kiss, and there's a palpable prickliness between them. Rocky asks Frida, who has just got a callback on her latest audition, why she gets every role she ever goes for. 'I'm a little suspicious,' he says. In retaliation, Frida says of the class she shared with Rocky and then-girlfriend Victoria Hervey: 'Of course, we were all kind of non-actors, apart from me. As for Victoria,' she adds, with undisguised disdain: 'Oh, she was a really great actress.'
Louise, Rocky, Tatum and her boyfriend Alessandro share a four-storey house on the end of a Victorian terrace in London's most genteel SW-somewhere. Its exterior is painted completely black, which caused some consternation among the neighbours, though they've grown used to it now.
The front door opens, releasing excitable dogs of various sizes out on to the doorstep, and exposing Louise, the Mazzilli matriarch, who is standing just behind it. Rocky's adored and adoring mother is a physically impressive proposition. Small and curvy and clearly quite immune to the social pressures of dressing her age, she has a pierced lip, waist-length blonde and pinkish dreadlocks, a crop top and tight white jeans which expose acres of undulating midriff. She welcomes us in French, ushers us into the fantastically ornate baroque-chic depths of her home.
During a speedy tour of the house, Rocky Mazzilli, renaissance man, shows me his artwork. It's a vast painting of a Muslim woman in a burka, who has hitched up her skirt to expose a swastika bikini wax. Rocky did it after 11 September, he explains, because he felt al-Qaeda were the new Nazis. 'It's beautiful, but after I finished, I felt a bit like a mother who had drowned her babies. It felt right at the time, but now...' It is, nonetheless, hanging on the first landing of the family staircase.
It takes around an hour and a half for the assorted Mazzillis and their lovers to get ready for the night out. After Frida has clambered into the semi-bitch dress and Rocky has changed from his thespian look into his more customary uniform of skintight leather trousers, a swirly patterned shirt over a graffiti-emblazoned T-shirt, and eyeliner ('I have two personalities. One comes out with the eyeliner'); after Louise, Tatum and Alessandro have shoehorned themselves into seven shades of Voyage sluttiness, we are running very late.
At 9pm, an SUV with tinted windows arrives to transport the Mazzillis to their 8pm reservation at fashionable restaurant Les Trois Garçons. Fortunately - predictably - the maitre d' is a close family friend, and has kept their pole-position central table for them. The Mazzillis seat themselves strategically around it, rearranging those members of their party who made it on time, according to their requirements. Louise is surrounded by her customary two boyfriends - her long-term love interest, a hip, pierced hairdresser who is responsible for her dreadlocks; and a handsome French DJ, relatively new to the Mazzilli scene. Rocky explains that his mother collects boys. 'They fight over her.' Until recently, he adds, Louise was with a very beautiful South American youth. 'She made him shave his head. When Tiziano saw that, he said: "Louise owns you now."' Which might have been the case, but sadly, Louise didn't fancy the youth so much without his hair, and ended it.
Three bawdy hours later, Tatum is sipping Diet Coke and caressing the look book in her handbag. Louise is playing her boys off against each other. Rocky is singing 'What a Feeling' from the soundtrack to Flashdance, loudly, and with passion. (Apparently, he's been asked to leave more than one establishment in the past, on account of the singing.) Frida, who clearly doesn't feel she's being paid enough attention, strategically unleashes her hair from its ponytail and ruffles it about provocatively. When even this fails to distract Rocky from the singing, Frida begins frenziedly texting a mysterious third party. The party is clearly a long way from over.
A month later, in the minuscule 60-seater Jermyn Street theatre, the final night of Les Parents Terribles is drawing to a close. It's gone pretty well. Tracey Emin did design the set, Voyage did the costumes, and the company's efforts have been modestly but consistently well received. And Rocky did OK. His accent was dubious and his inexperience was evident and he was definitely carried by his accomplished co-stars, but he wasn't completely awful by any means. He looked right, his lines flowed fluently, he's applauded enthusiastically - not least by Louise, who conducts herself in the manner of someone who has sat through the show most nights, drinking champagne and holding impromptu salons with the rest of the audience through each of the three intervals. And Rocky clearly loves it all. He takes a bow and he's incandescent and shiny eyed with the buzz. For the moment at least, Rocky Mazzilli is showing no signs of being bored.
Source: The Observer
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