Hosting Viceland’s States of Undress series has given the former Miu Miu model a crash course in globe-trotting and investigative reporting. In season 2, Gates continues her exploration of cultural issues, fashion, and women’s rights through a distinctly American lens.
Home: New York City
How you know her: As host of States of Undress on Viceland, Gates uses fashion as a starting point to examine women's rights and socioeconomic issues, sometimes in war-torn nations.
What's next: Gates filmed in locales including Bolivia and Mexico for Season 2, scheduled to premiere this spring.
How do you decide what to pack when you head off to shoot a new episode?
It's this weird experience where I think, "I need to wear something cool enough so viewers trust that I know what I'm talking about, but also something practical so I can do all the things I need to." But not anything so practical that it looks like I'm trying to be Christiane Amanpour in a safari suit during the '90s or something.
What do you think about U.S. fashion now?
The Internet seems to have killed American fashion in the sense that everybody has good style but they also look vaguely the same. It's hard to differentiate creativity from mimicry.
Along with covering the intersection of fashion and culture, States of Undress has also shown you searching for tampons on the black market in Venezuela and interviewing cleric Abdul Aziz Ghazi, a sympathizer of the self-proclaimed Islamic State, in Pakistan. How do you find the right balance?
It's like hiding broccoli in ice cream. Maintaining a sense of humor is key to getting people to also focus on the crises at hand.
What do you want to achieve with the series in Season 2?
This can be a show about fashion moonlighting as a show about women's rights, but it also can be about the economy in Venezuela and censorship in China. It's episode and country-specific. One of my favorite parts is that we're able to cover it all.
As an American traveling abroad, what's surprised you?
Women's bodies have become a real battleground for politics. Even in Paris, the birthplace of fashion as we know it, there are discriminatory laws based on Islamophobia [e.g., a ban on face veils in public].
What's your favorite part of the job?
I like that we give viewers a sense of what it's actually like to be in a circumstance, which can give as much information as the reportage. And I'm grateful that the show lets me express my emotions, which is not something journalists, especially female journalists, are always allowed to do on camera. Perhaps I'm breaking all the rules, but I'm very grateful for it.