Ezra Petronio interview.jpeg

EZRA PETRONIO'S

RULES OF STYLE

Publisher, creative director and photographer: Ezra Petronio is a man of many talents – and an effortlessly Parisian approach to dressing.

This article was originally published on MATCHESFASHION.COM.

Ezra Petronio is the ultimate multihyphenate, balancing roles as magazine publisher, agency creative director and photographer with a Parisian sense of ease (born in New York, he spent his formative years in the French capital).

At the helm of Petronio Associates – the Paris-based creative agency he co-founded in the early 1990s– Petronio is behind ad campaigns for the likes of Chloé, Yves Saint Laurent (both below), A.P.C. and Miu Miu. He’s a world-renowned fashion photographer too, having turned his lens on the likes of Karlie Kloss, Doutzen Kroes and Eva Herzigova for Self Service, Vogue, Love and more.

Last but certainly not least, Petronio is creative director and publisher of Self Service, the fashion and culture biannual he c0-founded in 1994. ‘I always had a dream of starting a magazine,’ he muses, speaking to me from his Paris HQ. More than 20 years on, Self Service is still going strong – one of the few independent magazines thriving in an increasingly digital landscape.

Petronio’s creative passions were sparked at a young age, though their development was no accident. His father, an American art director, would bring him along on campaign shoots – most memorably the iconic 1980s designer ads photographed by Hans Feurer. Internships at ad agencies and magazines followed, after which Petronio attended New York’s Parsons School of Design. Cue more internships – this time at various Paris-based magazines – and finally, his eponymous agency was born.

A man this busy needs a tried-and-tested uniform. Sure enough, Petronio has created the perfect capsule wardrobe that needs only to be topped up each season. ‘My wardrobe is quite simple and precise,’ he says, name-checking his favourite pieces and go-to labels. Sartorially and professionally, Petronio’s got it down to a fine art. Intrigued? Here, he shares his 10 rules of style with The Style Report.


1. FIND A MENTOR
‘Working with designers was my kind of post-graduate education. Rei Kawakubo and Miuccia Prada, for instance, were great mentors in the sense that they really taught me how to be extremely demanding of myself and extremely precise and hard-working.’

2. FIND YOUR UNIFORM
‘I like familiar things; they make me feel good. My pants are very simple – A.P.C.’s classic jeans – I’m a big fan. I wear Church’s shoes; I’ve had them for the past 25 years. They also do great leather boots that are very classic. I just keep getting the same [pairs] over and over. [When it comes to] tennis shoes, I like Common Projects – they’re beautiful, pure-white tennis shoes. And I always wear a Burberry trench coat in navy blue.’

3. VALUE THE CREATIVE PROCESS
‘I remember one piece of advice that Rei Kawakubo gave me very early on. I would come and present whatever project we were doing and she would ask me every time, “Where are all your tests?” I said to her, “We put them in the garbage can; we just brought what we thought was the most relevant.” And she said, “Next time, bring the garbage can.” The whole creative process is really important and has to be valued.’

4. SURROUND YOURSELF WITH PASSIONATE PEOPLE
‘I always surround myself with people that are passionate about what they want to do. I love when they have their own successful careers [after] they leave the company – it’s beautiful to see. If they can leave with a sense of those values that I could have passed on, then I think that’s a success. I love that.’ All the great photographers started as assistants. When I started, I assisted many people… You have the time to nurture your own personality.


5. TRAVEL WITH A SCARF
‘I’ve been into scarves recently; I really love them. Very thin scarves are nice for plane travel – [they keep you from] having any kind of trouble with air conditioning.’

 

6. LEARN THE CULTURE OF YOUR CRAFT
‘All the great photographers started as assistants. When I started, I assisted many people and did tons of internships. You have the time to nurture your own personality.’

 

7. DO YOUR RESEARCH
‘Read magazines, watch DVDs – there are tons of documentaries on the history of photography. There’s a quote I love: “Revisiting the past, engaging the present to create the future.”’

 

8. KEEP ICONIC PIECES
‘[I’ve kept] all my vintage Maison Margiela that’s just outstanding and timeless. And Raf Simons’s vintage stuff [including] bomber jackets and classic coats – he mastered the cuts so beautifully. The knitwear from Margiela was beautiful. Every year or two years I’ll start cleaning things out and there’ll be these pieces that stay that are just iconic and beautiful.’

 

9. SEEK INSPIRATION
‘You can’t just sit and expect to be inspired – you have to work for it. You have to fuel or provoke or ignite your inspiration by decontextualising yourself a little bit.’

 

10. DON’T TRY TOO HARD
‘I like “a studied sense of nonchalance” – I read that somewhere. There’s a certain nonchalance to look comfortable and cool, yet still caring. Diana Vreeland said, “The only real elegance is in the mind.”’