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  • Joan Juliet Buck: From Vogue Paris Editor in Chief to Living a Life Well Lived [7 Days to Amazing Podcast]

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    This Week:  A lively conversation with Joan Juliet Buck, from Vogue Paris, to life advice to working from home to the most stylish pants discovered at a Turkish mall.

    Sitting at the helm of Vogue Paris, particularly as an American, is arguably one of THE most influential jobs in fashion. But sometimes the path you take takes you on strange and unexpected turns. The legendary Joan Juliet Buck gets frank about life even when the life you dream about comes with a cost.

    You don’t need to be a fashionista to enjoy this episode of the 7 Days to Amazing podcast but you just might learn a few tricks of the trade in the process, and they’re more down to earth than you may expect.

    It’s time to tune in…

    Tune in…

         

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    Head over to Amazing to purchase Joan’s memoir, The Price of Illusion – a fabulous account of four decades spent in the creative heart of London, New York, Los Angeles, and Paris, chronicling her quest to discover the difference between glitter and gold, illusion and reality, and what looks like happiness from the thing itself.

    Order on Amazon.

    Episode Transcription…

    Announcer:
    Welcome to the Seven Days to Amazing Podcast where you learn how to make your life, business, and style even more amazing in the next week! Now your host, Sharon Haver, of FocusOnStyle.com.

    Sharon Haver:
    Hello chicsters I am Sharon Haver and you are really about to be amazed today’s episode of  the 7 Days to Amazing Podcast features a very special guest Joan Juliet Buck is an American novelist, critic, essayist and editor, she is the only child of a larger than life film producer and was born into a world of make believe.

    Her childhood was a world wind of famous faces, John Houston, Peter O’Toole, Lauren Bacall, Federico Fellini and many more.

    She served as the Editor-in Chief of Vogue Paris from 1994-2001 where she was the first and only American woman to fill the coveted position; she reshaped the magazine and increased its circulation.

    Joan Juliet Buck quickly becomes a force in the cult of fashion and beauty until she was abruptly dismissed as the Editor-in Chief of Vogue Paris at the start of fashion week to boot! She was sent off to rehab by her boss for a non-existent drug problem, going to rehab was just part of her severance package.

    While a contributing editor at Vogue, Vanity Fair, Traveller and the New Yorker she wrote two novels, The Only Place To Be and Daughter of The Swan.

    Currently Joan Juliet Buck’s essays appear in Harpers Bazaar, she has been seen on screen in Julie and Julia and on television on Super Girl, her latest book is The Price of Illusion: A Memoir, an amazing account of 6 decades spent in the creative heart of London, New York, Los Angeles, Milan, Paris and more. The book chronicles the fantastic illusion of glamour and luxury and the cost of sustaining them.

    Welcome, Joan Juliet Buck,  I am thrilled to have you here today.

    02:13

    Joan Juliet Buck:
    Hello.

    Sharon Haver:
    Hello, and thank you for joining us with your cold, Joan was just saying she is not feeling on top of things today, but I am sure Joan’s not on top of things is everyone else’s little genius. Joan, you really are such an icon in fashion and style, and just your story goes through so many different ways of reinvention that I think the audience today will get so much out of it.

    One of the things that I want to start with, before I go into your really exciting life, I was telling you before we started was, there was a photo of you.  I believe in

    I believe in everyone’s iconic moments. We all have little snippets of fashion, that we sort of sub-consciously, if you are not a fashion person it may be subconscious, if you are thinking of yourself as a fashion person they are usually pretty clear of style moments and icons that we just identify with, we gravitate to,  and they stick with us from a childhood or from last week. It could be somebody famous, it could be your mother, an aunt, or whatever, there are these icon moments in style and one of the pictures with your harem pants that always sticks with me. I was telling you before we started I was a Yves Saint Laurent sample sale and there was what I thought was those pants or at least pants that reminded me of them. They were clearing out the old school to the new school of the house, I tried them on in the dressing room sometimes you always think especially when they are on sale that they look better than they are, and then I got them home, and no matter what I did with them, I always feel like a balloon.

    I just couldn’t pull them off like you did, I ended up giving them away to my old assistant and his boyfriend ended up getting rid of them, who knows where my pants are now.

    You were telling me a story about your harem pants, so tell me what my iconic moments of those.


    Joan Juliet Buck:

    It is funny, I have always been stuck on harem pants, and Yves Saint Laurent have always made a kind of very unflattering version which is zouave  pants. Zouave being the French soldier with the very odd uniform with ballooning pants, and whenever Yves Saint Laurent makes them they balloon. However, I have been obsessed with harem pants since childhood lets say, when I was went to Istanbul for Traveller, for Conde Nast Traveller in 2008.

    In 2008 a Turkish friend took me to a big mall called the Istinye Mall and I think I was looking for sunglasses or something. I wasn’t looking for harem pants and in this big boutique called Nu, there was these trousers hanging, and this was the interesting thing, there was a lot of fabric at the part you call below the knee, they were silky jersey, but with an enormous amount of fabric between the knee and the calf. I looked at them hanging up and I thought no that is impossible, my Turkish friend convinced me to try them on. I now have 18 pairs of these pants and have been wearing them for 9 years.

    Friends sometimes tease me, not everybody gets them, I get them dry cleaned, I rotate them some years I don’t wear them at all. They are my favorite garments.
    You got it.

    Sharon Haver:
    And that just goes to prove, I had the designer version and I was inspired by yours, and the ones that work are the ones you got in Istanbul.


    Joan Juliet Buck:

    She is a cool designer, Nu or whoever this woman is, she is obviously not called Nu, she used to work for Armani.
    She knows how to drape, these things drape, and they fall, they are slim around the waist and the hips, and then they get very big under the knee.

    They are fantastic, they are the best cut pants I have ever had, my friends tease me, “No, no, not the harem pants again,” I wear them for days, I wear them for travel, I wear them for evening clothes. I have 18 pairs.

    Sharon Haver:
    And they work, they are a statement piece, they are timeless and they are you. I think that is something that is so important to stylists, especially to someone who doesn’t really, they are kind of fashion phobic, they don’t feel that they have a whole lot of style.

    They see what is in the magazines and there is no one that knows it better than you and the fantasy that is projected there, it is a fantasy it is aspirational, something to get excited about.

    Can you help people out there who are a little fashion phobic and don’t really understand how you create fashion?


    Joan Juliet Buck:

    I am a little fashion phobic; I have always been more attracted to costume than fashion. Growing up in the 60’s in London of course I wanted to look like everyone else, I wasn’t 5’9”, straight blond hair and skinny legs.

    I had to find a different way in, today one of the so called victories of fashion is to have eliminate all of the norms, all should, all the musts, which is why when you open a fashion magazines you see ads for sheer net dresses to be worn over underwear so that your underwear can be seen, ankle length transparent dresses.

    No, this is not anything anybody wants to wear.

    There is certain kind of platonic ideal of beauty guides to do with proportion, to do with shape, everybody can find the thing that they look fantastic in, but they wont necessarily find it in the ads of the fashion magazines.
    read more


    08:53


    Sharon Haver:

    Absolutely, and how can someone find their own style? I know a lot of it comes from simply being aware, I think awareness is something that people short changes themselves especially if you are running your own business or if you are a certain point in life, I feel old, I feel this, I feel that, life has so much inspiration around it and I think that just being aware and opening up to everything that is there, ideas just come to you if you allow them, if you use life to have a kick start, so how do you get someone to get that gift?


    Joan Juliet Buck:

    It is like writing, when I wrote my memoirs, The Price of Illusion it started as 1050 pages and I got it down, I wrestled and scraped that book down to 450 pages. I have words under my fingernails on how hard I scraped that book.

    It is the same thing as anything.

    I was trying to find what the true story that I was trying to tell, but I had to start with all of the material that I could pull together and put down on the page, it is the kind of the same when you are looking for clothing, I don’t call it fashion, I call it the outer layer of the self, what you are going to be wearing.

    I say and I always say this, go to the sale racks, I love the sale racks at Bergdorf’s get a dressing room, jam that puppy so full get in 30,40,60 different things, give four hours to trying on everything that you can lay your hands on and out of all of those things, there will be a couple when you look in the mirror they will look better than the things before.


    Sharon Haver:

    That is brilliant.

    Joan Juliet Buck:
    It is trial and error and the more things you bring in, I don’t think you need a particularly developed eye to do this, sometimes there is a wonderful old sales lady that will help you, never bring a girlfriend she will get hungry, impatient and competitive.

    Don’t bring a man, he will try and speed things up and only go for the sexy stuff, no.

    Do it alone, you are writing and rearranging your style, it will take hours but when you come out of that dressing room you will have one or two or three things that are the templates of what you want to go after.


    Sharon Haver:

    I agree with you like those harem pants, you buy what you gravitate to, you buy magazines to stay relevant, to stay modern to see what is in, and you buy what you gravitate to.


    Joan Juliet Buck:

    Listen I am in Sarasota right now, I am in Florida on this tour because I am doing something with the Sarasota Museum of Art, I am wearing a pair of my harem pants, in blue! They are my seaside version.


    Sharon Haver:

    Do you have a polar fleece pair, you said you also, when you are in the country you wear a lot of polar fleece, do you have an arctic, do you have a pair that you wear with a little Polar Tec fleece jacket and jazz up the country.


    Joan Juliet Buck:

    This is the thing, I have got respect, I have 18 pairs, we don’t know what is happening with Turkey, if my supply route of these trousers is going to be cut-off so I do respect them, so what I wear with the Polar Tec, oh you wouldn’t want to know it is an Arc’teryx pair of fleece lined climbing pants with cigarette holes by the knee, they are really bad.

    Sharon Haver:
    I have a place in Wyoming, I have this theory that what you wear in Jackson Hole, you leave in Jackson Hole.


    Joan Juliet Buck:

    And this is it, when I lived in Santa Fe I used to go hiking with my boyfriend; I had all of these things that would protect me from the elements. When I moved to New York I thought that is never going to happen again but perhaps you never know, and now in the Hudson Valley all of these things are having their day.


    Sharon Haver:

    Hudson Valley is great, if people don’t know it, it is upstate New York, and it is not too far from the city, I love it. The Rhinebeck area is so beautiful I used to have a friend who lived up there and felt really lucky to be there every weekend, and they have the oldest inn in America there, it is just beautiful.


    Joan Juliet Buck:

    They have one in every village.


    Sharon Haver:

    There are a lot of oldest Inns, haha, It is like Cher’s farewell concert tours, there’s always another one.


    Joan Juliet Buck:

    Exactly, Cher’s bedroom and George Washington’s all over the Hudson Valley.

    14:08

    Sharon Haver:
    So I want to ask you something else about style, you were known for having a single theme for every issue and I know a lot of magazines.

    Joan Juliet Buck:
    Just the Christmas issues.

    Sharon Haver:
    The things to wear for this, the five best things for this, the four best things for this. A lot of times I know when I created Focusonstyle we would do those posts and it really was SEO bait as people wanted it.
    I never really, there is no five must haves for anything but people ask, ”What are the five things I have to buy this year?”

    I am like, what can be in your closet, how do you tell somebody that really needs that guide that has to have ingredient in that recipe.


    Joan Juliet Buck:

    Such a good question. Who can be sure there is 24 hours in a day? Numbers look really good on the covers and they do attract people.
    Ok, I told you the cold was making me stupid, what was the question?


    Sharon Haver:

    You were known for having the single theme issues you have had so many. I believe that fashion a should have a single theme, and in that single theme there is so many different ways that you can go, as opposed to someone narrowing it down, I must have these five things this season, I must have these three best things, the two boots you have to have, the five clothes racks.

    Joan Juliet Buck:
    Here is the point, if you are going to buy boots; it is better to buy two than one. One foot would be really cold.

    There is, I wish a theme to fashion, when I was a young dolly birds, our mothers wore this stiff Courreges dresses, and we wore really short mini skirts then the hippies came along and everybody was fringey and slightly smelly, there was this common context to fashion that went on and on.

    Then sometimes, I say in the 90’s in my book I say that fashion died and logo mania took over, and here I am wearing a raincoat made out of Louis Vuitton fabric at a luggage carousel at a luggage claim, and all of the Louis Vuitton bags come around the carousel and I am wearing my Louis Vuitton pattern raincoat, why did I want to look like luggage?

    That to the side, there is no common norm now. You go to a party or you go to anything, or look in the street, everyone is dressed for a different movie or a different situation, a different drama a different encounter, you have for some reason there seems to be the moment or maybe it was last summer the very thick denim jump suit with short sleeves, which doesn’t look good on anybody, I mean it is not even good as cushion covers.


    Sharon Haver:

    It’s that denim, it is hard to wear.

    Joan Juliet Buck:
    You see magazine stories, oh Spring break, fringed denim shorts.

    No, stop telling me about denim.

    I don’t need magazines to tell me about denim. I need magazines to give me a context.  Context in which this year sheer net dresses to the ground would be unacceptable because you can’t wear them, they are transparent, they are stupid.

    A context in which there would be an interesting way to dress for work, not just a dress and jacket, I don’t even know how you dress for work. How do you dress for work?

    18:35

    Sharon Haver:
    That actually brings me to a quote that your mother told you, that if my mother were still alive, she would probably tell me the same thing.

    I wrote this down, this is how I dress for work when no one sees me in my office, I have a loft, my office is here, I don’t dress this way when I see a client, when I leave.

    Everyday your mother has said to you it is in your book, darling my mother said “Remember you are going to have to wear shoes during the day, high heels every single day, what about your nails?”

    I am barefoot right now, I have 200 pairs of shoes in my closet and my nails always look like last week but if you see me when I am not going to my office it is not the case, so totally that is how I dress every day.

    Joan Juliet Buck:
    Something really interesting has happened because people, more and more people are working at home, self-employed, freelancer, web, cyber everything, working from home, so more and more people are actually complete slobs when they are working as that is the easiest way to work, your waistband doesn’t chaff, you don’t have to keep putting your lip stick on your just working.

    The privacy of these separate pods that the cyber world and the cyber information, cyber employment has given us that unifying social thing, all of the ladies in all of the pussycat bows in their little suits, that doesn’t exist anymore.

    So the same way that community has kind of vanished because of the internet, physical community, the norms of physical community has also vanished because I know I do it in the country. I have to go out and do something. I throw on some very old Uggs, of course I haven’t bought Uggs in 10 years but there is some bronze colored Uggs hanging around. I throw on the Uggs and some coat to do something and I bump into somebody in the street it doesn’t matter what I look lie to me, but I am not upholding the standards of what an older lady should look like when she is walking through a quaint village.

    Sharon Haver:
    But I am sure also that you are putting together your Uggs and your jacket, whatever pants, even if they are holey harem pants, whatever you are wearing, I am sure you would have a certain bit of style. And if I am sure if this interview was right now face-face.


    Joan Juliet Buck:

    No.


    Sharon Haver:

    No really? You don’t think you have your own innate style in what you put together?

    Joan Juliet Buck:
    I don’t know, I always like wrapping my head, I like a nice turban, I like to have my ears warm, I didn’t like having mumps when I was nine.

    I think a lot has to do with ones physical relationship to ones self, do you like tying belts around yourself, do you like big soft easy things. I don’t know about style. Style is very much talent, if you have it you should shut up about it.


    Sharon Haver:

    This is true, what I often think with a lot of people, I know that when I am writing I write best barefoot, it is just the way it is, when I am out, I want to wear nice shoes.

    Joan Juliet Buck:
    They are yours.

    Sharon Haver:
    But the same thing, it happens, sorry?


    Joan Juliet Buck:

    Because if you are writing barefoot, if you feel like putting your foot on the table it is ok.


    Sharon Haver:

    It’s ok, exactly; if I want to sit on the couch I am not ruining my good couch.


    Joan Juliet Buck:

    Exactly: it is all about practical things in physical reality.


    Sharon Haver:

    Yes also and if I am writing that is something about more or less fancy I want to make sure I out makeup on that day, otherwise if I am doing something that is very techy, if it is a day I am not wearing makeup and my hair is in a pony tail, it doesn’t affect my demeanor or my mood or anything else, but what id o know, and this is a problem for a lot of women with this whole cyber virtual tech world, we have web cam meetings, we have people who pop up on our computer every day, exactly. I think it is still respect to the other person that you don’t look like the Shrek of the Hapsburg, that you pulled yourself together, that you know how to still look in your element, maybe bot so done up, maybe you are wearing jeans, but at least the part that someone sees looks professional.

    Would you agree with that, just as a business?


    Joan Juliet Buck:

    Sharon I have one answer for you.


    Sharon Haver:

    What?

    Joan Juliet Buck:
    It’s a nice thick piece of black tape over your camera.

    Sharon Haver:
    I know, I actually have a black piece of tape over my camera just in case an audio accidently becomes a video.

    Joan Juliet Buck:
    It is very funny, the whole thing of presentation. I think that our sense of privacy is increasing as more and more of us are working at home, looking like shit and leaving crumbs everywhere, all of the coffee cups and all of that. Then extends to our houses, to the places where we live, I found that when I was finishing The Price of Illusion, certainly the last year, that I was writing it, nobody was allowed to come and see me in where I live.

    And certainly no video interaction of any kind, because the place that I was working was as private as me in my checked pajamas.


    Sharon Haver:

    I agree, I agree, one of the things that is so interesting. I agree there is always this separation of church and state but when your private world and it suddenly becomes public, and you know it has to be especially for your business, I think there is still a time when you need to clean it up. So when you are in working mode or writing mode, we all go into caves when we start writing, as that is the only way to get in touch with the words.

    So we just have a couple of minutes left, and we really haven’t spent that much time talking about The Price of Illusion. I want to go over a few things with you. Everyone, you are going to have to pick up this book it is just wonderful, there are so many incredible stories, Joan has had, I hate using this word colorful, but you have had a colorful life.

    25:43

    Joan Juliet Buck:
    Colorful, yeah.

    Sharon Haver:
    So is there anything you want to tell us first on here, a little bit of a story, a little tale that you can leave the audience with, then we can go over some tips that you may have on they can make their life more amazing this week?


    Joan Juliet Buck:

    I think your life decides to be amazing, your life is an animal that you have to deal with, sometimes it behaves and sometimes it doesn’t.

    Sometimes it is going to give you amazing stuff and sometimes it is going to kick you in the butt, you can’t tell.

    To actually pick out one anecdote from the book, my mind goes blank helped by this stupid cold.

    What is important, the most important thing is basically kindness; those are the things that touch other people those are the things that touch you.

    The only job that I ever wanted was Features Editor of British Vogue because if I did that I could stay close to my parents world of famous people and movies and fancy stuff, and I wouldn’t have to put in the work of being a true artist and risking failure. If I was the Features Editor of Vogue I would report on all of the movies, plays, exhibitions, the books and be kind of safe.

    I think the big lesson to me was that the real work is not about staying safe it is about actually taking risks, huge risks and that is what transforms you, just fooling around in the margins, you just stay marginal.

     

    Sharon Haver:
    Yeah and there is a lot of people who really are quite marginal, which is an another word for mediocre because they are afraid to take a risk, we take a risk every day when we cross the street and put our foot of the curb, so take big ones in life and get big rewards and sometimes not so much but that becomes part of you.

    Joan Juliet Buck:
    A writer friend of mine– a great writer friend of mine– said not so long ago, the worst the stuff that happens to you becomes your gold, and it is true as it really reveals where you got it wrong, it reveals life in a new way, it teaches you lessons that you didn’t want to learn but there they are, you have to learn them.

    Then you can build on that.

    It is like that thing, when a whole lot of nice things are happening one after the other and you start holding your breath, so you don’t change all of the niceness coming your way

     

    Sharon Haver:
    It is like when is the shoe going to drop.

    Joan Juliet Buck:
    Yeah but you are holding your breath to prolong this, you are not really thinking things through, maybe if you think things through you will stop the magic

    Sharon Haver:
    Yeah.

    29:18

    Joan Juliet Buck:
    Yeah, so the idea is to be as clear-headed in success as you are in failure.


    Sharon Haver:

    That is a good quote.

    Joan Juliet Buck:
    Yes, it is a pretty good one; I just came out with that.

    Sharon Haver:
    It is a good one; I am going to write that down, I am going to bold that one in the transcript.

    All right Joan Juliet Buck, thank you so much for being here today. It really was quite an honor.  I can’t tell everyone enough to please read The Price of Illusion: A Memoir, especially if you are someone who has a side interest in fashion as it really takes away, fashion is a job, and you said one of the most important things for you was kindness, and fashion is really not known as a kind industry, that is for sure.

    Joan Juliet Buck:
    But also this book is important for people who have a mother or a father, or an uncle or things that go bump in the night or roommates who disappear and are found dead, there is a lot of stuff.

    Sharon Haver:
    Especially the later, there is a lot of stuff in there, even just back on times with things that are happening, when you started out in London in 60’s to Paris, I know it was in the edge, and you mentioned that bomb era in Paris, I was there then. It was pretty scary.


    Joan Juliet Buck:

    The bombs?

    Sharon Haver:
    Yes. every other day. Whenever I left there would be a bomb there the next day, something like 9 bombs in 11 days or something like that, it was crazy.


    Joan Juliet Buck:

    The winter of 1986.


    Sharon Haver:

    I am glad you said that I was talking to my son about that the other day.  I couldn’t remember when that was, the winter of ’86, you are absolutely right.

    You have had a fabulous life and I think that not many of us have been able to have a life that has had such diversity and such highs and lows, so many interesting things that people just dream about and you have lived it and shown both sides of it in the book.

    I really encourage people to read The Price of Illusion:A Memoir by Joan Juliet Buck. Thank you so much for being here today.


    Joan Juliet Buck:

    Thank you for having me on.


    Sharon Haver:

    You are very welcome.


    Joan Juliet Buck:

    And remember, Nu Istinye Mall, Istanbul

    Sharon Haver:
    Can you spell the name of that mall so that they have it?


    Joan Juliet Buck:

    Istinye Mall.


    Sharon Haver:

    Or close to it.


    Joan Juliet Buck:

    Lovely to meet you, lovely to be on your show, thank you.


    Sharon Haver:

    Same here, thank you very much, bye bye.

    Announcer:
    That’s a wrap. Well, not so fast. Don’t forget to hop on over to FocusOnStyle.com for exclusive content to help you live your most amazing life with style and success. For even more great stuff that Sharon only shares by email, subscribe to her in the know list at www.FocusOnStyle.com/insiders. See you next time.

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