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2012 October 16

Book Reporting with Hamish Bowles

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Hamish Bowles Hamish Bowles
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(NEW YORK) Barney's, along with Hamish Bowles and Tonne Goodman, hosted a cocktail party to celebrate the release of the new book Vogue: The Editors Eye at their Madison Avenue store. The new book (a whopping 416 pages!) honors the indelible role Vogue's fashion editors have played in photography and fashion over the past 120 years. In between autographing copies, The Daily caught up with Bowles (he wrote the foreword) to get the scoop on why you'll need to clear a little room on your book shelves. BY EDDIE ROCHE 

What exactly is Vogue: The Editor's Eye?
It's a celebration of the sitting editors who have collaborated with photographers through the years and created these iconic images. It was really a way that Anna [Wintour] conceived to celebrate 120 years of Vogue. We started the book with the editor Babs Simpson, who turns 100 this year. She joined Vogue in the mid-forties, and produced work with Irving Penn on some of the iconic mid-century images. Then it goes to Polly Mellen who worked with Avedon and so many others, to the editors from the seventies and eighties and right up to today with Grace [Coddington], Phyllis Posnick, and Tonne Goodman. They're all intriguing women. You'll be able to see much more of them because HBO has produced a documentary that takes on the theme of the book. 

What did you learn about Vogue from the book that you didn't know?
The individual essays that accompany each woman's portfolio of work were really interesting. I kind of learned new things in all of them, oddly enough, about the process and fanatical attention to detail and how profound these women's visions are and how different they all are. 

Do you have a favorite image in the book?
I don't! I admire all of the ladies. I certainly think that Babs Simpson's images with Irving Penn and Bert Stern sitting with Marilyn [Monroe] are indelible images. There are so many breathtaking pictures that have defined different social moments and moments in fashion for the decades. It's extraordinary. 

How long was the project in development?
Not that long! Anna likes us to work on these books on more of a magazine schedule. It was quite a rabid turn around.

And Rooney Mara is on the cover...
That was Tonne's sitting. I'm sure that was Anna's choice. It's a clear case of a powerful editor like Tonne really shaping a celebrity's image in quite a powerful way. Rooney certainly didn't look like that six months before the picture was taken, but that's kind of the way we see her now. These editors can be very influential and that image sort of sums it up.

You're signing autographs on the books. Did you practice your signature as a child?
I did! There's a scene in the movie Barry Lyndon when Marisa Berenson, who plays the Countess of Lyndon, is signing promissory notes on behalf of her estranged husband. She signs it 'H' for her first name, and she did it so beautifully that I practiced and practiced to get that same 'H'. 

Have you succeeded?
I don't know if I've succeeded, but that's where my miserable little scrawl all began!

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