EGOÏSTE Magazine, signed by Richard Avedon
Number of pages: 124 p (vol 1) + 244 p (vol 2) – Dimensions: 12″ X 16″ X 1″
The first issue of Egoïste was published in November 1977 under the leadership of Nicole Wisniak.
The most remarkable photographers and writers of their time have contributed to the 16 issues that have been published to date with a whimful periodicity. Egoiste is the subjective dictionary of an era. Known for its layout, its iconic images such as the nude of Yannick Noah by Richard Avedon or the portrait of Ava Gardner by Helmut Newton, and its advertising stories conceived and produced exclusively for the magazine by Nicole Wisniak, Egoïste has offered a space of freedom to great writers such as Francoise Sagan, Jean d’Ormesson or Bernard Frank. The publication of each new issue is celebrated by the international press and they are collected with love by a great number of fans.
Egoiste is the brainchild of Nicole Wisniak, who founded the magazine in 1977 at the age of 26 with a $1,500 investment from her parents. “I was living in my bed in my parents’ apartment, and I wanted to do something that would give me the possibility to express myself and have the sensibility of an artist,” she says. The 16 issues she has produced since have featured everyone from Andy Warhol to Ava Gardner; Richard Avedon (Wisniak’s collaborator of 20 years) to the model Natalia Vodianova.
And much of the magazine’s editorial process occurs horizontally: Wisniak famously works from a Marie Antoinette-style bed in her apartment in Paris’ 6th Arrondisement. “A friend once told me: ‘It’s better to work from your own bed than somebody else’s,” she laughs. “Her idea of dinner with a friend was a cold roast beef from a catering shop and you sit on her bed and talk,” says Joan Juliet Buck, former editor of French Vogue, who has contributed to Egoiste. “She is a true eccentric.” Wisniak has long red hair and a thick French accent. “I met Nicole more than 30 years ago in Venice,” recalls Diane von Furstenberg. “I thought she looked like a Rossetti painting.”
In a way, Egoiste is a self-portrait of Wisniak’s own life—a chronicle of her tastes, her friends, and twisted sense of humor—though she says the title of the magazine was chosen to appeal to the “egotists of the world.” “[Nicole] has invented a lot of people and a lot of things,” says Buck. “She’s one of those kind of endlessly inventive and creative people who absolutely couldn’t work for anybody else.”
Unlike most magazines, Egoiste embraces its ads. So much so that Wisniak receives money from advertisers carte blanche—and then conceives and executes her own ads. As a result, the advertising spreads, all shot in black and white, are twisted stories from the depths of Wisniak’s mind. The Louis Vuitton ad took Wisniak and her deputy, Eleonore Therond, a full year to create. It features a lost polar bear on an adventure with a monogrammed Louis Vuitton trunk. He embarks through the tundra with it; clings to it like a buoy in frigid waters, eventually finds shelter on a boat bound for civilization—and then, trunk in hand, crashes onto the stage of a lecture given by Al Gore on the perils of global warming. An advertisement for Cartier jewelry begins with two tiny diamond alligators slipping from their mistresses’ necks and disappearing down the drain—they wind up loose on the Parisian waterfront, where they’re picked up by a more deserving girl. Diane von Furstenberg’s ad features a girl covered in text, staring at the camera. “Nicole has a wonderful eye,” von Furstenberg says of giving Wisniak control of her advertisement. “She sees me as a young woman surrounded by men… maybe because that is how I was when she met me!”
Because the ads in Egoiste are mini-vignettes produced by the editors, they blur the line between advertising and editorial. “Often there’s a tooth grinding in magazines that happens with the ads,” Buck says. “These people are paying for you to survive – but it’s a strange relationship with a lot of denial. But the way she does it, it’s right out there.”
About “VU Agency”: From the start in 1986, VU’ is known as an « agency of photographers » more than a photographical agency, claiming this way the specifity of each identity whom it belongs. Its name shows an ambitious connection, since VU’ is the eponym of a famous french magazine of the 20’s which was very innovative in a pictorial sense of way. It has gradually set a new style and maintained a high level of intelligence and creativity of its authors. Discovering, promoting, spreading and also exhibiting in a wide gallery (created in 1998)…(source: website of VU agency)