In 1982, photographer and fashion model Lucille Khornak published her first book, Fashion: 2001. Published by Viking Press, this extraordinary, oversized book (which we luckily stumbled upon in a used bookstore) gave viewers an inside into the minds of couturiers from around the world. Forecasting what people would be wearing in the future, the book showcased a garment created by each designer that presented his or her vision for 2001. Ms.Khornak took these creations and photographed them on models in exotic and futuristic locations. Almost 35 years later, we are enthralled by the predictions, hit or miss, and the fantastic imagery that Khornak presented us with. All photographs & fashion illustrations from Fashion: 2001 by Lucille Khornak. Viking Press. 1982. http://www.lucillekhornak.com
PONYBOY: Lucille, we just love your book, Fashion: 2001. But first, please tell us your background. Where were you born and raised?
LUCILLE KHORNAK: I was born and raised in a small town outside of Buffalo, New York. As a child, I always knew that I wanted to be a model/actress. It was something that I felt I had to go for.
PONYBOY: How did the idea for the book come along? Was it because you were a New York-based high-fashion model working in the fashion world?
LUCILLE KHORNAK: Actually, I was modeling and had just started taking photographs of model friends, as well as shooting ads for large companies in the advertising world. A friend of mine said to me, “Why don’t you do a book?” I said, “What would I do a book on? The only thing I really know is fashion and photography.” The next time I saw that same friend, they asked if I had come up with an idea for a book. I said, “No, not yet.” I then started to seriously think about an idea for a book. After about a month of thinking, the idea for having the top fashion designers come up with a garment of their view of what fashion would be like in the future came into my head. How about, what it would be like in the year 2001! That was the start of the idea. Could I actually make this happen, was another thought.
PONYBOY: There really is an incredible ensemble of people included in your book, from very established high-end designers to the younger “next wave”, who oddly enough became major players in the fashion world. Was it hard getting people to take part in the project? Did you know many of these designers personally?
LUCILLE KHORNAK: No, I did not know these designers personally. At first, it was hard getting some of the designers on board. However, once I had a few, then the others were much easier to get. I had a great secretary who followed up with them. When they said to call on a particular day, she called until we got the appointment and the interview. The garment came later, as they had to think about the future and what they wanted to represent them. Many created something special for the book. I also wanted to include new designers, as they usually have forward-thinking and can be much more experimental.
PONYBOY: You state in the book that you originally had anticipated that your project would take six to eight months to shoot, but in the end it became a four-year process. How many designers were featured in the book?
LUCILLE KHORNAK: There are 102 designers. I actually thought about my locations and did a lot of research to make them look futuristic at the time. One shoot, in particular, I photographed in Las Vegas, in a fantasy suite. I also used the desert while out west. Then I spent a month in Paris working, interviewing, and photographing many of the French designers. I then went on to Milan. On another trip, I took a couple of garments to Venezuela and did a few of the shoots there. It really became a labor of love. Then came the editing process. I spent many nights until 4 am with a creative friend who was helping me to edit the photographs. There were so many good ones and choosing the final ones to use in the book was challenging.
PONYBOY: Which of the designs would say were your favorite to photograph?
LUCILLE KHORNAK: There were many favorites. However, I did love the concept from Jean Paul Gaultier, who used a mannequin and said that we would be spraying our clothing on our body. Then there were Ungaro and Courréges. What happened around shooting the garments was very interesting. So many locations, so each was so different. I was thrilled to photograph in the original room of Chanel, where everything is kept intact as it was before she died. Courréges, who was always a fashion-forward designer, had an exciting showroom. I remember that he had a piece of artwork made with all-white gloves. I took his portrait in front of that artwork. Many of his garments already had a futuristic look to them.
It was also great to have designers like Karl Lagerfeld, Zandra Rhodes and Issey Miyake at my home, getting to know them and doing their portraits in New York City. It really was a very exciting project. It also took a lot of energy to make this happen and to be so dedicated to the idea and concept.
PONYBOY: And which would you say were the most difficult garments to photograph and why?
LUCILLE KHORNAK: One was the day I had the model and the garment, and it was raining in Paris. I didn’t know what to do. I was so frustrated because of the weather. I had no choice but to photograph the garment that day. Waiting for the rain to subside, I finally photographed this garment with a very grey background along the banks of the Seine. The colors on the garment were so bright, colorful and strong that interestingly enough, the photograph turned out great. When I did my TV circuit it was one of the photographs that was most used. I would remember how everyone would react to it and yet, it was my most challenging situation. It even had roller skates!
PONYBOY: The book was published in 1982. However, if it took four years to photograph, you must have originally reached out to the designers around the mid-70s. Is this correct?
LUCILLE KHORNAK: No, I started late 1978 and really got into it at the beginning of 1979.
PONYBOY: How did the concept for each shoot come about? Was it a well-thought-out process?
LUCILLE KHORNAK: Yes, definitely it was all really thought out. I tried to find backgrounds or spaces that worked with some of the garments, as well as spaces that had a futuristic feeling to them. Back in those days, we did not have digital, so what you captured on film is what you got. We did not retouch at that time, so all of those photographs are originals unretouched. Today there are so many places and areas that look and feel much more futuristic. I often say, “Wow! That would have been a great background then.”
PONYBOY: Did all of the designers’s also provide the sketches that we see in the book?
LUCILLE KHORNAK: Yes, all of the designers provided the sketches, which really added another point of interest to the book. It is also fun to see how each designer did their sketches and their interpretation of future fashion. I remember one designer said we would be pulling our clothing off of a roll and dispose of it afterward.
PONYBOY: When the book was published in 1982, what kind of reception did it receive? Did it make a big splash in the fashion world? And was it hard getting Viking Press to commit to publishing the book initially?
LUCILLE KHORNAK: Actually Viking Press was very excited about it since they felt it would sell because I would have some top-name designers. I couldn’t believe I got the contract. I had a great editor who still happens to be my friend today.
The first week the book came out, Bob Guccione saw it and immediately wanted to run a 15 page spread in his magazine called Omni. His magazine was about the future. He thought I was a genius!
That was such nice, positive feedback to hear. I was so excited. Well, he ran the 15-page spread and gave me the cover of Omni. I went on to do over 80 radio and TV talk shows around the country, including Oprah, Good Morning America, the Today show and many others. It was written up all over the world and could be found in book store windows throughout the world. A friend of mine was in Germany and took a photograph of the book in the window, which was on display there.
PONYBOY: Looking back now at the designers’ fashion forecasts of what people would be wearing in 2001, what are your thoughts? Do you feel it was fashion-forward and progressive, or just outrageous?
LUCILLE KHORNAK: Both. Today fabric has changed and has become more breathable. Designers predicted that the fabrics would change, that people would be more in tune with their bodies, and that exercise would be extremely important. So, I see that as having materialized. Classic designers such as Oscar de la Renta believed that classic fashion would remain. That is true as there is still classic, elegant fashion.
The outrageous part was spraying latex on our bodies. That has not happened as of yet, or pulling our disposable clothing off a roll. Another said we would have thermostats on the garments to control our temperature.
PONYBOY: Scouring the internet, we see that Vice magazine, as well as a few blogs, have reposted images from the book. Was this done with your permission? And if so, how do you feel about people taking your photos and reposting them without your knowledge?
LUCILLE KHORNAK: No, they did not have permission. Obviously, it is not nice when people feel they can just take and use your material without asking. However, the internet has fast-forwarded life and the world is becoming one and changing so quickly. People just feel they can take and use what they like.
PONYBOY: Did publishing the book bring photography opportunities to you at the time with magazines and advertising?
LUCILLE KHORNAK: Yes, it really increased my visibility in the world of fashion and beauty. The exposure I had was tremendous. Articles were run in many various types of magazines. It seemed to continue on for a couple of years.
PONYBOY: Are you still shooting now? And if so, what kind of photography are you involved with now?
LUCILLE KHORNAK: I have switched to children and families. I really love working with children, as they are so pure and real. I take my experience from modeling and fashion and beauty and use it in how I capture and photograph families. I have a great eye for detail and color, and it translates into my work. I currently have two galleries in the famous “Hamptons”, where I also do a lot of photographing on the beach and at clients’ homes. I also do destination travel and shoot families in many parts of the world. I have a staff of 10 people and we produce hard-covered, coffee table books for our clients, as well as custom-designed holiday cards. I design client walls with my photographs of their families from their session. I believe life is about documenting our journey and that is what we leave behind. Families should look at their photographs as art and display it accordingly.
I will continue to photograph as I love photography and art. There is so much to do and document that I wish I had more time to do it all! I recently went on a trip to Vietnam, Cambodia and India. That was some trip. My photographs are awesome and I would love to put them in a book.
PONYBOY: What are your thoughts on fashion now? Do you follow what designers are doing by looking at magazines and going on the internet? Fashion has changed so much since the book was published almost 35 years ago.
LUCILLE KHORNAK: Yes, fashion is very different today. At that time, when a certain skirt length was in fashion, that is what you wore. All of that has changed and anything goes. Street fashion is interesting to me, to see how young people pull themselves together. Yes, I still love fashion and I love working with great fashion models and great clothing.
PONYBOY: What about your personal style? Are there any designers that you favor and wear now?
LUCILLE KHORNAK: Now, I am very comfortable with myself and wear what I feel at the moment. I buy what I like. I will always love beautiful clothing and quality clothing. What is not to love?
PONYBOY: Going back to the book, we see that copies of Fashion: 2001 can be purchased on Amazon.com. Are these still from the original batch of printing in 1982?
LUCILLE KHORNAK: Yes, they are still from the original printing. I also have many original signed copies which I sell.
PONYBOY: Have the photos from the publication ever been exhibited in any shows?
LUCILLE KHORNAK: Yes, I have had many, many exhibitions. Actually, I was just thinking about exhibiting some of the prints at one of my galleries this summer. We are in the process of redoing our website (www.lucillekhornak.com) and our gallery website (www.lucillekhornakgallery.com) and we will be selling my prints online.
I will always be doing something new and exciting around photography and art. They are my passion.
PONYBOY: Finally, we must ask about the late great Andy Warhol being featured in one of the fashion photographs in your book. Tell us how that came about? Did you know Andy? What was it like working with him?
LUCILLE KHORNAK: I knew Andy briefly, from seeing him at parties and at Studio 54. He was a very quiet person, yet he carried inner confidence.
A friend of mine, Kathy Hilton, arranged the photo session with him. He was very excited to be part of the book. I was excited and I feel so lucky to have worked with him. I now have some great portraits of Andy that are for sale.