New York cuts its style like a master tailor shaping his own bespoke suits. Elegantly self-referential and anarchically chic, its modernity is as timeless as the venerable uptown bricks that etch out its skyline and as cutting edge as the Next-Big-Things strutting up into the dawn from a downtown basement bar.
Offsetting his trademark Savile Row suits with bursts of colourful street swagger, Peter Davis is pure bespoke New York. Raised on the Upper East Side a stone’s throw from Park Avenue, this true son of Manhattan hails from its beating luxurious heart, where style is impeccable and life is thoroughly boutique. In applying these elite and timeless principles to the quicksilver creativity of the trend-setters and scene-makers of the city’s creative underbelly, Davis and his generation of super-privileged yet savvy New Yorkers are at the vanguard of the city’s latest reincarnation.
Reflecting perfectly that profound and yet elegant shift, Davis’ career has taken him from his exclusive Upper East Side upbringing to the art school bohemia - graduating from Bennington College - that led him to living in Gramercy Park while covering the club scene and its leading lights for the ever influential Paper magazine. This electric decadence, which he took with him to Manhattan’s society bible, the glossily exclusive Avenue magazine, as its Editor-in-Chief, outgrew his remit as of the curator of the polished certainties of the traditionally elite New York lifestyle, and SCENE Magazine was born.
Launched in March 1st, 2012, SCENE takes lifestyle and architecture as the arbiters of its readership - scattered around the lobbies and residences of America’s most exclusive residential, leisure and business addresses. SCENE restricts itself to a Manhattan-only distribution and boasts an editorial policy that dares its readers to examine their gilded environs from outside. With a limited release for the city’s newsstands, it invites into these exclusive surroundings those with the look, attitude and panache that characterize the indefinable it in it-crowd, instinctively recognising the fabulous make-it-here make-it-anywhere meritocracy at the spiritual heart of this city of cities.
In a management quartet comprising some of New York’s finest creative and financial cognoscenti - Jared Kushner, Julie Dannenberg (Publisher and Chief Executive Officer), and Cricket Burns (Creative Director) - Davis will edit his new monthly endeavour with an emphasis on stellar contributions from the scene’s hottest properties, such as Kristian Laliberte, Tom Sykes, Hannah Bronfman, Arden Wohl, Luigi Tadini and Lorenzo Martone. Readers can expect an invigorating mix of the profound - a thoughtful investigation into John Galliano’s current standing both within and without the fashion world, the chic - a fashion shoot by June Ambrose, and the knowingly irreverent - a how-to guide for getting into Le Baron.
Culture Divine interviewed Peter Davis - this impeccable taste-maker just a few days after the launching of SCENE Magazine.
CD. Can you describe to us the philosophy behind creating your fabulous work?
PD. My work is only as good as the people who I work with - I am lucky that I get to collaborate with such talents from writers like Ray Rogers and Daniel Edward Rosen to photographers like Juan Algarin (who took the most amazing photographs of SCENE’s next cover supermodel, my friend Hilary Rhoda) to our Creative Director Cricket Burns and Art Director Dean Quigley who both have the most creative and colourful eyes for arresting imagery.
CD. How would you characterize the signature elements that define a Peter Davis project?
PD. A little bit scandalous, as stylish as possible and always fun and never ever mean.
CD. What do you think is needed to create a perfect mix in a first class magazine?
PD. To starty, you need imagery that doesn’t look like anything else. My heroes are art directors like George Lois, Alexy Brodovitch, Olivier Toscani and Jean Paul Goude who always thought outside the box and pushed the envelope. Too many magazines look the same these days and I aspire to do something different the way those visionaries did. And you need great stories by sharp writers - the types of articles that you literally can’t put down.
CD. Can you describe the central themes you envisage for SCENE Magazine in terms of information, design and style?
PD. We aim to be the ultimate insider’s guide to New York. Having grown up in the city, I know every street like the back of my hand and my goal is to bring the reader behind the velvet ropes and front doors and show them the most fabulous places, fascinating people and riveting stories that happen every day in New York. The style and design of SCENE is bold and brave and fun and I am very fortunate to have Cricket Burns and Dean Quigley’s unique and superb visual vocabulary to make every issue a wow moment.
CD. You are one of the faces of NY´s modern society. Can you tell us how do you think it is changing, its advantages and what you miss the most of the old one?
PD. I think that New York society has changed for the better in that there is no distinction between uptown and downtown anymore. Everyone from all different worlds hang out together which is what New York is supposed to be about. There is nothing more boring than being in a room filled with people who are all the same.
CD. In an industry full of exciting and luxurious venues, which fabulous place stands out for you as your favourite spot in the world?
PD. I always say - The Boom Boom Room at The Standard Hotel is the most breathtaking nightclub in the world. And it doesn’t hurt that the crowd often includes supermodels, Madonna, movie stars and fashion legends like Valentino.
CD. Culture Divine is dedicated to the people, places and moments which define the tastes and lifestyles of glamour’s elite. For you, what defines glamour now?
PD. Glamour is about being yourself. Style and fashion are not the same things. Trends in fashion come and go faster than a runway show. I am most attracted to people with amazing personal taste. I love Iris Apfel, Daphne Guinness and other style icons who dress for themselves and never follow what the media says is hot right now. And I love street style. I am constantly inspired by kids on the sidewalk and how they dress. That is why I always have my camera ready, New York is the city of a zillion and one photos waiting to be snapped.
The air above New York’s iconic skyscrapers, lofts and brownstones hums with an intangible and yet supremely confident freshness that says that this is both exactly what you have been waiting for and unlike anything you have seen. Peter Davis, a tailor of cool, cuts this raw essence with aplomb and drapes it artfully between the covers of SCENE Magazine.
- Benjamin Stewart
Peter Davis - SCENE Magazine