This special end-of-summer edition of Fashion News is dedicated to summer 2019’s ultimate seduction: the celebrity yacht hang.
Was every celebrity in the world on a boat this summer? It certainly seemed that way. David Geffen’s Instagram provided us with regular dispatches of Karlie Kloss, Katy Perry, Oprah Winfrey, and Jeff Bezos aboard his boat Rising Sun. Fellow zillionaire Barry Diller, meanwhile, was photographed going ashore with Harry Styles for “Google summer camp,” where they reportedly linked up with Leonardo di Caprio and Prince Harry. Over the past two months, movie stars, musicians, and moguls have come and gone between Diller and Geffen’s yachts like children whose parents divorced amicably (Diller and Geffen, as the latter wrote on Instagram earlier this year, are “pals”).
Celebrity yacht season happens every July and August, but it seemed to hit a strange new fever pitch this year. Two paparazzi on the Ibiza-Positano-Capri circuit told me that they haven’t noticed more photographers among their rank than usual this summer, but perhaps the tabloids are upping their coverage—or maybe Geffen and Diller are getting more experimental (and social media-baiting) with their guest lists. The images of Bradley Cooper, his nose zebra-striped with zinc like a nerdy ’80s lifeguard, hoisting Katy Perry into a dinghy as Diller, Oprah, and Gayle King looked on, were so irresistibly strange in their combination of personalities and implied intimacy that they instantly entered into the paparazzi photo hall of fame. This summer, what happened on the yacht did not even remotely stay on the yacht.
That’s what makes David Geffen’s Instagram so compelling. The music industry mogul is the signature face of the celebrity yacht hang, spending the summer shuttling between Mallorca and Ibiza in Spain and Capri on Rising Sun, his 454-foot yacht that has a crew of 45 people as well as a gym, movie theatre, swimming pool, and basketball court. (Geffen bought the boat from Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, who reportedly sold it after deciding it was too large.) Rising Sun accommodates 18 guests, with Geffen the only constant; like Diller, he has the rare sort of social reach that can bring tabloid-selling figures like Perry and her fiance Orlando Bloom together with model Karlie Kloss and her businessman husband Josh Kushner (of those Kushners)—along with Jeff Bezos and his new girlfriend Lauren Sanchez, or Goldman Sachs Senior Chairman Lloyd Blankfein (the Goldman Sachs honcho who’s not the DJ does a yacht hang—nice!).
Geffen’s yacht and Instagram tell us things a magazine profile or mere paparazzi images could never reveal, uncovering unexpected friendships and summoning a dishy conspiratorial aura. What did Blankfein and Karlie Kloss talk about? Do Geffen and Perry exchange business advice or just talk about, like, the news? (And wow, she has terrific skin!) Geffen was spotted with Bezos, in his Prada sandals, squiring new girlfriend Lauren Sanchez around Portofino. Was it on the Rising Sun that Bezos struck up the friendship with Katy Perry that led them to attend a Lil Nas X concert in the United States together earlier this week?
You hear rumors and lore of celebrity’s finstas—Instagram accounts where they’ll post private, more personal photos and thoughts—but Geffen’s public Instagram works like a finsta unlocked, exposing us to celebrity life ungroomed and unphotoshopped. What’s remarkable is that the celebrity yacht guests retain all the glamour: there’s a real European nonchalance to all of it, everyone with a sloppy tan, a little sweaty in the Mediterranean air, wearing as much or as little clothing as they care to put on. Here are celebrities at their most primordial, suggesting there really is something that makes them not “just like us.” They look like a posse of winged Victories or Venuses emerging from the sea. The appeal is undeniable.
This summer, yacht hangs weren’t only for the establishment-billionaire-adjacent. Kylie Jenner, newly a billionaire herself, got in on the action, too. Earlier this month, the Kardashian-Jenners, who prove that anything can be democratized if you have enough money, gathered on Tranquility, a 300-foot yacht Kylie Jenner rented for her 22nd birthday for a reported $1.2 million per week. Her friends and family formed a carbon copy of the Geffen-Diller constellation, except with graffitti rainbow hair. Again, the irresistible combinations emerged immediately: Kris Jenner bonded with Sofia Richie (girlfriend of Scott Disick, former boyfriend to Jenner’s daughter Kourtney, who was on the other side of the planet in Los Angeles having matchas with Not-Disick designer Simon Porte Jacquemus) over their mutual love of Chanel. Kylie clad herself in a fake French milkmaid outfit; Travis Scott stole Kanye West’s blouse. And as her yacht-bound predecessors seem to understand, she knew that a good boat hang is nothing without the Instagram receipts.
The point of a yacht is, or maybe was, its promise of discretion—a private universe that ferries you from place to place while giving you the chance to mingle with the hoi polloi for a few moments. Or is the point, now, to let the hoi polloi mingle with you for the whole trip via Instagram? Either way, we’re all aboard.
Originally Appeared on GQ