TOLD BY TOSHIKO TAGUCHI RECALL: HEDI SLIMANE 4
A year and a half after MR regrettably suspended publication in 2003, Taguchi took over as chief editor of High Fashion from the June 2005 issue. While reminiscing about the days after the renewal issue which included both women’s and men’s pages in one magazine and for the first time adopted the policy of Japanese-English bilingual notation, she said, “It was certainly a series of challenges. The balance between the women’s and men’s pages. Getting rid of image misalignment. Also, in a magazine that’s a print medium, the text must not only be clear to the readers, but it has to be consistent with the photographs as a graphic element as well. At the time, I didn’t think the combination of English and Japanese texts was attractive at all. I was constantly searching and always worried since there were so many differences from my days at MR.”
Then in 2008, Taguchi was promoted from chief editor to editorial director – a position responsible for all magazines published by Bunka Publishing Bureau. “That year, Hedi, who had retired from being the creative director of Dior Homme and was continuing his life’s work of photography while living in Los Angeles, contacted me and said, “I will be going to Japan in July. Can you meet for 30 minutes after lunch or something?””
“I met Hedi at the Grand Hyatt Tokyo in Roppongi, and fortunately was able to tell him directly that I was leaving my position as chief editor of High Fashion. When I talk about something important, I always sit perpendicular to that person, so I don’t miss a single word. Hedi looks at me from the corner of his eye and said “Congratulations” in a faint voice. I suppose being promoted to department head is generally celebratory, but Hedi’s small voice that wouldn’t have been heard if I wasn’t sitting next to him, didn’t seem to me like a sincere blessing. With my poor English, I immediately uttered “I want to walk at field forever”. Hedi instantly answered “me too”. I think he recognized my true feelings of not wanting a position that would take me away from the field of editing. After speaking in French to his staff that also attended, he said “I will send you some of my photos as a gift, for the last issue that Ms. Taguchi is chief editor”. He made an unexpected offer that was kind and, in some ways felt very Japanese.”
After just having released his photobook “Rock Diary”, Hedi sent 10 photos described with the words “recent diary”, along with a rare email interview to the editorial department which was published in the December 2008 issue of High Fashion. “I made sure to leave blank pages until the very last minute of the proofreading process, as I was excited and looked forward to Hedi’s ‘gift’ of photos to arrive.”
Hedi once described MR as “a rare fashion magazine in the world that lets one feel literature and philosophy”. Since he can’t read Japanese, he must have gained insight of MR’s core from the multi layered essence of the magazine such as the headlines, subheads written in both English and Japanese, the layout and the themes of the pages.
“When reflecting on Hedi’s comment, which I heard second hand, it was a perfect representation of the nature of MR. The people that edit the magazine are too caught up with the work in front of them, so wouldn’t perceive it the same way. Hedi and I never had a close personal relationship. He had a deep understanding of my goals through the magazines MR and High Fashion. And I understood Hedi through his clothes. I don’t want to sound presumptuous, but I’m really happy to know that I was oriented in the same direction and level as him. The gentle and sincere look in his eyes when he noticed my real feelings through the tone of my voice, made it even more obvious that he, out of all creators, was by far the most talented at seeing the true nature of things and people which I’m sure still hasn’t changed.”
Born in 1949. Chief editor of MR High Fashion and High Fashion, now a freelance editor.
Text_ TATSUYA YAMAGUCHI