Flare April 2001

When Milla Met Miles
by Miles Roberts, photography by Armando Gallo

The debonaire fashionista discovered that the gamine star shared his passion for vintage. So, they went shopping . . .

I should probably begin by introducing myself. My name is Miles Roberts, I am the cohost of Bella (a style show on WTN) and I love fashion. I have made, modeled, bought (at full price and on sale), sold, desired, loved, made love in and on - everything but made love to - clothes. They are a constant source of pleasure and inspiration to me.

This particular adventure begins with a '70s, military-inspired, winter-white Yves Saint Laurent coat I found for $30. Bored one Thursday night, I threw it on and headed along College Street in Toronto. I walked into Teatro (one of my choice eateries) and was greeted by compliments and smiling faces. It did take a second before I realized that one was Milla Jovovich (yes, her - the model, actor, singer, spokesperson, who was in town filming the movie You Stupid Man). She loved the coat and began telling me how she loved vintage and was in the process of recycling antique wedding dresses and creating pieces herself. This was all sounding very cool to me, so I offered to take her to my fave little spot. I knew she was busy, but someone from production exchanged numbers with me and said they'd be in touch.

Throughout the week, there were many phone calls back and forth between the production woman, her assistant and myself, trying to coordinate a time that would gel between Milla's shooting schedule and shopping hours. By the following Friday, we had made a tentative plan, but there was a promo shoot for the movie going on so I didn't think it was going to happen. I was right.

I received a call the next day, inviting me for a post-dinner drink at Rain, a new Toronto restaurant/bar, and an apology about all the changes. I entered Rain (wearing the YSL coat for luck) to find Milla with the movie's cast and director. She looked great in a bias-cut jersey skirt in dark stripes, a white jersey camisole that had a floral appliqué at the base of one strap, simple makeup, diamanté drop earrings, a Dior saddlebag and sky-high strappy shoes. And all capped with that killer smile. After introducing me to Denise Richards (of Wild Things and recent James Bond fame), who is also in the movie, we found Milla's sister and friends. Milla was heading home early but really wanted to hook up the following day.

I stayed at Rain with Natalia Jovovich, Milla's younger, very sweet sister/cousin/assistant (I'm still not sure which she is) [Colin's note: cousin] - herself a lanky, dark-haired beauty with almond eyes and a heart-shaped face. Needless to say, like Milla, Natalia was dressed for fun. She wore hip-slung flannel trousers with red piping down the side and a vicious pair of Sonia Rykiel pink patent ankle boots with iridescent heels, topped with a jersey camisole with lace inserts and an amazing gold lace collar. It was sensational the way it dripped over her shoulders, pooling and fluttering like fairy wings behind her. We went out to a club and had a really good time. The friends who had joined us were not only a riot but they were interesting. One was an actor who was working on the same film as Milla. The other was a Canadian who produced animation in L.A.

The story continues. And I hadn't been near a boutique with Milla as of yet. But that does bring us to the day. I get in touch with Natalia and we all plan to meet in late afternoon. (She and Milla shop as a team and wear the same size.) Well, what to wear on a Sunday afternoon vintage spree with Milla? I decided to stick with a chic and simple navy sailor's pant, a chocolate ribbed turtleneck, my navy Carnaby Street '60s blazer and, of course, my killer vintage tweed coat with a caramel borg collar. I definitely didn't want to look forced.

I had to admit that the weeklong buildup had me piqued. I was dying to see what Milla would choose at the shop and why. When I arrived at the café on Bloor Street, I found them in the smokers' enclosure, Natalia hidden behind some huge Fendi shades and donning a daywear version of last night's outfit. Milla had done her hair in a horn-like twist that was really '40s-looking. The only makeup she was wearing was a little colour on her lips and mascara - very fresh looking. For a shopping ensemble, she was sporting a long version of the frosty pink-green-pastel tweed Chanel jacket that had a ruffel trim at the cuffs and on the pockets with a pair of super-flared boot-cut jeans and the mad pink patent ankle boots Natalia had sported, with a tiny camisole. Oh, and lest I forget, a red Fendi saddlebag with a Diamanté logo. It was time for some shopping.

First, Milla had to stop by the hotel. It was here that we ran into our Canadian friend from last night, who discovered that he had left his credit card at the club we were at. Luckily, I knew the owner, so we called to get it back. While we waited, he shared two insane stories of escaping death by plane. I took the opportunity to rub his forehead for luck. He, obviously, had it to spare. Milla returned, ready to shop. In the cab, with a wicked glint in her eye, she said she hoped the store was ready because they planned to turn it upside down. I told her that this particular spot was mad and already upside down. Taken as a challenge, Milla said that they would set it straight for her. She relayed a bartering event that had taken place at a local high-end vintage shop known for extreme pricing. She had conquered that beast.

We arrived to an almost-empty store, which was good, because it's tiny. Within seconds, I'd introduced Milla and Natalia to the owner and they found a place for their coats and handbags. Milla went directly to an old oak case full of treasures while Natalia stalked out the rack of coats and dresses. I have seen some serious shopping in my time - but these two were wild. Rack by rack and piece by piece, they systematically scoured the store. Dresses that were beautiful or had great details were praised and piled. They moved quickly and, while having fun, were focused. They chose antique laces, Victorian collars, '40s dresses and an armful of shawls, especially those with a metallic sheen. There was a lot of excitement over the array of beaded pieces of all eras that were to be cut up for details or worn whole. Half an hour into it, the shop owner was trying to work her way through a pile as the final picks and last discoveries were made: a couple of cute metallic leather pouches ('70s), some hats and "Oooh, that's cute" jewelry. By the time everything was totaled, there was quite a load. We packed up and I escorted them to their hotel. While chatting on the way, Milla told me she would show me a few of the things they had already started working on. There was one in particular that she wanted to try on so I could see.

By the time we reached the hotel, Milla was deciding whether to dry-clean or directly ship her finds to her next home. We leave the bags with the bellhop and head up to the room. We celebrate with a little champagne. Then, Milla tries on her creation. It was a shiny jersey-and-lace, late '70s/early '80s wedding dress. It had a camisole-shaped bodice with fairly wide lace straps. The tiered skirt had been severely cut away asymmetrically, then pinned and ruched. The end result, worn over the boot-cut jeans and heels, one strap down, was Daisy Mae-meets-Galliano. As Milla strode to the mirror, leading with denim and trailing lace, I had to grin. I couldn't see this on many people, but she looked delicious. We agreed it would kill onstage. Then, she showed me a micromini in a printed satiny fabric that she had draped with antique lace, once again heavily weighted to one side. Beautiful things that were very much her own style.

As we finished our drinks, listening to Gary Numan, with Milla strumming along on guitar, the phone rang. Someone she has been jamming with is in town. This girl likes to keep things moving, that is obvious, and the time's come to leave. I thank both Milla and Natalia for their time and kiss them goodbye. As I leave the hotel lobby, remembering my adventure, the excitement and the fun, I couldn't stop myself from thinking: "Never underestimate a great buy." That YSL coat paid for itself tenfold.

P.S. Yes, she does look good in real life.