AZZEDINE FOREVER: “The aim was to play on the duality of the past and the future,” said Ezra Petronio, cofounder of Self Service magazine, which has dedicated one of three covers from its latest print issue to Azzedine Alaïa, who would have marked his birthday today.
The intimate shot of Alaïa in his atelier, smiling shyly at the camera with his arms protectively wrapped around himself, was taken by Petronio in 2003, using a Big Shot Polaroid à la Andy Warhol.
“Alaïa was such as strong outspoken character, but this captures such a tender moment. It’s very touching, actually,” said the photographer, who has built an archive of around 3,000 portraits of industry personalities throughout his career.
Stylist Joe McKenna curated a portfolio for the issue – dubbed “Changing Times” and due out on March 1 – featuring a self-penned tribute to the couturier who died in November, as well as pieces by “all sorts of artists and photographers” featuring “key family members around Alaïa,” Petronio said.
The decision to put Alaïa on the cover, as an empowerer of women and “true designer,” was also “a sign of the times,” added Petronio referring to the industry shifts that are taking place, including the departure of Phoebe Philo at Céline.
It contrasts with the “immediacy” of the other covers that are “more geared to the future,” including one featuring model Edwina Preston in a blue tulle look by Off-White, also lensed by Petronio.
Petronio, who founded the title in 1994 with his former partner Suzanne Koller, said the aim was to return to the core values of the magazine – with “strong characters, strong design, more emotion, authenticity” – while staying youthful and embracing change and new technology.
The 404-page issue also includes conversations between CSR experts Tara Norton and Elisa Niemtzow, as well as actress Noomi Rapace and Givenchy’s Clare Waight Keller, who talk about their respective approaches to the creative process.
Petronio said the title was among the first to feature moving images and “made-to-measure moving advertising” for the iPad, and a shop-the-look augmented reality story with retailers including Colette and Matches in a previous edition. “Anja Rubik was walking around the pages and talking to you.”
The title next year will celebrate its 25th anniversary, with a series of exhibitions in the works.
Advertising revenue – both for print and digital – continues to increase, Petronio said. The title has a circulation of around 25,000 with an average 85 percent sell through, he said.
The frequency for the bi-annual print magazine – “an expensive-looking object” – isn’t set to change, but activity on the digital site, focused on advertorials and stories, continues to accelerate.