” Offering unprecedented access to the world’s most exclusive backstages, the Unknown Hipster shares his insider secrets for surviving a fashion week” i-D magazine
How to get more room at fashion shows? What to do during waiting time? When to adopt the Milanese walk? One wonders about these existential questions.
At the invitation of i-D magazine, I’m giving my own tips on how to deal efficiently with the toughest persons in the world, and successfully cruise a fashion week.
i-D magazine Summer 2013 issue is out now.
I was walking through the V & A museum in London, amazed by the David Bowie retrospective, and admiring the fantastic costumes and imagery chosen from the Bowie private archives when a thin, bare-chested creature with heavy make-up suddenly landed on the floor, as if falling from the ceiling.
- Hey, man, did you fell from Mars?
- As a matter of fact, yes. What about you? Do you live on a farm?
- I like your hair, it’s really cool. Are you a make-up artis ?
- I’m Ziggy, the Martian messiah who played guitar. As Bowie used to say in 1972, “Call me Ziggy, call me Ziggy Stardust!”
- I thought Ziggy had commited Rock n’ Roll Suicide, it’s the last song of the album.
- It was metaphor. Do you realize how influential it was for other musicians, and how much it still is today. Think of Lady Gaga, she wouldn’t exist without us opening the way 40 years from now.
- But Gaga’s music sucks. Your band the Spiders from Mars has the super power of guitar hero Mick Ronson.
- We were called “glitter rockers.”
- I read that you got the name Ziggy after a London tailor’s shop that Bowie spotted from a train. He then joked that it was because Ziggy Stardust was all about clothes.
- Well, yes, and make-up.
- And Stardust came from a strange country singer called “The Legendary Stardust Cowboy.”
- Bowie paid tribute to him by covering one of his song “I Took A Trip On A Gemini Spaceship.”
- I’m amazed by your costumes. There is the Union Jack coat designed by Bowie and Alexander McQueen, and the striped body suit designed by Kansai Yamamoto, which makes Comme des Garçons looking almost conservative. What do you think of Fashion today?
- I don’t know. I went to Uniqlo today, but didn’t find anything I could wear. Everything looks outrageous on me.
- Did you try Prada?
- Oh, I know Prada. We also have Prada stores on Mars.
- You were so advanced for your time, I mean, this androgynous look of yours… how was it to be a bisexual space man on earth in 1972?
- Well, I thought everyone was a bisexual. But more than that, I was a new type of Rock Star. As Bowie said, “I always had a repulsive need to be something more that human.”
- But you are not the real Ziggy?
- The real Ziggy Stardust is an invention.
While Dung was heading to a vintage prefab house designed by Walter Gropius in the Hollywood Hills where he was weekending with some friends, I took the shuttle to the Hertz rental.
And here is my insider tip to LA: do not rent a car!
Traffic is insane, and car rental is expensive. Do you want to be stuck for hours with no other distraction than scanning through 50 Spanish radios on the FM band? Rent a bike instead. But get a GPS from Hertz. Yes, just the GPS, but not the car.
Once settled in my beach motel, I stroll down Venice to rent one of those cruise bikes.
Don’t make the mistake of assuming that the most tattooed guy will give you the best deal. Try different ones, and ask for their weekend packages. Some offers a surfboard on a trailer behind for another 5 bucks. Not to be missed.
Don’t even consider mountain bikes, go for the cruise: you ‘re almost on your back like in a dentist seat, and when you pedal, your knees climb higher than your chin which is very relaxing, on flat grounds at least.
I had not realized that there are some slight uphill inclines from the beach to the Geffen Contemporary, where the LA Art Book Fair is, and somehow these cruisers are heavier than you would think, and well, they have big tires too. I was missing the pencil-width wheels on my Brooklyn fixed gear when, with night falling, the GPS started repeating the good news of “approaching destination.”.
I had never been to the Geffen, but I was surprised they could fit a whole Art Book Fair in a tiny house, although it was endless rows of houses of a similar architecture, while each ones customized. It was not impossible than the Fair would spread in several pavilions, and knowing AA Bronson, the artist and founder of General Idea and organizer of the book fair event, you just assume that some unusual and challenging concept might be take place.
Knocking with high anticipation at the first door, it was not long after that I was pedaling away at maximum speed, closely followed by 2 enraged pit bulls. It turns out that I added an extra zero to the address on my GPS, and ended up in South Central LA.
It was late when I finally made to the Geffen, after circling the block several times in search of a safe parking spot for my bike.
I ran into the fair, hoping for some sandwiches and a glass of Champagne as I was starving from the intense exercise..
Spotting AA, I asked him where the buffet was, (promising to go straight to the art books and zones after eating), but it was closing time, and all he could do was to recommend a sushi restaurant in nearby Little Tokyo, “Better than in Japan,” he added.
A limited edition signed print of this snapshot of AA and me can be purchased from Bookmarc LA
I’ll be signing my book at the LA Art Book Fair this saturday, February 2, from 3 pm to 5 pm, at Bookmarc,
booth O 04.
The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA
125 North Central Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Dung called me from Art Basel in Miami the other day:
- Hey, Unknown, the book is sold out in the US.
I was rather surprised because my first collection of poems, Found Love letters and Unread Poems from the Trash Room, self-published 35 years ago, is still available
(Interested? Free bicycle delivery in the greater Brooklyn area).
- So, what is August Editions going to do? How about selling my old collected poems instead?
- The poems are interesting, but… uh, maybe another time. Actually, a new edition of a 1000 copies of The Unknown Hipster Diaries is already in the works, it will be available around March next year. And it will have a new picture of you on the cover.
- What about an abstract image? Or a photo of some weed growing freely out of a Bushwick sidewalk?
- Uh… How was the exhibition opening of your illustrations at Colette?
- It was cool, and…yes, Balthus, was there.
- Yes, he is very cute.
- Balthus, like the painter?
- Balthus Billy Zahm, Olivier and Natacha’s baby, don’t you check the Purple Diary everyday? I think it was Balthus first opening, Natacha said so.
- You must be very honored!
- Woody came early, though, needed some sleep.
- Yes, Sarah and Philippe’s baby. He is very cute too. And very well-dressed. Cool socks. What is that loud music behind you? Are you at a party?
- I’m in Kanye West’s car. Baldessari’s driving. In fact, we are going to André’s pop-up Le Baron for Larry Gagosian, Glenn’s D.J.ing, he says hi.
- Could I request a tune?
- What about your book signing at Colette, on Saturday?
- I just bought a stock of blue spray cans.
- You mean, you’re going to graffiti the books?
- Why not? …Well, right, with all the babies, maybe I will borrow their color pencils.
The Unknown Hipster Diaries booksigning at Colette, Saturday 15th December, from 4pm to 6pm.
The Unknown Hipster Diaries exhibition at Colette, 10th December 2102 to 10 January 2013
The Unknown Hipster Diaries, 2nd Edition, will be available March 1st, 2013, from Amazon and selected bookstores in the U.S.
I think that, if you are a poet, you don’t want to think too much about your wardrobe, but you want to wear clothes that are fine to work in.
The other day at the GQ party hosted by Glenn for The Style Guy Special Edition, I had this conversation with two sartorial experts: Alexander Olch, all dressed in Maison Kitsune with a tie of his own design, and Todd Eberle, with his classic torn denim jacket and one of his inimitable destroyed hats.
- If you are a photographer, Todd explained, you don’t want to intimidate people by wearing something extravagant.
I have sometimes been asked how I dress and what my favorite brands are, but in fact, I usually don’t know what to say.
A bit of flea here, thrift shop there.
Maybe I went to a party and accidentally left with someone else’s jacket? Or I visited a Japanese temple and switched shoes upon exit?
Jeans, plaid shirt, jacket, desert boots, tote bag. I’d rather be asked what I read.
But Sarah at Colette found it amusing to recreate the looks.
I guess it was not too complicated for her. Every week, she selects ensembles for the women’s floor that make you feel like you’re walking through Picassos and Lichtensteins. I never stay too long because I feel I might fall in love with a speechless mannequin, just because of the intricate patterns and inspired fabric colors it’s dressed in.
And now, thanks to Colette, you can really dress like a page out of the Diaries : From Book to Fashion
An exhibition of originals drawings from The Unknown Hipster Diaries and large prints in limited edition of 10, opens Monday 10th December at Colette, and I’ll be signing books on Saturday 15th December from 16:00 to 18:00.
Dung called me the other day, as they had just received a large crate at August Editions.
“Did you order a large travel trunk from Vuitton for your next steamliner crossing to Europe?” I asked. We opened it, and there it was, the thousand copies of the Diaries, meticulously stacked, with a note from the printer: “Who the hell is the Unknown Hipster?”
The book looks great.
Its beige cloth cover works well with every kind of upholstered interior, and would bring a touch of warmth to any spare, minimalist pad. The pages’ irregular edges seem to have been cut with a guitar pick, but I know Dung is way too busy to do this himself. In fact, don’t know how this was done.
And the design, done by Martine – a yoga expert – is very cool. It makes for a relaxing read without having to be in a precarious headstand. And if you’re a yoga-obsessed and feel the urge to practice without having your mat at hand, the book can be used as extra padding for your headstand.
Because of the large number of inquiries, please refer to our “Frequently Asked Questions About the Book”:
- Do you have to be a snob to enjoy The Unknown Hipster Diaries?
The book is made for all: snobs, and unsnobs.*
- I don’t have a long beard and a long hair, do you think I’ll be interested by this book?
In fact, we don’t know. Are you a woman ?* The book is multi-gender friendly.
- I’m a hispter with a roof-top pig farm and organic greeneries, can I trade my products for a copy ?
This is currently under consideration at August Editions.*
- Can I have my copy signed and meet the author?*
Yes, there will be a book signing at
This Thursday, November 15th, from 6:00 to 8:00 pm
400 Bleecker Street, NYC 10014
212 620 4021
*Has this answer been useful? Yes / No / Other
I was eating a burger and writing poetry at the Old Town Bar when my friend Dung, who works nearby in publishing came in, returning as always from his travels to Europe, where he hops from Biennales to design fairs, meeting famous designers and fashion celebrities, and private visits to architecture gems such Oscar Niemeyer’s French Communist Party Headquarters in Paris.
- Hey Unknown, I think the time has come for you to do a book.
- Really? I’d rather do a record. My Unknown Suite for voice and electrified tambourine is almost ready. Do you want to listen to the demo tape? It’s only 120 minutes long.
- Hmm, I’m sure the music is great, but right now I think a book is more appropriate. And a new publishing house, August Editions, wants to publish it.
- Well… You see, I don’t want my stuff to become too commercial.
- We’re would do a limited edition of only 1,000 numbered copies.
- What would be the title?
- How about The Unknown Hipster Diaries?
- Shouldn’t it just be called The Unknown Diaries? People hate hipsters, especially other hipsters. At my Bushwick subway station somebody wrote over a Planned Change Service Notice at the end of the platform: “F*** the hipsters, they ruined Brooklyn,” and it’s illustrated with a crude drawing of a dude with beard and frames.
- But, Unknown, you’re not really a hipster…
- No, in fact, I never was.
- Of course. Still, I think we should keep the title The Unknown Hipster Diaries.
- It’s not a bad title. But… what about the record?
Available at very selected bookstores November 2012
Distributed in the US by RAM Publications + Distributions
Distributed in France by OFR
Three years ago, when I went to Bushwick for the first time to visit my friends Thomas and Mo who had just rented a painting studio there, I was astonished by the beauty of the big warehouses, the abandoned factories, and trucks parked in the empty streets. If you spotted any bearded hipsters with skinny legs and elaborate tattoos, it was just for one or two at Los Hermanos, the taco place, not the constant flow as it is today. There were some abstract graffiti here and there, with wild plants and grass growing out of the sidewalk cracks, and everything seemed interesting and genuine.
Best of all were all the small repair garages and tire shops. Among the second-rate car service Town Cars were always some wrecked, rusted cars with hoods missing parked in front, waiting to be pimped out, and along the hollow sidewalks floated the distinct smell of spray paint.
In the last six months many of these low rent workshops closed down to make room for more profitable artist studios, and as if in fear that it wouldn’t attract enough post-graduate painters and musicians, the old landlords (who for decades had felt punished by God to rent their cathedrals of bricks as storages for nothing), suddenly possessed by the frenzy of the market, offered their walls to the street painters.
Where you had beautiful bare brick walls, you now most likely to see a giant squid with bulging eyes falling from the roof.
Even the corner poultry store requested a pimped out façade from a street artist.
I passed by one Sunday afternoon, at the peak of a heat wave, and saw two bemused poultry employees in their black rubber aprons contemplating the artist sweating under the mask supposed to protect him from inhaling the contents of his spray cans, which strong smell was largely overwhelmed by the one emanating from the living stock.
Most disappointing was to discover that my favorite building, a former ladder factory with an odd metal chimney that looks like a Max Ernst sculpture, was already half covered with murals.
A tiny girl was busy working on a monster creature a hundred times her size. Her cans were neatlyly aligned by the wall, and a security perimeter had been delineated with orange cones. She was in fact so charming and earnest, and happy to have all this surface to work on, although she had to share it with two others artists, that you could no longer complain about the disappearance of the industrial architecture. And it’s not like the Bechers haven’t already documented it well, in case you had some.
It had been very hard, she explained, winter is not a good season for street art, especially in NY. Her hands would freeze on the cans in the windy desolated spots available for murals.
And how was Singapore, I asked?
Singapore was not good for murals either: the scene was boring there.
On the other side of the street, a repair garage had been recently closed, cleaned up and entirely covered with bright murals.
When I asked if I could take her picture, she hesitated. She finally pulled out big shades.
- Of course, as a street artist, you don’t want to be recognized?
- Well, yes…
Here is a recorded excerpt of the conversation I had with with an anonymous monk :
- In 1999, when the news was announced that the minimalist architect John Pawson had designed a Cistercian monastery, I was fascinated
- Do you mean fascinated by the monastic life, or by the minimalist architecture?
- It is such the perfect match! the architect serves an elevated purpose, and the simple lifestyle of his clients validate the architecture in return.
- Isn’t it always like that? Don’t you think it works just the same when an architect designed a lavish house for a celebrity ?
- I’m amazed that being monks you had the idea to choose John Pawson.
- One of us had wandered into the Calvin Klein store in New York, which had been designed by John. It was so pure, nothing distracted from the product, it was shopping taken to a religious level. Wouldn’t it make a wonderful monastery, we thought, if we replaced Fashion with God?
- You must have been a dream client…
- In fact, unlike Calvin, we had a restricted budget, but this didn’t stop us from having discussions with John.
- Minimalism is a luxury : it’s much sought after by those who have everything.
- Just like us : we have nothing, but we have everything.
- Did you think of having a fashion designer designing the robes?
- It wouldn’t be as futile as it seems. Although I’m not sure it would give the same credibility to the designer as it gave to the architect.
- What about tableware ? Did you have someone designing the plates and bowls ?
- Are you thinking we are a boutique hotel ?
- As a matter of fact, you must be constantly disturbed by architecture fanatics and style hunters?
- We do have people coming in search of a spirituality, which is not always easy to find in all those flagship stores by prominent architects. Some are just looking for ideas to built their own minimalist house. I don’t blame them, although they should just look inside themselves.
- Would you recommend to those saturated by materialism to do a retreat at Novy Dvur ?
- Maybe not. They could become obsessed by architecture.
This unreal conversation, translated in Italian, has been published in GCasa, March issue 2012