By Augusta Statz
A small group of students and professors anxiously awaited Joan Juliet Buck, an iconic fashion editor, actress and writer, at the Gryphon Tea Room on Feb. 3. Once the students were seated, in she walked.
She wore tortoise shell circular framed glasses, a navy blue blazer with an assortment of gold broaches just left of the lapel and a pair of chocolate brown pants.
Buck looked like she belonged in the tea room, the only thing missing was a good book. Buck immediately noticed all of the books that fill the recently redesigned interior of the tea room.
She turned to us and asked, “Do you get to hang out here all the time?”
Buck was excited to talk with the students, and after placing orders and brief introductions, a conversation developed about what everyone in attendance was the most passionate about: fashion and storytelling.
As a former editor of French Vogue, novelist, actress and verbal storyteller (with The Unchained Tour) Buck was able to give this advice about storytelling – “don’t lie.”
She stressed the importance of doing writing – or any art form – because you love it, not because it pays well, necessarily.
“Write about what you love, and find a way to live,” she said.
She said that there are plenty of ways to gain money, like temping, or other part-time work for money, but art should be something you love, and she urged students not to accept money for their art unless it’s good money, in other words — don’t do it for cheap.
“Do whatever you can to keep a roof over your head,” she said. “Rule number one about art: get paid.”
For writing her first book review she received $375. She urges writing students to not accept less than that amount because that was what she got paid in the 1960s.
Students asked Buck if magazines were going to stay popular with all of the writing that can be and is done on the Internet. Buck thought that since the popularity of writing on the Internet, writing in magazines and newspapers had gotten better.
“With the Internet, magazines have become products of love,” said Buck.
She thought that as long as newspapers published the important articles, people would still read them because the Internet is filled with so much of the unimportant things, “like the Kardashians.”
One fashion student asked if studying journalism was necessary for fashion majors who wanted to write about fashion.
“I’m a drop-out,” responded Buck.
Buck then explained that her becoming editor of French Vogue was a “total accident.” She didn’t complete college — she just began writing and one thing led to another.
Although things just sort of fell into place for Buck, she said that it helped to have a vision. She had grand ideas of how to turn things around at French Vogue, and by putting those ideas into fruition, she doubled the magazine’s circulation during her time there.Contact Augusta Statz.