Katie Grand

Posted by stephan | August 26th, 2010
comments (20)

Katie Grand, the name says it all. Fashion’s premier iconoclast keeps changing the rules of the game with her cutting edge styling, idiosyncratic muses and dedication to her craft. With stints at fashion’s coolest glossies – Dazed, The Face, Pop, her tenure as the Editor-in-Chief and creative force behind LOVE Grand is among the most influential women in the industry. On the eve of the release of LOVE’s latest issue and its first iPad app (“Love Issue 4″ available for free in the iTunes store NOW), Christopher Michael sits down with Katie to talk technology, tenacity and fashion’s recent curve resurgence.

ONE INTERVIEW: KATIE GRAND
An interview by One Management's Christopher Michael for models.com
Cover photo: Katie Grand by Liz Collins
Photos and icons courtesy of LOVE Magazine

Christopher Michael: Your history is that of niche and cool and yet you’ve managed to successfully provide labels and your own magazines with an “it” factor that’s laced with commercial appeal…It’s a delicate balance to achieve. Are you conscious of that balance in your work?

Katie Grand: As commercial as one part of me is, there is the other part of me that will be like, “oh is it cool?” It’s just trying to keep that balance and unfortunately commercial often means bland; I’d rather not be bland. The fashion industry can be so evil to itself in a way, I think people can be so vindictive and nasty and judgmental about what you do and it happens in art and cinema as well. If you do anything and put yourself out there, you are open to criticism. It’s that thing about, if I don’t like it, how can anyone else like it? Or how can I be proud of something that’s on the shelf if I don’t even like it? It’s not like when you style a show because that’s someone else’s, the buck stops with someone else other than you and of course you care and you want to do your best but there is someone else at the end of the line making the final decision, with the magazine, that person is me.

CM: It’s hard to stereotype a Katie Grand girl they seem to come in all ages…

KG: Well to be honest, it’s never really my thing to discover a girl and decide that I want to “break them” as it were. I much prefer the ones that have been broken already, it’s much easier! They arrive with nice skin and they realize that you don’t just take a picture of them, (they know) they have to do something in the clothes and all of that…

CM: Every new issue of every magazine right now has an article about the “return of curves” and it gives people the impression that it was the message of the whole AW 10 season when in reality it was only 4 shows. Although, Prada was first, rumor has it that Miuccia was really inspired by what you had done with that Prada styled video for the Love Blog…I wanted to ask you if that was true…

KG: Miuccia introduced me to James Lima, who directed the video, and we got on very well, also, I had worked with most of the girls on the issue already. I know she was very very happy, and after the show I went backstage and she held my hand and said, “thank you very much.” There was no more exchange than that but she was very respectful that we had done a collaboration together and then she had taken it one step further for the show, and it was great for the girls. The thing that I found really gutting was that we had all those girls on option for Giles and we started getting all these calls like ‘Prada has put Ana Beatriz on option… Prada has put Miranda Kerr on option,” and you start hearing this frenzy of information. I was really split between being pleased for them and the fact that I wanted Giles to be the show that did that with the casting. In the end, it all worked out. It was great to work with Marc afterwards because when he runs with something, especially at Louis Vuitton, he just loves that thing of “it’s going to be so big, this is Louis Vuitton, it’s going to be so big!” So, you’ve got the phantom and you’ve got Elle Macpherson… it adds a whole other dimension. Marc earlier in the season had said, “I’ve been thinking about tits,” and I was like, “Well I have too!” Also, I think that it was something that was in the air.

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LOVE iPad app Video preview by Toby McFarlan Pond
CM: But at the beginning of the season the issue with all of those girls was already out, no?

KG: Yes, what happened was I had gone and done Fashion Rocks in Rio, which is where I met them all and I have this regret actually…I’d come back from Fashion Rocks after having met Alessandra for the first time, and Izabel Goulart. I just came back and thought, they are so gorgeous, especially in a setting like Rio where everyone is in swimwear with flawless skin and it’s hot and everyone just looks really amazing…and I had come back and thought to myself.. I’d really like to do something with those girls… But I don’t think I really had the confidence at that point to do anything bigger with them. I always had this niggling thing in my head of, “Oh Alessandra should be on the cover.” I suppose I got a little bit besotted with her, you know she has got that Gisele thing… she walks into a room and it’s all there, there is no hair and make-up trick. I thought that if we added her in the mix with Kristen and Amber and Kate, maybe, she wasn’t kind of super enough? I just didn’t feel confident about it then. So that was always in the back of my head and when the film thing came up I thought, I’d really like to work with her again…

CM: That’s so fascinating to me because I think that everyone really perceives themselves differently but at the end of the day you must be aware of your influence over the public and the way people really follow what you do… Hearing you say just now that you didn’t have the confidence to “go there just yet” with these girls that you were inspired by… That is somewhat surprising…

KG: To a certain extent but then you do have those moments…and that’s the reason blogs really do your head in; the minute you start reading them you are just full of self loathing… I think what I learned from reading too much of TheFashionSpot is that the things that bother you are only things that you think yourself. I mean, if anyone had said anything bad about the Daria story from the last issue, it’s like, “Oh for God’s sake, she just looks like the most beautiful woman on the planet, shut up.”…Whereas there are other things that people pick up on and you’re just like, “ugh I know” … And those are the things that keep you up at night…

CM: So you read a lot of these blogs?

KG: I did on the last issue yeah. It became almost like an obsession because we were getting so many hits of people looking at stuff, to the point that I would just come in and say, “I’m just going to look at how many hits we’ve had today.” I wish we were like Topshop and had a weekly sales report of how many magazines we’re selling and where we’re selling them really well and all of that. You don’t get that until you come off sale six months later. You can phone Magma and say, “How many issues have we sold?” and you can see that Colette re-ordered three times… You get that information, but you don’t really get much guidance as to if something is doing well or not. So in this weird sadomasochistic way I became obsessed with TheFashionSpot and how many hits it was getting and then just got into that whole thing of, “well, I’ll just see,” and would literally stay awake at night getting preoccupied with what people were saying. It was a good experience, I don’t know if I’ll ever do it again…(laughs)

Ashley Smith
Ashley Smith by Angelo Pennetta / LOVE Issue 4
CM: With the issue, it’s bi-annual so you have time to create this really incredible book and each one of course comes with its own special theme… What is that process for you in deciding what the next issue will be about? Do you decide during shows or…?

KG: When I work for Louis Vuitton I have the luxury of, firstly being in a room with very talented people, especially Marc, and really dissecting what the show is going to be about. Probably the first 3 days we will work out the shoes and I’ll look at a lot of books and magazines, or sometimes it’s films, and we’ll really dissect what the show is going to be about and that always influences how the magazine is going to go. Maybe not so much on issue 3… I knew for issue 3 I wanted to do something really model-heavy because in issue 2 we had no models and it was very kind of street culture oriented. I think issue 1 I was trying to avoid too much glamour and polish and re-touching and all those things, issue 3 I wanted to work with the best models and I wanted everyone to look fantastic and glamorous and sexy, we didn’t set out to have a lot of nudes, it just ended up that way. But quite often what I do, Marc will influence the issue. Issue 2, I had been looking at old issues of Tatler and looking at bourgeois kids and all that kind of stuff and I really wanted to do something very beautiful. This next issue is still glamour and beauty and women and curves and strength and different ages, it’s not a million miles from the last one, it’s also something that is very present at the moment… because of the shows..or because of 4 shows that had really wild casting (laughs) … There was a thing in my head immediately after the shows and Marc and I joked about it,”Oh should we just put all the unknown skinny Russians on option for next season?” Should we just do it now because that’s what we are going to want to see? (laughs)

CM: I’m not always 100% on facts when reading up on the subject of fashion but I wanted to talk to you about something I read about your beginning, is it true that you started Dazed with Jefferson?

KG: It existed before I was there; they had done a magazine called UNTITLED which was a student union magazine when they were all at LCP. It was a bound magazine and they had this hunger for doing something but had already run out of the student union money, so they did this fold out magazine called Dazed & Confused. It was literally just a poster and on the back was a series of pictures that Rankin had done on the club kids from this exhibition that he had done called “Hello Sexy and Welcome.” They had photographed a friend of mine named Christine and I went to the opening of the exhibition, which was how I ended up meeting Rankin. I ended up folding the magazine for them; that was how my job at Dazed started. After that, Rankin had managed to get more money from the student union so we did a different magazine called Eat Me, and Dazed was kind of happening in a parallel universe. Jefferson had an office over in East London before East London was even known, and then we were based in the London College of Printing. When the money ran out again from the student union, I moved over to Dazed.

CM: And when did you move over to The Face?

KG: I moved over to The Face in 98/99′; that was really hard. It was probably the hardest thing… I was so emotionally attached to Dazed; when you are that young you only ever do things with passion and love for people and I was never paid so it was never about the money. I said to Jefferson at the time that it was like getting a divorce… at some point you have to do something else. Going for my Face interview as it were, which was just a few drinks in the Eagle pub, I remember being really shocked at the idea that I was going to get paid.

CM: Who doesn’t like to get paid? And even The Face, it was The Face, not something you would associate with huge commercial drive….

KG: And that was the thing that eventually killed it…When you came from independent publishing, you never have any money and the moment you have any, you’re really shocked so you’re quite careful with it and you don’t employ many staff. I think all magazines actually have too many staff which makes people fall out and makes things very political. For years, we were only 5 people on Dazed, Rankin, Jefferson, myself, a girl for accounting and a guy called Ian Taylor who was the Art Director. I was there for 7 years, 8 years…


Devon Aoki by Angelo Pennetta / LOVE Issue 4
CM: After The Face, you went straight to POP?

KG: No, that was a part of the deal. I wouldn’t just leave Dazed to go to The Face; I didn’t want to leave just to do the same thing… They had said that they wanted to launch a title that was sort of what Homme Plus was to Arena back then, so we were brought in as the bi-annual version of The Face… that was how it got passed to the board room.

CM: Interestingly enough, people have been chatting away about the threat to the print world with the arrival of online and yet we still have all these new magazines, which have a tendency to be bi-annual or niche and I wanted to ask you what you thought about the benefit of being a bi-annual magazine rather than a monthly…

KG: When I worked on POP it was before technology had really taken over and I found it hard working on something that was just twice a year which is how we ended up doing the third issue. The great thing which is different now with LOVE is that you can decide to do things like films or you can try and make the website exciting and there is time to do other projects, be it open a pop up store … it allows you to have time to breathe in a way and expand the magazine in other formats. I find the internet a threat to magazines that are much more news or gossip oriented, whereas I think that fashion titles, everything can live together really. You are not just reporting, there is an opinion and quite often there are interviews and real content. Although everyone should recognize technology and do something with it because it’s exciting, I think it’s going to be a long time before it poses a real problem to the print world.

CM: It’s also the fact that digital rarely leaves you with the same feeling as beautiful print does…

KG: It’s kind of weird, I think that there is something about a photograph on an iPad or a computer; even though they should look better because there is a light box behind them, there is just something that doesn’t translate that well for me. The thing that I’m obsessed with is moving image, much much more than putting photographs on an iPad.

CM: In the beginning with online and digital, it was always a preview of the issue whereas now it seems that you can view whole entire issues online…

KG: I thought it was hilarious that Stefano Gabbana had Tweeted the whole of their campaign, I was like can you imagine if I had done that? The trouble I’d have been in… not that I even would have but I think there are a lot of people who seem to not be able to help themselves…

CM: Oh yes, with Madonna! That was good… and Anna Dello Russo, watching her editorials unfold shot by shot on Twitter makes for good entertainment as well. With the upcoming LOVE iPad App, that gives you a lot of room to play with the moving image that you are talking about…What are we going to be seeing? Is the whole app going to be moving image for each story or?

KG: Yeah, we’ve done pretty much everything except for the cover story which is a little bit frustrating, and Bruce Weber didn’t do moving image on this one but basically everything else will be… One of them we shot with Elle Macpherson. It was done on the Red Camera and we pulled the stills from that. None of the films are backstage b-roll , it’s all shot as film, which is really exciting. What I really want to do with the iPad, is make it like a TV show.. a bit like an early 90′s version of MTV .. so you have someone or something that introduces these films. It’s fashion TV but it’s all special content…

CM: Wow, are you going to have a host that does each issue on the app?

KG: Yes, we filmed my rabbit, Clara and Victoria Beckham is her voice, she’s really fantastic…It was one of those things where I started talking about all of these things back in December and getting kind of obsessed with it. Before it was always, “Oh the website… Can someone else do that? I don’t want to, there is too much else to do.” And then it got to the point where I just thought, “We are never going to do this unless I think about it.” So I got quite into the idea of moving image…I had the meeting with Miuccia and said I really want to do some film stuff, I think that would be really exciting which is when she said “oh you should meet James” because James had done Trembled Blossoms with them and she was really excited about it. When she got really excited about it I could kind of work it out in my head how we were going to do it, maybe. Then of course meeting James, who is like this overgrown child who just says yes to everything no matter how bad the budget is and no matter how short the time frame is, which is really unusual. So he kind of inspired me to try and navigate the path to get excited about it and my husband was actually doing film making before he was in a band so he’s been quite instrumental in this as well. I was sitting at my desk one day after that and thought, we should shoot everything in moving image for the issue and everyone went, “Oh God we can’t!” because we were already in the issue… which is why we don’t have the cover story in moving image because half of the issue was already shot. Everyone was really excited at the idea though so we’ve gotten almost everything from that point…

CM: And the way the application will run is with the choice to view the stills or the video?

KG: No, I just don’t see the point in devaluing the film with the stills, I think that video is one thing and the stills is when you get the magazine… they are really good friends (laughs).


LOVE Issue 4 - Ms. Perfect by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott

CM: I love this Doll Cover!

KG: She’s actually a porn doll; she has everything under that dress, all her bits. Fabrizio Vitti who does all of the shoe design at Louis Vuitton. He had her made; it took a year to make her. He collects dolls and he really didn’t want to let her go and I was like “Oh but it’s a cover,” and that’s the only way we were able to get her. She’s literally, 10s of thousands! She cost more than any of those girls would have cost if we’d paid..

CM: I love that she was only available for the cover…that’s brilliant…

KG: Oh yeah! He was really reluctant…

CM: How did you come up with the idea to shoot Marie Amelie Sauve in her Balenciaga archives?

KG: She and I had spoken about working together for years now and we never have… It very nearly happened on every single issue of LOVE. She was kind of saying to me, “who shall I photograph?” and I knew we were doing this thing on Iconic women and I wanted not for everyone in the magazine to be a model or actress. We had talked about photographing her archives and it kind of seemed obvious that she should be the person wearing the archives rather than someone else. She asked if Willy could photograph her and I really liked the idea and then they ended up shooting at Nicolas’ country house which came out beautifully.


Marie-Amélie Sauvé by Willy Vanderperre / LOVE Issue 4

CM: It’s funny that you said you are not all that interested in starting the career of some young new face and yet you seem to be really supportive of new photographers…

KG: Yeah, you know I was looking at the issue and thought to myself, wow, Angelo Penetta has 38 pages…and it’s not even been 2 years since he’s stopped assisting Mert and Marcus. But that’s not really a conscious thing… The thing when you work with new kids is that they are alot more readily available so you have the luxury of shooting in 3 different cities, and shooting a lot of different days… You know, Sienna is only available that night, Angelo can you do it? And it’s like “Oh, sure, I can!”… You can be much more editorial with them, and I suppose a bit more bossy…But I’ve really enjoyed working with him and Boo George on this issue who shot Verushka for us…

CM: Oh so you have him doing full stories now? I know he was doing a lot of the portraits for LOVE in previous issues…

KG: He’s still done quite a lot of portraits but he’s also shot a really gorgeous story of Agyness for us looking like a tough skinhead girl, East London… and when he shot Verushka, she said that after Avedon and Meisel he’s the best photographer she’s ever worked with…So, of course, his ego has gone through the roof (laughs). He didn’t know who she was when I commissioned him and then of course he looked her up…But that’s the really sweet thing about Boo, is that he came from Ireland, he doesn’t have all of the references which is quite interesting…

CM: I love that balance, somewhere between informed and ignorant…You said a few years back that you studied marketing, art and design and that it’s sort of bizarre that you ended up in print. Of course that was years ago but do you still feel that sort of surprise when you stop to think about what you’re doing now?

KG: I suppose my original ambition was for print and I just didn’t really like how it was taught at St. Martin’s, I don’t know what would have happened if I would have liked it a little more at college. Maybe I wouldn’t have met Rankin and Jefferson… I’m really into the film thing at the moment, the problem with it is that you can’t just open it on your blackberry, you have to be near a computer and download it; that bit is really doing my head in.. But it’s really inspiring to do something new…

CM: Sharif had mentioned to me briefly that the pair of you had shot the story with Elle but I wasn’t aware that it was done on the Red Camera…It’s really beautiful…

KG: It was so interesting with her because I always think of her as being so professional and she really went for it and got into all of this kind of sexy dancing… She was very good. We were lucky to have her… We explained the concept to her at one point and I thought she was going to say that she hates it and that it wasn’t what she wants to be doing and she was like, “perfect, I get it.” I just don’t want it to end up being some geeky thing or separate from the magazine because it’s exactly the same team that worked on the magazine. That was the big thing for me, it had to be looked at alongside the magazine and not as a different team with a different set of ideas… and that it was very intrinsic to what we were doing but not the same…

CM: Does that put restrictions on the photographers you are able to commission because not everyone is going to be as good with moving image…?

KG: Absolutely, and oh God those children, Angelo and Boo… It’s literally been like dragging, not even blood out of a stone, like 2 million year old blood out of a stone, the two of them… Because both of them shoot on actual film… they are just like naughty kids, like, “no I don’t really want to do that,” and it’s like, “Well, you’ve got to”… The other night I sent them a little e-mail like, “Dear children- your homework is still not in, did the dog eat it, or are we going to see it?” As it is, Angelo has been in New York in the studio, the best part of this week working on all his Super 8 and it’s all looking absolutely gorgeous. His head has got into it but the two of them were so reticent about doing it…Boo was ridiculous, he was just like, “No Katie, I just don’t get it.” And then he sent the other day, a clip of Agyness shaving all her head off and it’s amazing footage. The pictures he did were also really great but to have the footage of her shaving her head was really good… They are nervous. It’s a whole new thing…One person who’s done really well with it is Alasdair Mclellan, his moving image is really beautiful…

CM: This all sort of came out of nowhere. It was a bit of a novelty before and now everyone does it and is expected to do it, especially now that you guys are doing this on the iPad, everyone is going to jump on that immediately…

KG: Yeah, but I’d quite like to have our moment, even for 10 minutes (laughs)..
They are funny the photographers though, because it doesn’t need to be a big idea, it just needs an idea…and some of them just have not gotten that yet..I mean all those Warhol films were very simple..

LOVE’s issue 4 is now on the newsstands (see all 8 gorgeous covers here) and its new moving image iPad app is available NOW to download for free from the Apple iTunes store.
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comments (20)

20 Comments

  1. Neo says:

    I “LOVE” this interview, she is so cool and honest the whole time she talks. Thank you for this! I LOVE KATIE GRAND!

  2. Kay says:

    Did she just out Fabrizio Vitti’s fetish?

  3. Didi says:

    Thank you! thank you! thaaaank YOU KATIE! <3
    WE LOVE YOU!

  4. GP says:

    Love it.
    The doll is not Gemma Ward, she is a porn doll:(

  5. Nederlandse modellen says:

    Thanks Katie!

  6. Dr Yes of Plopshire says:

    Blessed be the Grand.

    Hope I work with her one day…

  7. Hans from Gemany says:

    This is a very great story. I love her insights to the magazines.Wouldn’t it be absolutely amazing if THE FACE could be resurrected for just even 1 issue?
    Imagine if this were the issue:
    Photogs:
    Solve,Ellen Von Unwerth, Terry Richardson,Bruce Weber, M & M, Inez (who I think started at The Face), Mario Sorrenti, Corrine Day, David Simms, Glen Luchford,David LaChapelle,Mark Borthwick, Craig Mcdean and Nick Knight.
    Models: Kate Moss, Naomi,Linda,Lily Donaldson,Amber,Shalom,Stella,Jenny Shimizu,Giselle,Daria,Sasha,Carolyn Murphy,Kirsty Hume and Lara Stone.
    Oh how cool it would be!! let me know what you think peoples.
    xoxo

  8. anlabe says:

    @ Hans from Germany,

    Ohno, not only old faces and boring supers. Please add some cool new faces and some established models. I’d rather have some ‘unknown russians’ than the same boring faces all the time.
    But we all know Katie, so we all know that she is gonna use Alessandra, Dree, Ana BB, Kate and wannabee models all the time.

  9. Blue says:

    Lovely interview but…. porn doll? Really? :/
    That’s a beautiful Enchanted Doll made by Marina Bychkova. They are fascinating one of a kind dolls, each made to the clients tastes.

    Here is her website. It would have been nice to have given her credit for her work :<

    http://www.enchanteddoll.com/blog/

    Have a look at the galleries to see all the beautiful dolls!

  10. LOVEDOLL says:

    She’s truly a beautiful creation! Thanks for sharing the link to the artist too! Love magazine giving a cover to a doll is just another reason to be excited by their creative brilliance. The doll cover is the one I bought : ) : ) : ) : ) : ) luv suzie g

  11. t says:

    she’s a great editor..but the theeth are killing me xD

  12. onlooker says:

    those teeth are the trademark though, have you not seen the miu miu ads? those teeth are the hottest trend of the year, even original gap toothed girl tanga is back. lara, georgia, ashley, the gap is more than just clothes, it’s an accessory.

  13. Dan says:

    She resembles Lara Stone

  14. vaho says:

    I’d really like to see Helena Christensen and Stephanie Seymour working for LOVE… Cindy Would be great and Carmen Kass as well… or Shalom Harlow…

  15. OMGgirl says:

    OMG HELENA CHRISTENSEN WOULD BE THE BEST! SHE IS THE ULTIMATE BODY GIRL OF ALL TIME

  16. KarolinFelix says:

    Calling a 13.5″ porcelain high art doll a ‘porn doll’?…… in this manner a sculpture like DAVID by Michelangelo should also be named as such.

  17. tony says:

    I don’t know why she called it a ‘porn doll’, maybe she was trying to be subversive or something. The doll maker is an a very good applied artist, as opposed to a fine artist. I’m not too sure what to make of KG and her vision (and all the name dropping); I’ve seen some of the mags she edits and they all seem to be over the top really. Anyway, I’m in a minority as she seems to be sort of popular.

  18. Neo says:

    It’s so funny how anytime there is someone as talented and accomplished as Katie Grand on here, people feel the need to tear them down. If you dont like it, keep it to yourself and do your own thing. You can’t deny her influence at the end of the day, hate as you wish. It changes nothing.

  19. spankydeluv says:

    i love her gap

  20. anja manloti says:

    i think that doll is ugly. UGLY WITH A CAPITAL U. WHO MAKES THOSE DOLLS ANYWAY

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