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The Price of Illusion: Joan Juliet Buck

3 months ago by

Photos Lou Mora

I couldn’t wait to get my hands on Joan Juliet Buck’s new memoir called The Price of Illusion. To me, Joan has always been an adventurer in life. The first time I heard her name, she was the editor in chief of Paris Vogue and it just stuck with me: Joan Juliet Buck. An American who lived in Paris, London, New York and made a name for herself in more ways than one. Her book took me through a whirlwind of memories and on a trip inside the mind and emotions of a woman I identify with a lot. Independent, fragile, modern, artistic, sentimental… And most of all, authentic.

We met on Tuesday at the Bar Marmont, had delicious coffee and pastries (no gluten for her but certainly a cigarette) and talked like we’d always known each other. I hope you will love meeting her as much as I did.

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The Price of Illusion: Joan Juliet Buck

Pardon My French with Garance Doré
The Price of Illusion: Joan Juliet Buck

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On returning to Los Angeles…
I came back and lived here one year, 1975-76, after I left Women’s Wear Daily because I wanted to write a novel. I learned to drive at 27, which made the children of my friends howl with laughter because they’d never seen someone so old learning to drive. Los Angeles gave me two things that year. I learned to drive and I started to read.

On what she read as research for her own book…
I was reading mainly the memoirs of men. I read this memoir called “Full Service” and he was the guy who ran a prostitute ring from a gas station in LA and serviced every body. I wanted to see how to be honest.

On why she took the job at French Vogue…
I only took that job because I was blocked on a novel and this guy had dumped me and the kitty litter smelled bad and it was snowing and I thought, why not?

On what she wanted for her employees at Vogue…
I wanted the magazine to be fun. I wanted everyone who worked on the magazine to go toward what they liked. Again, it’s that distinction between what you should do and what’s expected, and what you feel, what you want.

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On looking forward to getting back to writing after Vogue…
I though, gosh, I have to go back to writing. I haven’t had anything to write for in seven years. It’s just been fashion shows and sitting in the front rows with a smile on my face in these shoes that hurt, making small talk. I’ve been in an entirely false life for not quite seven years. I have no substance as a writer.

On what writing the book showed her…
Before I wrote the book, I thought all this adds up to just a pile of broken crockery. All I have are mistakes and failures. Name drop alert – Lou Reed, who was a friend, once said to me, you should write a book called “How to Fail.” I don’t have anything to show for my life except what’s in my heart and that’s what I put in the book. And by writing the book, I realized actually, it has a been a full rich life. I just didn’t take the swag bags, the trophies or try to get the golden ring.

On her thoughts about going to rehab (she wasn’t an addict)…
I thought, at rehab, there will be real people there. And, I think it’s very confidential so I can cry in public, and probably they’ll be crying in public, too. Maybe I’ll actually meet some people on an honest level. That seemed so appealing and I didn’t think for a second it’ll look like you’re actually a drug addict!

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On not missing the world of fashion…
For me, looking at the fashion shows, waiting one hour sometimes two hours and then you have the 12 minutes of the girls going by and it’s over and you tell the designer, you’re a genius, you’re a genius. To go from this ludicrous, effervescence of glitter to lying on my back in some shitty rehearsal studio with a bunch of other people in crappy rehearsal clothes, it smells bad, in some dreadful building in the West 30s, just getting ready to prepare a scene in absolute modesty, I thought, thank god!

On loving her independence…
Losing oneself in someone is such a problem. That’s why I’m very glad I’m 68 because really, I’m not going to get involved with any other man. I am not interested!

On her father living with her late in his life…
One birthday, I took him to Caviar Kaspia, just him and me on my birthday. I said if you don’t talk about the war, we can have beluga. He says ok. I order beluga and damn it, he’s talking about the war!

On the adventure of writing…
If you know what you’re going to have written before you start, you’re bored, you have no energy and you don’t want to do it. But if it’s an adventure of discovery, it’s more dangerous, but it’s so much more exciting. And what you produce is a surprise to you and a surprise and delight to your readers.

On how she’d like to live…
I would like to think you can live in a way that does not involve falsehood.

The Price of Illusion: Joan Juliet Buck

26 comments

Add yours
  • 68! Enchanting intellect, honest, clean style, and gorgeous. A very inspiring woman.

  • I remember when she was named editor and seeing a photo of her with her cropped hairstyle and a plain white shirt and thinking she was SO daring. On the other hand, what I’ve read so far of the book has annoyed me. Like her comment about why she took the Vogue job–as if it were pfff!! nothing at all.

  • Le Bazhaar March, 28 2017, 9:41

    I kind of agree with this: Working for Vogue is the dream of many young women who wants a career in fashion, and it’s not accessible for everybody so what she says about how she got into the magazine and why she took the job can seem a bit un greatful to certain people… Overall I also felt that Garance was criticizing a lot her time when she was attending fashion week. I know this industry can be tough and sometimes so unfair but she has been granted premium access to the most renowned brands, talk to talented designers, seat side by side with big fashion editors and celebrities and I felt she loved it at the time, so even if I understand she got tired of it after a while, I’m kind of surprise of this drastic change of heart. She probably realized once she was part of this world that it is not as nice as it seems (like many of us who worked in the industry did), but still I believe she had the privilege of seeing beautiful things… Just my opinion.

  • What a cool interview!

    -Kirsten // http://www.porkandcookies.com

  • Brilliant!

  • Sunny Side March, 23 2017, 1:34 / Reply

    Quelle chance de la rencontrer et de parler avec elle. J’adorais ses Vogue, je les ai gardés. Elle avait fait à Noël le Dalai Lama bien avant tout le monde et d’autres tellement enchanteurs ! Elle avait un talent réjouissant. Hâte de lire son livre !

  • What are the “brass rings” of life? What is it that you should show? I do not get it.

  • It means living the life to its fullest potential :)

  • Carolyn March, 23 2017, 7:36 / Reply

    Absolutely inspiring, authentic and warm. Plan to listen to this several times.
    Grand merci!

  • I’m afraid I mostly think of her fawning piece on Al Assad’s wife. I don’t know what happened with that interview exactly but it was so unfortunate Vogue published that piece and the photos. My thoughts go to the people of Syria once again, such wonderful people I met there in 2002. I’ve never read any of her statements about that interview but I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt and assume she regretted it

  • Voila un sacré caractère et une femme de pouvoir avec du vécu : j’aime beaucoup sa personnalité assez atypique !

    Au passage, très jolies chaussures Garance :)

    Des bisous,

    Mido.
    http://www.bowsome.com/

  • It’s so refreshing to hear someone admit that the world of fashion is frivolous and to an intellect, boring. Joan is an authentic women. A woman that would be a pleasure to converse with. Absolutely no airs! Thank you for introducing us, Garance.

  • Cette interview a l’air génial, rien que les premiers extraits m’ont inspiré, merci Garance de nous faire découvrir de nouvelles personnalités <3

  • Fabolous

    Lovely Bianca

  • Sarah H March, 26 2017, 5:36 / Reply

    Thank you Garance for this great interview!

  • gabriela March, 26 2017, 3:19 / Reply

    I adored listening to this conversation! All this honesty is golden! Thanks.

  • Such a great conversation, will listen to it more than once! Makes me happy, thanks so much for this!

  • Thank you for this wonderful conversation. So interesting to hear both of you talk of your experiences with such honesty and grace. Very rare and refreshing.

  • I was very lucky to be able to work many times with Joan while she was a Vogue Paris. She was daring and bold, she went very far with her ideas and gave artists a lot of freedom. She never had a problem saying what she thought and was always there to challenge your take on things, question them, see if they were authentic.
    At that time she began working with the new artists that I represented: David Lachapelle, Blanca Li, Donna Trope etc when no one else dared. These are now well known names but Joan was the first to believe in them in Paris and give them a voice at Vogue.
    From this collaboration our friendship was born and I have been a die-hard fan ever since.
    I have loved The Price of Illusion….do not miss reading it this unique book. Thank you Garance for this great interview.

  • Late comment for this but… Wow! What an amazing podcast! I’m also french and started a creative career pretty late after a more corporate, comfortable yet unfulfilling career! And it took me a while to get the confidence to change path even though everything in me was screaming “creativity”. But until now I never realized that French culture had been a factor in it! So thanks a lot :)

  • Loooove this one so much! I’ve finally listed to it and I am sure I am going to relisten very soon :) Such an inspiring interview!
    Thank you Garance & The Atelier!

    Kisses,
    M.

  • Mégane April, 5 2017, 7:52 / Reply

    Super intéressant !
    En plus l’été arrive, rien de mieux que de combler ça avec ma cure minceur du moment !!
    https://ozasun.com/produit/ozasun-tea-the-detox-naturel

  • Mercedes April, 28 2017, 2:30 / Reply

    I finally made the time to listen and I loved it. How come I didn’t know her?. Garance, your admiration of her really shows on the way you conducted the interview, wow, she is an elegant and intelligent woman. It felt real and intimate and I could continue listen to you two for hours. About your fashion week years, I felt as a reader that you gave us access to those closed doors only allowed to a few, giving us the chance to reveal “the mystery” through your eyes, but I have to say that sometimes that content triggered some feelings: that I myself wasn’t having the shiny life I was supposed to have . I personally celebrate the actual content, not that I wasn’t having fun before, those years were amusing but know I really feel I can learn something new or I can be super inspired by an amazing human being or a way of living, or that after reading a post an idea sparks or lead me to something else. All things that can add that extra value to my life.
    Going back to Joan, I will definitely read her memoir, my actual favourite book genre.
    XO,
    Mercedes

  • Enjoyed this immensely! Excellent podcast. Your conversation was refreshing and so honest. Thank you for this. Can’t wait to read her book. Merci mille fois

  • Deborah Kolar June, 7 2017, 1:38 / Reply

    Wonderful. I’ve just finished reading the book and enjoyed every moment of it.

  • I have to say I was a bit hesitant before listening to this podcast as I have heard Joan was a decisive figure, but I came out of listening absolutely inspired by her life, her words and most importantly her honesty and ability to talk about her feelings so vividly. She pauses sometimes before she answers and really thinks about what she is going to say. She is very honest about her talents and flaws. She is also Jewish and I wonder if she talks more about this in her book. Garance you did an amazing job interviewing her. Thanks for this podcast and I hope to soon read her book. All the best, Amy (www.modestjerusalem.com)

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