Art obviously has a very central role in all that you do. Do you have any art clients—artists, dealers, galleries?
No, but maybe that will change now.
Peter Brant is a big collector, isn't he?
Yes, he's very connected to the art world and the fashion world. He knows photographers, designers, stylists, models. He knows the way it works. He's a very charismatic character. He's also very passionate, which makes him a great person to work with, because he understands when you say we're going to need this or that. He gets it. What's interesting about Peter is he first acquired Antiques because he's an antique collector. For him it was important to own the magazine. The same with Art in America and Interview, since he collects so much art, like Warhol, Basquiat, etc. That's how he got into his magazines, because he's passionate about the subject matter.
Will he keep buying magazines?
Maybe. We'll see.
Is Stephanie [Seymour] one of the editors there?
I think she's going to be like a muse for the magazine. She'll come up with ideas, do some interviews, help us, with anything actually. She's also very charismatic, with very good opinions on things. She collects art herself.
It's cool that you can be good friends with your clients.
It's better that way, it's much easier.
Do you have any clients you don't like?
Would you tell me if you did?
Yes, definitely. I did have clients like that at first. I told them I'm trying to help their business, but they're not listening to me.
They should. You're not just a visual person. You have a business mind, too.
I know how to make money for people, that's for sure—more than people think. I've made a lot of money for a lot of clients. The proof is in the numbers, no doubt about it. It takes a long time, a lot of drawing and a lot of failing, but little by little you understand the way it works.
There's nothing wrong with making money. Commercial doesn't have to be a bad word.
Saying something is too commercial is bullshit because there are a lot of things that are too commercial and ugly, but when something is commercial and very good, it's the best. Look at French Vogue, for example. They were in the red for more than eighteen years when I started. But in the time I was there [2003-2008] they were in the black and it looked great.
Is that your secret?
I guess. What's wrong with having a product that looks great and that people want? Apple to me is the only American company that understands that design is important.
They should ask you to design a Mac.
They're doing pretty well by themselves. The iPhone is a beautiful object, although they should have worked out the technology more. It's still way better than anything from mi.. mic...
Did you really forget the name?
I never use their stuff. It's so ugly I can't deal with it. You look like a moron with those big fat computers that weigh a ton.
Have you met Steve Jobs?
On his yacht?
No, at a furniture show for Marc Newson. The Apple people were there and they had the iPhone. I tried it and fell in love with it instantly.
What is Steve Jobs like?
I don't know. I spoke with him for three seconds. But apparently he runs his business by talking to only five or six people, and that's it. Then they go out and do what he says.
Is that like cloning?
I could be Baron & Baron & Baron & Baron.
You told me once there's no other Baron besides you. Is that right?
But maybe one day there will be.
You have one son?
One son and two daughters.
Are they showing any interest in design?
Yes, of course, they're showing interest in everything. My 16-year-old daughter is more interested in writing. She's done an interview with Lapo Elkann for Interview. She knows him well, so we asked her for an interview. She thought it was boring what he was saying so she made it into an article instead. We're going to publish it.
Did you pay her?
Yeah, like a regular writer. And my son is into cinema. He's at Vassar. He's in heaven there. He's having a blast and getting into everything.
Like father, like son?
Or father knows best?
There are many things he knows better than me. Kids today are very smart. My generation is more old-fashioned, especially coming from Europe, and a little fucked up in the head. We had troubles. Kids today are very happy. They're not desperate the way we were.
When was the last time you caused trouble?
The last time was the Calvin Klein Jeans campaign a while ago. It was quite controversial. The FBI got into it. They thought we were making kiddie porn or a porno film.
Yes, and it went really far. It was on the cover of the tabloids. It was a big scandal and then suddenly the case was closed.
No trouble since then?
Little things here and there, but nothing major. I like small amounts of trouble. It's like spice.
Okay, one last question, as if I don't know the answer: Barack or McCain?
Barack, but if he takes Clinton as his vice president. But I am scared of the dormant Republican machine. And when I saw that look Clinton had, the dressing up and the hair, I could foresee her losing to Obama. She looked like an unhappy lesbian.
I'm sure her lesbian base was happy. If only she wore Calvin Klein.
She could have looked better—more attractive, more seductive, more like a woman. She's a great person, and her ideas and concepts are very valid, but people care more about what they see.
It's true that people vote based more on image than issues.
The Democrats should call us then.