MIAMI–Last night, part-time Miami resident Bruce Weber hosted a signing for his new book, All-American Volume Twelve: A Book of Lessons amidst of Art Basel-mania at The Standard.
All-American is a kind of photography book-meets-arts journal, a compendium of portraits of and writing about talented people from all walks of life. It includes everyone from the late author and oral historian Studs Terkel to the legendary fashion editor Polly Mellen, and there’s also poetry by Frank O’Hara.
While party guests including Chelsea Handler–who attended with her beau, hotelier Andre Balazs–Riccardo Tisci and Anouck Lepere sipped tequila in the Standard’s waterfront garden, we caught up with Weber for some questions about the inspiration behind All-American, working with Grace Coddington, and whether we can expect a gay kiss in an Abercrombie ad anytime soon.
Fashionista: What was the inspiration for your book?
Bruce Weber: The book came about from wanting to photograph different characters. It’s less about working in a fashion context, and more about just showing these incredible individuals. They’re all very inspiring to me in different ways.
You play a pretty big role in Grace Coddington’s new memoir, Grace. She speaks very highly of working with you. Have you read it?
I have it on my nightstand and I’m reading it now, but I haven’t finished the whole thing. I’ll pick it up and read a chapter of it or a section here and there. I love that she wrote it and I think it’s such a great book. But as far as the parts about me go, it does feel very strange to read about yourself.
Do you have any favorite memories of working with Grace?
Well, the first shoot we ever did was pretty memorable. It was in Australia.
She writes about that shoot in the book!
I remember we wanted to photograph a kangaroo, so we were looking all over for a pet kangaroo. We got on the radio, which at the time was how you communicated way out in the outback, and we asked if anybody had a pet kangaroo that we could use for a fashion shoot. And we got so many responses! We were staying in a little hotel above a bar in the middle of nowhere, and all these strangers were willing to let us photograph their kangaroos. We had to pick a model, and so I asked this one woman what she named her kangaroo. And she just looked at me and said, “Roo.” So I said that’s it! That’s our girl.
You caused a bit of a stir on the Internet earlier this year with a video you made for Abercrombie. It was of the group of men wrestling, and it included a brief moment where it seemed that two of the guys kissed. Were you surprised that it got such a reaction?
I guess i just didn’t think it was that big of a deal. You know, I feel like men kiss each other all the time. It doesn’t have to be in a sexual context — there are all kinds of contexts where men can be physically close or intimate without it necessarily meaning that. Athletes kiss each other after games. It doesn’t have to be a sexual thing.
Do you think that Abercrombie might feature a gay kiss in an ad in the future?
Do you mean with my work or with someone else’s?
We’re here tonight for you, so let’s say with your work.
In my work? Sure! I photograph men kissing all the time. I don’t see any reason why not!