Legendary editor Tonn Goodman spoke about the collaboration with Mario Testino and Stephen Meisel and the organization of filming of all famous personalities, ranging from the supermodels of the 90s and ending with Kim Kardashian.
If you can imagine the crowd that has gathered for the performance of some K-pop-group or the launch of the next line of cosmetics from the Kardashian family, then you can definitely imagine a powerful crowd of fashionable youth and the main players in the industry, poured onto the pavement of Bliker Street, from the narrow entrance door of the Bookmarc bookstore, which gathered there for the sake of the legendary stylist and former director of fashion at Vogue magazine, Ton Goodman, who is holding an autograph session in honor of the release of his new book, Point of View: Four Decades of Defining Style (published by Abra ms)
In “Point of View”, the stylist takes on the daunting task of shedding light on a career that imperceptibly, and sometimes vividly (remember the revolutionary cover with Beyoncé?) Influenced the way in America is estimated and consumed by fashionable media. The work, which includes more than 170 covers of Vogue and 363 pages devoted to the cult fashion, may well become the reference book of the industry. The book was bought almost instantly – several copies were put aside for Anna Wintour, Annie Leibovitz, Gigi Hadid and Mark Jacobs, who also looked in the store to support their friend and collaborator.
So, well, acting in the spirit of journalistic honesty, now, probably, the moment has come when I should admit that I – the president of the fan club Ton Goodman and her former assistant – may not be completely objective with respect to her. Just before the start of the meeting, I called everybody’s favorite editor to gossip a little.
Gabriella Karefa-Johnson (GARAGE): I don't even know where to start. Probably from the beginning. What do you think, why did you fail with the art school?
Ton Goodman: I think that Harry Soviak helped me a lot in this, saying that I will never become an artist! He was very caustic. And you know what? He was right! At university I lived in a house with two girls. One of them was called Carol, she had such a wonderful character, and she just constantly painted and painted, and each character she had was more terrible than the other, and so on, but in the end it all turned into a beautiful picture. And I did not know how to do it. If I drew something, and it didn’t seem something aesthetically pleasing to me, then I just didn’t give this work to the test. I just could not. And for the artist this is a very important process. That's it over.
Thank God (goddess) that you got into the fashion industry, because many of those images to which the collective “we” returns again and again were yours. I liked the first appearance of the supermodels of the 90s in your book.
Ton Goodman: You know, then they were everywhere. When they were supermodels, everyone photographed them. One of the things that makes me hurt in the case of Kristie Tarlington is that most of her famous photos for Vogue were taken when I worked at Harper’s Bazaar, so there are very few of them in the book. But it has a lot of pictures for Calvin (Klein).
It seems to me that this book is a bit like a retrospective of the artist’s mid-career. This may seem a bit contradictory, as if you are saying goodbye to something while being at the very epicenter of this activity.
Ton Goodman: There really is something contradictory in it. But in fact, it's just amazing, its volume, all this number of events. You think: "Did I really do so much?" And then, of course, you come across some old photo and think: "Oh, I remember that day."
At that time, did you realize that the other young talents with whom you work were partners with whom you could create ambitious projects?
Ton Goodman: No, you do not realize it. You just do your job, and that was exactly my motivation. I had a job. This was the most important thing. I was just lucky that in passing I managed to meet so many wonderful people. When you meet people with whom you are interested in spending time and creating something more than just pictures, working relationships are formed on their own. Mario was a great example and a great partner. We met the day before the shooting and, if it was necessary, we stayed up until three in the morning to try on each image, choose accessories, arguing whether these stockings fit this dress or not.
I think most people want to live in your photos. Because they represent some kind of affordable fantasy and luxury – which, I think, is largely connected with the places in which you shot them. When you worked in Vogue, you had an incredible level of access to them!
Ton Goodman: Yes, Vogue’s powerful influence is noticeable in this, but you shouldn’t forget that before that, when I worked at Harper’s Bazaar, I had to organize everything myself. You yourself get to the site, understand the location, behind the scenes there is no huge team, but the expectations are as high as they are now. And this was a good preparation for me. And Vogue has incredible access to everything. You can ride to the Great Wall of China, you can, along with Mark Bradford, go to the US pavilion at the Venice Biennale before the opening of the exhibition. You have the opportunity to open any doors – and the doors that need to be opened.
Have you ever thought about becoming an editor who creates the most iconic shots in fashion photography? If you go back to the times when you just started, when you created those pictures that are now known to everyone, did you already feel how important they could be?
Ton Goodman: No, hardly. I never thought that I would create unforgettable photos. I gladly accepted the fact that Grace (Coddington) took this place. And I did not shoot some, you know, provocative photos, like Phyllis (Posnik). My task was to show clothes that can be worn. My work in Vogue with Stephen Meisel mostly revolved around clothes. These pictures came from other collaborations, and not from those that we did with Mario, because with him we just put on a model some basic element of the image, and then in the studio on both sides of the set we set tables with accessories, which was shoes, belts, hats, jewelry and so on, step by step. It was a true search for the right image.
Your book is incredible, because every image is a snapshot of Ton Goodman as much as a snapshot of Stephen Klein, and I don't think everyone does that. And just as important is the fact that there is not one particular style of tons of goodman. Yes, of course, you are known as the architect of modern America, but in your work you always experiment and show yourself from a new side, which we have not yet seen.
Ton Goodman: Have you seen the cover with Kim Kardashian, which we recently filmed with Michael Jansson?
I really like these photos, because they reflect exactly what I said earlier. According to them it is impossible to say that this is Kim Kardashian in the style of Ton Goodman, they look as if it is just Kim Kardashian. And all this is because loud names (which thanks to you have been placed on the covers of Vogue), drama and sexuality are integral elements of your style as an editor. We can easily find out that this is your photo, as well as a picture of Daria Verbova, which is hanging in the studio.
Ton Goodman: Well, this is definitely a compliment. Not exactly a perfect hit, but quite close. You know, about what happened when we decided which picture to put on the cover. Did you hear this story? My daughter Ivi saw the cover and thought: “This is just too predictable. This is exactly what is expected of you. It seems as if you do not know anything else, but this is not true. ” Just what we have chosen for this photo can be used anywhere.
You just have to tell me where your nude picture came from, which is in the book.
Ton Goodman: Well, you know, I always liked to walk naked.
Tell in details!
Ton Goodman: The fact is that in those days I was in close contact with Nicky Vreeland, and his mother and Peter Tompkins called me to stay with them in Miami. But the best in this photo is my “thicket”.
I assume the picture was taken in … the 70s?
Ton Goodman: Do not forget that in those days, the epilation of the bikini zone was called only a small haircut around the swimsuit.
Another 70s symbol in this book is hot, long-haired men. I’m talking about that chapter about Marten, the sailor you fell in love with on vacation and with whom you ended up living on a sailing boat! Just paradise. I did not know that you are such a temptress. Yes, you had the hottest guys!
Ton Goodman: You know what? I even somehow did not think about it.
Interview with Anna Wintour about the struggle for their beliefs, read the link