Fashion and media icon Glenn O'Brien passes away at 70
The media and the fashion industry mourn the loss of one of its most influential personalities. A member of Warhol’s Factory, O’Brien was a fixture in New York City’s art and music scenes in the 1970s and 1980s, collaborating with and befriending icons such as Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Madonna.
The esteemed writer served as the first editor of Interview Magazine (he continued to write and edit for the publication after stepping down), was a contributing editor of Allure and Harper’s Bazaar, wrote a monthly column for ArtForum, was editorial director of Brant Publications and served as Editor-at-Large at Maxim. His credits span several decades and publications, most notably The New York Times, Vogue (Nippon, L’Uomo and Italia), Harper’s Bazaar, Details, and GQ, where he wrote the Style Guy column for 16 years.
Born in Cleveland, Ohio, O’Brien attended Jesuit St. Ignatius High School and Georgetown University, before moving to New York City to study film at the Columbia Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.
Merely listing O’Brien’s contributions does not do him justice. He was revered not only for his pen and his fashion style (GQ named O’Brien one of the Top 10 Most Stylish Men in America) but also for his character and his ability to wear many hats. O’Brien was a music critic for Interview during its punk era, wrote the screenplay for film Downtown 81, (originally titled New York Beat), hosted New York City public access cable television show, TV Party, which featured David Bowie, Iggy Pop, George Clinton, Nile Rodgers, David Byrne, Fab 5 Freddy, Blondie and Basquiat, and he did advertising for Dior, Giorgio Armani, Dolce & Gabbana, Calvin Klein, and Barneys New York, where he served as Creative Director of advertising.
Steve Meisel, House + Holme Creative Director Ronnie Cooke Newhouse, and Baron & Baron founder Fabien Baron all had great things to say about O’Brien to WWD, but no words quite like his agent of 25 years, Anne Kennedy, who said, “[Glenn O'Brien] had the ability to be ahead of everyone else. He was extremely literary [and] heavily mentored by Andy [Warhol]. His reach was really extraordinary.”
O’Brien’s reach is why he managed to stay very busy and relevant for majority of his life. In addition to his work with magazines and advertising, he edited and co-wrote Madonna’s book, Sex (1992), and published books The Style Guy (2000), How To Be a Man: A Guide To Style and Behavior For The Modern Gentleman (2011), The Cool School: Writing From America's Hip Underground (2013) and Berluti: At Their Feet by Glenn O'Brien (Author) Rizzoli (2016).
Glenn O’Brien is survived by his wife, Gina Nanni and two sons, Oscar and Terance.
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