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The BoF Podcast | The Assoulines on Thirty Years of Fashion Publishing

Luxury book publishers — and husband and wife — Prosper and Martine Assouline join BoF founder and editor-in-chief Imran Amed to discuss the genesis of their publishing business and how they are growing it into a global lifestyle brand.
Prosper and Martine Assouline.
(Oliver Pilcher)
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Prosper and Martine Assouline’s business began with a passion project: A book dedicated to their love for La Colombe d’Or, a boutique hotel in the South of France; Prosper produced the images and Martine was responsible for the text. But since publishing that first title 30 years ago, Assouline Publishing has gone on to capture the history and visual memory of places like Ibiza and Jaipur, industry icons such as Estée Lauder and Valentino Garavani, as well as fashion houses like Saint Laurent and Louis Vuitton.

“The idea was to make a book about the spirit of a place … to mix the past, the present, the people, and all the DNA,” says Martine.

“I always say to my team in the art department that when a book is finished, we need to start it … You think it’s finished but it’s just beginning,” says Prosper.

This week on The BoF Podcast, founder and editor-in-chief Imran Amed sits down with the Assoulines to learn how this fixture of fashion publishing was born and how they intend to maintain that original creative spark while growing it into a global lifestyle business.

Key Insights:

  • While Assouline may be a leading luxury publishing house today, Martine and Prosper were outsiders without prior experience or contacts in this world. They had to learn along the way. “We learned that it was a real job. A real industry, a club where everyone knew each other,” said Prosper Assouline. “We learned while doing - everything,” added Martine.
  • Prosper Assouline says the process of creating a new book is architectural and the magic lies in the details. “We didn’t just want to do books because Amazon is full of proposals and other publishers are full of proposals.”
  • For Martine, the continual consumption of culture and arts is a key ingredient in Assouline’s secret sauce. “You have to eat culture. You have to go to a museum. You have to see films of today, of yesterday. You have to look at magazines, hear music, all kinds of different books. It’s very important.”
  • In the Assoulines’ view, what they’re doing is much bigger than simply publishing books. “The idea was not just to make books, it was to create a luxury brand on culture,” said Prosper Assouline.
  • Looking towards the future, the luxury publishing house is narrowing its focus on lifestyle. “Lifestyle is the project. It’s our way to live and work, it has always been our direction,” said Martine Assouline.

Additional Resources:

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