Hidden beneath a 30-second ad rests one of Salon's most entertaining articles ever: Benoit Denizet-Lewis' profile of Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Mike Jeffries — a 61-year-old man who bleaches his hair and has a thing for Herb Ritts. The leader of Abercrombie's WASPy gestapo struck us as more than a little weird, so we went to Denizet with some probing questions:
Early in the article, you admit to wearing American Eagle jeans. As AE is Abercrombie s main competitor, did this compromise your integrity while reporting? Also, what sort of hot gay dude admits to wearing American Eagle?
BDL: If I had it my way, I'd wear sweatpants to interviews. But thanks for calling me "a hot gay dude."
Well, you always have to butter up your subject. After the jump, Denizet-Lewis reveals Jeffries' "classically handsome" past and dodges our important questions.
Jeffries sounds OCD and insanely fixated on aesthetics. Could this be because he's relatively unattractive?
BDL: From what I'm told, for a long time he was a classically handsome man.
That just doesn't seem possible. I think Jeffries is secretly Jewish, was cut from the lacrosse team in 8th grade and got his ass kicked throughout high school. So he changed his name a la Ralph Lauren and the rest is history. Could this be?
BDL: Jessica, you're so "cynical."
When you were told that you looked really A&F, did you finally feel complete as a person?
BDL: That's between me and my therapist.
You re gay and have gaydar. Was Jeffries putting any blips on your screen?
BDL: Since when do gay guys automatically have gaydar? My gaydar sucks.
Pity! Then again, you also wear American Eagle jeans. Anyhow, do Abercrombie execs wear flip-flops year-round, or do they just make their salesclerks suffer?
BDL: My guess is that they wear shoes if their feet get cold.
Was this piece originally for Radar? And does Radar still owe you money?
[Denizet-Lewis declines to answer. Heh.]
[Update: He didn't mean to skip that question. Yes, he got paid by Radar. And, presumably, Salon. Cash money, B!]
When I was in high school and very stupid, I applied for a summer job at Abercrombie. I was never called back, which is like being told you're hideous. A year later, I was flipping through the sale racks and a manager approached me, out of nowhere, and asked if I wanted a job. Had something inside of me changed? Did they sense my blossoming womanhood?
BDL: A&F managers are told to approach attractive customers and ask if they have an interest in working there. The manager must have thought you looked like an "A&F girl."
Well, I was unshowered, hungover and wearing flip-flops at the time — so I guess that makes sense. Why do you think Jeffries backed out of the interview?
BDL: I can't say for sure, although I can speculate that he got nervous.
Maybe he was nervous about looking like a big 'mo. Speaking of which, if Jeffries were a flower, he d be...
BDL: A rich one.