Exclusive Interview: Supermodel Hosts Usher In New Generation of 'House of Style'

mtv house of style
John Shearer/Invision for MTV.com/AP Images
Joan Smalls and Karlie Kloss
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For a generation of pre-Internet fashion and music enthusiasts, MTV's House of Style was a televised mecca, an exciting weekly portal into the world of supermodels, runway fashion and rock stars in an era where all those titanic forces were arguably at a peak. Host Cindy Crawford, in spite of her status then as an Amazonian goddess, proved a disarmingly down-to-earth personality as she interviewed guests from John Galliano (in a private Paris studio) to Will Smith (in his sneaker closet).

Such intimacy and access defined House of Style: in a pre-TMZ age, it was a way to experience celebrity humility minus the disgrace. In a behind-the-scenes romp, Gwen Stefani worked a treadmill and revealed her hand-sewn fantasy costumes to Shalom Harlow. Naomi Campbell applied her zit cream for the camera without a flinch. Candid moments became the stuff of pop legend. 

"A lot of people wouldn't say I'm a pretty girl," a teenage Kate Moss mused. House of Style was the place where fantastical culture icons became real, vulnerable and lovable. We loved it when it was on, and mourned its void when it went off the air in 2000.

Now, after a 12-year hiatus, House of Style is returning next month to a new generation of viewers – a decentralized demographic used to getting their style and fixes their own way. How will supermodels and rock stars return as relatable authority figures when Tumblr, YouTube and Pinterest make everyone a potential tastemaker? MTV is about to find out, and new supermodel House of Style hosts Karlie Kloss and Joan Smalls will navigate the mission. Rolling Stone caught up with the women by email during their busy New York Fashion Week routine to learn more.

How did the opportunity to host House of Style come about?
Karlie Kloss: My agents were approached early in the summer about the concept, and I was really excited to hear they were bringing House of Style back.

Joan Smalls: My manager and I were aware of this opportunity that House of Style was returning. We had meetings at the MTV offices, and now I am excited to host one of the most iconic programs of all time!

Had you considered hosting a TV show or appearing on fashion TV shows before this opportunity?
Smalls:
In this business you are more accessible to different opportunities. Therefore, things come up that you might have not considered but I'm surely open to.

What aspects of the original show do you admire the most and want to preserve?
Kloss: The accessibility the public had to the fashion world. It makes us excited to show our world and gives us a chance to have a voice, which is not always the case on our day job.

In terms of a viewing experience, what will be the most notable shift between the House of Style Nineties viewers knew and its new reincarnation?
Kloss: We can't comment on the concepts or what's in store just quite yet, but we think this new House of Style refresh will let us bring to light the latest and up-and-coming talent and other cool things that have been happening since the show has been dormant.

Will the rise of celebrity clothing lines be a focus?
Kloss: You'll just have to tune in and see!

What is the biggest difference between a supermodel's position in culture is now vs. in the Supers era of the Nineties?
Kloss: The main difference is how the news is distributed. Today, models are able to share industry news, trends, and communicate with fans through Twitter, Instagram and blogs. So in a way, our position as models is way more personable and relatable. House of Style was always about bringing supermodels to life – showing how we really act when we're being ourselves and goofing around. And now that everything's digital, that original HOS mission makes it easier for all models to do just that – relate to fans in a direct, fun way.

Do you have any upcoming special guests you can reveal to us?
Kloss: We can't reveal any just yet, but we think it'd be awesome to have Taylor Swift and Rihanna on at some point.

What was the biggest challenge in preparing to take on this role? Did you have to audition in any way?
Smalls: I did have to go on several meetings with the producers and do an audition tape, reading cue cards and asking questions to the public. Personally, I love a challenge.

Kloss: Throughout the summer I met with different producers for the show and the whole MTV family. They are such a talented, creative team. I think together we can make this relaunch a big hit.

How will viewers interact with and influence the content and direction of the show?
Kloss: Technology has evolved drastically and how people use it today in entertainment has expanded so much, especially since the first years of House of Style. Social media platforms will serve as important vehicles this time around, for both ourselves and our viewers.

Will this Fashion Week be included in the initial episodes of House of Style?
Smalls: Possibly. We all do love an element of surprise, don't we?

How is Fashion Week treating you?
Kloss: We are so busy for fashion week! This is an exhilarating, crazy time of year that we always look forward to. [The challenge is] to stay calm throughout all this wonderful and hectic time.

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