Malo + Zahm

So I was in Le Royal Opéra drinking my coffee, when I look up and Olivier Zahm is having lunch in front of me. For people who don’t know the man, he has a pretty impressive resume.

Olivier Zahm worked as an art critic for Artforum, Flash Art, Art Press and Texte Zur Kunst during the 1980s and early 1990s. He is an art curator and has selected exhibitions for PS1, MoMA, and Centre Pompidou.

In 1992, Zahm founded Purple Prose magazine (1992–1998) with Elein Fleiss—the publication has also evolved spin-offs like Purple Fiction (1992–1998), Purple Sexe (1998–2001), Purple magazine (1998–2003), Purple Journal (2004–present), Purple Fashion (1995–1998, 2004–present), and Purple Books, a publishing house. The Purple Anthology was published by Rizzoli in 2008, encompassing the first 15 years of Purple.

The “realistic”, sometimes dubbed “anti-fashion”-, aesthetics of Purple was a reaction against the glamour of the 80’s, and can be linked with the global counterculture of that time, with the work of Juergen Teller, Terry Richardson, Wolfgang Tillmans, and Mario Sorrenti.

Since 2004, Zahm has been editor-in-chief of Purple Fashion, a biannual magazine attempting to bridge the worlds of art and fashion. Zahm also runs the Paris-based think tank Purple Institute, an art direction society and consulting company aimed at creating links between the art world and industry. He also created “La communauté des amants”.

Olivier Zahm founded Purple Diary in 2009 and had a show of his photographic work at Colette in March 2010.


His blog, purple DIARY, is  a hot, honest voyeuristic peek behind the sex, drugs, jet-setting and life of the EIC of the influential fashion magazine Purple. Describing the blog as a ‘diary’ is accurate. It’s personal, controversial and there’s the honesty of the good, bad and ugly that most people experience but not all willing to bare and show.

Anyway, as I got up to leave I figured I would say hi, one EIC of a print pub to another. You never really know how people are going to react to being approached. Some people are put off and just want to be left alone. Others are more open. He was with someone having lunch so I figured I would just say hi, and gauge his reaction. Fuck it, at the end of the day we are all people and I know when people approached me about my magazine and say a few good words, I always liked it. I wasn’t about to pull up a chair, slap his lunch companion on the back and motion for the garçon to bring another round of café crems.

I approached him, apologizing to his guest with a hand motion, and muttered the butchered but obligatory, “Excuse moi. Olivier? Just wanted to say that I am a fan of both your magazine and blog. I didn’t want to bother you but just wanted to say hi.” At first he looked confused, and thought I was about to get the brush off. Then he asked my name and stood up. Asked what I was doing in Paris. We talked for a few seconds and found him to be both very friendly and very sweet. I told him his blog was great and knowing how he snaps pics off like a maniac, asked him if I could get one for my blog. He put his arm around me and I snapped the pic. I was aware I was interrupting his and someone else’s meal and excused myself. He wished me a Merry Christmas.

I didn’t mention my magazine or experience. Maybe I should of. He might of even been open to listening. But dude is just out enjoying lunch and it wasn’t really that type of setting. I’d rather walk and both have and leave a good impression than pressing my luck and his buttons. Better to just keep it moving.

It’s funny because of all the people I have met and worked with, he is now only the third person in the limelight I have asked for a picture with. It wasn’t Lil Wayne. It wasn’t Busta Rhymes or Ghostface. It was DJ KaySlay (because of the few years of my graffiti history and knowing him as Dez from Style Wars) and Joe Budden (because of the recovery connection). Other than that I’m not really a fan/Stan. I know who I have met. Who do I have to prove it to? Why? Do I need a pic to prove I met Weezy? Am I going to forget? Am I trying to impress or convince someone of something? The Zahm thing, to me, was cool because let’s face it. Not that many people are going to have any idea who the fuck dude is. But I know. And he was cool to me. Good enough in my book.

Christopher Malo, Olivier Zahm