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
Tomas Maier

Tomas Maier On Bottega Veneta, Its New Book, and the Supremacy of Craftsmanship

Tomas Maier is a man of few words. Here, Bottega Veneta's creative director shares a few of them...

On starting out...
I was quite young, maybe 15, when I decided to pursue fashion. I applied to study at the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture and left for Paris as soon as I finished high school.

On meeting Bottega Veneta...
I accepted the position of creative director after I visited Bottega Veneta’s workshop in Vicenza. The talent, techniques, and traditions kept alive by the Bottega Veneta artisans are unmatched. I knew at that moment that Bottega Veneta could be the finest luxury brand in the world. By the time I began in 2001, the brand had lost its way. While its roots were in subtlety and workmanship, by 2000 the clothes were trendy and brash and covered with giant logos. I kept nothing from that era. We went back to the brand’s roots.

On avoiding strong statements each season...
That isn’t my role. Bottega Veneta has an aesthetic philosophy that doesn’t change from one collection to the next. It’s our responsibility to offer products that our customers want and need, and that are designed and crafted to the highest possible standards. Our customers are not looking for Bottega Veneta to reinvent their wardrobe every season.

On what makes Bottega Veneta unique...
Bottega Veneta is a luxury brand defined by refined understatement and artisanal craftsmanship. While there is clearly a Bottega Veneta aesthetic, the brand is designed first and foremost to enhance the personal style of the customer. Where Bottega Veneta is different is in its focus on artisanal craftsmanship, contemporary functionality, and refined, understated design. There is no other brand that focuses as completely on the product.

On his multitudes of inspirations...
I’m inspired by many things—by art, architecture, antiques, music, and of course, the things I have seen in my travels and encountered in my life. In fact, I find fashion a less satisfying source of inspiration. I would rather go to a museum, a gallery show, a concert, or see a film. I am as moved by a Holbein drawing as by a Twombly. I admire masters including Cranach, Durer, Holbein, Zuberan, and Valesquez, as well as contemporary artists such as Ruff, Struth, and Gursky.

On his experience at Hermès and Sonia Rykiel...
I’ve taken something different from each place that I worked. From Sonia Rykiel, I learned the importance of believing in your own vision. From Hermès, I saw the importance of tradition and quality, and learned that luxury products are not only shaped by passion but also by patience. For a young designer, it was an invaluable education. I have enormous respect for tradition but no interest in nostalgia.

On the new Bottega Veneta book from Rizzoli...
I started thinking about the book around the time I marked ten years with Bottega Veneta, in 2011. This sort of milestone moves you to take stock of what you’ve accomplished, and I believe that everyone at Bottega Veneta has a lot to be proud of. Bottega Veneta has grown tremendously since I started at the company. We now have an incredible library of content and images available. For me, it was not an easy task to decide which images to put in the book and which to leave out.

On collaborating with Sam Shahid...
When we began, I told Sam that I wanted to capture the essence of Bottega Veneta in a book. That is, I wanted to offer readers something that was beautifully crafted, thoughtful, personal, and timeless. I also wanted it to be a collaborative effort, representative not just of my ideas but of the talents and perspectives of many people. We worked together as creative collaborators should—sharing ideas, bringing our various strengths to the process, and going back and forth until we hit on a direction that pleased us all. I always enjoy working with people who are the very best at what they do.

On the book's message...
There are two messages I hope readers take away. The first has to do with the essential importance of handcraftsmanship and the need for creative collaboration between artisans and designers to keep craftsmanship alive and relevant, and make products that are truly timeless, yet contemporary. The Veneto region was also an important source of inspiration. The other message I hope readers come away with is a deeper understanding of Bottega Veneta and the values that inform the brand: quality, functionality, timelessness, and of course, craftsmanship. When I started at Bottega Veneta, I revived the brand’s famous line “When your own initials are enough” because I wanted people to look beyond a logo to the product and the individual who owns it. The book makes that case in another, more expansive way.

Sep 26, 2012 15:15:00

Drew Droege Spoofed Chloe Sevigny and Lived to Tell About It

With fashion already a caricature, it's tempting to forget that Drew Droege's portrayal of Chloe Sevigny—the very unauthorized phenomenon sweeping YouTube—is just that: an actor impersonating another actor. Suspend your disbelief too much and you might start believing him when, as Chloe, he deadpans: "I first discovered my admiration for King's Hawaiian sweet bread at the First Annual Memorial for Ideas" and "It's recently come to my attention that I love sending inappropriately astute texts to Tippi Hedren, Taraji P. Henson and Gorbachev."

In the vein of Ab Fab, the hilarious sketches are designed to skewer not so much Chloe Sevigny herself, but high-concept hipsterdom and self-righteous fashion victimhood. Short yet slick and packed with snort-laughs, each clip is hotly awaited. The latest installment made its YouTube debut yesterday and already adoring comments are piled high. The theme is reading, or as pretentious fake Chloe over-pronounces it: "rayoding"...

Chloe "Reading" (Be sure to watch Drew's other videos when this one ends.)

Drew has a great sense of humor about himself and what he does. He's had to, after enduring "trust-fund disco shits," bombing onstage, anonymous haters, and armchair joke-writers. And then there was that one meeting—exactly one—with the object of his affection and affectation, but let's let him explain that...

You started the Chloe impression in 2002, when you tried on a blonde wig and observed a resemblance. At what point did you realize you had a thing?
The first time I ever played Chloe on stage, I bombed. If a bomb can be silent, humorless, horrible, and confusing all at the same time. For years, I played live shows and never knew if it would be a hit or a quiet-death nightmare. Then Jim Hansen came along and wanted to make videos. Then it became a thing. It still surprises me to this day that people like it—because many didn't like it at first.

Your viral videos on YouTube, which you write with Jim, are now the stuff of legend. Did you know they would be a hit?
God no! They just made us laugh, and we had fun doing them. I never know what's going to be a hit, or really why Chloe specifically is a hit. My guess is that my videos are well-timed along with a lot of hipster comedy that's out now, like Girls and Portlandia. And I guess we all have a friend who name drops ridiculously.

To me you don't look or sound that much like her, and the script isn't especially Chloe-specific, yet the parody is spot-on. Is that because we're ready to make fun of hipsters?
I've always been obsessed with the downtown urban world—full of homeless snobs and trust-fund disco shits. They are all so much cooler than I am, cooler than I ever want to be. And I happen to look a little bit like the queen of indie everything, Chloe Sevigny. But yeah, I don't aspire to do a dead-on impression of her. I think she's awesome, a great actress and an unapologetic original. I think lots of people want me to go after her and make Brown Bunny/American Horror Story/Opening Ceremony jokes, but I'm way more interested in the fantasy that I've created. The character I play lives in her own universe that parodies the society, more than just one person.

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Sep 07, 2012 11:19:00
Dick Page

Dick Page Channels His Inner Vogue Editor

Dick Page is known for his deftness with brushes and pencils, his hilarious quotes, and his modeling debut with boyfriend James Gibbs for a Marc Jacobs campaign. Tomorrow, the make-up artist extraordinaire will reveal a new skill as he reads the letters of Madge Garland at Dixon Place theater in New York. A high-camp figure, albeit a forgotten one in fashion history, Garland edited British Vogue during the interwar period.

The reading was masterminded by Lisa Cohen, the author of All We Know, a biography of Garland as well as two other sapphic society ladies, Ester Murphy and Mercedes de Acosta, whose letters will be read by actresses.

Dick Page reading the part of a high-camp lesbian editor? We had to know more...

How did you get the gig come about?
My friend, the actress Moe Angelos, who is reading Esther Murphy, asked me to do it.

How was the training?
No training, ha! I’ve just starting reading through the script with the author Lisa Cohen and the other performers, Moe and Carmelita Tropicana.

What did you know about Madge Garland?
I knew that she’d originated from the Fashion School at the Royal College of Art, but other than that I wasn’t familiar with her work.

I heard she had quite a difficult childhood because of her ailing health.
Lisa, who adapted her book All We Know for this reading, describes Madge as having a curvature of the spine, grave trouble with her feet and ankles, and suffering from numerous allergies.

Apparently she wasn't very good-looking either...
She was tall, thin, and slightly bucktoothed, with eyes that were a little too close together.

How were her parents?
Her mother was kind, but remote, whilst her father was a bit of a tyrant.

How influential was she as editor of British Vogue?
Madge was made fashion editor and, along with Dody Todd, the editor, she was instrumental in combining art, literature, architecture, design and fashion in one magazine.

She was also very campy. Can you share a quip?
My favorite quote expresses her feelings about athletic activity. “Sport is absolutely—ca n’existe pas. Ca n’existe pas,” she said. “If you want the damn ball, keep it, don’t throw it away.”

And she was married to a gay man...
Yes, although her life was complicated and her friendships and relationships even more so.

How come she is not well-known in the fashion world?
Many and varied reasons, chiefly that people have such short memories! Also, English Vogue was without a masthead for many years and much of Madge's strength was her talent for bringing together various artists, writers, photographers, designers and so forth, which is hard to quantify.

Which current editor-in-chief would you liken to Madge Garland?
I don’t know if there is a contemporary version of Madge. Hamish Bowles might best fit the bill.

All We Know, $10-15, September 5, Dixon Place, 161A Chrystie Street, NYC

Sep 04, 2012 12:42:00
Cameron Silver, photo Patrick McMullan

One Sentence or Less

Cameron Silver: Founder of Decades, Author of Decades: A Century of Style (Oct 2012), Bravo's Next Reality Star (early 2013)

What did you do immediately before this questionnaire?
Drink a kombucha.

What will you do immediately following this questionnaire?

What is your idea of bliss?
Lying in bed with no plans.

What is your idea of misery?
Lying in bed with no plans.

What is the strangest article of clothing in your closet?
Where do we begin?  

What is your proudest moment?
When my parents are happy.

What is your greatest regret?
When I am short with my parents.

What catchphrase do you use the most?
Lollipops and butterflies.

What is your best personality trait?
I am a caring person.

What is your worst personality trait?
I love to fabricate lies for gullible people.

What is the best advice you've given?
Use your DNA or lose your DNA.

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Sep 03, 2012 13:43:00
Alexandre Herchcovitch

Alexandre Herchcovitch Can Do Anything, Even Act

He's many things to many people, yet Alexandre Herchcovitch is unlike any other designer in Brazil. A true contrarian, if he does partake in the Brazilian tradition of putting a bikini on the runway, he'll pair it with a balaclava. But of all the superlatives that define him, perhaps indefatigable is the most apt. I learned this once again on a recent trip to Fashion Rio, where the Paulistano provocateur and my old friend presented his second line, Herchcovitch, and launched an eponymous store, his first in the Marvelous City. And where, to my surprise (but not), he told me he's started acting... 

We're backstage at your show and you're so calm, Ale.
I cannot be stressed. This collection was ready twenty days ago. For the show I'm presenting in Sao Paulo on June 11, we're going to do 32 looks and 28 of them are already done. Now I'm working on the next collection, not the one in two weeks, which is pretty much over for me.

I'm reminded of the time I met you ages ago. You were DJing at the Festa da Peruca (wig party) and zen-like in your calmness...
Because I don't believe in being nervous. Stress won't help me out. I stay relaxed and I trust everyone in my team, and I count on them. They know exactly what I like, which is to be very quiet.

Speaking of wigs, transgender models are all the rage these days. I feel like you started that, like ten years ago.
More than ten years ago. In November 1993 I had a drag queen friend of mine walk in a show. That was almost twenty years ago. For years after that I kept using tranny friends in my shows. Lea T walked in a show of mine a year and a half ago. I didn't use her to open the show. She was among the other models...

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Jun 05, 2012 15:19:00
Stephen Jones

The World According to Stephen Jones

Like all eccentrics, Stephen Jones is fascinated by history. The merry milliner and Anglophile finds inspiration in everything from Britain's neoclassical architecture to those romantic poets, with their tight bonnets and loose turbans. Currently on view at the glorious Bowes Museum outside London, he's donned vintage mannequins with items from his personal hat collection and given the exhibit the rather provocative name From Georgiana to Boy George. Here, Jones gives us his unique perspective on Georges King and Boy, the Diamond Jubilee (where there will be only one Queen, mind you), his ongoing gig at Dior and the inimitable Elsa Schiaparelli ...

Tell us about the show, Stephen. It sounds fantastic.
It's a collection of hats from Georgiana to Boy George that I've collected over the last 30 years. I've always loved Georgian neoclassicism. It's in the Bowes, a museum built in the 17th century. Basically one branch of the family got the title and the other branch got the money. The guy who got the money went to Paris with an Englishwoman, and stuffed this mansion full of amazing paintings, antiques and furniture.

What makes a Georgian hat Georgian?
A Georgian hat has a very elegant line. Most of the old buildings in London are Georgian, built around 1750. They're the nice neoclassical ones, with really beautifully proportioned rooms. But then when it gets into the next era, Victorian, it gets gothic and really itsy bitsy.

Interesting to have Boy George in the title of your show. You two go way back.
Yes, here's a funny story about George. I used to have this little minivan. One day I was driving around Parliament Square and George was singing in the back of my van. George has got the most exquisite singing voice and I believe there's no recording that sounds as good. It's unbelievable. I remember telling him he should be a singer. He said, "Oh, I'd really like to, but I haven't got the confidence." How things have changed!

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May 21, 2012 18:58:00

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