Music Fucks with Fashion: An Interview with Cozette McCreery

photograph by Nick Dorey 

I first met Cozette McCreery when I was trying on a flower and knit embellished coat and did a few twirls of delight. Her head nod of acknowledgment anointed me with a sense of cool that shook me up a little. After hours of online research I couldn’t get enough and I started to run off on tangents of whether or not to question her on her time as Lucian Freud’s muse or her stint in Israel as a shepherd in training. As one third of the design collective Sibling along with Joe Bates and Sid Bryan, Cozette is part of a special order of epic ladies whose stories from clubland can keep you wide awake and high… like a good Netflix binge. When I finally grabbed a moment with her during her preparation for the AW 2015 women’s Sibling show in London, I decided to ask her the hard hitting questions on the designer clothes, raves, and 80’s era Madge that fueled her. 

BJ Panda Bear: What was your most epic outfit of that rave era?

CM: Thankfully no one brought cameras or had smart phones as I probably looked like a sweaty mess! Not sure if it was ‘epic’ as frankly it was pre-raves when all of us club kids really dressed up (I’d wear Alaia, Gaultier, vintage YSL, full red Jasper Conran suits, Alastair Blair, Rifat Ozbek and Patrick Kelly to clubs. Trying to either be very Robert Palmer video or a Roxy Music groupie) and raves were just not the place for full catwalk looks. I’d be in a Shoom T shirt, Alaia leggings and Travel Fox. Or a full Conran multi-strap dance all in one, leather wrap mini (it was like a belt - to quote my Father) and Nikes. Raving was all about the music and dancing and getting really really sweaty, less about the venue and wether your lipstick had smudged. I was also listening to a lot of Hip Hop at the time so that influenced how I dressed too.

I didn’t get back in to dressing up for a club night until Richard Mortimer asked me to take over the door at Boombox. Every Sunday I had the chance to wear my new designer frocks (Gareth Pugh, Jonathan Saunders, Raf at Jil Sander, Giles) and heels. 

BJ: Last seasons epic homage to Madonna circa “borderline” tugged on all my happy strings. What music have you been listening lately to as inspiration for the new collection and life in general? 

CM: I was always a massive fan of Madonna, still am, but that period was the one I love the most and the one I tried desperately (seeking - haha) hard to imitate in my dress. I listen to music all the time and usually instigate the choices for both the men’s and women’s shows. For men’s AW15 I wanted something that sounded like it could come from a young guy’s music collection, played loud in his bedroom. As it was an evening show (and all pink!) I also wanted it to be a bit sexier especially as Matthew Josephs had cast these buff guys. Women’s AW15 is still to be decided as I keep listening to stuff and thinking yeah this is great then walk to it and think nope not going to work. That’s why it’s brilliant to work with Nathan Gregory Wilkins as he’ll offer ideas and we can bat things off one another and Phoebe Arnold our womenswear stylist has good suggestions too. 

As for my day to day listening well, it’s a bit random. I don’t tend to stick to one genre and try not to be a music snob so if I like the latest Ke$ha I’ll buy it. If iPod shuffle kicks out Rage Against The Machine, Odd Future, Prince and then One Direction and Selena Gomez I’m really happy.

Sibling S/S 2015 photograph by Lorenzo Cisi

BJ: How did you get into DJing?...Name your top 5 - 10 songs you love to spin? 

CM: My ex boyfriend Adam put me forward to this all girl DJ group called Hey Ladies. Funnily enough DJ Fat Tony tried to get me to DJ when I was in my late teens but I couldn’t see why I would give up working in fashion to do it. Probably not one of my best decisions ever as he has joked that I could have been massive by now! Anyhow, Hey Ladies started it and we’d DJ at these great parties and record launches. When the group disbanded I just kept going as I still had people booking me and I really enjoy it. I’m good at parties because I never have a set-list. The last one I did was a really mixed crowd: teenage boys to middle aged aristos and 90’s pop stars but I had them dancing at 4am to The Rolling Stones and Blur so I must have been doing something right especially as they then kept me (hardly forced to be honest as I was having fun) there for another hour. 

photograph by Terry Richardson

BJ: A lot of Sibling reminds me of all the great Kansai Yamamoto, famous for his work with David Bowie, with his knits, textures and color. You both have dressed iconic musicians, the Mariah moment is pretty supreme, who do you want to see wear Sibling next? 

CM: Why thank you. Kansai is quite incredible. Am really glad that he’s getting recognized himself beyond Bowie. Ha ha yes Mariah! Matthew Josephs our menswear stylist was with her in NY and was frantically texting me that she wanted to wear the dress to her album listening but I was drinking cocktails with friends and not looking at my phone. By the time I got back to Matthew she was in it and on Vine singing. AMAZING! And we’ve had similar with Pharrell and Harry Styles. Who would we like to see in Sibling next? EVERYONE! Maybe the person reading this. 

BJ: What new musicians do you see really being the center of the fashion scene right now? 

CM: I’m a big fan of Sky Ferreira, Alison Mosshart you know all the slightly tomboy rocking girls. Are they new? (Laughs) And Pharrell of course. And Bieber in his Calvins. Badgirl Riri covered in Nasir Mazhar. Joni Mitchell and Courtney Love in the Saint Laurent Music Project adverts. Patti Smith in Made By You Converse (of which I am also a contributor, gotta love us erm old birds! Little old me and Patti Smith, still can’t get over that) music and fashion are always a very good pairing. Whatever style and age.  

Visit the Sibling London website to explore stockists. Text and interview by BJ Panda Bear, who is a blogger, curator, DJ, fashion obessor, fixture of LA nightlife, and much more. Follow Autre on Instagram to stay up to date: @AUTREMAGAZINE 

Pharrell in GQ shot by Terry Richardson

Father Strangelove: An Interview with Father John Misty

Josh Tillman's (Father John Misty/ J. Tillman / Fleet Foxes) new album, Fear Fun begs many questions and alternatives. To open the door or burn it down? Is there a battle between Good and Evil for which humanity is the fulcrum, or is it all a grey comedy on the stage of Life? Just as importantly, how does one make the most of their situation with such questions looming over their head? In the Book of Revelation, 'Babylon' represents a city containing every evil in the world. In his song Fun Times in Babylon, Josh refers to his newly-adopted home as a strange land to be conquered with revelry: "I would like to abuse my lungs/Smoke everything in sight with every girl I've ever loved/Ride around the wreckage on a horse knee-deep in blood/Look out Hollywood, here I come." I met with Josh in Los Angeles to talk about his album and how to survive as an artist in the pre-apocalocyptic world. Read interview by Marielle Stobie for Pas Un Autre. 

MARIELLE STOBIE: What would you say are the benefits of playing solo?

JOSH TILLMAN: The creative process in general isn't closely related to 'benefit'. I was pretty sure that when I made the decision to stop what I was doing before [Fleet Foxes], one of the chief understandings that I had was it may not be a beneficial decision. Those are usually the most liberating decisions creatively. I really kind of felt like the end of [the Stanley Kubrick film] Dr. Strangelove, like the cowboy on the nuclear bomb. It felt more like a reckless decision than a rational one. I will say that what I was looking for out of the decision I think I've achieved.

MARIELLE: So it was worth the risk…

JOSH: It still would have been what I had to do. And it still may go down… Even my first decision when I was 20 or something, to disconnect from the world of 'benefit' or rational decision-making or anything was all this one big decision that happened a long time ago and now benefit, or worth, or whatever, was disestablished a long time ago. I didn't really have any doubt as to whether or not it would be of more benefit to me. Whether it's successful or not is still to be determined. It was something that I had to do.

MARIELLE: You went on a road trip to write this new album, right?

JOSH: Well, no. I went on a road trip to stop playing music entirely. It barely even classified as a 'road trip'. It was closer to me like 'running and screaming' out of town. I did not foresee any of this [Father John Misty] at that time. At that time, I just needed to get as far from the distortions I had created around myself creatively. At that point it's like, the sound of an acoustic guitar made me nauseous. I just had to disassociate with myself. One of the by-products of that, for one reason or another, was writing this novel and under the process of writing that, I accessed my conversational voice creatively and was actually having fun writing the novel… Which begged a certain question: why had you never had fun in the creative pursuit before and what relationship does 'fun' have to the creative process? The music [I was playing] was so romantic at the time. I wasn't me, really. Whatever romantic singer-songwriter alter-ego I cultivated just didn't work. It was powerless to address my actual concerns or interests.

MARIELLE: Could you briefly address what the novel is about?

JOSH: The book itself is literally in the album. There are two posters with the {album}. It is in type six font.

MARIELLE: So you need a magnifying glass to read it.

JOSH: Just post-magnifying glass. The book is more or less a surrealistic trans memoir attempt at looking at the trajectory of humanity as a thing.There are two end points: One is a transcendence into whatever next plane of human consciousness we're in store for and the other is just apocalypse, self-destruction and how more or less every human life…collectively, is on a speed trial towards one of those options.This really ridiculous book about bed bugs, jet packs, sea otters, and shit…

MARIELLE: In a past interview, you mentioned that you were not a strong student growing up. Today, however, you come across as not only charismatic, but eloquently spoken. When did this transition develop?

JOSH: I think I wrote my first poem in fourth grade. I don't know if what I'd call what I have 'intelligence' so much as 'rigorous thoughtfulness'. Intelligence, as a metric, is determined by a culture. Being able to operate and flourish within the cultures' paradigm is (a lot of the time) determined as 'intelligence'… The reason I didn't do well in school was that I hated it. I hated everything about it. I didn't perform well.

MARIELLE: Before you became a musician, your career path was painted as one of a pastor. That has obviously changed…

JOSH: Has it, though? To describe what a performer does, or an artist, and to describe what a pastor does, but leave out all of the signifying language, it is very difficult to discern one from the other. The way I grew up, you don't decide what you're going to become as an adult or at the age of accountability. You are "called" to do something. For certain kids like me who are very loud and talkative and charismatic, whatever, these kids, they're 'called' to be a pastor or a used car salesman… I wasn't good at music as a kid, so that was the demand proposed onto me by weird adults in my life.

MARIELLE: So this is the "Father John Misty traveling road show of 'reality as you know it'"… Correct me if I'm wrong.

JOSH: I think that quantifying reality is the work of other people. I am really interested in truth. But truth, a lot of the time, doesn't always look like reality. Humans' ability to perceive is not determined by their idea of 'truth'. That's the trap door of any ideology and we live in a very ideologic culture. There's an innate trap door for exceptions to make it pragmatic for living. My version of reality is way bleaker than the music I'm playing.

Fear Fun by Father John Misty is available in stores and online. Text by Marielle Stobie for Pas Un Autre.

I LOVED YOU: An Interview With Richie Culver

Richie Culver: provocateur, bearded mystic raconteur, tattooed romantic, enigmatic rising contemporary British artist. Culver falls in line with some of the great rebels of creative expression that have made the United Kingdom a landscape of artistic rebellion for the past 40 years in contrast to its powdered wig, high tea, keep calm and carry on reputation. From the social dissatisfaction that gave birth to the punk movement, Vivienne Westwood, to the gothic angst of new wave, to Damien Hirst, to Tracey Emin, Culver is part of a cultural evolution of artists with extremely unique and inspiring ideas. Art has treated Culver well – almost as soon as he started exploring art as a career he was featured in a group show at the Tate Modern and now his list of collectors and demand for new work is growing exponentially. Culver was also recently invited by Eastpak to design a series of bags to support a charity alongside other artists such as The Smiths' Johnny Marr. Pas Un Autre contributor Christopher Lusher caught up with Richie Culver to chat about everything from the current state of the art world, his passion for music and the difficulties of living ones life as an artist. Lusher mentions, "It's only a matter of time before Culver catches fire stateside." 

CHRISTOPHER LUSHER: Being an artist working in London what do you see as the differences in the contemporary art scene there as opposed to the one in the States?

RICHIE CULVER: There are many differences! London is very much stuck in a time warp, the 1990's. Its really sad to see. It depresses me in fact. We all know the artists in question. I'm not disrespecting them! (well not all of them) They are all old now, I'm not saying age makes a difference, cos it doesn't. Great art is great art but times are changing, musics changing, fashion is changing. The YBA's [Young British Artists] paved the way – but paved it for who exactly? The bigger major contemporary galleries seem scared to bring a new crop through & when they have attempted to do so have failed miserably. I personally am a fan of Damien Hirst ( hate me nor love me for that ) but I just like what he does, I like him as a person. He causes controversy what ever he does. He is a working class lad from Bristol done good, but in this country we love to slag the ones, the pioneers off once, they get to a certain level which is a shame. Hirst is Hirst, he does his thing. You have Coventry, Emin to name but a few. They are all just still doing their thing. Good luck to them I say but its 2012 now not 1993. (thank fuck) I'm not gonna divulge into Bacon etc. as I see there works in a totally different light....In America on the other hand the art world is scattered with really interesting people and works which translate into the modern world we live in. Also the curators are far more open minded and slightly more youthful, willing to take a chance of the likes of Dan Colen at the Gagosian Gallery. Dan is a fantastic painter & continues to do his thing. Once all that "Warhols Children" died down Dan continued to make strong work and shows. Scott Campbell for instance is another amazing young artist who is moving things forward. Of course you have the not so good artists such as Nate Lowman, whos work is neither here nor there. I'm sure he is s nice guy and all but his work strikes no chords for me. Agathe Snow is great. I'm not too clued up on Dash Snows work but I shall delve deeper. In a nut shell I see the NY scene as much more open to new ideas and the galleries & curators are much much more on the ball than over here in London. Their moving things in the right direction. London unfortunately is still stuck and wanking over pieces that were made over 20 years ago. LET GO FOR FUCKS SAKE! There are some realy cool artists & photographers living in London at the moment. To re cap ... Londons still in the ice age .. NY is daring to change the game and give young talented artists shows in historical galleries. The past is gone now. GONE.

LUSHER: Do you draw any inspiration from the young American art scene? If so, from who?

CULVER: I dont draw inspiration from anything but personal experiences. Being hung upside down from my ankles on the 34th floor was one of them....but back to young American artists, there's so many I hate (not personally)... I love as I said Scott Campbells work, always did even before we became mates. He is doing something totally different. My mate Jose Parla is doing his thing and such a lovely guy! Dan Colen is a great painter for sure! There used to be so many of them now I can only think of a few. Asger Carlsen is good. I'm not gonna even go into the street side of things. That's kinda joke at the moment. Even photographers, they're all way past their sell by date. It really is all in London now when it comes to artists / photographers under the age of 35 but they're not getting the scope they need. It's young and fresh. Like never before.

LUSHER: Do you find it difficult to earn a living as an artist?

CULVER: I was finding it hard for awhile but I now have a strong driven team behind me who all have the same vision I do. Since I had my Jesse Owens piece in the Tate Modern its all just fallen into place really quickly. My prices for my photography have rocketed so much its hard to keep up with. Same with my "I loved you" paintings!! It's unreal. I now only do a certain amount per year because the orders were getting silly. My main talent is painting. I've kinda kept that for last. I'm super excited for the world to see them. But no I don't find it hard anymore. I have a huge collectors list, ranging from musicians, art collectors, actors, government people and mates. As soon as word gets out I've finished a set of photos, collages or Polaroids etc. they have usually all sold which makes it hard to work towards the next show. I usually sneak off to my mates studio in the country side with no phone then hide them before they get hung. For whatever reason my work is in demand at the moment especially my photos, my collages and my "I loved you" painting. I'm bracing myself for my first collection of painting. That will be ready for next year though.

LUSHER: If you weren't involved in the arts what other career would you have chosen or has that ever been an option?

CULVER: If I were not an artist I'd probably be a stray street cat. Hustling and telling peeps I'm gonna be starting a band and stuff. Shoplifting, dead or in prison.

LUSHER: Describe your process. Is there any specific routine or is it more of a spontaneous action? How much forethought goes into your works?

CULVER: None. I get an idea and run with it down the street with a stolen TV in my hand.

LUSHER: Alot of your work has a relation to sports. What is the genesis for this or the ideas behind it?

CULVER: I love sport. Boxing. I love football too. I like bare knuckle fighting.

LUSHER: I know your a big music lover. What do you usually have playing in your flat or when you create? Any up and coming musicians we should know about?

CULVER: I'm listening to Death Grips new record, Charlie Parker, Kilo Kish, Joey Bada$$$, Capital Steez , Fila Brazillia , Bullet Nuts, Das Racist, Gil Scot Heron, Boldy James, Mr Muthafuck Esquire ,Waka Flokka, Danny Brown, ( shout out to my good mates now) - Eliot Sumner, Adele, Paloma Faith, Hurts,The Macabees,Tribes, Liam Bailey, Jack Penate, Jai Paul, The Weeknd, GG Allin, Miles Davis etc.

LUSHER: Whats lined up for the future for you project and gallery wise?

CULVER: So much. Shows in LA, NY, two shows in London, Berlin, Oslo, Rome, Barcelona. There's loads more but I can't remember! Thanks for having me! Fo real...

You can follow Richie Culver at his website. Text by Christopher Lusherfor Pas Un Autre.


The editor-in-chief of The Paris Review, Lorin Stein, doesn’t watch Gossip Girl. He does, however, stand on tables when giving toasts—something he is quite adept at. Tonight’s is in honor of Pulphead, a new collection of essays published by the esteemed literary journal’s Southern editor, John Jeremiah Sullivan, or “JJ,” as Stein lovingly dubs him. Ever charming and poised, Stein relates from his lofty perch, to a mixed audience of bright-eyed Ivy Leaguer interns and lit-world “old boys” alike, the story of his trip to Scotland with JJ, their semi-successful hunt for the mythic beauty of Loch Lomond, and JJ’s baffling wildflower-picking excursion (“When I find a really good wildflower, I like to take a picture of it so I can look it up and identify it when I get home… don’t worry, I don’t use it in my writing or anything like that”). The first time I met Stein, he advised me not to go into the editing/publishing business (find out why in the interview below).

The second time, we ended up having an in-depth discussion about Gossip Girl as I photographed him sitting in an armchair in his spacious, book-lined office at the very back of The Paris Review’s Tribeca loft (the inside of which resembles the late George Plimpton’s living room, cozy and replete with books, framed black-and-white photographs and old Paris Review posters, oriental rugs and taxidermied birds—purportedly the addition of Philip Gourevitch, the second editor-in-chief, who Stein succeeded in April 2010). To be fair, the conversation arose in an academic discussion—but I was nonetheless surprised, and pleasantly so. With Stein, it seems there is never a dull moment. At just 39 years old, he is the third and youngest-ever editor-in-chief of the prestigious literary journal—and while he plans to steer the Review back in the direction of its Plimptonian, purely fiction-and-art roots, there is no doubt that he brings a fresh, unique and decidedly hip perspective to the table. His attention to detail in combination with a certain facetiousness make him into a perfectly Baudelairean mixture of the ephemeral and the permanent, the modern and the classic— much like the Review itself—and though (like George Plimpton) he enjoys a good party, the eloquent Stein radiates editorial dexterity and pure, joyful devotion to his work.

“They’ll of course use the smoking picture, won’t they?” he smirks when I ask him to hold the hand with the cigarette up for another shot. He drapes a leg over the arm of the chair, sipping his whiskey—and yet somehow, in his revelry, he remains utterly composed. About a week later, I was lucky enough to spend some time picking Stein’s enigmatic, highly coveted brain. We talked about the editing and publishing business, the future of print and the effects of technology on the literary world (and later, off the record, about Morrissey and David Bowie).

ANNABEL GRAHAM: When we spoke last spring, you told me not to go into the editing/publishing business. Can you explain why? Do you have any advice for young people who want to go into the literary business?

LORIN STEIN: Well, because… book publishing is contracting, and within book publishing, and within literary book publishing, the sales forces are contracting, but the editorial departments are also contracting, so I don’t think I would have had the kind of luck I’ve had if I were to do it now, and I’d hate to see someone spend three years… you know, slaving away as someone’s secretary, essentially, and then not even having the chance of a promotion. It was always true that most people who worked didn’t then get to become editors, but I think it’s gotten even trickier now.

GRAHAM: Are sales contracting?

STEIN: I don’t know whether sales are contracting, but in literary publishing, new literary publishing, it seems to me that there are fewer jobs. There are fewer books that are… there are fewer houses that are devoted to that… I think that there are fewer books that are in that kind of very special corner of the world of letters. I think the publishing business has pretty quickly gotten used to the idea that the future is going to be gizmos, and they’re getting smarter, quickly, about gizmos.

GRAHAM: You mean like the iPad, the Kindle…

STEIN: Yeah, reading devices. E-books. So, if you and I talk in a year… and I hope this won’t be true… it may be that the climate has changed.

GRAHAM: Right. Well, going off of that, do you feel that publishing is a dying art? Will print ever be obsolete?

STEIN: I think print is in more trouble than most people think. And less trouble than some people think. James Wood just wrote this very good piece about trying to sell off his late father’s library—in last week’s New Yorker—and he stumbled on this fact, which is that there isn’t really the market for second-hand books that there used to be. That market is changing so quickly, and nowadays what’s going on is that these used bookstores, these used book-dealers are buying up, very cheaply, they’re filling these warehouses full of these books that they’re making available online, but more and more, you can pay a low price—you may not get to see a photo of the book the way you have been able to do for the past five years, you’ll get a book in some condition that you don’t know what it is, maybe you’ll buy five copies before you get an okay copy, but right now the price of these books is very depressed, so they’re very available, but the shelf space, I think, is about to disappear, and in about 10 or 15 or 20 years, I think there are going to be books that are actually very hard to find. Which is really different from the way it is now.

GRAHAM: Yeah. You can find anything.

STEIN: You can find anything, which is not going to last forever, it’s going to be very hard in cases where you need the hard copy, and there are a lot of books that are not going to be easily found. And I know your question was about print, and presumably what you mean is new books or magazines?

GRAHAM: Well, no, I think what I was asking is whether you think the internet is going to completely take over, if for example in the future The Paris Review might be only online, or books may only come in the virtual form, like on an iPad.

STEIN: I do think that there will be more and more books that will only come in the virtual form. There’s a really good argument, one of the really good arguments, for The Paris Review to always put out a print edition, which is, do you have anything stored on CD? Emails or anything, stored on CD?I worked for a publishing house that, around 1999, started using email regularly. It didn’t happen all at once; different editors took longer to do it. You would still hear people giving dictation and typing when I started.


STEIN: And I had never had an email account. And my boss and I both learned how to use email together. And if you look at the archives of that publishing house, all of our correspondence—the company would delete things after 90 days or something—so we were keeping email files but we realized… I took my email files, the ones that I’d saved, I copied them and put them on a CD, so that I could have them… it turns out that CDs that you buy at the drugstore, they only last for a few years! And even just getting the email off my computer, it took someone who was an expert, really, because just in the 12 years I’d been there, the systems had changed so much. Now, if you put a book on a shelf, if you put a piece of paper on a shelf, it stays there until you tear the shelf down. If you store things electronically, you need always to be… what’s the word I want… every time you switch hardware, you need to re-save them, you need to transfer them to a new medium, essentially. And sooner or later, you’ve done it, you know? And that’s part of the reason for publishing stuff on paper, if you do care about the lasting value, I mean maybe you’re kidding yourself, but I don’t want something to have that—that as soon as the hardware finishes it will disappear. I want to be the hardware, I want to own the hardware!

GRAHAM: Makes sense. So… I’m sure you get this question all the time… How has The Paris Review changed since you’ve taken over? I understand that when Philip was the editor, there was a distinct move towards nonfiction and photography that created a bit of controversy, and that you have begun to steer the magazine back in its original purely literary and artistic direction, much like George Plimpton. Can you talk about that a little bit? What is your ultimate goal for the magazine, and where would you like to see it go?

STEIN: It’s true, Philip was interested in publishing pure reportage. And reportage just isn’t something that I know that much about. And I also think that—especially now—even on the web, there’s so much good reportage, that it would be hard for us to distinguish ourselves, I mean Philip could do it, I don’t think I can—and my real love, I mean, I think the thing that needs the most help, is short fiction and poetry. And essays. And by essays, I mean something very…

GRAHAM: Like what John Jeremiah Sullivan [the Southern editor of The Paris Review] writes?

STEIN: Like what John writes. Though he sometimes writes reportage. Some of what he writes wouldn’t be right for the Review. And I guess I think of reportage as things that are tied to matters of real concern in the world, the essays that John writes that we’ve published are more personal essays. I want the Review to be what I think it often has been, which is America’s literary magazine. I want it to be a laboratory for the best new fiction and poetry and this funny thing that you call the essay. And I want it to maintain its integrity of, especially, it seems like choosing the writers—I want it to reflect what we really think is important, not just what’s fashionable or what sells, but the writers who really interest us as writers. And I think that there’s more work for a literary magazine to do now than there used to be.

GRAHAM: How so?

STEIN: Well, the world doesn’t have much room for literary magazines. And, well… you and I could put out a web magazine tonight. And we could take a Xerox machine, and we could pretty easily distribute a magazine together. In fact, there are many, many magazines. But it’s become very hard to reach a large circulation—of people who really read it and care about it. And to make them feel the importance of what you’re doing, that’s what’s gotten to be hard, for lots of reasons.

GRAHAM: Especially since there’s such an inundation of stuff being put out, all over, you know, blogging, and…

STEIN: Bingo. And, well, a lot of it’s very good. There’s a lot of crap, but that’s always been true. The tricky thing is that people like you and me have some very good claims made on our attention. I mean, Breaking Bad is really good!

GRAHAM: Is it? I’ve been hearing that.

STEIN: It is. But the thing is, there are only so many hours in a day. And even—I’ve never owned a TV as a grownup. But now, on our computers, the very things we use to do our work... we have these distractions. That’s the trouble. It’s not the crap so much as it’s the good stuff… that edges out the kind of reading that happens with short stories and poems. And, for that matter, novels.

GRAHAM: Yeah. Did you always know you wanted to go into editing, and can you tell me a bit about the trajectory of your career, how you got started… and what you find to be the differences between editing books and editing short stories for the Review?

STEIN: There was a guy who came to visit my school when I was in second grade and talked about how a book gets made. And I thought that was what I wanted to do. And I started making books, I was always making books. I found it, just… the idea that you could just make a book was just such a big deal for me. I did think I was going to be a writer… I didn’t realize I was never going to be a writer, but… I went to a writing program, I tried to write a novel, and realized that I had absolutely no talent.

GRAHAM: Did you study writing in college?

STEIN: No. After college I didn’t know what to do with myself, and my college advisor said that he thought I could get a teaching fellowship in a writing program. Well, I’d been writing, of course I’d been writing in college. I’d been trying to write poems, and fiction… in high school too, I always wanted to write, and I thought… that maybe I could be a professor of English, and I got turned down from the PhD program that I wanted to go to, and… another PhD program called me and made an offer to me, and they said… maybe you’ve had this phone call… you have x number of years to finish, and just to be clear, you’re going to be working mainly on the 1890s, and also the 1840s, and I’m thinking, I can’t do this…

GRAHAM: So there were restrictions put upon you in terms of what you had to study?

STEIN: Well, no, it was my idea; I had applied. I’d said I wanted to be an Americanist and that the periods that interested me were the 1890s and the 1840s. Once it became an actuality, once it became an actual phone call, I thought, Christ Almighty, get me out of here! My advisor said, the only thing I can suggest is that I bet you can get into this poetry program, and it’ll be a teaching job, so you’ll be paid, and you’ll be able to see what you’re like as a teacher. Well, it turned out that I was a terrible teacher, and I couldn’t write, and… so I came to New York thinking I’d be a novelist, and couldn’t do that, so I got a job as a secretary, essentially, at Publishers Weekly, and started editing a lot of the little reviews. And because I was there, I got to know which publishing houses interested me… and there was one that I really, really liked, so I just decided that I’d get a job there.

GRAHAM: Which one was that?

STEIN: It was the one I ended up working at, Farrar, Straus & Giroux. So I tried to get different jobs that would make me more attractive to them, but no one would even give me a callback, because I was so obviously out of their… [LAUGHS]

GRAHAM: So how did you realize that editing was your calling, so to speak?

STEIN: I edited the literary magazine in high school, and in college, and when I was a kid my father hired me to edit for him.

GRAHAM: Was your father a writer?

STEIN: No, he and my stepmother ran a nonprofit in Washington, where I grew up. I think I must have been kind of good at it, because I loved it from the beginning; I loved it much better than I liked writing. I’ve always found writing very hard and I’ve always found editing a lot of fun. To answer your question, about the difference between editing short stories and novels, it’s very different. With a novel, you really live in the book for a few weeks, and a short story, you read it in a few minutes and think about it, and then you go back to it.

GRAHAM: This is a bit of a loaded question, but who are some of your favorite contemporary writers?

STEIN: Oh, I can’t tell you. Not unless you’re willing to become my bodyguard.

GRAHAM: All right, then how about a few of your favorite authors that have passed away already?

STEIN: Dead people? Recently dead, or long dead?

GRAHAM: Your choice. Either.

STEIN: Last night, as I was falling asleep, I was thinking about how hard it would be to explain to someone who’s not American how much Mark Twain means to us… and to me. I mean, I know that he’s a national hero and stuff, but it’s kind of weird that our national hero writer should also be our greatest writer, and to me he is. And he is an icon for us. And then… Proust matters a lot to me, Tolstoy matters a lot… David Foster Wallace, among the recently dead… I mean, it’s hard to answer that question, you know.

GRAHAM: What is your favorite aspect of your job, and the literary world in general?

STEIN: It’s a lot like being in college. I think I’ve been able to read more than I’ve been able to read since I graduated from college. It’s also like being in college in the sense that there’s often a gathering about to happen with people that you like, and I miss that about college. I think the amount of freedom, and also the chance to… put out a magazine. And a web magazine, too. It’s really fun. It’s all really fun.

GRAHAM: I think The Paris Review definitely looks one of the more “fun” literary journals. Serious, but also fun.

STEIN: We try. If it looks like fun, it’s probably because it is fun to do. We’re all very… we can’t help being serious, and we work very hard but there are not very many of us, its’ a very tiny team, so we’re always up in each other’s business, but it’s really great in the sense that our deputy editor is also in charge of the t-shirts, and that our associate editor, he used to be an assistant but he’s also the guy who organizes the interns and designs our advertisements and thinks about computer stuff.

GRAHAM: That’s nice… not so many fingers in the pot, like a lot of magazines and newspapers.

STEIN: Right.

Text and photography by Annabel Graham for Pas Un Autre. 

Visit the Paris Review for more.  

(Annabel Graham is a photographer and writer who travels regularly between Los Angeles, New York, and Paris – she has worked for Interview Magazine as well as the Paris Review, and she is a regular contributor to Pas Un Autre and Autre Quarterly. Read all here articles for Pas Un Autre here)


In the summer of 2010, a particularly dapper Yale sophomore, wearing a pair of distinctive, gold-crested Stubbs and Wootton slippers, encountered Kanye West while shopping at Barney’s in New York. As the story goes, West complimented Cassius Clay (no relation to Muhammad Ali—but Clay is, in fact, a descendent of the renowned abolitionist Cassius Marcellus Clay) on said slippers, introductions were made, a conversation ensued and email addresses were exchanged. One thing lead to another, and by the end of the summer Clay had taken a leave of absence from Yale at West’s request and moved to New York to become the rapper’s personal full-time confidant and right-hand man (he eschews the term “stylist” for its unsavory connotations; a more detailed explanation can be found in the interview below). Once the news got out, some were dumbfounded by what they perceived as an abrupt trajectory from diehard academic to celebrity stylist— envy, resentment and incredulity arose with fervor (one has only to peruse the anonymous commentary under any online article published in late 2010 about the Cassius/Kanye partnership to surmise this), yet the always-resourceful young aesthete seized the opportunity to help shape the rapper’s professional and sartorial choices, bringing his unique, quirky perspective to the table and turning the coveted job into an artistic and intellectual experience that furthered his education just as much as his missed year at Yale would have (though in a very different way!). If that’s not enough to convince the aforementioned internet haters of his academic seriousness, Cassius is now back at Yale and currently in the process of completing a simultaneous bachelor’s and master’s degree, both in Art History—a hefty task for any college student, especially one with the unspoken responsibility of remaining impeccably dressed! I hadn’t seen Cassius since we attended Phillips Academy Andover together (I remember quite clearly the feather bowties, pocket watches and other striking accoutrements he sported—I don’t think I spotted him wearing sweatpants once during those three years, not even during finals week—as well as the memorization skills and admirable command of the English language he showcased during the art history class we shared). I spent a beautiful October afternoon walking around New York’s Nolita and Lower East Side with the poised, and drily witty Cassius as he shed some light on “the whole Kanye thing,” his plans for the future, his sources of aesthetic inspiration and his illustrious taste. 

ANNABEL GRAHAM: Tell us the story of how you initially met Kanye West and ended up becoming his personal stylist; what was the whole experience like, what kind of responsibilities did you have, what did you find most interesting/take away from it and how did it end?

CASSIUS CLAY: I met Kanye on several occasions during a summer I spent working at Christie’s in New York. We got along very well talking about fashion, art, film and the relationships between each of them. I was already great fan of his music, of course, but was most impressed by his ambition and the assiduousness with which he pursues those objectives. Those qualities alone convinced me I could learn a lot from working with him. He wrote to me that fall, when I had just started my second year at Yale, offering me a position to work with him on a series of projects related to the release of the My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy album. I’m uncomfortable with the word “stylist.” The word risks either oversimplifying fashion’s broader significance to identity and aesthetics, or somehow glorifying dressing-up as some glamorous veneer du jour. I admire Kanye in that he collaborates with many people in realizing a vision, whether it’s a particular outfit, music video, apartment redecoration, or concert performance. I was a creative consultant responsible for working on many of those projects simultaneously, so seeing and developing the connections between those different endeavors was immensely rewarding.

GRAHAM: I’m sure you learned a lot about both the fashion world and the music business while working with Kanye West—can you talk a bit about that? Did it further or change your interest in either of those realms?

CLAY: In fashion-related projects I enjoyed applying academic approaches – research, analysis, criticism – to the generative processes of creative work. I think works that synthesize those modes are always the most successful. Though I’m a great fan of Kanye’s work and convinced of music’s power to induce and communicate a feeling, I must confess that I’m musically inept. My childhood attempts in learning to play an instrument were abortive, and I sidestepped the music requirement at my high school by taking music history rather than music theory. I found the different ways in which the fashion and music industries treat products or talent particularly interesting. The power figures in fashion are often on the critical or receptive end of production: editors, department store buyers, celebrity style icons, etc. In music, the creative side of star singers and major producers have more direct control on the popular outcome of an album or single. That is, I think that Vogue can have a greater impact on a fashion brand than Rolling Stone could have on a musician.

GRAHAM: As you told me during the shoot, you are in the process of finishing a simultaneous bachelor’s and master’s degree (both in art history) at Yale. What intrigues you about art history in particular, and do you plan to do anything specific with those degrees?

CLAY: Many animals have means of communicating with each other – but creative representation is unique to humans, which makes art history very important. I like the idea of art being one of the only pure and universal forms of expression, mathematics being the other one. Artistic production continues to have meaning across centuries and cultures, irrespective of how unfamiliar its context of production is to the time or people that examine it.At the same time, art history is an instrument of social and political history by manifesting the questions, achievements, and fears of a culture. In that sense I think art history has plenty of applications to fields that are not strictly academic, advertising being just one example.

GRAHAM: What intrigues you about fashion? How would you describe your own personal style? Who are your favorite designers, and why?

CLAY:I’m curious about the way that fashion has evolved from something purely functional – Neanderthal necessity for warmth – to its more sophisticated uses today. It can indicate mood and personality, sexuality and sexual availability, wealth, class, or social alignment. Fashion condenses a lot of human civilization into a few bolts of cloth. I respect formality because it requires some effort, but also demand because that requires some thought. Collections by Antonio Azzuolo, Lanvin, Bottega Veneta, Burberry Prorsum, and Alexander McQueen usually achieve that balance. I’m not terribly interested in trends, and I don’t care much about comfort. I’ll be very disappointed if I don’t still wear most of the clothes I have now in ten or twenty years.

GRAHAM: We talked briefly during the shoot about your Halloween costume… I believe you said you were thinking about dressing as the Greek mythological character of Daedalus… did that end up working out? Explain…

CLAY: I ended up using things I already had in my closet, which probably suggests an unsettlingly close relationship between costume and daily wear. I went for pathetic and conscientious this Halloween: a bird in an oil spill. I wore black jeans, black button down, a crinkled Jil Sander blazer with a metallic petrol sheen, an inky coq feather Martin Margiela cape, gold leaf on my nose for a beak and drips of black face paint for the oil.

GRAHAM: Do you have any plans yet for what you’d like to pursue in the future? Or rather, what field intrigues you?

CLAY: Broadly speaking, my decision to do undergraduate work at Yale rather than Oxford was driven by a desire to study both the visual arts while taking courses in departments that are more explicitly political, like history and political science. I have competing interests in aesthetics, analysis, and ethics, I suppose. Still, I’d like to be able to reconcile all of them in some complementary capacity. I’m very keen on the economics of fashion and the art market – particularly in moments of downturn and recession. I’m interested in the dual nature of curation: literally “caring for” by definition, but also meaning critical assessment in practice. I’m sure I’ll be considering applications to law schools.

GRAHAM: What do you find most inspiring?

CLAY: I’m constantly assessing, planning, and thinking of contingencies, so surprises – rain, kindness, a mixed-up seating arrangement – are the most inspiring in that they force you to generate new ideas, reactions, and solutions. Travel involves all of these surprises.

GRAHAM: Do you have a favorite artist or work of art at the moment?

CLAY:My favorite young artist is Winston Chmielinski, based in New York, for his incisive use of color and ability to define and obscure forms in portraiture. The academic art of the 19th century and kitsch art of Soviet Socialist Realism in the 20th century need to be reassessed in most museums. I want to collect Albrecht Durer prints and drawings, sculptures by Lorenzo Bartolini, and paintings by John Everett Millais; I would have wanted Giovanni Boldini to have painted my portrait and William Morris to decorate my house.

Text and photography by Annabel Graham for Pas Un Autre

(Annabel Graham is a photographer and writer who travels regularly between Los Angeles, New York, and Paris – she has worked for Interview Magazine as well as the Paris Review, and she is a regular contributor to Pas Un Autre and Autre Quarterly. Read all here articles for Pas Un Autre here)

No Time For Flowers: The Photography of Andreea Preda

Andreea Preda is a young photographer based in Madrid.  Her photographs are delicate, intimate, glimpses of her own life. There is a richness in Preda's photographs that owe a lot to a sense of innocence and lightheartedness without the treachery of the mundane or quotidien.  Preda's commitment to the analog process also give a certain cinematic element to her images with a striking palette of colors and shocks of sunshine. Read interview after the jump.

Would you please introduce yourself?  I was born twenty-one years ago in the south of Romania but I grown up and still live in Madrid, Spain. I’m currently studying literature and I take photographs because it makes me a little happier and fulfills my desire to reveal myself to others without having to use words, which I distrust.

What inspires you the most? I enjoy looking through other photographer’s work, I guess a lot of inspiration comes from that, or at least a clearer idea of what I like to see on a photograph and what I don’t. Films and paintings are also a great source of inspiration. It’s all about images that come to my mind and give me the impulse of wanting to reproduce them in my own context, with whatever I have handy and adding to it my own emotions. Beautiful light is also crucial when it comes to pressing the shutter.

Can you remember the first photograph you ever took?My father used to take a lot of pictures when I was little so photography was neither a mystery to me nor something I found attractive for a very long time, as I was only playing the model. However, in the midst of my teenage years I started taking self-portraits as a way of expressing myself. I was very shy but still wanted people to know me better, to understand me. So I started taking pictures with shitty digital cameras or even the webcam, anything would do. One day I discovered a very old camera of my father and begin playing around with it. I totally fell in love with the results and since then I had stick to analogue photography. So, no, I can’t remember the first photograph I ever took but this is how it all began.

Favorite quote to live by? I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, "If this isn't nice, I don't know what is." Kurt Vonnegut said this.Not really a quote to live by, just a sentence I repeat to myself sometimes, when I find it difficult to see any bliss in life.

Whats next?Keep taking pictures and hope that someone will like them.