Europe between the wars was full of fascinating characters, many of them
forgotten today. Now Jean-Noel Liaut — a Frenchman who has written 11
books on subjects that include writer Karen Blixen, designer Hubert de
Givenchy, model/actress Natalie Paley and antiques dealer/decorator
Madeleine Castaing — has rediscovered one: Catharina Koopman, known as
Toto. She was born in Java and became an haute couture model in Paris,
then a spy for the Allies, an inmate in Ravensbruck, the longtime
girlfriend of art dealer Erica Brausen and an archaeologist.
created a beautiful compound on the then-primitive Italian island of
Panarea, where she and Brausen, who launched the career of Francis
Bacon, entertained guests prominent in the arts and society. Their
circle included Alexander Korda, Luchino Visconti, the Duchess of
Devonshire, Joan Miró, Alberto Giacometti, Peter Brook, Pierre Boulez,
Lee Miller and Bruce Chatwin.
Liaut tells her story in “The Many
Lives of Miss K.: Toto Koopman — Model, Muse, Spy” (Rizzoli Ex Libris),
translated by Denise Raab Jacobs. Its subject’s life offers many
surprises. “She was a free spirit,” says Liaut. “She was fascinating for
many different reasons. She spoke five languages fluently, she was a
brilliant wit, she was beautiful, but it’s much more than that. All her
friends are still completely captivated by her — the glamorous
This is a bold claim, but i stand behind it: if you learn and follow
these five typography rules, you will be a better typographer
than 95% of professional writers and 70% of professional
designers. (The rest of this book will raise you to the 99th
percentile in both categories.)
All it takes is ten minutes—five minutes to read these rules once, then five minutes to read them again.
With energy and glamour, iconic photographer Craig McDean captures the celebrated evolution of fashion’s biggest muses: Kate Moss, Guinevere van Seenus, and Amber Valletta. With their waiflike frames and unique features that contrasted with the supermodels of the ’80s, Amber, Guinevere, and Kate became the anti-supermodels that, alongside grunge, signified a global shift in culture. And Craig McDean, an artist with a talented eye for the striking and unusual, photographed them from their beginnings. McDean, whose works are praised for their conceptual and sophisticated edge, is well respected in both the photography and fashion worlds. Shot on film from 1992 through 2002, this roughly chronological volume of 150 color and black-and-white images includes never-before-published photographs, outtakes from famous shoots, and contact sheets. Texts by Mathias Augustyniak of M/M (Paris) and author Glenn O’Brien add depth and perspective to the works. The photographs within this volume capture the essence of an era that changed fashion forever and will be treasured by fashion, style, and photography lovers from all generations.
The signature struts of today’s catwalkers, such as Cara Delevingne and Karlie Kloss, can be traced back to the early twentieth century, when the shift toward movement and modernity produced a desire to see clothes in motion. Staged in the U.S. and France, these first fashion shows were—as Caroline Evans posits in her new book, The Mechanical Smile—”a nodal point” for the convergence of everything from visual art and cinema to international trade and women’s liberation. “This shift occurs in the same period as cinema, so you have lots of moving devices, and people were particularly fascinated by the technology,” Evans, a professor of fashion history and theory at Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design, told Style.com from London. “Collectively, it contributed to a sense of modernity and a sense of speed and acceleration.”
Following in that louche tradition of Mr Richardson and Mr Kern, South Africa’s Henrik Purienne is the latest photographer to specialise in sun-dappled shots of half-naked and ridiculously good-looking girls. His subject matter spans blonde to blonder and leggy to leggier, but what makes Purienne’s photography that bit more mouth watering is the sultry, 70s-poolside atmosphere that permeates his work. Were things just sexier back in those days? “Everything was so well designed, so timeless and cool. Including the girls,” suggests Purienne, whose first, eponymous book comes out this month.
The international, English language, multiple award-winning fashion and style magazine Stockholm New was published in a total of twelve issues over the years 1992-2002. It‘s a well-documented claim that the magazine was trendsetting, even groundbreaking, not only in Sweden but internationally. It‘s also generally acknowledged that Stockholm New played a key role in the creation of a new contemporary Sweden image” — that of a modern, cutting edge scene for fashion, trends, design, and a wide range of creative expressions.
Now the best of the classic material from Stockholm New has been selected for publication in a massive (more than 496 pages hardcover) coffee table book, along with a great deal of newly produced exclusive material — fashion, nudes, landscapes, architecture, still-lifes, art, cultural history, portraits, historic photography and more. The book will be launched on May 30th at the esteemed and historic Thielska Galleriet museum in Stockholm’s Royal Djurgården Park (www.thielska-galleriet.se) — a great event that also marks the opening of the exhibition Stockholm New — national romanticism from double turn of the centuries: contemporary fashion photography meets classic masterpiece painting.
Photographer Alexandra Carr met Paz de la Huerta--the actress and Boardwalk Empire star--in New York in 2007, shortly before Paz became the celebrity she is today, and they soon agreed to collaborate on a photo project. They began shooting in the fall of 2008, often using Paz’s small West Village apartment as a backdrop--which was mercifully well heated throughout that especially cold New York winter. A gorgeous, linen-bound volume, The Birds Didn’t Die over the Winter explores themes of love, loneliness and the difficult transition from youth into relative maturity. As Carr recalls, “it was made during a turbulent time in Paz’s life and her life is a subtext in an otherwise imagined reality. We would discuss a character and direction beforehand and then Paz would play out these roles partly of made up characters and of favorite scenes from films each shoot.” Paz is a charismatic subject throughout the book, at once fearless, sexual and vividly present, moving fluidly between roleplay and apparent candor. Carr explains the title: “[Paz] called one morning in the spring saying she had an idea for what we should call the book. She said she woke up and heard birds outside her window. She couldn’t believe they had survived such an abominable winter. It was a perfect metaphor for the book.”
Below is an excerpt from the opening of the book, of how it all began, back in 1923. The book then takes you through the Supermodels of the 90's. As the titled suggests, it's not all pretty; a lot of dirt in this book.
John Robert Powers was a dark, handsome man but a lousy actor, as he was the first to admit. So around 1915 he took a job as a bit player and wardrobe boy with impresario Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree, the Shakespearean actor, in his touring theater troupe. Powers’s acting skills eventually won him a job as assistant business manager. When Tree closed his company, the scarcity of parts for a man with no talent became a problem.
Then, one day, a man approached Powers about posing for a photograph with silent screen star Mary Pickford. Powers showed up at the appointed time and place three days in a row. Pickford never appeared. But Powers, $30 richer, had experienced nothing less than an epiphany. He found another commercial photographer who needed a model. Although he had a long, sharp nose, thick eyebrows, and thin lips, it didn’t seem to matter.
It was the Damon Runyon era, when urban fables embellished their way from the Great White Way into history. So almost every account of the birth of the John Robert Powers agency differs from the last, sharing only hyperbole and an apocryphal quality. But a sketch emerges nonetheless of how Powers invented the modeling business. By the most likely account, in about 1921, Powers showed up for a job with a photographer named Baron Adolphe de Meyer. The baron worked for fashion magazines and clothing manufacturers. He asked Powers to round up seven more men to work in an ensemble. “I got them for him and then he kept asking me to get him some more,” Powers said. The job was easy because “most of my friends, like myself, were actors, and again like myself, they were what is laughingly known as ‘resting.’”
These were the days when two-reel silent films were produced in a small circuit of studios stretching from South Brooklyn to Fort Lee, New Jersey. Out-of-work thespians would loiter in front of the Palace Theater in Fort Lee, hoping for work. Powers knew them all, and soon his pockets were overflowing with their phone numbers. Photographers began calling him instead of advertising for models. “I seemed to be able to get in touch with people more readily than anyone else,” Powers said. “Bit by bit I seemed to be assuming the proportions of an extra’s clearing house. But this was all unconscious. I didn’t have the business sense to see the possibilities.” Finally, though, “a great light smote me in the face. If I was becoming so useful, why couldn’t I become useful to myself?"
Powers credited Alice Hathaway Burton, his wide-eyed Kewpie doll blond wife, with hatching the idea of a model agency. “There must be lots of commercial photographers looking for models,” she told him. “And we know dozens of actors and actresses out of work. Why can’t we find a way of bringing them together?”
So Powers “had their pictures taken, made up a catalogue containing their descriptions and measurements, and sent it to anyone in New York who might be a prospective client—commercial photographers, advertisers, department stores, artists,” he recalled. “There were not more than 40 people listed in that first catalogue,” which was published in 1923, “but the idea was a new one. While I had started with the idea of supplying a demand, I began to realize that I was creating one.”
A lucky break with real estate helped, too. “John lived in an old brownstone over a speakeasy just off Broadway then,” a friend of his remembered. “That was the humble beginning of the modeling industry."
“Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only,” Coco Chanel once said. “Fashion is in the sky, in the street. Fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.” This is the concept Bérénice Vila Baudry is going for with her new book, French Style. Out this April, the tome examines its subject from all angles. “I love fashion,” Baudry, a professor at Columbia University, told Style.com. “But fashion is the obvious thing to talk about when you think of French style. I didn’t want the book to be just about that.”
You can see inside images and pre-order the $65 book at Assouline. They describe the book as:
Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité … Le Canard Enchaîné … manifs … J’accuse! … Académie Française … Pétanque … Oh là là … Yé-Yé … From Abbé Pierre and Brigitte Bardot to Yves Saint Laurent and Zidane, French history abounds with artists and intellectuals, music and screen legends, thinkers and inventors, et bien sûr, chic. French Style exports the country’s best—innovations from universal human rights to the bikini, philosophical and literary luminaries from the Enlightenment to Existentialism, gastronomic delights and Nouvelle Vague cinema. With dynamic photographs juxtaposing concepts from haute couture and scientific advancements to pop stars and popular culture, French Style is as sophisticated as the nation it celebrates. This lavishly illustrated, fun and informal yet surprisingly informative compendium brings to life the savoir faire and joie de vivre that is French Style.
The French believe that they made Cristóbal Balenciaga’s career, but his biographer Mary Blume doesn’t buy it.
“He was 41 when he came to France, and he was already extremely successful,” says Blume,
“He was such a perfectionist,” she says of Balenciaga. “He was always ripping up sleeves. He was so incredibly watchful — he would be upset if he saw a woman in a restaurant in a Balenciaga with a button missing or the collar wrong.”
Now comes an online venture, Henry, which films serious writers like Sam Lipsyte, Ben Marcus and Christine Schutt reading three-minute snippets from their work. “Our aim is to provide access to literary readings for people who don’t live in proximity to KGB Bar or the small places in Brooklyn where readings are usually held,” said Katherine Bernard, a writer for Vogue and the Paris Review Daily, who founded the site with her boyfriend, Shayne Barr, a Columbia M.F.A. writing graduate, and Jerone Hsu, the founder of the think tank Prime Produce.