For this issue, we’ve fed our own personal obsessions with the hit TV series Succession and brought you a double whammy.
First up, we’re incredibly privileged to have the brilliant Nicole Ansari Cox; director, actor, producer, wife of Brian Cox, aka Logan Roy, but most importantly activist for women’s rights in Iran. Nicole’s professional life began in her teens as an actor on German television, where she went on to take multiple leading roles in public theatres, arthouse movies and TV shows including HBOs Deadwood.
Nicole, is half Iranian and is a prominent figure continuing to raise awareness of the plight of Women in Iran.
Secondly, we have the inimitable Venk Modur, stylist to both Brian and Nicole amongst many others, including the writer & director Nisha Ganatra. Venk is an LA based celebrity stylist and costume designer; his aesthetic combining fashion with cultural significance, and he’s mastered the art of styling on different skin tones and body shapes. His clients have been featured on the Academy Awards red carpet, Vanity Fair and numerous’ best dressed lists. For him, it's about more than just fashion; it's about helping someone shape their identity through the power of fashion.
We caught up with Nicole over Zoom whilst she was under sunny New York skies and fresh back from the Succession premier earlier that week… and Venk whilst he was in the throes of Brian Cox’s Succession press tour.
WHERE DO YOU LOOK FOR INSPIRATION?
Everywhere. It sometimes comes completely from leftfield. I can talk to a builder and get an idea for something. I get inspired by just living in the moment I think.
IS THERE ONE PIECE OF ADVICE YOU TRY TO LIVE BY?
'Use your faults, use your defects'. Grace Jones credits it to Édith Piaf and finishes the phrase with 'then you’ll be a star.' It always struck me: what are my flaws that I can use to my advantage?
I think what this quote alludes to is not necessarily being a star as in a Hollywood movie star, but being grounded in who you are and becoming the star of your life. We used to look up at stars to guide us in terms of where we are in space. Now we have Google Maps. But ultimately, you need a bit of stardust, and I think we can find that when we use what might have looked like a disadvantage at first.
WHAT'S THE KEY TO UNDERSTANDING PEOPLE?
Through empathy. Understanding that we are not separate but that we are the same. And I think really giving people the time of day. Being present. Goes back to presence really.
WHAT'S YOUR WEIRDEST OBSESSION?
Oh wow, that’s a difficult one. Maybe the obsessive way that I load my dishwasher. It has to be a certain way. I use maximum space and it has to look elegant, it can’t be all messy. Spoons with the spoons. Knives with knives. Forks with the forks. I do think this is a weird obsession thinking about it...
WHAT'S BEEN THE BIGGEST LIGHTBULB MOMENT IN YOUR CAREER SO FAR?
It was around 2015, I was at rock bottom. I’d tried multiple career paths; from acting to producing to being an executive assistant, not really succeeding or being remarkably good at any of them. I was teaching, or at least attempting to and really feeling at my lowest. I was miserable. I was not born to be a teacher.
When Nisha (Ganatra) called me, I’d been her comically bad assistant - but one night she’d asked me to style her for an awards ceremony. I’d had some retail experience at Ralph and I was always obsessed with fashion so I gave it a go, and it turned out super well.
Cut to a few years later, Nisha called me having remembered that moment and asked me to be her stylist permanently and doors opened from there. I didn’t realise what a life changing moment that would be on so many levels.
I got connected to Brian Cox and I’ve now been styling him and his wife for years as well as a huge roster of clients I’m super proud of.
I had come to LA intending on doing one thing. You have this idea of your life and when things aren’t going your way, you equate it to being a failure. But what I realised is, failure is not a taboo. You can fail multiple times and get it right later. There’s freedom in failure.
WHERE DO YOU LOOK FOR INSPIRATION?
Film. I fell in love with film. Film costume has really inspired me. I was really picked on as a youth; in elementary, middle, high school. So when I transferred to go to a private school I would watch My So Called Life... and wonder why they were all so sad and drab and boring.
Then I watched Clueless; the colour and the brightness was really a tipping point for me.
I’ve always been inspired by fashion too. At high school I really began stepping into it; I bought Versace, when everyone else was wearing Abercrombie & Fitch.
I’ve always been inspired by GQ and Vogue and Vanity Fair. I had a love affair with Ralph even before I started working there. I loved the world of fashion and what it could do, how it could make you feel and how it could change the way you feel about yourself.
My clients are my inspiration too. We have conversations so I can really get to know them, and as I do we experiment together and I just know what will work and what won’t. It's a true collaboration.
WHAT'S YOUR WEIRDEST OBSESSION?
I love watching TikTok videos of cow hoof maintenance. I am obsessed with veterinary TikTok. VetTok. I love TikTok and the fact that people are real.
There’s a Brit, a Scot, and all these cows walking around with splinters so they will clean it up and shave it and remove things and use this tool. It's so fascinating. It's so weird.
WHAT'S ONE PIECE OF ADVICE YOU LIVE BY?
Listen. When I first started, I would create mood boards for clients but I didn’t get clients that way; I was trying to tell them what to wear, and I didn’t even know them yet. I just stopped talking and started listening and that made all the difference.
You have to get to know people and build rapport. I think it's true for anything you do in life.
WHAT DO YOU THINK THE KEY TO UNDERSTANDING PEOPLE IS?
Listening to who someone is, what their story is, is the only way to understand someone.
BECAUSE IT'S THE LAST AND FINAL SUCCESSION SEASON (*WEEPS*), TELL US WHAT IT'S LIKE TO STYLE THE BRIAN COX?
It has been so gratifying to style Brian because he is so open to trying different looks. He is adventurous. An individual willing to try anything is a stylist’s dream.
I started working with him at the tail end of 2019. I knew his manager, who connected us both, to help prep him for all of the awards seasons. That year he won.
With me and Brian its a relationship that has been very simple and easy because he’s game. He knows what he likes. He has a “I don’t give a fuck attitude”. He talked about it in an interview with Kimmel; when Kimmel asked him about a shirt he was wearing, he simply said: “I do what I want”. Which makes my job easy.