A Statement About the Transience of Life and Fashion

“Visionaire first featured the designs of Lee Alexander McQueen in 1996 and since that time, he has been a continuous inspiration and a presence in Visionaire. McQueen’s special commissions are among our most treasured contributions. His daring designs and challenging ideas of fashion have consistently excited and provoked us.”

Stephen Gan, Cecilia Dean and James Kaliardos

Magazine’s founders

 
 

Visionaire 58 SPIRIT, a limited-edition of 1500 numbered copies

 
 

Protected in a modernly-chic white box, the tri-annual fashion and art publication Visionaire has released its tribute to the life and work of late fashion designer and icon Lee Alexander McQueen. The issue includes a collection of photographs by Nick Knight, Lady Gaga, Steven Klein, Steven Meisel, Inez van Lamsweerde & Vinoodh Matadin, Mario Testino, Mario Sorrenti and more, each printed on a piece of pulp paper embedded with wildflower seeds that will actually blossom if you plant them, water them and give them enough sun. However, with its striking images and homage to a true fashion legacy, we don’t intend to plant the pages anytime soon. Plus, the case features a metalized brocade detail from the designer’s final collection. All in all, a very romantic collector’s piece.

Several years before issue 58 came to be (2003), Alexander “Lee” McQueen came to the Visionaire office to discuss collaborating on an issue that ultimately never happened. One day, the staff was discussing a potential issue printed on seeded paper, and the next day, news came that McQueen, one of the most brilliant creative minds of our time, had passed away. The team took this as a sign and dedicated SPIRIT to him. The issue set out to commemorate McQueen’s life and career by publishing the imagery that had defined it.

 
 

Alexander McQueen by Steven Klein

 
 

Illustration by François Berthoud

 
 

Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott for Visionaire 29 WOMAN

 
 

Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott for Visionaire 26 FANTASY

 
 

Horst Diekgerdes and Camille Bidault Waddington for Visionaire 25 VISIONARY

 
 

Alexander McQueen and Phil Pointer for Visionaire 24 LIGHT

 
 

Nick Knight for Visionaire 20 COMME DES GARÇONS

 
 

Steven Klein for Visionaire 18 FASHION SPECIAL

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The Most-Sought-After Title of the Nineties

Linda Evangelista. Art Direction: Fabien Baron. Photo by Patrick Demarchelier. It was the first issue from Liz Tilberis at Harper’s Bazaar. September 1992

 
 

Sex and design, not that long ago, were total strangers—at least in magazines. You could have sex and fashion, as Helmut Newton had memorably proved in Vogue, and you could have fashion and design, as Alexey Brodovitch, Harper’s Bazaar’s legendary art director from 1934 to 1958, had shown. But Fabien Baron’s remarkable 1992 redesign of Bazaar, under editor Liz Tilberis, brought them together under one elegant, sensuous roof. Baron also introduced art-world and European photographers (Mario Testino, David Sims, Cindy Sherman, Craig McDean, Mario Sorrenti, Raymond Meier, Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin) to the fashion world for the first time, permanently altering our perception of what a fashion photographer does.

Baron grew up in Paris, the son of a magazine art director. He came to New York at 23; his first magazine job was at GQ, in 1982, where Bruce Weber was making his name. By the late eighties, he was multitasking prodigiously, producing Barneys’ famous ads with Linda Evangelista, Christy Turlington, and Naomi Campbell, and working on Franca Sozzani’s Italian Vogue and Ingrid Sischy’s Interview, all at the same time. By 1992, when he landed at Bazaar, he was a ubiquitous design star.

And a new kind of star at that: a “creative director,” which in short order became the most-sought-after (and then clichéd) title of the nineties. “I was the first person to have that title,” he says. “I didn’t want to be just the art director!”

Religion as A Liberating Force

 
 

No designer draws on religious themes to quite such glorious effect as Givenchy’s Riccardo Tisci. Thus, it made perfect sense that Tisci came on board to guest-edit Visionaire’s 60th issue, RELIGION. Housed inside a distressed wood case lined in black Plexiglas, a book of images revealed Tisci’s world and the inspiration behind his work. Naturally, the works were loaded with symbolism, like a photo of Tisci suckling at the teat of Marina Abramovic — an image the performance artist says echoed the relationship between art and fashion. “When Riccardo was asked who I wanted to collaborate with,” Abramovic recalls, “I said the only thing I want is to collaborate with you. That was my ultimatum. I said to him, This is the situation: do you admit that fashion is inspired by art? Well I am the art, you are the fashion, now suck my tits! He’s very shy, so it took him a while to come around. But he did. During the shoot, I wanted to be in a state of mind as if I were delivering the emotions of the artist whose work is being used as inspiration—luminous yet strong. Art is giving. Art is nourishing. Art is oxygen to society. I was thinking what the title would be, and I thought of The Contract.” For Tisci, it was an opportunity to meditate on his past and present. “Visionaire was a truly important moment of reflection for me,” he says. “This collection of work celebrates inner truths, inner dialogues, and moments which words cannot quantify.”

Riccardo Tisci explores “religion as liberating force, complete with its share of saints, sinners, and supermodels.” However vaguely Tisci sees his own faith, his Visionaire is Catholic with a capital C, featuring eye-popping imagery that turns a millennium of European art on its head. Housed in an unfolding wooden case that nods to the great tradition of the altarpiece, the issue doesn’t scrimp on saints, including Carine Roitfeld, appropriately venerated in a series of haunting portraits by Karl Lagerfeld. (“Religion is anything you believe in,” the Chanel designer offers.)

The rest of the issue is an exuberant visual tribute to religious tropes. The Madonna and Child are revisited by Mario Sorrenti, and while she’s not exactly Rubenesque, there’s a certain minimalist serenity about her that beguiles. Paolo Canevari and Francesco Carrozzini canonize Franca Sozzani, complete with a Giotto-like halo, while Tisci’s house model, Lea T, is reimagined by Giovanna Battaglia and Pierpaolo Ferrari as a beautiful veiled martyr in Renaissance-style couture. The Son then comes into his own as Danko and Ana Steiner and Jared Buckheister rework the crucifixion, mounting Jesus on—or is it at—a lectern. Some of the pictures are slightly less tranquil. The shoot by Mert Alas & Marcus Piggott of Lara Stone bound in ropes beside a burning cross conjures both Saint Joan and Mississippi Burning. But perhaps the most indelible image is that of Tisci suckling at the breast of Marina Abramovic, a woman who knows a thing or two about suffering for belief.

 
 

Dum Vivimus Vivamus

Dum vivimus vivamus is a Latin phrase that means “While we live, let us live”. It is often taken to be an epicurean declaration.

Emily Dickinson once used it in a letter written to William Howland:

“Sic transit gloria mundi*
How doth the busy bee,
Dum vivimus vivamus,
I stay my enemy!”

 
 

Portrait of Salvador Dalí, Philippe Halsman

 
 

Brion Gysin

 
 

Alfred Hitchcock

 
 

One of the members of Jefferson Airplane by Jim Marshall

 
 

Andy Warhol and Mick Jagger

 
 

Still from Tommy (Ken Russell, 1975)

 
 

David Bowie

 
 

Tim Burton

 
 

Beck Hansen

 
 

Michael Stipe, Mario Sorrenti for Interview Magazine, March 2011

 
 

Lady Gaga and model Rick Genest, still from Born This Way music video (Nick Night, 2011)

 
 

*Sic transit gloria mundi is a Latin phrase that means “Thus passes the glory of the world.” It has been interpreted as “Worldly things are fleeting.” It is possibly an adaptation of a phrase in Thomas à Kempis‘s 1418 work The Imitation of Christ: “O quam cito transit gloria mundi” (“How quickly the glory of the world passes away”).

After Manet’s Masterpiece

Le déjeuner sur l’herbe, with Gustave Courbet, Claude Monet, 1865-1866

 
 

Manet’s painting inspired Picasso to a cycle of 27 paintings, 140 drawings, 3 linogravures and cardboard marquettes for sculpture carried out between 1949 and 1962

 
 

Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe (Picnic on the Grass), a 1959 film directed by Jean Renoir

 
 

Jim Lee’s version for Cosmopolitan, June 1974

 
 

Déjeuner sur l’herbe, a photograph by Jonathan Charles, 1974

 
 

Title, and features similar front cover art, of British bigband the New Jazz Orchestra on Verve Records,1969

 
 

See Jungle! See Jungle! Go Join Your Gang, Yeah! City All Over, Go Ape Crazy! (1981) is the second studio album by pop rock group Bow Wow Wow. The album was the first release by the group to chart, at #192 on the Billboard 200. Posing nude is lead singer Annabella Lwin, who was fifteen at the time of the album’s release. The Andy Earl cover caused outrage that led to an investigation by Scotland Yard, instigated by Lwin’s mother and never appeared on UK and US releases.

 
 

Still from The Simpsons

 
 

Yves Saint Laurent Spring Summer 1999 ad campaign photographed by Mario Sorrenti

 
 

Untitled (after Manet’s Dejeuner sur L’Herbe), Julie Rrap, 2002

 
 

Star Wars Le déjeuner sur l’herbe, after Manet, by Philip Bond, 2009

 
 

Babar the Elephant after Manet, possibly by the fictional character’s author, Jean de Brunnhoff

 
 

Graphic art by Stano Masar

 
 

Les Trois Femmes Noires, Mickalene Thomas, 2010

 
 

Secret Garden II: Versailles. Dior Fall-Winter 2013 ad campaign by Inez Van Lamsweerde y Vinoodh Matadin