With ‘Study,’ Christopher Niquet Aims to Reinvent the Magazine - Upsmag - Magazine News

With ‘Study,’ Christopher Niquet Aims to Reinvent the Magazine

The Paris-based stylist, editor, and writer Christopher Niquet lived an entire life in the fashion industry before deciding to strike out with his own concept. Niquet, who was born in France, worked behind the scenes with designers like Karl Lagerfeld, Christian Lacroix, and Anna Molinari, was a contributing writer for French Vanity Fair and contributing editor for Elle France, and stylist for Self Service magazine. He relocated to New York City in 2006, then moved back to Paris in 2020. All the while, he’d had an idea brewing: to create a publication of his own that allowed him to “trust my instincts,” he tells me during a Zoom call from Berlin.

Each issue of Study, which is now available for pre-order and officially drops on June 30, focuses on one theme, person, or idea. (The first mag will feature the photography of the model and Chanel ambassador Vivienne Rohner—a skill some might be surprised to find out Rohner possesses, since she has never shared her photographic work before.) Subsequent issues will center a little-known but influential playwright, as well as rap artists Niquet loves. This broad range of subject matter points to the editor and writer’s natural curiosity for the world around him, but also speaks to the social media age, in which a super-diverse hodgepodge of interests coexists on every person’s feed. Although the Internet has allowed for Niquet to “mix things up a little bit,” he acknowledges that the publication will still be highly specific and recognizable by pure nature of the fact that it zeroes in on one contributor or topic. “I hope that it will make sense to people,” he says with a laugh. Below, Niquet shares the cultural inclinations of a well-heeled flaneur: Japanese indie films, Senegalese art, and his love for Cat Power.

Why did you decide to launch Study?

I’ve worked all my life in magazines, and I always played with the idea of one day starting something. But as the years passed and the market got more saturated, I always felt when I went to big magazine stores that the offering was so wide. What’s the need for another publication? What would I really bring that would feel different? That little fire, therefore, diminished—I would always be like, Eh, it’s gonna be just another thing. Then when I moved back to Paris during the pandemic, I was like, I feel like my point of view is not really represented in publications, even the ones that I enjoy reading. The original idea was to do more of a regular publication, meaning it was different contributors, different topics. As I was refining the whole thing, I started realizing that each of the separate contributions could live on their own as standalone issues, and that each issue could then be almost like a drop.

For your first issue, the model and Chanel ambassador Vivienne Rohner shows off her photography chops.

Vivienne dates a really good friend of mine, a photographer called Theo Wenner. I became close to her and by the time I moved to Paris, she signed a contract with Chanel, that tightened her relationship with the house. She started spending more time in Paris and she takes these beautiful pictures with a camera on film, but never really shared them with anyone. And I told her, I’m like, listen, your photos are beautiful. Bring more film and just take a lot of pictures for yourself. Even if your contract with Chanel isn’t renewed, you’ll have such beautiful access to their creative process. She shot close to 300 photos, which we edited down to just over 80 images with Ezra Petronio, who does the art direction for the magazine. I felt like doing something more visual that was peripheral to fashion, but also allowed us to introduce a new talent, or present somebody in a different light than what people typically know them for.

Her photographs are certainly very fashionable. I love the picture of the stack of packs of cigarettes. It’s very French.

I know, only in Paris will they have a Chanel-sponsored dinner where there are ash trays on the tables inside. I think we would’ve had more troubles publishing something like that in a U.S. magazine. [Laughs].

Christopher Niquet and Vivienne Rohner.

Photograph by Vivienne Rohner

You said the next issue will be “a bit headier.” What can we expect from this upcoming edition?

The next issue is with a playwright called Adrienne Kennedy. Even in America, people are not too familiar with her, but she’s African American and in her early Nineties; her prime within the theater world was during the ’60s. She was a protégé of Eugene O’Neill and that generation of playwrights, she won a lot of awards. Her plays, whose structures are always very abstract and interesting, deal with race, relationships, stardom, America, Europe, and Africa, where she lived for a while with her children and husband. For the first time in her career, one of her plays is going on Broadway in the fall at the Shubert Theatre, with Audra McDonald starring. It’s unbelievable to think this is the first time in her life she has the full weight and money of Broadway behind her. She wrote a text about America for Study, I interviewed her, and different contributors who have been influenced by her work are doing homages to it. John Juliet Buck is going to write a small text, too; she met her in the ’60s when she was in London developing a play with John Lennon. It’s maybe a little bit less easy to digest than a beautiful young woman taking photos around Chanel, but there will still be an element of style within the pages that’s distinctly Study.

Let’s get into the Culture Diet questions. What’s the first thing that you read in the morning?

French HuffPost.

Are you a news junkie? Do you watch cable news?

I used to be a news junkie, and then my last years in America with Trump as president really forced me to take a little step back in my consumption of the news. I was just driving myself insane, and it was a little too much. That was a dark moment in America, for sure.

What’s the last thing that you Googled on your phone?

A German artist called Loretta Fahrenholz—I’ve been looking at her work lately. And the one before is “Page Six.” I wish I could have said something more heady, but yes, it’s Loretta Fahrenholz and then Sami Sheen joining OnlyFans.

It’s clear you have a distinct range of interests here, high and low.

The lows are really low. [Laughs].

Do you remember the last movie that you saw in theaters?

Yes. I went to see a new movie from the director who did Drive My Car, Ryusuke Hamaguchi, called Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy. I thought it was quite incredible because it’s three 40-minute movies, put together. The stories have nothing in common except that they’re all about odd encounters.

What was the last concert you attended?

I went to see Cat Power in Paris, which was incredible. It’s a funny thing, because I’ve known her personally for about 20 years now. We met very randomly. We had a friend in common in New York, and [Cat Power, who goes by the nickname] Chan was doing concepts in Europe. She had a problem with her hotel reservation in France, and this friend called me and asked whether I had room in my apartment for her and her tour manager. So she moved in with her tour manager and stayed for a week. But I hadn’t seen her play in, like, six years. I got to attend the concert in Paris at the Salle Pleyel, which is a place that is normally more reserved for classical concerts. The confidence that she had on stage, after becoming a mother, touring with Lana Del Rey—it was just so special.

What was the last piece of art that you either bought or ogled?

I went to Senegal last year for the first time with a friend of mine; our goal was to visit a lot of Senegalese artists’ ateliers, because there’s a very interesting scene there. In the ’60s, the Senegal government gave benefits to artists and really pushed the young generation at the time to participate in the arts. The money from the government stopped in the ’80s and it created, in reaction, another group of artists that were more punk and antiestablishment. So now there are people in their twenties who have studied abroad, older people that came to their prime in the ’60s, and then those rebellious people from the ’80s. I bought two drawings from the Senegalese artist Abdoulaye Ndoye. When I walked into his studio, I saw he had a beautiful sculpture that reminded me of work of the artist Melvin Edwards. He told me it was actually by Melvin Edwards—they are best friends. When it comes to African artists, most people think of them in a world of its own, where there’s not that much interaction with the Western market. People tend to really put them in this “other” box of African artists. Speaking to someone of his generation, it was interesting to see that he is friends with many of his contemporaries worldwide—proof that this dialogue exists between those artists.

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