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August 29 2014

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Blasblog: The Blue Work Of Purple

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On the walls of Colette’s upstairs gallery: naked girls in the bushes, naked girls in bed, naked girls in a stairwell, Peter Beard with sexy ladies, Olivier Zahm with sexy ladies, sexy ladies kissing sexy ladies. “Just pictures I’ve taken of me living my life,” shrugged Olivier Zahm, the perpetrator (and Purple founder). His work’s range includes modern architecture, portraits of his designer pals (there’s a fabulous shot of Stefano Pilati in a cape), art-world pals (the late Dash Snow posed as Jesus), and scenes from his behind-the-curtain life (at Beatrice Inn, backstage at the shows with Terry Richardson). But the sultrier shots do tend to get the most attention, and Zahm himself is game enough to join in on the fun. Pointing to a picture of himself rolling around on the floor topless—just below an image of two people in full, ahem, fornication—the photographer explained he would never ask someone to do something he wouldn’t do himself. “And I want to participate as well,” he smiled.

Zahm’s computer crashed in 2005, taking with it all the pictures from his digital cameras. At last night’s opening he told me this was perhaps a blessing in disguise: After he went through his archives from 2006 to the present, his first edit of pictures included more than 6,000 images. This show comprises exclusively the images culled from the party pages of Purple magazine and the images from his Web site, Purple Diary [http://www.purple-diary.com]. “These are just of my friends,” he said, adding that he plans to put the rest of his images in a book, hopefully released within the year, and that he has another project in mind for his shots of celebrities and front-row regulars. In the meantime, he’ll keep shooting away. “I just take the picture, and that’s easy,” he explained. Unlike in a studio or a fashion story, in which the photographer has to create a story and a mood, “in moments like this, these girls bring the mood.”

Photos: Yusuke Kinaka

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Dept. of Culture