Israeli-born model Bar Refaeli visits everything from Las Vegas wedding chapels to Manhattan’s Museum of Sex for Tommy Hilfiger’s TV show “Ironic Iconic America,” which premieres on Bravo tonight. The one-hour program, which is based on his coffee-table book “Iconic America: A Roller-Coaster Ride Through the Eye-Popping Panorama of American Pop Culture,” is a tour of America’s finest food, fashion design and culture from New York to Newport Beach, with Refaeli and “Def Comedy Jam” artist Rives as curators. After cruising the country in a classic Cadillac convertible, hitting locations including the Necco Sweetheart Candy Factory in Massachusetts and Independence Hall in Philadelphia, WWD caught up with Refaeli on location as she gathered with teenagers getting ready for prom night in South Orange, N.J.
WWD: What did you hope to learn from this project?
Bar Refaeli: I was hoping to learn history. The interesting thing about it was I thought I knew [about America] because I went to museums. Or, for example, in Los Angeles to see things like Boulevard of the Stars, and Universal Studios, and all the places that are more generic in each state. But from this I wanted to learn about real American history, not only from art or from things that are special to the place, but real history, iconic American things.
This story first appeared in the October 3, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
WWD: What were some of the highlights from your travels? Start with L.A.
B.R.: We went to the Eames House [in the Pacific Palisades]. That was very special to me because, in my house in Israel, my dad has been obsessed with Eames chairs since I was a little girl.
We went to Venice [Calif.]. I go there very often, but we went to a public graffiti wall where you can do graffiti, which I never knew existed. I’ve passed by it so many times, but I never knew the story.
WWD: What have you learned about the American tradition of prom?
B.R.: It’s one of the things that I’m more excited about with this show. First off, it’s a thing that’s very girly. It’s something that I connect with. Growing up watching American films, or “chick flicks,” there’s always a prom. In Israel, we had a party, but when we graduated we never had it with a date or that flower thing you put on your arm. So it’s really special. I was sitting outside and I saw the guy and the girl come in and I was like, “Wow, he’s actually wearing a suit.” In Israel, nobody wears a suit unless your older brother gets married when you are young.
WWD: What other trivia have you picked up as you filmed the show?
B.R.: Where stuff was invented and why and by whom and how long ago. I [asked] my mom, “Guess what [is] the longest word you can type on the top of a keyboard?” Typewriter. It’s only in the top row. So when the typewriter came out so people would be able to sell it, they’d go to the house and say, “Look how easy it is to type typewriter.”
WWD: Were there any New York American icons you remember?
B.R.: We went to Serendipity and we ate a $1,000 sundae. It was like gold and s–t, with caviar.
WWD: That must have been good.
B.R.: It was OK. I still like Mister Softee better, but it was very interesting.