25 Years and 65 Issues Later, Visionaire Is Still As Innovative As It Was When It Began

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Kristen McMenamy by Max Vadukul in Visionaire No. 7: Black © Visionaire Publishing 2016

The fashion and art magazine Visionaire released its first issue in 1991 as a publishing experiment: It was unbound and cost ten dollars, but it was exactly what its three founders (two art-school friends and a teenage model, who all met in New York in the 1980s) wanted it to be.

“When Bill Cunningham encouraged us to ‘do our own thing’ we first imagined a publication that would treat each page more like art, more of a keepsake,” James Kaliardos, one of Visionaire’s founders, told the Cut. “We made it portfolio-style because we couldn’t afford to bind,” Kaliardos said. “When we showed Bill the first issue he said it reminded him of Gazette Du Bon Ton from the late 1910s and ‘20s, which was also unbound and had beautiful fashion illustration.”

Twenty-five years and 65 issues later, Visionaire is now known for publishing in countless experimental forms. The magazine’s new book Visionaire: Experiences in Art and Fashion, a collection of over 1,000 photographs, is out today from Rizzoli.

Co-founder Cecilia Dean explained they’ve always tried to create an experience for readers. “We have done issues you have to smell, taste, look at in direct sunlight, flip through a flip book, feel fashion illustrations, open a pop-up, find a feather in a unique vintage novel, tilt lenticulars back and forth to see images move, wear the art, etc,” she said. “The list goes on. These are not activities you can experience in any way other than in person, physically interacting with the object.”

One of their most difficult issues to create was embossing Kate Moss’s face (shot by Mario Testino) onto a stainless steel box frame cover. “She kept looking like Chairman Mao,” Kaliardos remembered. “We finally got it beautiful and looking like Kate.”

Following their exhibition Autoportait, which opened earlier this month at the Cadillac House, Visionaire will release its 66th issue in November. Visionare 66 Ritual, which will only have 200 copies, features three scented sculptural candles by Maurizo Cattelan, Barbara Kruger, and Bruce Weber. Cattelan’s candle is in the shape of an Italian toilet plunger reproduced at full scale and scented of fresh roses; Kruger’s is a 3-D transformation of her iconic “Buy Me I’ll Change Your Life” that smells of marijuana; and Weber’s candle is a 3-D scan of his favorite male model Trevor Signorino (it smells of a Jersey Shore beach on a summer day).

Click ahead to preview photographs from Visionaire: Experiences in Art and Fashion.