Playboy is (finally) putting their entire archives online at iPlayboy.com, accessible through phone, iPad, and laptop. Yes, the entire archives. Are you drooling yet?
To celebrate, the mag asked some fashion/art/film folk to pick out their favorite images from Playboys of the past for an exhibit which opened last night at Partners and Spade (and lives online too). This group of fashion-y curators included: Simon Doonan, Waris Alhuwalia, André Balazs, and Sarah Shotton, the creative director of Agent Provacateur among others. Unsurprisingly everyone played it safe--less lady bits and more culture.
The party, however, featured large prints of Playboy bunnies on the wall for sale at $1500 a pop. Naturally the retro styles and naked woman were a conversation topic among the trillions of guests. (Seriously, was all of the East Village there to make up for Simon Doonan's absence?)
There was such a large young crowd, so I did some investigative journalism and ask the guests what makes vintage Playboy so alluring to twenty-somethings today. (Hint: no one said the articles.)
So click through to see the images selected by big shots (plus their commentary from the exhibit) and to find out what motivates contemporary readers to revisit Playboy's past. (Obvs NSFW)
"I always liked red."
Lauren: "I like the seventies." Matt:"Yeah I would agree the seventies is good. Early eighties is good." Lauren: "The boobs were still real." Nathan "Yeah, I like real boobs a lot. They're the best kind of boobs!"
"Every copy of Playboy is an orgy of groovy visuals. To flip the pages is to experience an orgasm of chic type faces, gutsy illustration, hip copy-writing, top-notch photography and thoughtful mind-expanding prose. Hef is a classy, intelligent and cultivated guy who has surfed the zeitgeist with vision and aplomb. The Playboy aesthetic of the Madmen pre-feminist 1960s resonates the most for me. It's a world of nylons, cigarette lighters, cone-bras and sports cars. Heterosexuals were never so classy."
Alisa: "I love how kitshy it feels, and I find all of the pubic hair pretty hilarious. I'm waiting for the Style section to use this as fodder for pubic hair being back in fashion."
Patrick Grant, creative director for Norton & Sons and E. Tautz
"I had a massive crush on Paulina Porizkova. She smoked and drank and swore like a truckdriver, and was on the cover of everything from Vogue to Life magazine. I was 15 when she did this shoot for Playboy and the pictures stayed on the wall of my room at boarding school for years."
Eon: "Vintage Playboys are actually my preference. We were just talking about this..." Ren: "It's all about the bush." Eon: "I'm all about vintage bush. You can quote me!"
Sarah Shotton, creative director of Agent Provacateur
"I love the pictures Herb Ritts shot of Cindy Crawford, the cover is mesmerizing. For me, Cindy was the most iconic super model of the late 1980s early 1990s. With her wholesome glow and jaw-dropping body, it was Cindy who made curves possible in the world of fashion. I love the simplicity of these shots, paired back from fancy lighting and effects."
Joy: "I'm more into the old school prints. I think he's more into the seventies, eighties." Brad: "I'm into the seventies bush."
"This February 1988 cover always stands out in my mind as one of the best covers ever. I love the simplicity of it at the same time the strength—the patterns, the colors and the graphic quality of the zebra set off by the red for me is so chic."
Britt: "It's so funny to see how much aesthetics have changed over time... During the seventies and eighties, it's funny to see how much bush is on all of them."
"Eleven contemporary artists interpret Playboy’s provocative gatefold girl. Playboy devoted nine pages to contemporary art by Salvador Dali, Andy Warhol, Larry Rivers, Ellen Lanyon, Roy Schnackenberg, Ben Johnson, George Segal, Tom Wesselman, James Rosenquist, Alfred Leslie and Frank Gallo. I like this, because it creates some ambiguity about which party benefited more: the artists or Playboy. On the one hand, it allowed artists likely unknown to the majority of Playboy's readers to use the magazine as a gateway to a broader audience. On the other hand, the project is an intriguing attempt by Playboy to legitimize the presentation of photos of nude women by recontextualizing them using the work of fine artists. Regardless, this is something I would have wanted to be involved in."
Kate: "They look great." Emma: "I wish that boobs like that were still appreciated."
David Gordon Green, writer/director
"In November 1971, Playboy published the compelling and controversial short story “Handsomest Drowned Man in the World” by Gabriel Gárcia Marquez. It is a fable that shows the strange effects of idolatry and the complexity of physical beauty."
[ed. note: This story is one of the most enchanting stories by García Márquez. Read it.]
Josie: "I would say vintage Playboys are classier than the Playboys now... Also a little cheesier though." Lauren: "With all the soft lighting, it's kind of like a Lionel Ritchie song, isn't it?"
"True or false: you wish you had this outfit. Definitely true for me. And the hairstyle too."