Arts Post
Posted at 02:57 PM ET, 05/18/2011

Egoiste thrives on quality, not quantity

And they say print is dead.

Well, they have not yet seen the latest two-volume edition of Egoiste, the large format magazine printed in high impact black and white. Egoiste is a sort of bespoke magazine, created to the exacting specifications of publisher Nicole Wisniak. Covering art, fashion and culture, Egoiste is so precious, so chic, so highbrow, that is makes your everyday, run-of-the-mill, artsy periodical look like the Sears Catalog.

The French language magazine showcases the work of photographic luminaries including Ellen von Unwerth and Paolo Roversi, and feature profiles of Roman Polanski and Ingrid Betancourt. In the U.S. it sells for $50.

Keira Knightly is on volume one of the current issue of Egoiste magazine. (Photo by Ellen von Unwerth)
There appears to be no particular order to Egoiste’s publication schedule. The last issue was published five years ago. The one before that was on no less a rigorous schedule. There have been only 16 issues since its inception in 1977.

Nicole Wisniak, the ego behind the idea, is wholly uninterested in plebeian concerns that drive most magazine publishers such as schedules and marketing. “I didn’t pay attention to any law of marketing.” Wisniak, 59, told the Washington Post from Paris. “I just did what I love, what I was interested in.”

And it appears that her vision has paid off. With a circulation of 25,000, the latest run has sold out in France. Back issues can be found on online auction sites for as much as $1000.

Even the advertising contributes to the experience. The ads for Dyson vacuums are as compelling as the portraits of Keira Knightley. In black and white and conceived by the publisher herself, the adverts could easily double as flip books or storyboards – each page a scene in a miniature drama.
James Thierree is on volume two of the current issue of Egoiste magazine. (Photo by Paolo Roversi)

It took the exacting perfectionist one year to produce a Louis Vuitton ad featuring the adventures of an uncommonly chic polar bear, monogrammed valise in hand (or paw) concertedly making her way to an Al Gore conference on global warming. “Taste is not a democratic thing.” Wisniak explains, “It’s a dictatorship.”

Don’t look for a website. The magazine hasn’t gotten around to finishing one yet. The French language tomes are available at Rizzoli Bookstore in New York, 800-52-BOOKS.

By Michele Langevine Leiby  |  02:57 PM ET, 05/18/2011

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