There is one agent provocateur who defined the way magazines will be made for over 2 decades; who restlessly continues doing what he does best – making you uncomfortable and forcing you to think; whom I am lucky enough to be creatively involved with. Matthias’s relentless determination in the quest to free your mind from redundant dogmas and reductive social moral rules found a new channel of expression and a new home – a physical in Berlin and a new place for his art at his just-launched website.
Born and raised in Amsterdam, Matthias was educated as a classical ballet dancer. A leg fracture made dancing a short-lived career, so Vriens-McGrath turned to the worlds of design and publishing. Moving to Paris in 1992, he started collaborating with Dutch magazine, eventually becoming both its creative director and editor in chief. Under his direction, Dutch went from being a local homegrown magazine written in Dutch to an international style bible published in English supported by fashion’s major advertisers. Tom Ford has been quoted as saying Dutch was his favorite magazine of the nineties, and style guru Diane Pernet writes, “back in the nineties, Matthias was one of the founders of Dutch magazine, a publication that influenced the way we looked at magazines for the next few decades. That was when i first became aware of his power to provoke”.
Provocation, always done with a sense of humor and elegance, was one of the keys to Dutch’s success, including the famous naked issue where the only fashion visible were the brand credits themselves. In 1999, Matthias became worldwide creative director for Giorgio Armani and a year later was named senior art director for Gucci group. Currently Vriens-McGrath has been under contract with Conde Nast for several years producing a steady amount of covers and fashion stories for Glamour and Details. Vriens-McGrath moved recently to Berlin leaving California and the US behind, however taking his husband Donovan Vriens-McGrath, with whom he has created bl33n, an online extravaganza.
How did you start to work as a photographer and what still inspires you after so many yeas and photo shoots?
After having been working as an editor creative director of Dutch magazine, I started taking pictures, since I often felt, -while working with photographers-a sense of “Hmmm I expected something else…” While this frustration can come from a sense of “I can do better”, I decided there was only one way out and indeed try to do it myself. My first project was for press agency TOTEM in Paris. I produced a catalog of all the fashion designers they represented. I photographed the epic first collection of Raf Simons,”Black Palms”, Jeremy Scott’s second collection and many others. This was in 1998, some of my favorite pictures -still today-.
Is there a celebrity you really badly want in front of your camera?
Having moved from Los Angeles to Berlin last week is possibly less than metaphorical a step away from the Hollywood celeb ‘bubble and squeak’.
So… really not that into this question, but when forced I would say Christoph Waltz.
What are you looking forward to in 2012?
Plenty! 2012 will be the next step for bl33n.com, currently working on the bl33nblog, that should launch within the next couple of days.
Coming September will be the Paris launch of a new collection of bl33n casual wear.
Recently also working on my artwork, collages and must say having a lot of fun…
Some were featured by Per Joannesson (one of my very best and oldest friends !) on his blog “Blown In A Gentle Wind’ here on Grateful Grapefruit..!