Olivier Zahm is the editor-in-chief of PurpleFashion magazine, often dubbed as an ‘anti-fashion title’ due to its visceral photographic style. With an elegant but raw take on art, fashion, and sex, Purple Fashion gained renown as a reactionary title to 1980s fashion and has published work by Juergen Teller, Terry Richardson, Wolfgang Tillmans and Mario Sorrenti.
Zahm’s love of magazines began early, “We used to steal porn magazines in the bookstores and shops and look at them during school. It was fun and secret. This is where my obsession for magazines comes from. Magazines used to reveal and give us access to sex, fashion, and art. TV never did that, and books are mostly academic. Magazines were a symbol of freedom,” the Frenchman told New York Magazine.
His title is not attached to a major publishing house, but has a circulation of 75,000.
Zahm consistently contextualizes his view of fashion in terms of human sexuality, although Zahm would like to go even further than his often voyeuristic shoots, lensed by Sandy Kim in recent issues, “It is difficult to show cocks in a magazine. Tits are okay, but a problem on the cover.”
However Zahm’s interest in sexuality is human: sexual not sexist. “Ninety percent of the attraction of women is style,” he says. “Old or young, if she has a good sense of fashion, I am in love with her. If she has bad style and a beautiful body, I run away. I don’t give a shit about beautiful style on a man. Men should keep a distance from fashion to find their own uniform,” Zahm told New York Magazine.
Zahm works as a freelance art-director, in an effort to maintain the independence of Purple Fashion. Zahm sees the entire offering as an artistic whole, turning down advertising if it is “ugly,” and refusing pop-ups on Purple’s website, which draws 300,000 unique viewers a month.
He has art directed campaigns for Saint Laurent and Uniqlo, and lensed campaigns for Hogan and Agent Provocateur. Additionally Zahm has also produced magazines for Chanel and Printemps.