System, out this week, covers the connection between the fashion industry and contemporary culture—and its first cover features former Balenciaga designer Nicolas Ghesquière.
This week a new fashion magazine hits the stands—and it’s bound to be a good one.
System, a new publication run out of London, has a very imposing masthead. Alexia Niedzielski and Elizabeth von Guttman of Ever Manifesto (and, up until recently, Industrie magazine), Jonathan Wingfield, the former Editor of Numéro, and Thomas Lenthal, art director and publisher of cult French art/fashion bible Paradis, have all joined forces to launch the biannual magazine.
Forgoing conventional profiles, System instead invites subjects to debate and discuss thoughts and ideas on the dynamics between the fashion industry and contemporary culture. The premise, Niedzielski tells The Daily Beast, “concerns itself with the people at the heart of these exchanges, giving them an opportunity to express themselves.” Niedzielski and Guttman’s other title, Industrie (which they have both left) was one of the first magazines to offer readers an insight into what goes on behind the scenes in the fashion industry.
Featured in the inaugural issue of System, out this week, are interviews with Yves Carcelle, ex CEO of Louis Vuitton, the reclusive Parisian fashion designer Azzedine Alaïa, and a conversation between the legendary makeup artist Pat McGrath and skincare expert Dr Sebagh, as well as stories from photographers Patrick Demarchelier and Juergen Teller (who shot the cover). The cover story (a preview of which was released last week) is a big reveal: Nicolas Ghesquière, in his first interview since he exited Balenciaga. He’s featured in conversation with Wingfield and his long-term collaborator, stylist Marie-Amélie Sauvé, who was a guest editor on the issue.
“With Marie-Amélie on board, it felt very natural to explore her relationship with Nicolas,” Niedzielski says. “He usually shies away from interviews, so to get 15 hours of conversation with him was a rare opportunity. We also approached him at a moment in time when he needed a neutral space to express himself and discuss his departure from Balenciaga.”
To accompany the interview, Sauvé styled a retrospective shoot featuring Ghesquière’s greatest hits for Balenciaga; she worked by his side as a close confidante and consultant during his tenure. The superstylist (who had her start at Paris Vogue) also styled Charlotte Gainsbourg for the cover story of Berlin-based culture journal 32C, for their interview with Ghesquière (also on sale this week). In his interviews with both titles, the designer candidly discusses his departure from Balenciaga—a move that rocked the industry last November—however, he still remains circumspect about what his next move will be. There have been rumblings in Paris that he would be a great fit for Louis Vuitton when Marc Jacobs’s contract is up.
Sauvé spoke with The Daily Beast just last month about Ghesquière, saying, “Nicolas’s scale is much bigger than a fashion designer’s point of view … He has a very powerful vision and the capacity to approach the side of business without compromising his integrity. With Nicolas, both sides of his mind are in harmony with his vision.” On his future plans, however, she also remained tight-lipped: “Nicolas has always had a clear vision on what he wants to do and trust me, the next move will be superexciting.”
No final word on whether or not System will recruit other guest editors for future issues but, with its level of access, the magazine seems primed for success. Some more-established titles are seemingly unable to produce content with the same amount of scope. “Launching a print publication in this climate and staying independent is a challenge,” says Niedzielski. “However, it's in these hard times, when people feel most frustrated with the system, that creativity can really flourish when allowed.”