Among the highlights of Paris Fashion Week was the surprise appearance of Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson, in character as witless male models Derek Zoolander and Hansel McDonald. The pair crashed the Valentino runway by way of announcing they would shortly begin filming on the sequel to the cult comedy Zoolander.
This story first appeared in the April 13, 2015 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
They emerged at the end of the critically acclaimed show to the strains of The Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me,” throwing the signature “Blue Steel” look at cameras and prompting loud cheers from editors and celebrity guests including Kate Mara, Olivia Palermo and Nicky Hilton.
On his way back, Stiller grabbed a cell phone from Vine celeb Jerome Jarre, who had been planted in the front row, and filmed himself as he walked off. The actors made a quick exit after the show, but later turned up alongside Jarre in front of the Eiffel Tower, where the social media star called for fans to join them.
The runway stunt was the talk of the shows and instantly went viral—with more than 100,000 comments on Instagram within an hour, Valentino officials confirmed. Hilton called it “genius marketing.”
“Paris [her sister] was actually in Zoolander 1,” she pointed out. “Ben [Stiller] was so ahead of his time. He knew who Paris was before she became Paris Hilton.”
Later in the evening, Stiller and Wilson showed up at the Valentino after party, where they joined creative directors Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli for a jumping portrait, spoofing a scene from the original movie.
Chiuri said the actors came up with the idea for the runway appearance. “We met them, there was a good relationship,” she said. “We said, ‘Why not?’”
According to Piccioli, it was all in good fun. “We love fashion. We think that we have to have fun. I mean, that’s what fashion is for,” he said. “We work seriously, but we don’t take everything so seriously. It’s something different.”
Stiller told WWD that filming was to start in Rome this month, and that the seven-year-old Valentino documentary, The Last Emperor, inspired him to shoot the sequel in the Eternal City.
“Rome is the most cinematic environment,” the actor said.
As for Stiller, how has male modeling advanced since the original 2001 movie? “There’s been 15 years of practicing,” he said, noting that the posture is “stretched out a little bit.”
Paramount Pictures revealed the film would be released February 12, 2016. Stiller is set to direct from a script written by Justin Theroux, and Will Ferrell will apparently reprise his role as nefarious fashion designer Mugatu.
Stiller declined to say if any real fashion people might make cameos in the new movie, as the likes of Karl Lagerfeld, Tom Ford, Donatella Versace and Tommy Hilfiger did in the original. Don’t expect to see Lagerfeld, but Anna Wintour, who posed with the duo backstage at Valentino, was among those solicited to make appearances—and Stiller last fall was overheard talking with Ralph Lauren about potentially making a cameo.
And it looks like fashion’s most ubiquitous couple, Kanye West and Kim Kardashian, will be in it too. You can’t get more true to life than that.