Diana Vreeland Memos: The Vogue Years, letter to Cecil Beaton (1967)

Alexander Vreeland on His New Book, His Grandmother and Her Vogue Years

Vogue Memos, a Rizzoli tome out next month, has quite a ring to it. One imagines it to crackle with all the scandal and intrigue of, say, the Pentagon Papers — as if some dark fashion-world secret lurks between its pages. But actually, given its long title, Diana Vreeland Memos: The Vogue Years promises less in the way of scandal, but all the intrigue one could hope for.

It's a fascinating compilation of the memos — reprinted in their original form — that Diana Vreeland, Vogue's editor-in-chief in the 1960s, sent to her staff and photographers, some of them giants in the field like Cecil Beaton, Horst P. Horst, and Richard Avedon. Usually dictated by phone each morning from her Park Avenue apartment (she was rarely in the office before noon, and didn't like formal meetings anyway), the memos were typed up by a secretary, annotated further by Vreeland's hand, and dispatched by post and courier wherever her team may be.

The book has been lovingly edited by her grandson and president of her estate, Alexander Vreeland. (His wife, Lisa Immordino Vreeland, created the definitive documentary on Diana Vreeland, The Eye Has to Travel.) He presents a novel, riveting means of understanding one of the most outlandish cultural icons of the 20th century. As he explains here, surprises and maybe a few guffaws await even the most knowledgeable Vreeland-phile...

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Sep 06, 2013 14:49:00
Jean-Charles de Castelbajac

Jean-Charles de Castelbajac Has Never Lost His Punk Spirit

Jean-Charles de Castelbajac is best-known for his confrontational approach to fashion. His outfits have graced everybody from Andy Warhol to Lady Gaga, and over the years he has often been the designer of choice for the most creative, and by proxy the most rebellious.

What you may not know is that he is also an accomplished painter and live artist, with a furiously productive output. He tours with the French group Mr No, painting live and performing onstage. And you can always tell where he's been in Paris, and indeed the world, by the faded chalk drawings of angels and friends that he leaves on building walls — like friendly graffiti.

De Castelbajac's latest exhibition, The Phantoms of Eden, opened this month in the luxury resort of Eden Rock in Saint Barths. We caught up with him at his French home to speak about the show and much more.

How did the collaboration with Eden Rock come about?
I always wanted to go to Saint Barths. It’s a place where the past encounters the modern and the Caribbean. This meeting, and in fact the collaboration with Eden Rock, came about through my Parisian gallery, Nuke. For me the idea of evoking ghosts in Eden was a perfect situation.

The exhibition is beautiful. Can you tell us a little about the act of making it?
The process of this exhibition has been quite long. I started to paint four months ago in small format. The link between it all was the evocation of ghosts: the ghosts of my innocence, the ghosts of my childhood, and the ghosts of the friends I’ve lost. All of this brought me to a land I’ve never known, closer to the invisible. When I arrived in Saint Barths, I started to paint a big fresco, in conjunction with my paintings. It’s all about accident, and the evocation of lost innocence.

Ever since I’ve known you, I’ve seen you draw on walls with chalk. Can you remember the moment this materialized?
The first time I remember drawing with a chalk on a wall was in Casablanca when I was six years old. So, a very little boy! After that, I was totally fascinated by the work of Keith Haring in the subways of New York. Around 1992 or '93, I started to draw angels on the walls of Paris. Now, I always have a chalk in my pocket! It’s a form of prayer I suppose, a poetic gesture, and I love the idea of ephemera.

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Aug 13, 2013 16:59:00

Artist Martín Gutierrez on Sex Dolls, YSL, and Celebrity Crushes

Meet Martín, new androgyne on the scene. Martín (pronounced Marteen) is spicing things up at Ryan Lee gallery with a series of portraits of the artist — whose full name, Martín Gutierrez, implies another layer of social commentary — as blow-up sex dolls. The show is both creepy and sublime, partly because it's hard to believe that these veristic, voyeuristic dolls are not plastic, but Martín in the flesh, whose poses in lush architectural settings are both suggestive and mundane. It's as if the dolls had just been used and discarded, either left on the bed, slumped in a chair, or hastily stuffed back into a cellophane bag.

Martín also makes music, hauntingly beautiful songs that call to mind Amy Winehouse's throaty voice crossed with the lyrical gravitas of Antony Hegarty. The videos for these songs — in fact all of Martín's work — are created entirely by the artist, not just the writing, but also the directing, producing, styling, and shooting. And then there are the collaborations with fashion houses, like YSL, who chose Martín's first unreleased single, Hands Up, for their cruise 2012 video editorial, followed by Dior and Acne. Martín’s first EP is set to be released later this year. 

Here, the artist sheds light, and shading, on the many faces of Martín...

You work in a wide range of media, from photography and video to music and performance. In an industry that craves categorization, how do you fit in? Or is that the point — you don't?
I would call myself a performance-based artist. I think the title lends me the most freedom to cross between mediums. We don’t have much choice in how we are perceived by others. Perception is a powerful dynamic I have learned to bend in my work, through personal trials and conflicts throughout my life. The freedom of individuality that the art community celebrates is my reasoning for gravitating towards it. 

Your video series — Martin(e) 1, 2 and 3 — are very focused on interior spaces and architecture. How intentional is this?
It is difficult for me not to respond to architectural space. I have always been attracted to buildings that hold iconic history, especially classical architecture, but perhaps this has something to do with the fact that both my parents practice architecture and I grew up keenly aware of the built environment.

There is a solitary, self-reflective vibe in the videos, recalling Tilda Swinton in I Am Love or even Cindy Sherman's self-portraits. Are those accurate comparisons?
It is a privilege to be compared to such established artists. Both Swinton and Sherman share my investment in exploring personal transformation. More importantly, Tilda Swinton is also on my celebrity crush list.

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Jul 25, 2013 17:58:00
Inez & Vinoodh's Instagram

Inez & Vinoodh Wish They'd Photographed Michael Jackson and Other Musings from the Duo

Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin unveiled their first stateside exhibit last night, at the Gagosian Gallery in Beverly Hills. The show features highlights from the duo’s prolific career, including an ethereal Tilda Swinton, a rugged Mickey Rourke, a forlorn Javier Bardem, and a robotic Lady Gaga, as well as a still-life flower series, a first for the couple.

Inez & Vinoodh just released Gaga’s first image for her upcoming album ARTPOP, and are in LA to shoot the avant-singer’s first video, in time for its promised August 19th debut. Hint caught up with them at their Beverly Hills opening to discuss art, fashion, and the Michael Jackson photograph that never was.

Why did you choose LA for your first US opening?
Inez: It chose us.
Vinoodh: We did our first show at the Gagosian in Paris, then they suggested the next step would be this.

Is New York the next step?
I: Probably in a year or so.

What was the process like to choose the images for the exhibit?
I: It was really a very close collaboration between us and the gallery director here [Deborah McLeod]. It was an almost weekly back and forth, like a chess game of images, until we had a group of works that we felt were important to print and bring here. And then we spent two days moving things around until we came to this. The [still life] flowers were made specifically for here, so that’s a whole new body of work.

Because you have a lot of celebrity portraits in the exhibit, do you find the process of photographing a celebrity different from photographing a model?
V: No, no.
I: It’s the same.
V: Even if we photographed a doorman it would be the same.

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Jul 17, 2013 12:03:00
Michael Musto, photo Patrick McMullan

One Sentence or Less

Michael Musto, Gossip Columnist

What did you do immediately before this questionnaire?
Try to think of a witty answer to that very question. No dice.

What will you do immediately following this questionnaire?
Play Charades. No, I'm serious.

What is your idea of bliss?
Wedge of iceberg with blue cheese, steak, apple pie a la mode, and sex.

What is your idea of misery?
Backstabbing people and cream sauce.

What is the strangest article of clothing in your closet?
An Aladdin outfit that I will finally get to wear if theme-park employment calls.

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May 29, 2013 11:44:00
Memorabilia from Peggy Moffitt's powder room wall, photo Daniel Trese

One Sentence or Less

Peggy Moffitt, model/muse

What did you do immediately before this questionnaire?
Cleaned up kitty vomit, gave his brother an IV for his kidney failure, lit up a cigarette.

What will you do immediately following this questionnaire?
I dare not imagine.

What is your idea of bliss?
Being in love with someone who loves me, and my cats.

What is your idea of misery?
Cleaning up kitty vomit. Giving my cat IVs. Answering questionnaires.

What is the strangest article of clothing in your closet?
Any piece of clothing that is not designed by Rudi Gernreich.

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May 06, 2013 09:17:00
M to M of M/M (Paris)

Initial Offering: M/M (Paris) On Their First Book

It would be easy to get lost in the graphic art of M/M (Paris), with their child-like doodles, defacing of photos, wild experiments in juxtaposition, and layers upon layers of hot-mess provocation. Thank goodness for their new book, M to M (Rizzoli), which they liken to a "map" of their work. For the most part, it is indeed like a map — or rather, a 20-year survey of their creative output. But here's the catch: arranged in alphabetical order, it begins and ends with M, so that the beginning of the book actually falls in the middle, at page 528.

And therein lies the beautiful conundrum at the core of everything Mathias Augustyniak and Michael Amzalag do. Which is to say, nothing is as it seems. One the one hand, the celebrated French art directors push the limits of print design like the true iconoclasts they are, while on the other hand there is method to the madness. Their seemingly haphazard squiggles, for example, drawn over yet not obscuring Balenciaga's and Calvin Klein's campaign imagery in 2001 and 2002 — photographed by another iconoclastic duo, Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin, with whom M/M have collaborated innumerable times — was a sensational and oeuvre-defining coup.

For the New York launch and signing of the book, the two of a kind chose as their venue the impossibly elegant French consulate on Fifth Avenue, where they opened up to HINT on a range of topics, from Bjork's Biophilia to Riccardo Tisci's Givenchy, and from seeking a relationship with truth to finding the word "inspiration" boring.

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Mar 21, 2013 16:46:00
Stefano Tonchi

Stefano Tonchi Opens Up About the New W Book

Only with a gilded gatefold and red silk bookmarks could "W: The First 40 Years" be any more opulent. With its 300-something pages, the furniture-sized anthology traces four decades of the one and only W magazine, as much a laboratory of ideas and mash-up of creative disciplines as an established fashion glossy and chronicler of society gals, its original purpose.

A quick flip through the gold brick of a book turns into an evening spent poring over all the great stories you remember fondly (and those you somehow missed): Madonna cavorting with horses and contorting herself for Steven Klein; Steven Meisel's hilarious series of fake ads that appeared throughout one issue; a real elephant in a pink tutu standing upright for Bruce Weber; that one creepy shoot, also Steven Klein, where Amber Valletta is seen aging from 29 to 120; and any of Mario Testino's steamy spreads from South America, with as many lithe men as women. And those are just from the last decade.

I spoke with Stefano Tonchi, the magazine and book's editor, about the making of the tome, the magic of W, and the secret to its success. Genial as ever, he spoke candidly and eloquently—just as you'd expect from the culture-obsessed Italian—with just a hint of mischief. You can read the entire interview at ArtInfo.com.

Nov 20, 2012 19:07:00
Steven Kolb

One Sentence or Less

Steven Kolb, CFDA CEO

What did you do immediately before this questionnaire?
Emailed DVF.

What will you do immediately following this questionnaire?
Email DVF.

What is your idea of bliss?
Clean sheets.

What is your idea of misery?
Waiting on line.

What is the strangest article of clothing in your closet?
Marching band uniform.

What is your proudest moment?
Best Actor in the Bergen County Theatre Regionals of 1977.

What is your greatest regret?
Not seeing Carol Channing on stage in Hello Dolly.

What would be the first sentence of your biography?
He left New Jersey but New Jersey never left him.

What is your best personality trait?

What is your worst personality trait?

Which fashion celebrities can you impersonate?
Arnold Scaasi.

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Nov 20, 2012 14:07:00

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