Dennis Freedman was the founding creative director of W magazine, where he worked for nearly two decades, before becoming the creative director of upmarket department store Barneys New York. As the creative director of Barneys New York, in addition to being responsible for the store’s world famous windows, he directs the company’s mailers and has pioneered a new kind of mailer: the shopable video.
In a 032c piece published by the Business of Fashion, Freedman stated, “W became if not an anti-Vogue then a punky little sister, a place where photographers like Juergen Teller, Bruce Weber and Philip-Lorca diCorcia could get weirder and tell more of a story.”
The article expanded on Freedman's methodology: “Freedman wouldn’t just assign these stories - he’d travel the world with the photographers to help shape them. He was there for the big picture, to lay developed film on tree stumps in Havana to plan the layout, to realize that Eudora Welty lived in Mississippi and, since he was there with Weber anyway, look her up, and shoot her. He never paid any of his photographers more than $2,000 a day, and put his entire budget into the shoot, which yielded spreads that made careers.”
Freedman told Style.com, “Most of the best things that happened in my career, I never planned or expected,” he says. “But what I’ve learned is that, as long as you’re curious and as long as you’re committed to working with people you care about, the path will create itself. There are several photographers I could cite—Craig McDean or David Sims or Mario Sorrenti, to name a few—that we committed to over the long term. It wasn’t about the success of one particular story; sometimes, stories didn’t work. But that’s what I’m most proud of, at W, that commitment to building a body of work.”
“The longer you work in fashion, or at least, the longer I’ve worked in fashion, the more I’ve realized it’s really not just about clothes. So why reduce it to that?”