Photographers Michael Avedon and James Dylan launch new publication Breach
While their names may command a steep legacy, don't call Michael Avedon or James Dylan nepo babies. The photographers (and filmmakers, too, in Dylan's case) may have icons for grandfathers but have risen to success in their respective fields with talent and hard work.
Their pedigree has also granted them respect for creatives who came before them. With a focus on new talent and reverence for the established, the duo has launched a new magazine, Breach, with a photography-first approach. FashionNetwork.com interviewed the pair following their very old-school New York launch party.
"The name Breach describes the ethos behind the publication — this is meant to be a place where barriers don't exist, where the vanguard and avant-garde can be in conversation, a crossroad of young minds and sage ones, a trading post for these two separate ends. If it can succeed in that, then I think Breach is a success," said Dylan, Breach's co-founder and editor-in-chief, via email.
The meeting of generational minds is vital to the magazine. "I can't speak to whether this generation feels obliged to anybody or not, but I can say that those of us within Breach may agree with that sentiment — certainly, there's a lot of respect and knowledge there. I imagine that it works in both ways, that even those who've carved out their paths heavily are interested in what the newer generation believes and creates," Avedon, Breach's co-founder and photography editor, noted.
The pair also seem to esteem the depth of photography in days of yore.
"James and I are both photographers that work in editorial and consume it. With great respect and appreciation for many of the publications that exist today, we thought there was room among this landscape for the types of stories that we're focused on and for a place that allows the creative freedom that we want our contributors to have, a luxury that is seldom offered and always valued in editorial," Avedon added. Dylan names Chloé, Tod’s and Gabriela Hearst, among his clients.
The debut issue features interviews with German actress Vicky Krieps; producer and former Bob Dylan bandmate T-Bone Burnett; Italian actor Filippo Scotti; and Pretty Little Liars actor Eli Brown. Contributing photographers on the debut issue include Dan Winters and Jason Thomas Gerring, featuring talents such as Gabbriette and Delilah Summer-Parillo. The pub would like to see photography names such as Collier Shore, Daniel Archer, Justin French, Elizaveta Porodina, and Renell Medrano in future issues.
Breach is the debut project from Calixo Co., a full-scale media and content studio helmed by Conlon Meek as its president alongside Dylan. Their team includes fashion editor Mathuson Anthony. The styling skews to mono-brand—Chanel and Gabriela Hearst in this issue—something that will reinforce their advertorial-driven business model led by Meek.
"Audiences are seeking authenticity that they are not finding in overproduced, sterile content. Our response is to focus on the artists, identity, and ingenuity," Meek said, adding, "Our goal is to bring new perspectives to advertising. Calixo's business is based on producing strong content on lean budgets and ensuring that artistry and advertising exist hand-in-hand here."
Over the next year, Calixo plans to grow its business beyond Breach into the broader advertorial and storytelling space.
With an editorial mission that "brings together the vanguard and avant-garde, exploring the intersection of established voices and rising talent with works by some of the world's leading artists and the next generation of creators," the partners plan to court the same types of brands for their business model.
"We want to court young and emerging brands and heritage leadership brands — it's the same attitude behind Breach's editorial identity. Beyond that, the current state of advertorials plays a large role in our approach. For a long time, editorial-led advertising imagery, and I believe advertisers are now leading the path for new editorial ideas — the collaboration there is appealing to us," furthered Dylan.
Indeed, this figures in today's photo climate that has a dearth of editorial production budgets like the ones at the height of print fashion magazines that produced unforgettable images in the pre-digital era of the nineties and early aughts. With their healthy budgets, today's ad campaigns tend to yield memorable photos now.
The print aspect will undoubtedly help revive some editorial glamour, as try as they might; digital doesn't pack the same punch for that type of content. It wasn't planned initially, but Dylan said there was a demand. Avedon concurred.
"It's been said for years that print is dead, yet magazine shops and bookstores aren't dead, brands are still taking out ads in print, and people as far away as Japan have ordered our launch issue — it doesn't sound like a dead medium to me. Certainly, periodicals can't operate under the same approach to printing as they did in the past. Still, as long as it's financially feasible, and with advertising it can be, then you'll be able to find Breach in print," Avedon said.
The duo held a launch party at New York's Chapel Bar in late May, demonstrating the publications' embrace of the new wave of talent and veteran creatives. In attendance were music icon Patti Smith; actress Wanda Sykes; director Emanuele Della-Valle; artist Xander Ferreira; socialite and creative Zani Gugelmann; a pair of Gossip Girl actors, and Gabriela Hearst, whose men's line was featured in the issue. The designer frequently works with Dylan and praised him as "never thinking any job was too big or small" at the party.
The mix was decidedly fresh considering the New York scene lately, which seems to lack a crowd of unique characters and artistic substance in favor of deep pockets or huge followers. As guests mingled in the former church-turned-bar and perused a teaser issue released for the party (the first entire issue debuts on July 6, and the website will launch shortly), the crowd seemed to be enjoying photography rather than aiming to be its subject. The lack of apparent influencers in attendance was refreshing but hardly by design, according to Dylan.
"We're not for rejection and try to associate with people that feel the same — we're not looking to influence or be influenced necessarily, but we aren't rejecting people that do that type of a thing. The launch event was a slice of old New York and certainly a captivating room to be in, but I think that's because it was a night where people wanted to feel present at that moment, not because it was curated in that way. Somebody said there was a conference or gathering of influencers that happened that same night, though, so maybe they were all busy, and that's why it felt that way. Who knows?"
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