Focus On: Eugene Rabkin, a romantic punk


We met Eugene in person last winter in Paris. After the Julius show, we had dinner at a cozy Marais restaurant where we confirmed what we already knew from the threads of StyleZeitgeist. This is a man whose view on life is strongly informed from a multifaceted spectrum of interests: the stance he takes on fashion transcends into politics, music, literature, cinema, life itself. Eugene is a romantic idealist with a punk vision against conformity and a fearless voice with which he asserts whatever he has in mind.

After establishing as a cutting edge forum for educated opinion on style and aesthetics, his latest project is the StyleZeitgeist Magazine which we proudly carry at Black Celebration.

How did everything start for you and how did it evolve?

A long time ago I used to post on the Fashion Spot because it was the only place I could carry on a conversation about the type of fashion I liked and because it was a perfect way to kill time at my boring office job. Then I got kicked off of there and I thought that I should start my own forum, since I already developed a bit of a reputation on tFS. I invited 12 people. Six years later, it's now 12,000 people and twice as many lurkers.

One day a person contacted me on the forums. He turned out to be an editor at Ha'aretz, which is like the Israeli New York Times. We hit it off and he commissioned my first article on fashion, about the shop Atelier in New York. I wrote that and he asked who else I want to write about. I had one and only one person in mind - Ann Demeulemeester. It was a dream come true. I felt like a little school girl meeting a rock star.

Then a year and a half ago, another person contacted me on the forums, because he heard I was laying the groundwork for a print magazine and he wanted to start a magazine too. And that's how the print magazine was born.

Parallel to launching I received a Master's degree in Liberal Studies from the New School, which Parsons is part of. I wanted to write my thesis about fashion and they had no idea what to do with that. So, they asked me to find a thesis advisor at Parsons, which I did. She was supportive of what I wanted to say in my thesis, and when I graduated she immediately hired me to teach.

What does SZ stand for? What part does it aspire to play in its field?

StyleZeitgeist stands for an intelligent approach to fashion as a creative discipline that is worth consideration. Just like not all painting, photography, and film are commercial noise, not all fashion is merely an engine of material consumption. Therefore, we champion designers who maintain a clear aesthetic vision, whose work comes from the heart, who take an anti-mass-market approach to fashion, or who simply do amazing things.

In what ways can a magazine capture the imagination of a generation drowned in images and information?

We do it by providing in-depth, timeless articles that cannot be replicated on the Internet. There is no image that looks better on a computer screen than it does on a printed page. The Internet is not designed for reading long pieces, print is. We also aim for the magazine to be an object in itself. Once people hold it in their hands, they understand what they are paying for. Many a time people call it an art book, and while I don't claim that we are that, we certainly hope that people will keep their copies for years to come and refer back to them.

Corporate Fashion Vs Artisanal Creators. Discuss.

This is a subject for a book! I will say this - consider what you are paying for when you buy a garment. Are you paying for relentless advertising, a logo, or an aesthetic idea and quality of materials and construction? Someone once said that they are not interested in financing another Capri island for Miuccia Prada with their purchases, and that was so aptly put that it got stuck in my mind.

How is Press being kept alive?

Mostly by advertising, for better or worse. But as that money dwindles, it is extremely hard for new titles to stay afloat. This is the reason why our magazine costs more than the mainstream ones, because there is virtually no advertising in it. And sometimes it is not easy to make people understand that they are paying for quality journalism and photography and not for a bunch of ads and that the price of the magazine reflects the true cost of creating, printing, and distributing it.

What are your aesthetic obsessions?

I love anything that sparks a fire in my soul, whether it's literature or music or painting or photography. On the flip side I love things that are quiet and conducive to contemplation. That's I equally love Nine Inch Nails and Leonard Cohen, Alber Camus and W.G. Sebald, Se7en and Baraka, Joel Peter-Witkin and Sarah Moon. I guess it's my own personal yin-yang.

What should we expect from you in the near future?

A little bit bigger and a little bit better, I hope. We will continue to do our utmost in providing quality fashion writing and imagery, and to champion fashion as a creative discipline that can carry on a conversation with photography, music, film and other creative disciplines.

Comments (1 Response)
rider   /  November 06, 2012

he is the soul of thoughtful fashion. truly wears his heart on his sleeve.
a beautifully written piece.

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