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Discussion in 'Magazines' started by Cicciolina, Mar 7, 2008.
..they could've simply changed the CORE VALUES and PERSONNEL POLICY of Conde Nast. At least all magazines are included.
This should be the policy of Conde Nast as an institution, and not Vogue alone.
Radhika Jones is the Editor of Vanity Fair
Radhika Jones’ version of Vanity Fair has gotten people talking, at the very least.
With the state of most magazines today, that in itself is a feat, but media types have been doing some grumbling since Jones’ editorial debut in March 2018. The covers have been less glam, the stories inside less juicy, the unrepentant tinge of high-end gossip that devotees expect less constant, some have said. But Vanity Fair is also a magazine operating under a new editor in chief (new to the magazine and to the role) and new budgetary constraints at what could now be termed the New Condé Nast. So the reasons are many for the clear changes to a magazine run by Graydon Carter for 25 years. Although plenty of the changes do boil down to the fact that Jones — relatively young; female; woman of color; Condé neophyte — is in charge now.
“I did feel it was a responsibility to bring the magazine firmly into the present, into the future, if at all possible,” Jones said, sitting on the rooftop patio of the Four Seasons Beverly Hills.
She’s in Los Angeles for a few days, hosting VF’s annual summit and planning to be on the set of a weekend shoot for the magazine’s all-important Hollywood issue. She won’t give away any details on the February cover, except an emphatic “yes” when asked if this year’s cover will look any different from the usual foldout of film and TV talent standing next to each other, wind machine blowing, in a muted palette of red carpet dress. Jones is here to talk about her first two years helming the magazine anyway, and she hews to the subject.
She brings up her first cover, Lena Waithe, showing the writer from the chest up in a white T-shirt, apparently no makeup, a soft but unsmiling stare, gray background, and that’s all. Before that cover were Carter’s last three issues, the typical Hollywood Issue in February, Emily Blunt in full old-Hollywood glam mode in January and Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez in December with a cover exclaiming simply “J-Rod!” The Waithe cover was a complete 180, and people noticed.
“Part of the decision [to depict Waithe on the cover] was I felt here’s someone who represents a lot of what is promising and great about contemporary culture…and it was exciting to think about her as a representation of what VF could be,” Jones explained. “What I thought about a lot is one of the core proponents of VF is it’s aspirational and what I felt was that aspirational is not static, it evolves and changes and I want to be able to capture a lot of different kinds of aspiration.”
Although Jones says firmly that VF “has never been in the business of putting clothes on models,” it’s certainly been in the business of putting clothes on celebrities, and more than white T-shirts. But she defends her decision to take a much starker turn all at once as more modern, a move away from nostalgia, a sentiment she wants nothing to do with. So she went with Idris Elba in a T-shirt and a leather jacket, Kendrick Lamar in a hoodie, Michelle Williams in a conservative sweater — all lacking a smile or even a smirk.
“I mean, who looks better in a tuxedo than Idris Elba, but I thought let’s see him looking different,” Jones said. “For Michelle Williams, shortly after that cover came out I went to Milan and Paris [for the shows for the first time] and I had lunch with Donatella Versace, which was great. And she was like, ‘I love that Michelle Williams cover. That is what a woman looks like in the modern world.’”
So Donatella is a fan. And the magazine’s stats seem to be changing. Jones boasts her readers are getting a little younger, more engaged, more diverse and with a slightly higher household income. Followers on social media are up, too. VF’s May cover featuring short-lived presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke shot by Annie Leibovitz brought the site its most trafficked month with 25.7 million unique views. O’Rourke saying publicly after the issue came out that he regretted doing the cover at all as it “reinforced a perception of privilege” likely only helped the numbers and it remains the site’s most visited cover story. July was also a good month for traffic, 23.8 million views, with two covers of Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver on the set of “Star Wars.” Though they looked much more like movie promos than editorial covers, VF got an exclusive story on the upcoming installment of the “Star Wars” saga. Jones said subscriptions are up a bit, too, driven by digital, as VF is among the few Condé properties with a real paywall strategy.
Even with some quantifiable successes under her belt by now, there is still a sense in media circles that the magazine is not as lively, exciting, enticing, as it has been over the years, even as Jones seems to be moving away from her initial stark covers to a softer type of more visible glamour, but one not led by traditional (i.e., male) ideas of sex appeal. See this year’s cover of Nicole Kidman and a family shoot of Chrissy Teigen and John Legend. Both of those covers look like they’re from a different editor altogether, compared to the Waithe issue. Sure, media naysayers may be old or set in their ways or simply enjoy rooting for competitors to fail, but Jones admits that she’s still finding her way at VF and that the criticisms have indeed reached her.
“Any editor, you wake up in the morning and think, ‘Oh, why didn’t I do that better, how can we do that better next time.?’ That’s a natural state of being, so criticism from the outside world kind of slots into that.
“I’m old enough to know that you don’t always get it exactly the way you want it the first time,” Jones continued. “The creative process, it is a process, but I am super happy with what we’re doing.”
And she says her boss, Anna Wintour, to whom she reports directly, encourages her to try things out, see how they land, and find her own rhythm and style as an editor in chief.
“That’s her whole m.o.,” Jones said of Wintour. “She wants people to be fearless and she wants people to make their own choices and she’s been incredibly supportive, from the moment I met her. But she has a high bar.”
The most recent covers (Teigen and Legend, Lupita Nyong’o and Joaquin Phoenix) Jones is particularly pleased with — they look much different than most of her 2018 covers, more color, more relaxed, a little more playful. But there is a feeling in speaking with media folks — p.r.’s, reporters, even a few members of her own staff — that Jones is getting more criticism within the industry than men who have recently been given broader magazines to run. Like Michael Sebastian at Esquire (Hearst) and Will Welch at GQ (another Condé title). Even if they don’t like everything she’s done, these observers don’t feel the incessant chatter flowing through the New York media rumor mill about her job stability and her salary are quite fair.
Asked bluntly if she feels the criticism leveled at her version of the magazine has anything to do with her being a woman, she turns the question around, a little annoyed but friendly, which she is. “You’re a woman, do you ever really know when something is gendered and when it isn’t?” She quickly admits that, yes, one can “puzzle it out,” but is adamant that whatever criticism she’s hearing isn’t acted upon.
“In general, change is hard for people. I also think that when you have a situation where someone’s been the editor for 25 years, what people remember are the high points. They’re not remembering the issue that didn’t make an impression on them, because it didn’t make an impression on them. It’s natural and I don’t blame anyone for that.
“I will say that I make the choices I make because of who I am, so to the extent that people think I’m not the right fit for the job or whatever…” she trails off.
Speaking of who she is — as in the only current female editor of a general interest magazine and one of only a small few in history (who include the modern version of Vanity Fair’s first editor in chief, Tina Brown) — Jones in this context is aware that she’s in some kind of rarefied, gendered air. So how does it feel to be in such a position? She hesitates and says she’s hesitating “because it makes me feel a lot of different things.” Ultimately, she decides to say that being the person she is and the editor of Vanity Fair has given her the added privilege of “being a role model for other women.”
“I say ‘role model’ only because other people say that to me and it never occurred to me that would be the case. And I feel like if I can help someone, another woman, another woman of color, feel like maybe she could do something she didn’t know she could do, I can’t really ask for anything more.”
But this, too, is new for Jones, as are thoughts on what kind of leader she wants to be, and how much her identity does and should influence the type of work she’s doing now.
“We’re much more conscious of who our gatekeepers are and who our pundits are and I now hold some of those positions and to be conscious of it is almost a responsibility at this point,” she said. “But it’s not like I approach every decision like, ‘As a woman I’m going to choose this layout.’ You can’t compartmentalize yourself like that.”
Jones is trying to find some cross section of herself and Vanity Fair that works, consistently. When she does, it will likely still be one that doesn’t even attempt to satisfy the male gaze. She told a story of being young in grade school and finally getting glasses because she’s nearsighted. She remembered putting them on in class for the first time and looking outside at the trees.
“I was like, ‘Has everyone been seeing trees like this, these very articulate branches?’”
Her point is the inherent subjectivity of everything, with running a magazine being no exception.
“I know for me,” Jones said, “my gaze is female, my gaze is being expressed in 2019, with all of our current context around us, and that’s how you have to operate.”
source | wwd
Vogue makes it very easy for critics to point their daggers at them with these flashy proclamations.
"Look to Vogue for how to keep up appearances with all the latest fashions, including ones in the business world."
It used to be that Vogue set trends - now their hand is being forced by social attitudes into lip service proclamations regarding things they didn't care about for decades, even though values regarding environmentalism, consumerism and 'not abusing models' are nothing new. They haven't made these changes of their own volition.
That Radhika interivew was lazy and, of course, just deviated to #sexism. Will Welch and Michael Sabastian deserve every critique for their direction as well since all three have completely sucked every ounce of glamour or fashion out of the publications. Hollywood = glamour!
It's a sad state of affairs that the most trafficked cover was Pete Buttiegieg. Editors are mistaking virality with readership. It was shared excessively on social media because people were laughing at him or critiquing him as a political figure not because everyone suddenly wanted to buy subscriptions to VF. IMO the cover star shouldn't be overtaking the publication's brand.
Isn't there something about her belief that women don't want to see glamour and dresses also a bit diminishing to women?
Anne Fulenwider is leaving US Marie Claire:
Oh wow, I'm gutted that she's leaving because she's surpassed herself as an editor over the past 5 years, yet at the same time it's a move which I fully support!! She will be missed!
I do hope Kate Lanphear will take over because her stint at Maxim proved that she can edit a magazine. It was just a bad fit for the Maxim reader.
Did you mean Beto O'Rourke...? But yes, the fact that O'Rourke already dropped out of the race definitely testifies to the virality =/= efficacy factor.
Mmhmmm something’s fishy about this move.
I like Aya, but something about this appointment tells me that Marie Claire is about to enter the digital world.
Indeed! It makes me wonder whether she was sacked, as opposed to leaving on her own terms. Either way, she's heading in a good direction.
Engaña revista a muxes
Apparently, Vogue Mexico offered the main cover to the muxe members and they are upset that this cover never happened. That's the problem with mexican magazines they play the inclusivity card just to get clicks in their website and some news in the media.
that's how memorable it was for me
there are a lot of editors leaving hearst pubs in recent weeks. granted it's been a bad year everywhere but can't help but feel the union issue has something to do with the recent quits.
1 Gigi Hadid
2 Adut Akech
3 Irina Shayk
4 Bella Hadid
5 Birgit Kos
The models with more Vogue covers
lol why they not repost their own cover for vogue hk with gigi Hadid first issue??
Probably because of the big controversy when the cover was launched.
Bridget Foley’s Diary Fabien Baron: Creativity by the Book
The famed creative director's exquisite tome synthesizes some of fashion's most iconic and powerful images of the past 30 years.
By Bridget Foley on December 11, 2019
WWD: This book tells the story of your career in some 400 pages. Why tell that story now?
Fabien Baron: For me it’s a bracket, it’s like closing a page. I’m at the end a magazine guy. I was born in magazines. I probably won’t die in magazines because magazines are not in a good place. It was a way for me to turn a page and open a door to new possibilities. Right now I feel really refreshed, open-minded, not bitter, ready to do anything that’s a bit new.
WWD: It’s not all editorial; you include advertising and product design. Still, does the book close the door on the traditional editorial aspect of your career?
F.B.: Magazine work? Probably. Not 100 percent sure because you can never know, but I have no intention to do a magazine at the moment, not in the same way that magazines have been done, that’s for sure. I feel like the magazine itself as an object is not relevant in the same way that it used to be many years ago. It’s lost something.
WWD: That’s for sure.
F.B.: The issue is that magazines are where they are because of magazines.
WWD: So it’s not all outside forces? What did magazines do wrong?
F.B.: They wanted to be so tied up with the moment, with what’s going on with entertainment, with personalities, and then, so tied to Instagram. They attached themselves too much to an outside thing rather than remembering what they were about, so they became irrelevant in some degree. Actresses — you see them in a movie. Instagram is where you want to see the Kardashians, or on television; you don’t want to see them in magazines. Any picture of them, you’re going to see it on Instagram anyway.
Magazines have lost their point of view; they gave it up too early. I’m talking about the big ones. If you look at the way they were relative to now [which is] blue sky, little flowers, girl wearing a big skirt, a famous person from Hollywood. That became the formula for a lot of magazines. Supermarket fashion.
WWD: Any magazines in particular?
F.B.: I’m talking about big magazines in general.
WWD: What could big magazines in general have done to prevent this from happening?
F.B.: They should have stuck with fashion. They should have stuck with fashion. They should have made that the real core, the point of view. They should have sold the customer — the people who were buying magazines — fashion, real, real, real fashion, and in a big way. That’s what they should have done. Social media and Instagram, these things came up in the midst of magazines not being very powerful and not being very strong. So people flipped, they just shifted to that. The two could have lived [together]. All these small magazines, they’re doing better now than the big ones because they have a point of view.
It’s almost like in the movie industry. There’s Hollywood and there’s the independents, right?….Hollywood collapsed to a certain degree with Netflix and all these things. All the talent are going into Netflix, to do things that are more [adventurous]….
WWD: Hollywood does well with the big blockbuster, the big sequel.
F.B.: That’s why they’re getting hit by Netflix, because [the creatives] can have more freedom and do more of what they want. And they win the awards. “Roma” — it won an Academy Award. And the Netflix movie “The Irishman” — it’s [Martin Scorsese’s] best movie in such a long time.
WWD: Back to magazines, can they come back?
F.B.: I doubt it. Something else amazing can happen, something that you haven’t seen. I think people are still very eager to discover things that they haven’t seen before.
WWD: You’re now interested in film, and all of media is obsessed with video. Is there an exciting, viable platform for the kind of rich, beautiful still imagery that’s in your book?
F.B.: Maybe books that behave more like books/magazines could be a way.
WWD: Many brands now are doing their own magazines and some are beautiful. But most feel like marketing vehicles.
F.B.: I think there is still room for opinion out there. The brands need a very opinionated [platform], call it books, magazines, whatever you want to call it. There is still room for that. There is still room for a great Irving Penn-type of picture. There is still room for really beautiful Steven Klein work. There is room for all that. There is room for great photography, there is room for great fashion.
Magazines used to do fashion really, really well. If you look at the Sixties, the Seventies, the Eighties, even the Nineties, you looked at fashion magazines, you were inspired. They told you something, and they’ve lost that. They’ve lost the opinion and a real sense of not being afraid to say that’s where it’s at and this is edgy and it’s really out there, but you have to show fashion. The problem today is the small magazines, they give you 20 pages of naked girls, so what’s the point when you see [almost nothing] of an outfit? That’s not fashion either.
WWD: Your book is filled with amazing imagery. I find the organization fascinating. The chapter on Red, which is so beautiful and so powerful, followed by the chapter on Circles and Movement that has a softer and more mesmerizing quality. How did you organize the book?
F.B.: By putting the entire archive together, I realized that there were images done in the Nineties and other images done in 2014 and pictures done right now. One could be a landscape, one could be a fashion picture and something else, and juxtaposed together they have the same meaning, the same thought process. In putting these blocks together, I realized that certain themes are recurring in my work. And I spread it out as chapters. That’s how it came about.
WWD: Did you discover ongoing themes that you hadn’t known existed?
F.B.: Of course, of course.
WWD: Such as?
F.B.: There’s a side of me that is very — it’s not religious but, what is the word? Let’s say spiritual. Spiritual, monastic, a little bit religious. And it’s usually attached to culture. There’s a whole chapter on that.
WWD: Yes! Chapter 10: “Sacred, Secular, Faith, Doubt, Terror, Beauty…” Was the religious revelation a little scary to you?
F.B.: Yes, because I have never been religious in my life at all. I was born atheist and I was not baptized. I was raised with absolutely no religious background, and I always felt like religion was actually impairing people rather than helping them. So I was kind of surprised.
WWD: How does it manifest for you personally?
F.B.: The physicality of religion is really interesting — the way religion has the churches, the monasteries, the architecture, the art, the culture that goes around religion. I’m mesmerized by it. When I go to Paris I always go to the church to see. I don’t pray, I don’t light a candle, I don’t do anything, but I love the way it looks.
WWD: Any church in particular?
F.B.: I used to visit Notre Dame all the time because it’s beautiful. If you immerse yourself into it, it projects you into that time, you’re back in 1630, the 1800s, whatever, you make your own movie inside of it.
WWD: Chapter 5: “Nature, Corrosion, Decay, Mystery…” The Nocturne Series of recent photos in mesmerizing, moody, surrealistic nature pictures, the first juxtaposed against postapocalyptic fashion. Then there’s a spread of crashed-up cars.
F.B.: That chapter I liked very much. That chapter is maybe the one that is the most me.
WWD: In what way?
F.B.: This attachment to nature, this attachment to the organic. It’s also a little bit scary. There is something about being afraid of the unknown: what’s beyond the shadow, what’s beyond the tree, what’s beyond everything.
WWD: There’s a great of contrast in your work, extremes of simplicity and intricacy.
F.B.: There’s the minimal side, but there is the complicated side, too. When you look at some of the landscapes they’re just like, water, sky. And then you have the tree pictures with intricate layers, and it’s like layered and you don’t see how deep it is. So there is this opposition, there’s all these clashes that I felt by making the book, make me understand myself a lot more.
WWD: How did you get into product design? Were fragrance bottles your first such projects?
F.B.: The first thing I did was for Issey Miyake, the bottle for L’eau d’Issey. I’d just started at Interview with Ingrid Sischy, Issey Miyake called me up because he liked what I’d done just before, at Italian Vogue with Franca Sozzani. He said, “have you ever done a fragrance bottle?” I said, “no, but I’d love to do it.” I thought it was something new, I was always intrigued by fragrances. I said yes and started working on it.
WWD: What about the process surprised you or challenged you?
F.B.: I had to learn quickly how you make a bottle. I read a lot of stuff and asked a lot of people who knew about it. There was a technician, a great guy that was working with Issey Miyake. He was an engineer and very knowledgeable about what was possible and not possible.
WWD: What was Miyake’s brief?
F.B.: He said, “I would like something that feels like the Eiffel Tower.” And it looks a little bit like the Eiffel Tower. But I wanted it to be minimal.
WWD: You also did CK One. What was that process?
F.B.: CK One was so much fun. Number one, Calvin has such a good nose for things.
WWD: You mean culturally, not a fragrance nose.
F.B.: I don’t mean nose like [a fragrance nose], no. I mean nose in terms of knowing exactly where the culture is going to turn…CK One was really important for what it was, for its simplicity, for this idea that it was not designed, basically, and that it was recyclable, and it was for men and women and for the impact it had on the industry. It changed the fragrance industry at the time.
WWD: Any others?
F.B.: I worked with Miuccia Prada on her first fragrance. Miuccia is amazing. She’s one of my favorite designers. She has such culture.
WWD: What was your mandate there?
F.B.: She wanted something very feminine, but not typical feminine. Like her clothes, she wanted the thing to be twisted. She wanted some newness, but also this idea of the culture and the past, bringing the past today. That’s why there’s the old-fashioned [atomizer] way of spraying.
WWD: Miuccia is one of the greats.
F.B.: There’s so much brain.
WWD: Back to Calvin, talk a bit about his impact on the culture.
F.B.: Calvin was a visionary and an amazing communicator. He knew how to play the tectonic plates of media. He knew how to manage ideas, photography and put it out there in a way that would create friction — and make his name more and more important and give a twist to everything.
He loved controversy, but not for the sake of controversy. I think what he liked about controversy, he liked to break the barrier of what people used to see. It was not an issue for him that he would get in trouble.
WWD: Speaking of which — you were involved in one of the most famous/infamous fashion campaigns of all time, the CK film shoot that critics thought was intended to replicate an adolescent casting for a porn film.
F.B.: Ohhh yes. CK Jeans.
WWD: CK Jeans, you and Steven Meisel.
F.B.: Me, Steven Meisel, yes.
WWD: Take me through the idea. Did all of you sit in a room and say, let’s make this look like an underaged casting for a porn film?
F.B.: It was not meant to be a porno. It was meant to be a casting of a bunch of characters, some young, some a little bit older, men and women that would be asked questions a little bit off the cuff, questions about sexuality but about a lot of different things. The idea was to do it in a live manner so none of the talent knew the questions in advance, none of the talent knew what we were doing. They were all in a room off set, and they were called one by one onto the set and asked questions on the spot in a way that maybe in some way feels a little bit intimidating for a young person.
I was going to shoot the commercial cold. We’re going to start, and you roll the tape immediately, it can be nerve-racking. There was this idea of being very direct and not letting people get at ease [of capturing] that live experience. That’s the way the commercial was shot.
WWD: Were you surprised at the near-universal outraged reaction?
F.B.: I thought there would a reaction, but I didn’t know the reaction would be that strong. It was so blown over the edge. I think what happened was that one of the models was not 18 and we didn’t know that. That created the problem, and it made the whole thing collapse.
WWD: That was a very different time. Would you do that project today?
F.B.: Like everything, things fit with their time. When you deal with pop culture and you deal with fashion, you have to feed the time, you have to be current with the conversation of the moment. So at the time it was good. Doing this now? I don’t think so. I don’t think it would be appropriate.
WWD: Let’s talk about some of your more traditional subjects — models. You worked at Harper’s Bazaar with Liz Tilberis, starting with her relaunch issue. It featured a very famous cover with an ultra-glamorous Linda Evangelista against a white seamless and no cover lines.
F.B.: There was just one cover line: “Enter the Era of Elegance.”
WWD: That was very daring.
F.B.: When we met, Liz said, “I would like to do the most beautiful magazine there is out there today.” Doing the most beautiful magazine in the world? Sure. That’s exciting, that’s different and there’s a need for that.
So when we talked about the first cover, I told Liz, “You have to have just one cover line, you have to be like very, very direct with your messaging. You have to put it out there in a very powerful way and an iconic way.” So Linda makes sense; the logo, Bazaar, and also the title, “Enter the Era of Elegance.” It said what it was going to be. It gave the spirit of what things were coming.
WWD: What was Linda like as a model?
F.B.: Linda is about the glamour. She is fashion to me. If you think about a model who is fashion and is the clothes, you think about Linda.
WWD: What was Liz Tilberis like to work for?
F.B.: Liz Tilberis was the nicest person to work with. Her real talent was that she was not scared of talent. She would surround herself with the best talent possible. She was able to extract what they were good at and at the same time give them the freedom to express themselves and use it to her advantage to make the magazine she wanted to make. She wanted to make the most beautiful magazine. That was our original discussion.
WWD: Back to models, you’ve worked with them all. Kate Moss is a friend of yours, and she wrote a beautiful forward for the book. Why is Kate so compelling?
F.B.: The first time I saw Kate was in a picture of David Simms. She appeared to be so cool, so normal and so accessible, and yet she felt unobtainable in a certain way. There was something really cool about her. Then when I met her, we got along right away.
What I love about her is…she was a person with all the fragility and all her beauty and all her mistakes and all her imperfections. There’s a lot of imperfection in Kate, from her teeth to her little thing, little nose, there’s a lot of things…
WWD: Physical imperfections?
F.B.: Physical imperfections, but also she has a lot of imperfections in other ways, and she doesn’t try to hide that. She doesn’t try to embellish herself.…It’s Kate and what you see is what you get. I really love that about her.
WWD: Daria Werbowy.
F.B.: Daria is to me the ultimate woman, the dream woman. She is sophisticated, she’s womanly, she is not girly, she’s very intelligent.
WWD: Stephanie Seymour.
F.B.: She is more extravagant, she is this idea of a top model and she represents to me the Eighties, the Nineties, in a way that is the glamour.
WWD: Amber Valletta.
F.B.: I feel like she has a soul and she’s deep and there’s a charm and a softness about her, but also she’s not soft in a way that she’s weak, she is tough. She is soft in a powerful way.
WWD: Christy Turlington.
F.B.: Christy is the ultimate woman…Christy is fabulous. Christy is charming, fantastic, still beautiful, always beautiful…What I admire about her is she stepped out of modeling and…she has a cause, to help other women.
WWD: Gisele Bündchen.
F.B.: Gisele is energy. Gisele is life. Gisele is a goddess a little bit. In a physical way, she’s close to perfection. Her body is insane. It’s insanity, what she can do with her body. She is an amazing model…working with her was really, really a blessing.
WWD: Designers. You once cast Marc Jacobs as Andy Warhol for an Interview cover.
F.B.: It was the anniversary of Andy Warhol and we were saying, “Who is Andy Warhol today?” We felt like Marc Jacobs was the new Andy Warhol at the time. So we called him up and we asked him, “Would you be Andy Warhol for us? Would you wear the wig, would you wear the hair, would you play with us and do something?” He was so into it. We just did it, and it was fabulous. It was a lot of fun. We dyed his hair, we did everything.
WWD: You photographed Rei Kawakubo, who is famously averse to having her picture taken. What was she like as a subject?
F.B.: Very, very fast. The pictures took about 15 minutes…we shot at her showroom. We did two pictures, one when she is in the corridor, standing, and the other one where she is looking into a mirror at herself.
WWD: Has any subject ever intimidated you?
F.B.: A lot of them intimidated. Yes, a lot of them.
WWD: Was Rei one?
F.B.: Yes, of course. She is a genius. You look at her work, and then you have the person right there in front of you and you have to take her picture. The picture better be good. You have no time, she is not going to stick around very long and you have to deal with it really quickly.
WWD: Let’s talk about someone who, unlike Rei Kawakubo, is not at all camera-shy. Madonna. You worked on the “Sex” book.
F.B.: The Madonna “Sex” book was a lot of fun. Her idea, wanting to do that book at that time, was good, it was right on the edge of wanting to be controversial. I think her beauty was amazing, physically she looked absolutely amazing.
I think also her messaging was really much, much trying to liberate women. I think she really wanted to help women with that book. She went out there and she played the game all the way. I was really, really impressed.…Controversy was good at that time. It was something people could take.
WWD: Would you do it today?
F.B.: Doing a sex book today? I’m not sure. I’m not sure it would fit with the politics of today.
WWD: Do you think creatives today have to operate from a position of fear?
F.B.: Oh, yes, for sure. Before you do anything you have to think like, oh, is this correct? Are the people from [any constituency] going to be upset? Is there someone who is going to make a comment that this is too much like this or too much like that? You can read bad on anything.
WWD: Where do you think it’s going to go?
F.B.: It’s going to deflate. I hope so because otherwise, you can’t do anything. You cannot be creative. It’s like that, a time of repression. I mean, doesn’t it go with the politics? Doesn’t it go with Trump all this somehow?
WWD: We can blame President Trump for a lot. But this is coming from woke cancel culture. It’s not coming from the Trump side.
F.B.: Yes, but if you have that low [behavior], you have the opposite going the other way so it’s overly protective. He’s playing so racist and so off the marks with everything that [people try] to put a lid on this by something extreme the other way.
WWD: You have done daring and cutting-edge editorial and advertising. You’ve also designed countless logos — Calvin Klein, Michael Kors, Coach, Zara, Dior, Guerlain, CAA, to name a few. What makes a great logo?
F.B.: Number one is visibility. Visibility and uniqueness and clarity in the messaging of what the graphics feel like. The graphicness must feel like what the brand is trying to say.
WWD: How do you achieve uniqueness when there are so many brands, so many logos and you’re dealing with a 26-letter alphabet?
F.B.: Ninety-nine percent of the logos [I’ve done] were hand-drawn. So each one is not a font that you can buy. Ninety-nine percent were drawn from scratch.
WWD: Even then, it must be extremely difficult to do something fresh.
F.B.: There’s so many different ways you can do letters with space or bigness, boldness, not boldness, feminine, not feminine. You play with all these elements and you try to find what is right for your client.
WWD: Is there an a-ha moment?
F.B.: I know it is difficult to explain, but when you do a logo you know when it’s right.…It’s also funny to see brands that don’t want to change their logos. They want to stick to the logo and age with the logo. That’s also not so good for them.
WWD: What attracts you to film and what kind of film do you want to do? What makes a good subject?
F.B.: I think film is the sum of all the things I’ve learned and liked and been exposed to with different disciplines. Filmmaking is many, many, many, many different things. It’s very editorial. You have the words, number one, which I love; you have the story, number two, which I love, which is the most important thing, the number-one thing. But then you have all these other things — to be able to turn this into an image. It encompasses everything that I think I have learned through the years, certainly in putting together a magazine.
WWD: What kind of stories do you want to tell?
F.B.: Ambiguous stories, things that are not one layer. I like layered stories when there is different meaning into things.
WWD: One assumes that fashion will play a role.
F.B.: I love fashion.
How it truly pains me to read Fabien Baron state he's no intention of joining a magazine in the near future. UGH! There's a handful of magazines which could do with Baron's magic touch right now (US Harper's Bazaar and Vogue Italia to name two in DIRE need). Thanks a million for posting, @Benn98!
Also sad to hear Anne Fulenwider is departing American Marie Claire. I do hope Aya Kanai doesn't change the magazine too much, because I have been thoroughly enjoying Marie Claire this year. They've had some extremely strong covers throughout 2019!