Conversation With: Georgia Christensen
March 3, 2016
The March issue of The Book celebrates a number of significant moments for Neiman Marcus. This issue marks the 20th anniversary of The Book and the first time its collections are shoppable on neimanmarcus.com. This special edition also features The Art of Fashion; a 26-page portfolio of Spring 2016’s most stunning looks depicted and photographed by Yvan Fabing. Furthermore, this issue officially introduces the launch of #OnlyatNM, a vast selection of products you’ll only find at Neiman Marcus. We sat down with NM Vice President of Creative, Georgia Christensen, to learn more about the creative process behind The Book.
NM: You’ve played an instrumental role in the creative direction behind The Book. As the driving force behind its introduction, how has The Book evolved since its debut in 1996?
GC: From its inception, The Book was created to serve as a conversation starter and a platform to present the very best of the Neiman Marcus brand – not only the product assortment, but also the brand experience, and that still holds true today. We’ve always visually told that story, but today we are also telling that story through editorial content across all platforms.
NM: How has the evolution of The Book influenced other creative facets within Neiman Marcus?
GC: In a number of ways actually. When we launched The Book in 1996, we reintroduced the butterfly as an icon for the brand. Almost every cover has incorporated the butterfly in some form or fashion. It has also been incorporated into exclusive product such as shoes, bags, and most recently jewelry. For certain pieces, such as bracelets or watches, customers can have a tiny butterfly charm added – making it a very unique and special accessory that is only available at Neiman Marcus.
And from an informative perspective, editorial content has probably seen the largest evolution. Producing quality content that is authentic, insightful, and informative is a priority to us. Consumers today expect it and we believe it is really a service to our customers. Our Editorial Director, Tracy Hayes, leads a team that serves as the center for developing content for the brand, regardless of the platform. They’re amazing. They live and breathe it every day – their fingers are on the pulse of what’s going on inside NM as well as the world.
NM: What was the spark behind Art of Fashion’s origin?
GC: The Art of Fashion was actually born prior to The Book and was an advertising initiative with Harper’s Bazaar for the 1994 March issue. It was a 24-page spread featuring Nadja Auermann and photographed by the late Richard Avedon. Harper’s Bazaar was the hottest magazine at the time and advertising inserts were unheard of – so a 24-page ad section produced by one store that looked like an editorial story was really a game changer and was the talk of the season.
The clothes and the images were breathtaking and the fact that Avedon shot for NM in the ‘50s made it a wonderful reunion of sorts – the images were, and still are amazing. I never grow tired of looking at them.
Since then, The Art of Fashion campaign has hosted an unbelievable variety of world-class photographers, models, and actors. From Helmut Newton to Annie Leibovitz and Jennifer Jason Leigh to Drew Barrymore and Peter Lindbergh, among many others. In fact, Time magazine named the fall 1995 Art of Fashion campaign, photographed by Geof Kern, one of the top 10 campaigns that year – a retailer had never been recognized previously.
NM: How has both art and fashion influenced your tenure at Neiman Marcus?
GC: Fashion and art have always inspired me, one influencing the other. And because both are really part of the Neiman Marcus DNA, it is embedded in how I see things for the brand. I’m also very inspired by the creativity that is embedded throughout NM’s history and put us on the map. That creative spirit continues today and truly inspires me.
NM: How do you drive the ever-evolving creative production at Neiman Marcus?
GC: I believe I have the best job in the world so it is an absolute joy every day. That said, it requires vision, passion, communication, and most importantly, an amazing team that is talented, united and committed to excellence. I’m very proud of my team – they’re amazing. I’m one lucky gal!
NM: What was the creative process behind Yvan Fabing’s portfolio of images for Art of Fashion Spring 2016?
GC: Yvan’s vision for the project was based on the idea of “this multi-faceted and talented woman” who expresses herself through music, art, poetry, and dance. Each image was designed to portray these concepts. We shot on location in New York as well as in the studio.
NM: The art of dance was incorporated in the Spring 2016 Art of Fashion campaign using two principal dancers with New York City Ballet. How do you believe this collaboration influenced this season’s Art of Fashion portfolio?
GC: For the images with a reference to dance, we felt the movements needed to be authentic so we brought in Robert Fairchild and Tiler Peck to serve as choreographers. Robert is currently starring on Broadway in An American in Paris and Tiler is with the New York City Ballet. It was incredible to watch them work. First, they would observe the model, Xiao Wen Ju, in the clothes to understand how the pieces moved. They would then make a dance recommendation. She would watch carefully and then replicate it in her own way. The results were very animated shots, some of which Robert was in to catch her, but taken out in postproduction!
NM: How do you think the shoppable elements of The Book will enhance the consumer experience?
GC: I think it’s going to be fantastic!!!!!! It’s like reading a magazine that you can buy from. The best of both worlds – viewing beautiful imagery, reading great articles, and clicking to buy – right then and there! Art + Shopping – How great is that?
NM: As you reminisce about The Book’s inception, how will you continue to integrate creative imagery and innovative technology, like this issue’s shoppable capabilities, in future publications?
GC: We’re hoping to integrate video into the experience so it’s all in one location.
NM: Can you give us a glimpse of what the future holds for innovation in upcoming issues?
GC: Hmmmmmmm – we’ve got lots up our sleeves, but my lips are sealed! Stay tuned!
NM: Could you share insight behind the creative direction for the next issue of The Book?
GC: It’s our Women’s/Men’s issue and the theme is based on Interaction. The covers are a collaboration with New York artist Michael De Feo, also known as The Flower Guy. They are quite charming and the stories are fantastic!