The fifth subject of our ‘Who The F*** Are You?’ profile is fashion doyen Carlos Souza, the longtime muse, ambassador and friend of Valentino, whose life story is the stuff that dreams are made of.
Carlos was spotted as a teenager at the Rio Carnival by Valentino, and whisked off to Europe. Now, with four decades of experience as the Global Brand Ambassador for the house of Valentino — acting as a professional conduit between the worlds of style, society and entertainment — he hasn’t for a moment lost his zest, sparkle or irresistible charm.
Living between New York, Rome and Rio, whilst seemingly never in one place for too long, Brazil-born Carlos’ resume also includes model, photographer, stylist and author.
And today he also happens to be one of Instagram’s unwitting stars, as he shares his world with abundant energy and positivity, and superlatives galore. A hashtag king — and always capital letters — with his finger concurrently on his camera shutter and on the pulse of life’s most glamorous moments.
Here we ask him the 20 questions we think get to he heart of who we are, and which we hope can offer wisdom to us all, as Carlos fires back in staccato style.
Who the f*** are you?
My name Carlos Souza, Brazilian, born in São Paulo .
How are you feeling right now?
Feeling strong. Here in Rome, Italy, where I live and work now after 12 years of NYC. The pandemic was very empowering in my case. Isolated alone with lots of gym, yoga and cooking in my place. I never stay in same city more than four or five days, always traveling to the next event for work. It was a good time to reset the clock.
Where did you grow up and what was it like?
Grew up in Brazil in a very sportive life with three siblings. I was a swimmer and diver in Sao Paolo.
What excites you?
I’ve worked in fashion for 40 years and love, love my itinerary in the field. I was a model, photographer, stylist, magazine editor. And now the author of three books with Assouline publications, ‘Carlos’s Places’, ‘Comporta Bliss’ and ‘Amalfi Coast.’ Art, music, fashion and photography are my passions.
What scares you?
I’m scared by reckless actions of governments all around the world regarding climate, inclusion, racism, civil wars, drug cartels… the list is long and getting longer. I also believe in the power of men of sane mind to mend this world. I am an eternal optimistic.
What is your proudest achievement?
My beautiful family.
What is the hardest thing you have ever done?
I always deal with problems in a good way, nothing scares me and always try a solution. Maybe I am also irresponsible? I have lots of faith in my intuitions.
Who was your greatest mentor, and what did they teach you?
Valentino for the world of fashion, with his impeccable style and way of living in the high octanes of perfection. Andy Warhol was the first to offer me pages as a photographer covering social scene and fashion for Interview Magazine when I was still a teenager. In art, Joe Eula, a fabulous illustrator showed me the marvels of colors on a paper and the passion for art was initiated. Also great friends, collectors, let me enjoy their company in the world of art galleries and actions on the top levels.
Who are your fictional and real-life heroes?
More than ever, after this ordeal of a pandemic, the real heroes are the doctors, nurses, general services, trash collectors, pharmacists and on and on…
What is your favorite item of clothing in your wardrobe?
Often my winter seasons are defined by a great coat. Have various favorites and they are all BLACK!
What music did you love when you were 13 — and do you still love it now?
I learned English singing The Mamas & The Papas’ ‘California Dreamin’ and The Beatles.
What is the most inspiring book you have ever read?
The list is long but JM Coetzee, a book called ‘Waiting for the Barbarians’, and also ‘Memoirs of Hadrien’ by Marguerite Yourcenar.
What is a movie that left a lasting impression on you?
In the past, many Federico Fellini films ( I am Italian at this point ). Especially Amarcord , Roma , Satyricon, 8 1/2.
What is your favorite word or saying?
English: Indeed (goes well in all situations)
Spanish: Ja Sta
What do you want people to say about you at your funeral?
He was fun friend to be with and an optimistic street smart ass. We will miss him.
And finally, a quickfire five favorites …
Palmeiras (Brazil soccer) Roma (Italian soccer)
Rigatoni al pomodoro basilico and mozzarella di buffala.
Barbara Sturm Serums.