It was just this summer that Carolyn Murphy left her idyllic Brentwood, CA digs for a grand return to NYC—yes, cue the Rocky soundtrack, the supermodel was getting back into the high-fashion game (not that she ever really left; call it the earned privilege of being extra-choosy). And now, cementing Murphy's don’t-call-it-a-comeback is the cover of September Vogue Italia: clad in Prada and shot by Steven Meisel (with makeup by Pat McGrath), Murphy stands out as a modern-day Hitchcock heroine in a pile of eerie rubberized masks. The issue is titled "Multifaceted Women," and, it turns out, Murphy had absolutely no idea she'd made the cover.
We caught up with the laid-back blonde (currently soaking up the last days of summer sun in Montauk) earlier this week:
“Nobody told me!” she said of the cover. “I didn't even know the story was called 'Multifaceted Women.' When I shot the story, I was so delirious because I was coming out of shooting a television show until, like, three in the morning and had slept two hours and then went right into that shoot. And, even if someone tells you it’s a cover story, you know, I don’t really believe it until I see it."
Hearing our take on the image, she said, "It's funny you say Hitchcock because that's exactly what I thought. That, and that Twilight Zone episode with the pig snouts... I love that this story has what I call a ‘good-sick’ thing to it, this twistedness to it, yet it’s quite classic... Steven [Meisel] is a genius." As for his inspiration, Murphy explained, "The concept is based on something called ‘masking,’ which I had no clue about until Steven was like, ‘You’ve gotta come see this.’ It’s a twisted hobby, it’s not something I’d be into, but I'll just say it’s fascinating.*"
Murphy continued, "They had all these prosthetics made for the shoot—masks—and I walked onto a set somewhere in New Jersey, having had no sleep, and I thought, ‘Oh my god, this is so bizarre.’ But then we started naming the masks and having fun with them... But really, the killer part of it was seeing Pat McGrath at work. It’s one thing to feel her hand on your face and feel like a living canvas, but it’s another to see her work on somebody else, or on these masks. She and her team were airbrushing them, and really bringing all these rubber faces to life. It was amazing. When you’re working with Steven and Pat and the team, you’re in good hands. There’s trust; it’s like family.”
*Note: From what we could figure out, "masking" is vaguely Silence of the Lambs-y and has to do with donning a very life-like female rubber mask (whether you happen to be female or not). To what end, we're not sure, so we, like Carolyn, will leave you to Google it out yourselves.
To see the entire editorial, subscribe to Vogue Italia.