Posted on March 11 2014
Hey there Pretty Birds,
I was so happy when Paolo Cesana, my boss at Out There, mentioned that our Creative Director Andrew Wren was named Artistic Director to famed photographer and editor Matthias Vriens-McGrath’s (MVM) new magazine TVTOR. MVM, as some of you may already know, was the Editor-in-Chief behind dutch magazine, considered one of the most influential magazines of the nineties. MVM is also known for serving as Creative Director at Giorgio Armani and Senior Art Director for the Gucci Group. After leaving those posts, he embarked on an extremely successful career as an editorial and portrait photographer, shooting for industry stars like Vogue Hommes International, The New York Times, Interview, and Numéro. Was I intimidated to meet him? Hell yeah! You’ve read the same stories as I have about the egos on these super-creative types. But, MVM turned out to be such a sweet, funny, endearingly sarcastic (I love this characteristic in a person) gentlemen.
I remember the excitement that I felt when he invited me and my fellow Out There colleagues to a walk through of the final layout of TVTOR. We heard that there were some pretty racy images and were exploding with anticipation. As he took us through the pages and spoke so passionately about this first issue entitled ‘Romanticism’, I couldn’t help feeling inspired, moved by the images, and totally ready to personally buy 100 copies as gifts for all of my closest friends. It was indeed a pretty romantic day, ending with a lovely dinner at Paolo’s house where, after having my cashmere socks charmed off by Matthias, I mustered up the courage to ask for this interview. And here’s what we said. Please enjoy.
ATPB: What is the concept behind TVTOR?
MVM: There’s no concept. As Stefano Tonchi told me last month, “TVTOR is from front cover to back cover MVM.” It is my vision, my vocabulary, my gold dust. As pompous as this might sound, It is the only way I can and will work, I do what I like. And after a couple of decades working like this, it turns out to be rather successful.
ATPB: Why the name TVTOR?
MVM: Five letter word, uneven number, ‘T’ Graphically perfect in the middle. Snappy sound to it, perfect brand identity and not around just yet.
ATPB: TVTOR offers a generous body of mixed content (392 pp.). What is art for you today? And design? How do you see fashion?
MVM: Art for me today is fashion. And Fashion has always been art. It’s just that the art world is a lot more uptight about sharing this space than vice versa. Design is actually both. I see Jeff Koons as much as a designer as an artist.
I have not gone to see live fashion shows in a long while. I devour them on Style.com and my desk top is a giant visual spaghetti of runway pics. This season I returned and realized that watching a good show is nothing but sheer magic. The Givenchy show was absolutely astonishing, making me consider a quick sex change. The use of color, shapes, materials… the girls themselves absolutely delicious. Fendi absolutely delicious, genius – a fur baby Karl must be on everybody’s wish list. Karl has instantly become so hot, he beats any sex doll. Haider Ackerman, chic deluxe, etc, etc.
ATPB: Your stories are as provocative and strong as ever – how do you choose your features/ subjects/ artists and models?
MVM: Instinct. Plan A. Then that gets fucked up and I move to Plan B., which often turns out better. I am a firm believer in “three times nothing,” it’s a survival mode. TVTOR is self-financed, published by me. There is a substantial lack of budget, and in order to survive, I have to be smart about things. I cannot afford to drop material and must be sure it is worth shooting in the first place. I haven’t slept for a while for that reason.
ATPB: Nudity, sometimes too strong for the average Joe and Jane – you have always been a fan. What’s your deal?
MVM: We are all naked underneath our Chanels, Saint Laurents and Fendis. Some people might have a negative preconceived notion towards it, I rather embrace all of it. As a matter of fact, I am revolted by the notion that a nipple needs to be digitally erased from a woman’s bra or blouse, resulting in an amputated barbie tit image.
ATPB: Why this choice?
MVM: I like it, I think people are beautiful. Sex arouses me and others, and surprise, surprise it also happens to sell.
ATPB: How comfortable are you with your own body?
MVM: Enough to have attended a naked yoga retreat once.
ATPB: The cover of the magazine is pretty provocative, what was your inspiration? What are you trying to communicate?
MVM: 18th and 19th century ‘Romanticism’, embraced nature and death being a part of it, the covers reflect this notion in indeed a provocative way. Yet it could be seen as a modern day Romeo and Juliet, or Hansel and Gretel. And how glamorous is a Chanel in the oven?!
ATPB: Who is the TVTOR reader?
MVM: Simply anyone that likes this. I have nobody in mind that I intend to please. TVTOR Will be idiosyncratically diverse and ditto consistent.
ATPB: Why such an impressive and expansive print project in this era of digital media?
MVM: I would not have spent my piggy bank on it, if I didn’t believe in it. Print has a distinct magic to it, which digital lacks entirely. The shelves are blowing off the wall with magazines still today. The market is so saturated, most of the mags are not worth killing a bunch of trees over, but they’re there. And most of them are all alike, perfectly fine for TVTOR, since we look pretty much like nothing else and have therefore created a market within a market.
ATPB: What comes after ‘Romanticism’?
MVM: Wouldn’t you like to know Pretty Bird?
Margherita Calabi contributed to this post.