Category: GripeBox

Focus is “shocking,” says Mail Online

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MailOnline picked up the New York Post’s exclusive excerpt from Focus about the provovative photographer Terry Richardson “bizarre” childhood, his father, the late photographic great Bob Richardson, and his longtime muse and girlfriend Anjelica Huston. Bob and Anjelica both gave exclusive interviews that appear in Focus. (The image is a screen grab from the blog Jezebel)

Bill Cunningham as role model

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I remember working beside Bill Cunningham in this piece for Time Magazine’s Lightbox. (My snapshot of Bill was taken circa 1992)

Focus: The first excerpt is in today’s New York Post

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Today’s New York Post takes readers “Inside the twisted, sexed-up childhood of Terry Richardson” in an exclusive first look inside the pages of Focus. It tells some of the story of Terry Richardson‘s late dad, Bob, and one of fashion photography’s greatest and most messed-up practitioners. Mail Online picked up the Post story and adds even more of the sometimes sordid details from Focus. You can read the rest on July 5th.

“An often shocking tale,” says New York’s Daily News

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FASHION PHOTOGS DIRTY SECRETS the front page of today’s Daily News announces in a story on Focus. “Don’t expect model behavior from fashion photographers,” writes Larry McShane. “Author Michael Gross, in a new tell-all book out July 5, dishes the dirt on the shooters rather than their subjects in an often-shocking tale rife with bed-hopping hotties, rampant drug use and cut-throat antics. Gross knows his stuff, delving deep into the fascinating rivalries and wicked manipulations that take place behind the cameras wielded by the greats like Richard Avedon, Bruce Weber, Steven Meisel and Mario Testino.” Thanks, Daily News!

RIP Bill Cunningham, 87

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Though not one of the characters in Focus–his street photography was sui generis–Bill Cunningham was one of the great photographers working in the fashion milieu.  He died today after suffering a stroke.  We worked together at the New York Times, and I always tried to follow his advice.  ”Give ‘em hell, child,” he’d always tell me.  ”Keep it up.”  I will, Bill.  

Focus: “Delving into the private worlds of legends.” –Departures

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Focus is “the kind of deep dive we’ve come to expect…” from “Michael Gross…master chronicler of behind-closed-doors lives…delving into the private worlds of legends including Richard Avedon, Bert Stern, Bruce Weber, and latter-day provocateur Terry Richardson,” writes Departures magazine in its new issue.

Focus is “a juicy history of scandalous lives,” says Booklist

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“Anyone interested in fashion and/or photography will find Gross’ full immersion fascinating,” says The American Library Association’s Booklist in its review of Focus. Reviewer Sarah Grant highlights the book’s look at “the industry’s transformations” and its “dish on the enormous egos, volatile relationships with models and editors, and [the] emotional turbulence that seems to be nearly ubiquitous among the industry’s professionals.”

Focus is #1 in Fashion Photography

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Following last night’s launch party, Focus hit the top of the Amazon bestseller list of fashion photography books, even though it won’t be published until July 5th. It’s also #2 on the list of books on models and #13 on the list of books on fashion. Please pre-order now from your favorite online bookseller.

XXX Peekaboo out of Focus

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Today’s Page Six features a tid-bit from Focus about a poster-girl Seventies supermodel and her secret XXX-rated antics. Who got photographed in flagrante delicto? See if you can figure it out when Focus comes out in a dozen days.

Focus on fashion media, photography, editors and brands.  ”Everything is changing.”

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I spoke to Alexandra Steigrad of WWD the other day about Focus, and some of the industry heavyweights, like Anna Wintour, whose stories I tell in the book.  You can read the interview here.  UPDATE Fashionista picked up the WWD interview.

Focus on a super model

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Pat Cleveland takes a star turn in today’s Styles section of the New York Times and writer Guy Trebay lets this former Times Styles writer have the last word.

Introducing the Focus web pages

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The Focus web site has begun to roll out.  Links to pages and videos on the photographers featured in the book, source notes for the text and a list of author appearances have now been published.  Bonus material is soon to come.  Please take look.

Focus is coming in MP3 and CD

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In addition to the hardcover and e-book editions, Focus will be released as my first audiobook since Model on July 5th.  You can hear a sample–about a very public confrontation between the great photographer Richard Avedon and Vogue editor Anna Wintour–and pre-order by clicking here.

Focus a Hollywood Reporter “Hot Summer Must-Read”

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In its new issue, The Hollywood Reporter’s Andy Lewis names Focus one of its dozen best summer 2016 beach books, calling it “a gossipy peek behind the curtain at the world of fashion photography from the 1940s to the present. Gross (740 Park) knows how to drop names and has any eye for salacious stories about rivalries (Harper’s versus Vogue), secret love affairs (Irving Penn and Jean Patchett) and hidden pasts (Richard Avedon).”

Focus is “relentless…sizzling…scandalous,” says Hamptons Magazine

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“Before Instagram was king, fashion photographers ruled,” writes R. Couri Hay in this piece (with a photo by Rick Wenner) just posted on the Hamptons blog. “Michael Gross’s new book, Focus: The Secret, Sexy, Sometimes Sordid World of Fashion Photographers, strips their universe down to its underpinnings. Through relentless reporting, Gross lays bare the lives of Richard Avedon, Bruce Weber, Steven Meisel, Terry Richardson, Irving Penn, Bert Stern, David Bailey, Bill King, Gilles Bensimon, and other visionaries who shaped what we have seen in magazines and advertising from the 1940s to today.

Prunella Darling is mesmerized by Focus

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Fashion blogger Prunella Darling (aka Ann Kasper) just posted about Focus. She writes that it is “another page turner [added] to the stack…740 Park, Model: The Ugly Business of Beautiful Women, Rogues’ Gallery, House of Outrageous Fortune and Unreal Estate – all books that keep the reader mesmerized (the famous who are in the books and the rest of us who just love all things fabulous).”

Flashback: Model on Charlie Rose

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Model Lauren Hutton plays a vital role in Focus, which tells why her early champion Richard Avedon banished her from his studio, and how she represented a crucial turning point on his path away from fashion photography. You’ll have to wait ’til July 5th to read that. But in 1995, when I published Model, she and I appeared together on Charlie Rose‘s PBS show. Here’s a little Hutton (and a certain ink-stained wretch) to tide us over the wait for Focus.

Are you down with RPP (Rich People’s Problems)?

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I revisit 740 Park, the subject of my 2005 book, in “Fire, Floods, Theft: The Plagues of 740″, in today’s New York Post. All the story is missing is locusts. See if you can ID the frog in the lily pond. UPDATE: Mail Online picked up the story too.

Focus “serves hot dish,” says the New York Daily News

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“The author always serves hot dish in books like Model and House of Outrageous Fortune,” Sherryl Connelly writes in the Daily News. “He now reveals the process (wink, nudge) of elite fashion photogs from Richard Avedon to Steven Meisel. Of course, big name models are dragged in, too.” Thanks Sherryl!

Focus on Focus

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The first-bound copies of Focus arrived yesterday, hot off the press and still smelling of ink. Here’s mine, posed in front of the first fashion photo I ever acquired, Norman Parkinson’s 1939 image of Pamela Minton leaping off a dune on England’s Isle of Wight. You can pre-order Focus online now for delivery July 5th, or better yet, ask for it at your local bricks-and-mortar bookstore.

FOCUS on Bert Stern

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Bert Stern died in 2013 just as I was starting work on Focus, in which he plays a leading role as the one of the most significant fashion photographers of the 1960s. By the time of his death, forty years after a drug-induced nervous breakdown that ended his decade-long run at Vogue, Stern’s fashion work had been mostly forgotten, overwhelmed by the notoriety of his famous “last sitting” with Marilyn Monroe. Since his death, Stern’s widow and heir, Shannah Laumeister, and his children by his first wife, the prima ballerina Allegra Kent, have been fighting over his estate in New … Continue reading

“A sizzling, gossipy read,” says Hamptons Magazine

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R. Couri Hay offers a sneak peek at Focus in the Memorial Day issue of Hamptons magazine. “Relentless reporting,” Hay writes, “lays bare the lives of Richard Avedon, Bruce Weber, Steven Meisel, Terry Richardson, Irving Penn, Bert Stern, David Bailey, Bill King, Gilles Bensimon and other visionaries…” Focus “strips their universe down to its underpinnings.” UPDATE: Focus is also featured in this month’s issues of Avenue at the Beach and The Daily Summer, which calls it a “don’t miss…must-read.”

Plague Days at 740 Park

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After a devastating fire a few weeks ago, the world’s richest apartment building, 740 Park, is now being cloaked in 184 linear feet of sidewalk shed. Why? A source with detailed knowledge of the 1929 building’s woes says that after chunks of limestone fell from its facade last July, causing the FDNY to rush there, it was determined that some of the metal brackets that hold the massive stone blocks in place “are rusting, and as it rusts, it swells and pops the limestone, causing pieces to fall.” The source adds, “They have to do probes on the limestone [and] … Continue reading

15CPW is #1 again

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The House of Outrageous Fortune, Fifteen Central Park West, has once again climbed to the top of the New York apartment house heap according to a semiannual report from City Realty with average resales of over $6,000 per square foot, $1,000 more than newer, taller competing properties like One57 and 432 Park–and that despite a 4.7 percent decline in its performance. Fifteen’s staying power is all the more remarkable given the fact that many of the other buildings in the top ten are newer properties. Indicating, perhaps, that the smart money knows newer and taller isn’t necessarily better. Limestone Jesus … Continue reading

Focus is “deep-diving…groundbreaking,” says DuJour Magazine

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In its new issue, out this week, DuJour calls Focus “a deep-diving exposé into the world of iconic fashion photographers…groundbreaking.” I’ll post a link to the story by David Foxley as soon as it’s available.

Donald Trump and the Dolls: A Love Story?

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Today’s New York Times gives presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump the business over how he treats women in business. Readers of Gripepad may recall its repeated references to that subject back in March, plumbing quotes he gave for My Generation, a generational biography just re-released as an e-book. For instance: After he graduated from Wharton, Manhattan was Donald Trump’s post-graduate school. He majored in making money, but minored in sex, taking full advantage of the times and the extraordinary opportunities they offered to indulge in consequence-free promiscuity, “my second business,” Trump recalled. “If I hadn’t got married, who knows … Continue reading

And speaking of Extell and the collapsing luxury condo market…

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WWD’s story today on Nordstrom’s announcement of a steep drop in quarterly earnings buries a bombshell about the department store chain’s future Manhattan flagship in the final paragraph. Though the building thast will house it, Extell’s latest West 57th Street supertall, is already under construction, a statement from the store is ominous: “Plans for our Manhattan full-line store, which we expect to open in 2019, ultimately include owning a condominium interest in a mixed-use tower and leasing certain nearby properties. As of Jan. 30, we had approximately $176 million of fee interest in land, which is expected to convert to … Continue reading

It isn’t only luxury condos crashing: Hedgies are dropping, too

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Today’s New York Times highlights one reason why Manhattan’s high-end condo market is collapsing, as Extell founder Gary Barnett admitted yesterday. James B. Stewart writes that investments in hedge funds, the financial high fliers that funded much of the condo boom, are dropping as dramatically as construction cranes. Stewart quotes Daniel Loeb, founder of the Third Point hedge fund and owner of one of the largest penthouses at uber-condo Fifteen Central Park West (shown with his wife Margaret Munzer Loeb on the front of one of their elaborate Christmas cards): “There is no doubt that we are in the first … Continue reading

The Collapse of the Crane King

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What a shame the Wall Street Journal is hidden behind a firewall, so Extell developer Gary Barnett‘s belated acknowledgment yesterday of the collapse of Manhattan’s high-end condo market mostly passed unnoticed. Let’s rectify that. As noted here long ago, while big building boosters were still singing its praises, sales stalled at Barnett’s ugly One57 tower (referred to in these parts as the Blue Penis). More than a fifth of the building’s apartments have failed to sell and Extell has marked down its potential sellout value by $162 million–enough to buy a record setting condo, one might add. “There’s a lot … Continue reading

Throwback Thursday

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Click the image to read Bridget Foley on the persistence of fashion plagiarism (or is it inspiration?) from the new issue of WWD. UPDATE: The original New York Times article is here.

Good Building? Great Price? Gutfreund asks $120 million!!

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“I think it’s the biggest apartment in New York,” says a real estate aficionado of some standing. “It was the apotheosis of the ’80s,” when Salomon Brothers head and one-time “King of Wall Street” John and Susan Gutfreund bought a duplex at 834 Fifth Avenue for the then-staggering sum of $7 million. Yesterday, in the wake her husband’s death in March, Mrs. Gutfreund listed the extravagant twenty-room, seven-bedroom apartment for an even more astonishing $120 million. That’s quite a leap from the $275,000 Carl J. Schmidlapp, a vice-president of of the Chase National Bank, paid in 1930 for what was … Continue reading

Fashion Notes: #focusyourselfie

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Fashion is dead. Long live fashion. That’s not the news you’ll hear in this week’s relentless run-up to Vogue‘s annual promotional party at the Metropolitan Museum, but it’s the message of “Has Luxury Fashion Priced Itself Into Extinction?” my return-to-fashion-writing essay on The Daily Beast this morning. “The digital culture that’s killing fashion-as-we-know-it could, perversely, prove fashion’s salvation,” it argues. “Alongside the paid bloggers and pampered celebrities flogging $3,000 branded goods on Instagram are just plain folks taking selfies of themselves in outfits that reflect individual creativity, not the needs of vampire corporations sucking quarterly profits from purses and perfume … Continue reading

Library Journal on Focus: “Historically significant”

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In its new issue, Library Journal focuses on Focus. “Tales of famous shoots and industry backstories during the ‘glory days’ of the genre…of the sexual promiscuity and recreational drug use of these (mostly male) photographers,” writes Shauna Frischkorn (a Professor of Photography at Millersville University). “The subject matter will be historically significant to those who are concerned with the photo artist’s role in the golden age of modern fashion photography. VERDICT: Recommended for enthusiasts of fashion and fashion photography.”

David Koch joins the homeless

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What do you do when your upstairs neighbor drives you from your home? David Koch, the wealthiest resident of 740 Park Avenue, forced out of the building by water damage following a fire in the apartment above his, belonging to J. Ezra Merkin of Bernie Madoff fame, has checked into a hotel and is checking out new cribs in his costly ‘hood, according to Richard Johnson of the New York Post and PageSix.com. Johnson adds delectable new tid-bits to the story that’s been playing out here on Gripepad over the last few weeks.

Focus: “Sex, drugs, beautiful women, and raw ambition,” says Kirkus Reviews

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Often snarky and always first, Kirkus Reviews, the book review specialist, has published its view of Focus, and calls the book “a gossipy exposé … of the talented, arrogant, philandering, combative, self-aggrandizing photographers whose work appeared in, and defined, such iconic fashion magazines as Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue, Glamour, and Elle from 1947 to 1997 … sometimes-tangy, often scurrilous … Not a pretty picture.” I guess they missed they parts about pretty pictures!

FOCUS: Early readers report

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Advance Praise for Focus “I thought I knew practically everything about the fashion industry, but Michael Gross has corrected me. His thoroughly absorbing narrative dazzles with the most profound investigation and research. Focus is an enthralling and riveting read!” – Tim Gunn “Michael Gross’s FOCUS is that rare thing: an equally delicious and deeply informative book, a news-breaking romp through the world of fashion photography, from its beginnings early in the last century to the recent controversial exploits of super bad boy Terry Richardson. Richard Avedon, Bert Stern, Deborah Turbeville, Helmut Newton, Steven Meisel: these and so many others whose … Continue reading

740 Park Rumor Mill Update

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The latest rumor out of 740 in the wake of the devastating fire there last week has it that Bernie-Madoff-feeder Ezra Merkin‘s duplex apartment, where the blaze began in a sauna, was thoroughly destroyed and that controversial conservative billionaire David Koch might buy the charred shell and add it to his own apartment just below, creating a quadriplex that will rival the best and biggest residence in the building, private equity kingpin Steve Schwarzman‘s duplex-plus-servant’s-mezzanine, once the home of John D. Rockefeller Jr. Does this qualify as #richpeopleproblems?

One Last Dose of Donald: “Really deep s**t.”

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Donald J. Trump (born in 1946) is an unlikely Baby Boomer, but like it or not, he is one, and was one of nineteen profiled in My Generation, out of print for more than a decade, but now available again as an ebook. The Orlando Sentinel called it “hugely entertaining,” the New York Times Book Review said it was “exhaustively researched,” and the Arizona Republic deemed it “thought provoking, and haunted.” Buy it now by clicking here. Last month, Gripepad highlighted some of Trump’s appearances in the book. In the run-up to New York’s Republican Primary, here is one more … Continue reading

Temperatures rising over 740 Park fire

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A source reveals that the source of the fire that raged at 740 Park Avenue last week was a sauna in the apartment of Bernie-Madoff-feeder fat cat Ezra Merkin. And that’s caused fresh worries for two more of his neighbors. Recent purchaser Howard Marks has installed a sauna in his ongoing renovation. And long-time resident Israel “Izzy” Englander is currently combining two apartments and planning to install his own personal hot box. “The concern is that the board will make Marks remove [his] and stop Englander,” says the insider. This comes atop the water and smoke damage done to Merkin’s … Continue reading

Kirkus on Focus: “Not a pretty picture of sex, drugs, beautiful women, and raw ambition”

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The first review of Focus calls the book “a gossipy exposé … of the talented, arrogant, philandering, combative, self-aggrandizing photographers whose work appeared in, and defined, such iconic fashion magazines as Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue, Glamour, and Elle from 1947 to 1997 … sometimes-tangy, often scurrilous … Not a pretty picture of sex, drugs, beautiful women, and raw ambition.” –Kirkus Reviews, May 2016

JUST IN: Who got Merkined at 740 Park

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No word yet on how yesterday’s bonfire of 740 Park’s vanities started in Ezra Merkin‘s laundry room, but an inside source offers this who-else-got-hit report: Severe damage was suffered by Julia and David Koch, beneath Merkin, and Dana and Andrew Stone beneath the Kochs, “due to fire ‘n’ flooding. Heavy smoke inundated the homes of former 740 co-op board president Alice Tisch, above Merkin, and fashion’s Vera Wang, above Tisch and her husband. At least one of the victims is blaming building management and the super, and demanding a change. Meantime, security guards have been posted at all entrances and … Continue reading

When neighbors attack

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Unmentioned in all the coverage of the fire yesterday in the apartment of Bernie Madoff associate Ezra Merkin at fabled 740 Park Avenue is the likelihood that he has two very angry and water-damaged downstairs neighbors.  But who are the folks who will be calling their lawyers, insurance agents, decorators and architects today?  Directly beneath Merkin is none other than financier David Koch, perhaps the building’s most controversial resident, along with wife Julia.  And beneath the Kochs reside Dana and Andrew Stone, the latter a banker with a fierce reputation.  Tops dogs in monied circles, they unfortunately both sleep in … Continue reading

740 Park Board President at Scene of Fire

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George David, owner of a penthouse and president of the board of the 740 Corporation is shown here on the scene of the fire in Bernie Madoff-feeder Ezra Merkin‘s apartment at 740 Park Avenue. Check back for updates. UPDATE: Patch reports that two firefighters were injured on the scene.

Breaking: Fire at 740 Park in home of Madoff-associate Ezra Merkin’s apartment

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As many as two dozen fire vehicles are outside 740 Park and a source inside the building says there is a fire in the sixth and seventh floor duplex apartment of embattled financier Ezra Merkin.

Focus is “juicy…fast-paced…insider,” says Devil Wears Prada author Lauren Weisberger

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The Devil Wears Prada was a publishing, fashion and film phenomenon. Its author Lauren Weisberger is the latest early reader of Focus. “I loved reading all the juicy details that Michael uncovered in this fast-paced—and clearly insider—look at the rarefied, sexy world of fashion photography,” she says. Pre-order Focus here.

Panama Papers target 15CPW’s Condo King Rybolovlev

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Today’s Irish Times delves into the leak of “more than 11 million documents, dating from 1977 to December 2015, [that] show the inner workings of Mossack Fonseca, a global law firm based in Panama that helps customers create offshore shelters.” One of those customers is Dmitry Rybolovlev, purchaser (through an LLC, as first revealed in House of Outrageous Fortune) of the once record-setting $88 million penthouse at Fifteen Central Park West (see floor plan). Rybolovlev’s story “illustrates the lengths that spouses, their lawyers and professional trackers must go in search of wealth stashed offshore in complex networks of companies and … Continue reading

Focus is “compelling,” says Anthony Haden-Guest

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Author, journalist and cartoonist Anthony Haden-Guest is the latest early reader to offer an endorsement of Focus. He says, “Michael Gross takes us on a compelling journey through a hugely desirable culture – a culture which sometimes destroyed its most brilliant children and which is now slipping as irretrievably into the past as Versailles or the Swinging 60s.”

Focus: “Exposing photographers,” says New York Post’s Richard Johnson

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In today’s New York Post, gossip King Richard Johnson reveals a tid-bit from the opening pages of Focus, telling how King of the Selfies, photographer Terry Richardson, was dissed by the often naked pop princess Miley Cyrus. “The book, exposing photographers from Richard Avedon to Richardson, is out July 5th,” Johnson writes.

Calvin Klein comes clean?

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Word comes via WWD that retired designer Calvin Klein is “writing” a book, though he adds, “I’m not big on looking back.” For those who would like to look back, Calvin Klein’s masterful advertising is discussed in depth in Focus, out July 5th. Meantime, here is my controversial profile of the designer from 1988 that caused him to pull his advertising from New York magazine for five years.

How Safe is Your Hotel in the Age of Daesh Terror?

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The latest issue of Departures presciently addresses terror and travel in a special section. It’s a subject that seems all the more urgent after this week’s Brussels attacks. My story on the latest in hotel safety is here. The illo is by Owen Freeman.