Last week, William D. Cohan interviewed me on covering the world of wealth in New York at a 92Y Talk. Here’s the podcast.
Last week, William D. Cohan interviewed me on covering the world of wealth in New York at a 92Y Talk. Here’s the podcast.
The Rockefeller family’s enduring legacy, the subject of a feature story by Michael Kaplan in today’s New York Post, is also a prominent theme in 740 Park and Rogues’ Gallery, two of my books. News-hooked on the recent death of David, the last surviving son of John D. Rockefeller, Jr., and the only one to live in 740 Park, the story addresses how great fortunes are dispersed and thus dissipated in large families, and asks if this wealthy family’s name still matters. I say it does, and others agree. In large part, that’s because, as Kaplan writes, “the family never … Continue reading
In today’s New York Times, Guy Trebay reports on a short film about the designer Azzedine Alaia by fashion stylist Joe McKenna. “The one person not heard from is the designer himself,” Trebay writes. Says McKenna, “the minute it seems like you’re interviewing him, he clams up.” In 1989, I had the privilege of profiling Alaia for the long defunct European Travel & Life magazine. The story includes cameos by Naomi Campbell, Janice Dickinson, Cindy Crawford, Linda Evangelista, and Yasmine Parveneh, among others. You can read our lengthy conversation here. The photograph of Alaia, Lisa Marie and me was taken … Continue reading
Today marks the dawn of a new era at AVENUE magazine. The New York Post’s Keith Kelly reports on the new design and new website. And there’s more to come. Thanks, Julia Restoin Roitfeld for posing for our first redesigned cover!
“One of our most provocative journalists, Michael Gross has cornered the market for insiders’ stories of the most bewitching and private worlds of the privileged, very rich, talented and beautiful,” says the 92nd Street Y, announcing my forthcoming appearance there on the night of June 12th, when I’ll engage in conversation with William D. Cohan, the former M&A investment banker for Lazard Frères and bestselling author of books about Wall Street. Speaking of insider stories, on Friday, Bloomberg “revealed” details of financier and Trump administration advisor Stephen Schwarzman‘s 70th birthday party in Palm Beach this weekend. But readers of AVENUE … Continue reading
Today seems as good a day as any to repost my celebration of the culture and cosmopolitanism of Mexico City from Departures Magazine. Click this link to read it.
A posthumous profile of Aileen Mehle, aka Suzy, by Bob Colacello in the January Vanity Fair quotes my first-ever cover story for New York Magazine in 1988, “Inside Gossip,” on a catfight among what was then a passel of New York gossip columnists. Colacello confirms something I printed in the very same piece from which he quotes me, which featured Mehle and a certain wealthy New Yorker who had not yet found his signature coif on the cover. It was 1988 and when my editor insisted I print Mehle’s age, I asked her, she replied, “Oh hahahaha,” and so I … Continue reading
Real Estate Weekly reports that the highest price per square foot achieved in New York last year was nearly $10,000 paid for a sky high apartment at Fifteen Central Park West. That’s more money (by a significant measure) than any of the wannabes on the Billionaire’s Belt attracted. Toldja so.
…and the New York Post and PageSix.com have taken notice. “The old guard won’t like the Avenue magazine’s new Palm Beach A-list,” which is featured in the issue, Richard Johnson writes, due to its inclusion of pop-culture Palm Beachers like Donald and Melania Trump, Howard and Beth Stern and Rod Stewart and Penny Lancaster. And the A-list is just the beginning. Our cover star is Kara Ross, and the issue delves into both Trump’s Coconut Cabinet of Palm Beach potentates and the town’s new Royal Poinciana shopping center. If you aren’t fortunate enough to live in a building where Avenue … Continue reading
My report on the rebirth of Bermuda, spurred by the upcoming America’s Cup races, is in the new issue of Departures, but for now you can only read it if you have an American Express Platinum card (I don’t). I’ll post it again here once it’s been unlocked online.
Half a lifetime ago, I profiled a thirty-year-old Carrie Fisher. The story is as good a celebration of her life force as I can share. Click the link to read my profile, the photo to see how it appeared in the paper.
China Machado, the pioneering multiracial model, fashion editor and muse to photographer Richard Avedon, has died at age 87. Ivan Bart, her agent at IMG Models confirmed the news. Machado plays roles in both Model and Focus, though to my great regret, I never interviewed her at length. But I was happy to call her a friend.
After an annus horribilus full of troubles, is 740 Park, subject of my 2005 book, once again New York’s Tower of Power? Consider this: Though his primary residence is California, Secretary of the Treasure-designate Steven Mnuchin remains the owner of a duplex there. And ten floors above him in a triplex penthouse lives the cooperative’s president, George David, former chairman and CEO of defense contractor United Technologies, which owns Carrier, the air-conditioning giant that yesterday agreed to keep jobs in the United States. Might the neighbors have facilitated that deal in a little chat in the elevator or the basement … Continue reading
Posts to Gripepad have slowed to a crawl since I started a new job last month as Editor-in-Chief of Avenue Magazine. Things will pick up here again eventually but for the moment, please visit avenuemagazine.com.
My Departures story, “Mexico City is One of the World’s Greatest Cultural Destinations. So What Are You Waiting For?” has just won a Bronze Lowell Thomas Award in the Cultural Tourism category from The Society of American Travel Writers. Don’t tell Donald Trump.
This is my favorite pickup of my Daily Beast piece on Donald Trump’s model parties from Monday. Click the image!
Keith Kelly of the New York Post is first with the news that I’ve been named Editor-in-Chief of Avenue Magazine, effective immediately. Here’s yesterday’s official announcement: AVENUE, New York City’s original society magazine, has named Michael Gross its editor-in-chief, effective tomorrow. Founded in 1976 by Judy Price as a controlled-circulation magazine, and originally distributed exclusively in the so-called “good buildings” of New York’s Upper East Side, AVENUE has spawned a raft of imitators as well as offspring of its own. The most recent are AVENUE on the Beach, a summer-only magazine focusing on the Hamptons, and AVENUE on the Beach … Continue reading
My reporting on Donald Trump over the years has jumped the fence into the political arena with the publication of “We All Knew About the Trafficking”-The Untold Story of Trump Model Management (Part 1)” by a writer calling herself SwedishJewfish on dailykos.com.
UPDATE: THIS EVENT HAS BEEN CANCELLED. The landmark Cameo Cinema in St. Helena, in California’s Napa Valley, has just announced that its first Film & Fashion series will launch with a screening of Funny Face and a discussion of the great musical’s back story, as told in Focus. The film, directed by Stanley Donen, stars Fred Astaire as Dick Avery, a fashion photographer based on Richard Avedon, Audrey Hepburn as Jo Stockton, a character based on Avedon’s first wife and muse, Doe Nowell, and Kay Thompson as a Diana Vreeland-like editor. The event, M.C.’d by fashion-show-producer Kevin Krier, takes place … Continue reading
Regardless, I’m still happy to report that Bob Dylan, subject of my first hardcover book in 1978, has just been awarded the Nobel Prize for literature. In a lovely coincidence, the cover photograph of Dylan is by Jerry Schatzberg, who is one of the photographers featured in my latest book, Focus.
This excerpt from my 1999 interview with Donald Trump for My Generation seems both poignant and pathetic in light of events of the last few days. “You develop a sense of invincibility,” Trump told me. “You think you can do no wrong…You have all these guys who you pay money and they all say, “Don’t do this, don’t do that.” Because basically, every job I did was not supposed to work…Nothing was supposed to work. And they all worked. So you don’t listen to anybody, because they’re all idiots in your opinion, because they were all wrong previously. But the … Continue reading
In his inimitable way, Donald Trump actually boasted about the huge 1995 tax loss reported in today’s New York Times, seventeen years ago. In an interview in 1999, Trump told me the following story, as recounted in my book My Generation: “I was in really deep shit,” Trump said. “You know, publicity is a funny thing. It does create value. But if things go bad, you get it.” One day during the workout of Trump’s financial collapse in the 1990s, which began when losses from his real estate interestss, hotels, casinos and airlinebrought him close to personal bankruptcy, Trump was … Continue reading
The Redwood Library and Athenænum’s Life of the Mind Salon Series for fall 2016 kicks off Wednesday night October 5th with a wine-and-cheese reception and discussion of Focus, beginning at 5:30 PM. It’s free for members, $10 for non-members. Seating is limited; call 401-847-0295, ext. 112 to make your reservation. Founded in 1747, the Redwood Library and Athenæum is the oldest lending library in America, and the oldest library building in continuous use in the country.
The focus will be on Focus next week at two events. On Tuesday, Sept. 27th, I’ll be speaking and signing books at the Port Washington Public Library. Click the link for details. Then, on Saturday October 1st, novelist and home-entertaining book author Holly Peterson and I appear at Rotisserie Georgette in midtown as part of its Author, Author series of literary lunches. Please come.
Yesterday, I succumbed to a Vogue email inviting subscribers to download its latest iPad app and access exclusive digital-only content. How now. But one of the first articles that popped up in the app, “Kate Moss Isn’t the First Model to Run Her Own Agency,” inexplicably neglects several models who were no less than pioneers of the posing trade. Fortunately, you can read all about Dorian Leigh, Natalie Nickerson and Simone d’Aillencourt, among other model entrepreneurs, in the New York Times bestseller Model, and learn what fashion magazines like Vogue won’t tell you about fashion photography in the new Focus. … Continue reading
Could this be why the fashion media has studiously ignored Focus? “Highly critical of the current moment, in which advertisers and large corporations have taken the reins of the publishing business, [Michael Gross] doesn’t see fashion as dead–just in intensive care,” writes Estel Vilaseca in Spain’s El Pais. “In an account through which models, editors, art directors and photographers pass, personal anecdotes intersect with key events in fashion history, allowing a close-up experience of a period Gross considers unique.”
Gripepad has been on a brief hiatus, during which Time Magazine’s Lightbox blog published this story about Toni Frissell, “the Unsung Woman Who Transformed Fashion Phorography”. It expands on the pages on Frissell in Focus.
“Tightly written, exhaustively researched,” Ted Panken writes in “A Fascination with the Moment,” Focus “skillfully juxtaposes the idiosyncrasies, peccadilloes, and debaucheries of [its] protagonists… with the shifting cultural and economic milieu in which they functioned.” Read our lengthy interview here.
… big, intelligent, exhaustively researched, lovingly written (2), smart, well researched and written with an insider’s eye… engaging and on point….canny (3), delicious, sweeping, thoughtful, (4), thoroughly absorbing…enthralling and riveting (5), deep-diving …groundbreaking (6), juicy. . . fascinating (7), sizzling…relentless (8), often-shocking (9), simply unrivaled…a sensation (10), astonishing and unprecedented (11), exciting…a must” (12). Focus. On sale online and in bookstores. Sources: National Post, Chicago Tribune Syndicate, New York Times Book Review, The Daily Beast, Tim Gunn, Project Runway, DuJour, Booklist, Hamptons Magazine, Daily News, craveonline, The Daily Mail, Musée Magazine.
Focus is “provocative…dishy…” writes Hamptons magazine in an end of summer bookend to its Memorial Day preview of the book. “Fans of his previous work will not be disappointed.” [Scroll down to read a brief interview.]
“Smart, well researched and written with an insider’s eye… engaging and on point….canny,” (Kim France, New York Times Book Review), “delicious, sweeping, thoughtful,” (The Daily Beast), “thoroughly absorbing…enthralling and riveting,” (Tim Gunn, Project Runway), “amazing… big, intelligent, exhaustively researched, lovingly written,” (Liz Smith, Chicago Tribune Syndicate), “deep-diving …groundbreaking,” (DuJour), “sizzling…relentless,” (Hamptons Magazine), “juicy. . . fascinating,” (Booklist), “often-shocking,” (Daily News), “simply unrivaled…a sensation,” (craveonline), “astonishing and unprecedented,” (The Daily Mail), “exciting…a must,” (Musée), and “important,” (National Post).
Writing on The Daily Beast today, Lisa Santandrea says Focus is “such a delicious read…sweeping if not exhaustive; thoughtful, but not a work of criticism…It concentrates on the ‘glory days’ of fashion photography, from 1947 to 1997, and traces the rise and the fall of the celebrity photographer. Unfortunately for them, the fall occurs more swiftly than the rise.”
Focus “does not skimp on the gossipy goods,” writes Kim France. “There are descents into madness, prolific drug use, orgies, blackmail photos and suicide attempts…But this book…is also smart, well-researched and written with an insider’s eye…engaging and on point.” Click the image to read the review
I’ll be attending the East Hampton Library’s annual Author’s Night on Saturday, signing copies of Focus, described last Sunday in the New York Times Book Review as “well-researched and written with an insider’s eye,” “engaging,” “on point,” “canny,” and bursting with “gossipy goods.” Please click the image for details and come. Carpe Librum!
Watch my interview with Steve Adubato here. Listen to my interview with Martha Frankel here.
Great Britain’s sixth Duke of Westminster, Gerald Grosvenor, possessor of a $12 billion fortune and owner of much of the land beneath Mayfair and Belgravia in London, has died at age 64, reports The Daily Mail. I interviewed the Duke and reported on a weeklong visit to New York almost thirty years ago for The New York Times. ”I do get tired,” he told me at age 34. ”You never sit down. When the adrenaline settles, it will be like having taken 100 sleeping pills and waking with a hangover.”
“There are descents into madness, prolific drug use, orgies, blackmail photos and suicide attempts, successful and otherwise,” Kim France writes in this coming Sunday’s Book Review. ”There is so much womanizing that the theme of infidelity is basically a subplot, and pretty much boils down to the following: A stunning model walks into a photographer’s studio; a marriage dies.” Click the link to read the review.
Crave Online’s Sara Rosen writes that Focus is “an intricate web of fashion, photography, and magazine publishing that is simply unrivaled…Focus is a sensation, one that brilliantly blends the wild histories of seemingly disparate lives that were bumping up against each other inside the magazines. Gross is a modern day Vasari, giving us The Lives of the Artists in no small measure. But Focus is more than the stories contained within: it is an epitaph for an era whose time has come and gone.”
“Great content,” writes William S. Gooch on fashionreverie.com, “can illuminate, educate, and charm the reader. Michael Gross, in his new book ‘Focus: The Secret, Sexy, Sometimes Sordid World of Fashion Photographers,’ has done both. The Golden Age of Fashion Photography is an era that wistful fashion pundits pine, reminisce, celebrate, and mourn for. In ‘Focus’ Michael Gross does all that—well maybe, not mourn—and so much more. ‘Focus’ artfully details how it all came to be, with images and content that stimulate the imagination, and tantalize the appetite for that rare synthesis of craft-meets-passion-meets-creativity, the true birthplace of all great art.” … Continue reading
The Daily News featured Focus again today in a Confidential item that only appears in the printed paper. In case you didn’t see it, click the image to read it.
The SpareMin podcast spares a minute for Focus in its latest episode. You can hear my interview with Matthew Demello here. Just drag the slider on the podcast player to the 29:00 minute mark.
American Fashion Podcast, “for the true fashion nerd,” focuses on Focus in its latest edition. Listen to it here.
The Today Show focused on Focus yesterday. Or rather, The Today Show in Australia. An author “exposing” fashion’s excesses is not entirely without honor on morning television!
The Daily Beast just published my meditation on Melania Trump, alleged former supermodel, and Donald J. Trump, her model-agency-owning presidential-wannabe squeeze.
Calling Melania Trump! The Slovenian former model (pictured on an old GQ cover) could be the key to unlocking what’s said in this story about Focus from Slovene Novice. Referring to a Helmut Newton photo session starring former model (and current Mrs. Rupert Murdoch) Jerry Hall, the headline reads, “He ordered her to lick his boots.”
On Wednesday July 20th, I’ll be speaking al fresco about Focus and the fabulous characters in it at The Bryant Park Reading Room in the heart of Manhattan from 12:30pm-1:30pm, in conversation with Alina Cho, the noted broadcast journalist, fashion commentator, and Editor-at-Large of Ballantine Bantam Dell. I’ll be signing books, too, after our talk. In case of rain, events are held under a tent at the Reading Room. In case of severe weather, please check bryantpark.org for the indoor location.
Fashion photography web site Thebreed.com looks at the “provocative” Focus today. “It covers the lives of fashion photography’s masters,” Elyssa Goodman writes, “detailing their creative spirit and technical skill alongside their egos and vices. It shares the stories of the men and women behind the legends, what made them, what broke them, and why we must remember them today.”
Last night, a standing-room-only crowd filled Barnes & Noble’s Upper West Side store at 82nd Street and Broadway for a talk and book signing with (from left), supermodel-turned-memoirist Pat Cleveland, me, and photographer-turned Musee magazine editor Andrea Blanch. Thanks B&N and all who attended, including fans, friends, designer Stephen Burrows, models Alva Chinn, Bonnie Pfeifer and Nancy Donahue, and photographer-and-hair God Harry King. For those who missed it, more signed copies of Pat’s Walking with the Muses and Focus: The Secret, Sexy, Sometimes Sordid World of Fashion Photographers are available in the store. #BNUpperWestSide @BNUpperWS #focuysyourselfie (The photo is by … Continue reading
Echoing one of the themes of Focus–that an era has ended–photo editor and photographer Nick Knight has given an interview in which he goes a step further and declares photography dead. Then Knight, whose web site describes him as “among the world’s most influential and visionary photographers,” goes on, positing that photography has been usurped by what he calls “image-making — please could someone get a better description of it — because that’s what I do,” he says. “Because that can take in sound and movement and 3D, which I think are really part of this new art form. So … Continue reading
“Focus is a cultural history of how photography shaped the rest of the fashion industry,” writes Anna Fitzpatrick in her review of Focus in today’s National Post of Canada. “It is also a salacious collection of stories, a fact it never tries to hide. Above all, Focus is a survey of men behaving badly…Gross captures so well the century-long rivalry between Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, chronicling the musical chairs of editorial staff and their shifting allegiances with photographers. But the most prominent women in the book are the muses….To his credit, [Gross] does make a concerted effort to include the … Continue reading