Christine Quinn Takes a Lie Detector Test
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Christine Quinn Takes a Lie Detector Test

Director and concept: Thom Kerr / Executive producer: Emily Jones / Styling: Heather Picchiottino / Editor: Hayley Brown / DP: Nona Catusanu / Production designer: Robert Taylor / Interview: Mario Abad

I first met Christine Quinn at the AREA fashion show in New York, where she embodied the brand’s audacious crystal-clad aesthetic in a yellow furry bra top, tweed shorts and maximalist earrings. Photographers went nuts over it.

You won’t find any photos of her from that show on her Instagram, though.

"That was the worst hair, I remember," she says afterwards. "I was so embarrassed. I looked like the Statue of Liberty."

She’s calling from Los Angeles, finally back home after her first Fashion Month circuit. The Selling Sunset fan in me told her I enjoyed seeing her at that show in particular, especially because one of her most iconic looks from the show involved an AREA miniature diamanté chair purse.

Coat: LaQuan Smith, Dress: Atsuko Kudo, Heels: Giuseppe Zanotti, Earrings, rings and cuffs: Tiffany & Co.

"I've loved them for the longest time," she says. "That was the first show of theirs that I've been to and it was so great to see all that energy. Everything they do is so bold."

At this point in the year, she’s a regular on the fashion circuit. But for Quinn, 34, her breakthrough moment came earlier on May 22 this year, the day she arrived at Balenciaga’s Wall Street show in the New York Stock Exchange.

Sure, she had a few front row cameos already at smaller shows like Christian Siriano and The Blonds, but this was Balenciaga, darling, Kering’s fastest growing label. She took photos next to Anna Wintour, as one does when they’re about to be the next big thing. Though, her seat was actually elsewhere (she took her assigned seat when the show started).

"I think it was someone from Balenciaga who came up to me and was like, 'Hey, we really want you to meet Anna,'" she tells me of that moment. "They introduced me, and then she took off her sunglasses and we were talking for a minute. I could not tell you what I said, I was so nervous. I blacked out, but I made her laugh, so."

Jacket, corset, skirt, earrings and ring: Versace, Necklaces: Swarovski

Coat and catsuit: Robert Cavalli, Heels: Versace, Necklace and bracelets: Tiffany & Co.

Shirt and necklace: Blumarine, Earrings: Swarovski

It was there that she also met Marc Jacobs, who invited her to his intimate runway show in New York that took place just a few weeks later — a show that, unlike Balenciaga’s, hardly featured any celebrities or VIPs. Except Quinn. (Only 100 guests were invited, a very small capacity for industry standards.)

"Marc and Char [his husband] watched the show, and said they were huge fans and that they loved my personality," she says. "I was in LA at the time and I dropped everything, bought my own flight, got my own hotel. I was like, 'I'll be there.'"

Quinn’s fashion cred seemed to go up overnight. And for many fans of Selling Sunset, the Netflix real estate show that first catapulted her into public consciousness, seeing the industry embrace her felt like the ultimate reward. (Fashion’s gatekeepers have historically distanced themselves from reality TV stars.)

After all, there was no one more bold and unapologetic about her wardrobe in that show than Quinn, whose passion for clothes (and labels) was palpable. She’d walk through construction sites in full Off-White or wear Christian Louboutin stilettos while nine-months pregnant.

In many ways, Quinn’s high fashion arrival feels inherently more authentic. This is someone who has lived and breathed fashion for years. It’s as if she’s been primed for this moment ever since she started looking at magazines at the grocery store as a young girl.

"It’s been my number one passion my whole entire life," she says. "Going to shows was definitely a goal and something that I manifested. I just love fashion so much."

Top, skirt and belt: Givenchy, Chest piece: Props Master Inc., Choker: Berna Peci, Rings: Patricia Von Musulin

Top, skirt and belt: Givenchy, Chest piece: Props Master Inc., Choker: Berna Peci, Rings: Patricia Von Musulin

That’s not to say the industry was quick to work with the 5'9" entrepreneur. She describes how some major designers were initially hesitant about working with her in any capacity, whether it be loaning clothes or invites to shows, due to her background in reality TV.

One instance that particularly hit home was when a luxury Italian brand declined her request to attend the show.

"I was wearing [that brand] organically for a really long time," she says. I saw that they were showing in New York, so I had my team reach out and they said, 'I'm so sorry, we can't accommodate. We're really weary of reality stars.'"

She pauses for a bit. "It just seemed so antiquated, especially in the world we live in today where people become famous from Instagram or from reality shows or from TikTok. You look at Emma Chamberlain and now she's Vogue’s darling. I feel like because I was a reality star, I had to work so much harder to set myself apart and have people take me seriously."

If that internet-star-to-fashion-muse pipeline sounds familiar, it’s because it comes straight from the Kim Kardashian playbook. Of course, the Skims founder parlayed her virality into an empire, even though the stigma associated with reality show infamy is still a lingering effect in fashion circles.

"But I feel like we're moving away from that and people are finally understanding that it's not just movie stars, TV stars anymore who are becoming fashion darlings," she says. "It's really anyone that has style, that has confidence."

Coat: Magda Butrym, Shirt, pants, necklace and garter belt: Blumarine, Heels: Jimmy Choo, Earrings: Swarovski

Pants: Blumarine, Chest plate and collar: Heather Picchiottino Studios x Prop Masters Inc.

Bustier: Seks, Skirt: Del Core, Boots: Balenciaga, Necklace and bracelet: Swarovski, Earring: Tiffany & Co.

Just a few days after the Marc Jacobs show, Quinn's ascension into the upper echelons of fashion culminated in Paris, where this time she walked Demna’s second Haute Couture show for Balenciaga.

She was brought in for a fitting months in advance and had to sign an NDA. The night before the show, she was at a dinner in Paris with her husband, as well as the designer Jonathan Simkhai, image architect Law Roach and style provocateur Julia Fox.

"They were all like, 'Are you going to the Balenciaga show tomorrow?' And I’m all, 'Oh yeah I'm going to go and check it out, pop by.' That was really hard to keep a secret, but then everything worked out perfectly. I was finally in a place where people weren't looking at me differently. They weren't looking at a reality star anymore. They were looking at me as an individual and it was really nice."

That Paris dinner was the first time Quinn met Fox, another It-girl who’s had her own breakout year of sorts.

"I feel like her and I have so much in common because we were both, quote-unquote, the underdog," she says. "In the show, I wasn't always popular because I said what was on my mind. Her and I both have that in common because we're so honest, we're so blunt, we're so bold and we're so unafraid. We don't care if we offend someone, if we're just being ourselves. So that's what I really found so inspirational about her."

By the time Fashion Week rolled around in September, Quinn’s front row presence was ubiquitous. There she was at Proenza Schouler, where Wintour recognized her again. And at Christian Cowan, where she bantered with Saucy Santana. And at LaQuan Smith, who now counts Quinn as part of his inner fashion circle.

Jacket: Balenciaga, Dress: David Koma, Boots: Del Core, Gloves: Atsuko Kudo, Earrings: Panconesi, Choker: Bond Hardware, Cuff: Tiffany & Co, Rings: Patricia Von Musulin

Jacket: Balenciaga, Dress: David Koma, Boots: Del Core, Gloves: Atsuko Kudo, Earrings: Panconesi, Choker: Bond Hardware, Cuff: Tiffany & Co, Rings: Patricia Von Musulin

"From the moment I met Christine I was immediately captivated by her energy," Smith says. "She has this incredible light and radiance about her that I just love. Christine is unapologetically herself and that is something I am always drawn to."

Afterward she partied with Donatella Versace at the designer’s home in Milan and celebrated with Simon Porte Jacquemus in Paris at his new store. She got to meet Alessandra Rich, who was one of the first designers to dress her for Season One of Selling Sunset when she "was a nobody." At Valentino’s show she chatted with fellow outsider-turned-fashion influencer StyleNotCom. "It was really cool to see people accept me," she says.

In 2020, Quinn met stylist Kat Gosik at a photoshoot, and they worked together for her last two seasons of Selling Sunset. Up until that point she was buying and returning stuff on her own at places like Bloomingdale’s and Neiman Marcus, but staffers were increasingly starting to recognize her from the show. "I was like, 'Oh boy, this is getting risky,'" she says. So she brought on Gosik to help reach out to brands and source clothes, and she often accompanies Quinn to shows.

"Everything I wear is everything that I pick out and want," Quinn explains. "And then [Gosik] helps coordinate. I think there's a big misconception with stylists because there's a lot of people in the industry that need help and don't know what their look is. But for me, I'll send my stylist stuff and I'm like, 'I love this. Get this, reach out to this brand.' We work that way and I really like it because I know what looks good on me and she helps elevate my wardrobe."

Just a few days after our call, Quinn was back in New York again for some "jobs," including a LaQuan Smith dinner with Cash App and an Intermix launch event before jetting off to Qatar for Fashion Trust Arabia. She was excited for her first fashion campaign for Marc Jacobs handbags.

"What I really would like to do next is work with a big atelier, whether that be, I don't know, Valentino or Balenciaga," she says. "I would love to be creative in some way, shape or form where I can learn things from them and then eventually do my own line when the time is right."

Suit: Dsquared2, Shirt and tie: Costume National, Glasses: Dandy's

Happy Halloween, Bitch!


Christine Quinn
Arton Gee

Director and concept: Thom Kerr
Executive producer: Emily Jones
DP: Nona Catusanu
1st AC: JD
Gaffer: Spencer Manning
Grip: Alex Peterson
Board Op: Josh Kundert-Gibbs
Swing: Grant Chappell
SteadiCam: Qianzhi Shen
Music composer: Batt Bullard (AKA URL)
Sound designer and mixer: Camille Picchiottino
Color grading: Irving Harvey
Colorist: Jeffrey Chance
VFX: Simian Design
Editor: Hayley Brown
Screenplay: Ruby Caster and Thom Kerr
Special thanks: Brooke James
Voiceover: Thom Kerr
Voiceover supervisor: Emma Louise
Audio mixer: Ana Fernandez
Photo assistant: Dakota Harper

PAPER editor in chief: Justin Moran
PAPER editorial producer: Alyson Cox

Production designer: Robert Taylor
Art director: Ilana Portney
Construction coordinator: Cory Nelson
Set decorator: Jo Barba
Styling: Heather Picchiottino
Styling assistants: Ani Hovhannisyan, Internet X and Kayin John
Christine makeup: David Razzano (using Charlotte Tilbury)
Christine hair: Bennett Grey (using Oribe)
Jazzelle makeup: Lochie Stonehouse (using Byredo)
Jazzelle hair: Dale Delaporte (using GHD)
Nails: Juan Alvear (using OPI)
Special thanks: Jovita Lee (using Opus Beauty)

Production assistants: Raelyn Kaye, Noelle Heriveauxand Ariana Uribe