At home with Louis Theroux
Interested in the insides of other people’s houses, and minds, Cloakroom is a rather intrusive interiors magazine. A memorable feature in issue two documents Louis Theroux doing mundane household things like watching television, and loading the dishwasher. One close-up of laundry fluff is captioned: “One of the small pleasures of doing the laundry is scraping lint from the lint catcher”. The last photograph is of Louis’ eyebrows: “As I get older I find my eyebrows are becoming more unruly. You can trim them but then they look trimmed. So you can’t really win”. It’s all so banal it’s almost existential — which feels like a fitting tribute to lockdown.
Another unexpected pleasure of this issue is a series of photographs of Sophia Neophitou-Apostolou’s legs. A fashion magazine editor with a thing for Alaïa shoes, Neophitou-Apostolou’s legs are disembodied, and wonderfully fleshy, modelling treasures from her collection. Cloakroom runs more conventional long-form interviews, but in comparison to this shoot, they fall flat. What this magazine does well is look sidelong at its subject. Shoes are more interesting when pictured this intimately.
On the very last page, there’s a mini-essay written by the novelist Otessa Moshfegh, about the joy of wearing other women’s coats. Moshfegh describes rootling around in the pockets: “Often I find used tissues… sometimes you can smell her BO, or you’ll find a stain on the front and think, ‘Maybe that’s why she got rid of it.’ I try to imagine the shape of this woman”.
As a piece of writing, it’s juicy and slightly disgusting. Cloakroom, at its best, achieves a similar claustrophobic closeness: it lets you imagine the shape of the people on its pages. What would Louis Theroux’s coat smell like?