Ezra Petronio: Content Matters

4 years ago by

Photos Asia Typek

I was always a fan of Ezra Petronio. He’s probably one of my first influences, when I was a young twenty something and looking at photos in Self Service magazine, that he created with his then partner, Suzanne Koller. I was a kid of the ’90s, and profoundly marked by the new freedom that appeared in fashion, the poetic rebellion and all the generation at work in those pages. Since then, Ezra became one of the most important creative director of his generation, helping craft the image brands that also shaped my eye, from Prada to Chloé to more recently juggernauts like Zara. Ezra is smart, direct, warm, and he has the curiosity I’ve only encountered in visionaries.

Today we’re in his apartment in Paris and we share points of views on the creative process, working with the masters and the world of fashion today. I hope you love Ezra’s mind and voice as much as I do.

Ezra Petronio Atelier Dore

Ezra Petronio Atelier Dore

On what he does…
I would say my primary job is art director, creative director slash graphic designer. I work with all kinds of different mediums. That’s my main activity, which I studied at Parsons School of Design. My second activity is I started Self Service Magazine where I’m the creative director and editor, and that’s been a labor of love, which is my second baby and an independent magazine. I also take pictures, which is a new career. To embrace the future, we also started another company called Content Matters, which is digital story telling where we produce a lot of different assets. So it’s an evolving job.

On what they wanted Self Service to be in the beginning…
It was about defending the creative seeds in Paris. Paris at the time was not at all what it is today. It was very old fashioned and conservative, so it was a really nice time we had then. Purple has just started and Dazed & Confused in London. Keep in mind when we started, it was pre-Eurostar, pre-internet, it was a different way of approaching culture. I can’t even recall the days we had fax machines and when we had to go out and find a magazine that came from a different country, you had to really source it.

On the evolution of Self Service…
Gradually we became more of a fashion magazine, but always with an eye on all the creative disciplines. If you only focus on one single discipline, you lose your humility and think you’re the center of the world, so it’s good to be able to feature other kinds of creative minds because creativity is all over the place.

Ezra Petronio: Content Matters

On how things have changed since he was starting out…
What has changed today is the notion of pace and time. When I was younger going to school in the 90s, you had more time for apprenticeship to learn things, you went to school, you didn’t have to work right away. It was a different pace and people had the time.

On the influence of fashion…
I think the role of fashion, it’s a good playground for people to express and reflect society, good and bad. It has positive things and negative, too, but it’s a good mirror to what is going on.

On what he learned from Rei Kawakubo…
One time we were designing an invitation for a show and we got a fax at 4am from her, Tokyo time, and she said, “Everything is ok, but the RSVP, make it one half point size bigger.” It’s in the details and what that means is that with perfection, everything counts!


Ezra Petronio Atelier Dore

On respecting your integrity…
I really believe you have to respect your integrity. Everything can change, the mediums, and today we’re working in augmented reality and before we use to work without computers. Whatever the medium is, it doesn’t matter, it’s just your search for perfection and your search for excellence.

On luxury and authenticity…
You can buy yourself luxury, but authenticity is something you have to build in time. That’s what everyone is searching for, authenticity. It’s something that happens with time.

Other things discussed…

The Story of the Face: The Magazine that Changed Culture – Paul Gorman
Irving Penn
Azzedine Alaïa
Gauthier Gallet

Self Service magazine is a Paris-based fashion and culture biannual. For regular updates, check out there social accounts here and here.


Add yours
  • Passionnant ! Quel enthousiasme sans cesse renouvelé, un fleuve qui ne tarit pas et donne une énergie très réconfortante. J’ai aimé soudain son silence, quand il cherche les réponses à tes questions. Une découverte bienfaisante. Merci à vous deux !

  • Print. Sigh. I miss it. The Internet is nice, but there’s so much chaff before you get to the wheat. Ezra came at just the right moment. I wonder whether he would have been drowned out had he started now.

  • Cristina March, 13 2018, 5:22 / Reply

    Great interview. Thank you for putting this content out there :)

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