Fashion Week here in NYC. I am at the G-Star showroom interviewing Magnus Carlsen, the chess prodigy, youngest world champion and the “face” of G-Star. Here is the transcript of our conversation:
(and yes, he DOES smile if you ask him too!)
Lisette: Magnus, how did you transition from being a chess player to being a top model?
Magnus: It happened that GSTAR contacted me when they saw me playing chess on TV and they were impressed by this and they thought that chess and fashion would be an interesting and unexpected mix. They had organized a world chess challenge.
Lisette: In today’s time when everything seems to be electronic what made you choose to be the master of the old style – moving figures across a board instead of pushing a button playing a video game like Halo or World of Warcraft?
Magnus: I guess at the time I started playing chess, which was about 12 years ago, there weren’t that many good video games around and anyway I just started playing chess and I thought it was very interesting and I didn’t think of playing any video games or the likes.
Lisette: Did you start playing chess by yourself? How did you first discover chess?
Magnus: Well my father taught me the moves and I didn’t see why it would be more interesting to play video games.
Lisette: And you think the same thing today, still?
Magnus: Yeah, yeah, I like playing video games, but it’s still more fun to play chess!
Lisette: Which are your favorite jeans? And why?
Magnus: I really love the ARC pants, those are the ones I am wearing right now. They look good and fit perfectly. They are comfortable without being too baggy looking.
Lisette: Which wash? The darker? Or the more bleached out, destroyed wash?
Magnus: I probably prefer the darker wash
Lisette: The ones you’re wearing?
Lisette: You are known as a chess champion. Now you’re becoming known as a famous model. You may be the first person – and the only person – to engage in world class chess and world class modeling at the same time. How do you feel about it? They’re like two opposite things, right?
Magnus: I’m really privileged to be such a good chess player and also to be a part of GSTAR, so, both are very different worlds, of course, I’m just happy to be a part of both of them!
Lisette: And you feel like as totally confident to walk down the runway as you are confident about facing a champion while playing chess?
Magnus: Well, I don’t know, I guess I’m still much more of a chess player,
Lisette: It’s so interesting to do both….
Magnus: I’m more confident and in the comfort zone when I’m playing chess. In the fashion world, it’s still interesting to view the shows and everything else, but I’m still a bit of an outsider….
Lisette: That’s really interesting, because how old are you, 19?
Lisette: And to be a wunderkind, like I say, and go into fashion is kind of being a contradiction I see the chess player as a more introverted person, fashion is exactly the opposite. You have to be a show-off
Magnus: I think it’s probably good for me although, I don’t think I’ve changed very much
Lisette: You’re still the same kid? The thirteen year old world champion?
Magnus: Yeah, I think so
Lisette: That’s cute! Do you see any link, anything in common between chess and fashion?
Magnus: Not much! It’s really hard to find a link…..
Lisette: I was wondering about that, too!
Magnus: I think you need creativity – that’s something that goes with both, fashion and playing chess, but in general, there’s not too much of a connection.
Lisette: In chess you have to predict the opponent’s move, in fashion you predict more or less what people are going to buy next year. But you know also, I think, in chess you need to be always one step ahead of your opponent. And that goes for fashion, too.
Magnus: Yeah, for the creative side at least.
Lisette: A more personal question. You’re an international model and an international chess champion and I don’t imagine you have a lot of free time, but what do you do when you have spare time?
Magnus: I just like to be home, do some sports, just relax with some friends. Just normal stuff
Magnus: Sometimes, yes (smiling shyly)
Lisette: Who is your current favorite denim icon? It can be a man or a woman. A person who you think wears denim with the most style, or the person who knows how to carry it off best. Like you see them and go: “Oh, my God – this person really knows how to wear jeans”.
Magnus: Ah, I guess I don’t know really. I don’t have any chess heroes. In chess I’m more interested in the games. I’m still searching in fashion. I’m more interested in the product itself, rather than having an idol. It’s not the way I approach things. I don’t care so much about the people. I care about the product!
Lisette: Ok, Magnus, thank you very much!
This post is dedicated to my father, Leon Geller, who taught me how to play chess.
(pictures by Lisette)