I have always loved PAPER's Beautiful People issue. Mostly because it was never about traditional beauty but was instead about a different kind of beauty... one of amazingness both inside and out. We are passionate about shining light on new talents who not only blow our minds with their ideas and creativity but are also good people. We've always had a "no assholes" policy at PAPER, and this continues to drive us as we tumble into the future. Now more than ever, with our country being run by more than a few huge assholes, it's critical to nurture good and visionary people and help them grow, succeed and multiply.
Many years ago, Alber Elbaz, the wonderful designer and a friend of mine, told me a story about the late, legendary American designer Geoffrey Beene that has always stuck with me. I first met Alber through Mr. Beene, with whom I had developed an unlikely but steady friendship in the early days of PAPER that lasted until his death in 2004. Alber was his favorite assistant, and we became friends (before he became a famous designer himself!) when he would accompany his boss on our monthly lunch dates downtown. Mr. Beene was a creature of habit, so we would regularly lunch on his favorite burgers at the Odeon, but one day, he asked me to meet him in a nondescript restaurant on Lafayette Street called the Noho Star. I remember thinking it odd that such a fancy designer would want to schlep downtown from his 57th Street headquarters to dine at this fairly mediocre, not-so-stylish coffee shop-style spot, but, alas, this was his new favorite watering hole. I always thought it was maybe because Mr. Beene loved their homemade ginger ale, until one day Alber revealed to me why.
It turns out that for some reason the brilliant, single- minded designer had become attached to this one waitress at Noho Star whom he was very fond of. Alber relayed to me that every week he would go there for lunch, and Mr. Beene would always talk to her and ask the waitress to advise him on all sorts of random questions he had. One day he would ask her if she knew of a good dentist she could recommend. The next week, he would inform the waitress he was looking for a new driver and ask if she knew anybody good that might want the job. Eventually, out of curiosity, Elbaz confronted him about why in the world he would ask this waitress for advice every time he would see her. And you know what Mr. Beene told Alber? He said, "She's a good person, and good people know good people."
Bingo. I loved that and could really relate to it. As a collector and connector of fine people my whole life, I have always been able to discover even more fine, amazing and talented people through them. If I meet someone I love, I always want to find out who they love. Because if someone is brilliant, I am sure the people they think are brilliant are also amazing. And so on. It is with this philosophy, and with a hat tip to Geoffrey Beene, that throughout my life I have woven -- and continue to weave -- a giant spider web of friendships and connections via extraordinary good people that I have discovered and gotten to know.
That's why I also adore Instagram so much; it makes it so easy to discover brilliant people I might never have known about, while at the same time enabling me to see who they follow and think are amazing, too. It is mind-bending to discover how much inspiration and talent is out there, and the discoveries go on infinitely. To me, this is one of the best gifts technology has ever given us. I have become a truffle hunter every day on my iPhone!
This fall, celebrating the 20th anniversary of Beautiful People at PAPER and a coming together of the minds of all our staff, we'll share with you our massive list of folks you should know about, spilling from these printed pages you hold onto papermag.com. So watch them, follow them and see who they love, too. Because I promise it's just the tip of the iceberg.