Michael Roberts, former fashion and style director at Vanity Fair, has died at his home in Sicily, Italy. He was 75.
Roberts had a decades-long career in media and fashion as a photographer, illustrator and fashion editor. He served as the creative force behind many notable magazine covers, including a Tatler cover depicting designer Vivienne Westwood as former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and a Vanity Fair cover featuring a Helmut Newton image of actress Daryl Hannah blindfolded, holding two Academy Awards.
Most recently, Roberts was best known as the fashion and style director at Vanity Fair and the fashion director at The New Yorker; in both roles he worked alongside longtime collaborator Tina Brown. Throughout his career, he held various additional jobs, including as a fashion editor at The Sunday Times, style director and art director for Tatler and design director at British Vogue.
His influence extended outside of the publications he worked for. Roberts published numerous illustrated books, including “GingerNutz: The Jungle Memoir of a Model Orangutan,” which he published with Vogue’s former director Grace Coddington, which was inspired by Coddington’s 2012 memoir about her life.
Roberts also directed a documentary titled “Manolo: The Boy Who Made Shoes for Lizards,” about shoe designer Manolo Blahnik, released in 2017. It was the second collaboration for the pair: In 2016, Blahnik published a book featuring Roberts’ photographs of the designer’s shoes called “Manolo Blahnik: Fleeting Gestures and Obsessions.”
Born in England in 1948, Roberts went to art school just outside of London, where he won an illustration competition funded by advertising agency J Walter Thompson. The agency then sent Roberts to New York City, where he got his start in the industry, meeting American artist Andy Warhol and having the opportunity to publish his work in Women’s Wear Daily.
Michael Roberts: Fashion’s Mr Outspoken
After more than 30 years on the front row, former Vanity Fair fashion director Michael Roberts still takes no prisoners. Colin McDowell meets the silver-tongued commentator whose first rule of fashion is to always say what he thinks.