Mr. Roberts eschewed technology, which made him difficult to reach. “When we wanted to get ahold of him, we were instructed to fax his agent in London,” Mr. Remnick remembered. “Somehow it worked.” Mr. Roberts eventually did get a cellphone, but he rarely answered it.
Upon leaving The New Yorker, Mr. Roberts returned to Vanity Fair as its contributing fashion and style editor. He split his time among London, Paris, Rio di Janeiro and Taormina, a destination he discovered while on vacation in Venice with his friend Martha Fiennes, the sister of the actor Ralph Fiennes, in 1987.
“We had three more days. Couldn’t decide where to go. So I said, ‘Let’s put on a blindfold and stick a pin in the map,’” he told The New York Times in 2007. The pin landed in eastern Sicily. “Driving into Taormina, I had this weird feeling I had seen it before,” he said. In 2007, he published “Shot in Sicily,” a book of black-and-white photographs of locals and landscapes that captured the baroque spirit of the Mediterranean isle.
In addition to his magazine assignments, Mr. Roberts designed jaunty prints for the Brazilian swimwear designer Lenny Niemeyer; wrote and illustrated children’s books, including “The Jungle ABC,” with a foreword by the model Iman; and helped write Ms. Coddington’s memoir, “Grace.” Ever exacting, Mr. Roberts “drove me mental,” Ms. Coddington recalled. “He came to stay with me in the country, and sometimes I’d get in my car and drive up the road and scream. But he was a joy.”
In 2017, Mr. Roberts directed “Manolo: The Boy Who Made Shoes for Lizards,” a delightful documentary about the shoe designer Manolo Blahnik, with artistic close-ups of elaborate pumps, hilarious interviews with famous fashionistas and bold-colored cutouts of well-shod legs and lizards in stilettos, gloriously in movement.
Four years ago, Mr. Roberts settled in Taormina and kept up his work, including completing a trilogy of short illustrated storybooks about GingerNutz, a flame-haired orangutan from Borneo who becomes a fashion model and magazine editor, inspired by Ms. Coddington. His final book, “Island of Eternal Beauties: A Road Trip Around Sicily,” was published in 2021.
In the Times interview, Mr. Roberts was asked why he never stuck to one medium.
“That,” he said, “was never an option.”