A bit of destiny brought Michael Kazam to Le Book. Through a summer internship he met Veronique Kolsa, and helped open the New York office while still in college. Twenty years later, he is a partner at the brand, which is the international resource for the luxury space. Reviewing the trends, discovering talent, staying in contact with creative decision makers, creating key collaborations and overseeing a staff of twenty-five, are all part of his role, which also includes overseeing the United States and handling international development. Ten years ago, marked the launch of Le Book Connections, a custom trade show for the creative community, taking place five times a year in New York, London, Paris, Berlin, Los Angeles and, later this month – Stockholm.
Vice President of LE BOOK sounds like such a cool job, what are the key responsibilities?
LE BOOK is a platform for the highest level of creative connections – so much of what I do is related to keeping connected with the industry – reviewing the trends, researching and discovering talent, and constantly staying in contact with decision-makers in the creative community. This goes hand in hand with constantly communicating LE BOOK’s purpose and role through our international events – developing our brand’s image and awareness through key collaborations in global markets and overseeing a staff of 25.
Did you always want to be in the fashion business?
I was always interested in image-making and fashion as my parents had a luxury retail business in NYC and took me on buying trips from a young age.
How did you land at LE BOOK?
I guess it’s a bit of destiny. While in college I had a summer job interning at the modeling agency, DNA. The agency had just started and I was lucky to be getting to know the team and learn about the industry. One day, the agency’s owner David Bonnouvrier, introduced me to LE BOOK’s founder Veronique Kolasa. She was looking to open a New York office for the Paris-based company and hired me. While continuing my studies, I helped open the office. Several years later, I became a partner, overseeing the US and handling international development. Twenty years later, I’m still at it – kismet!
What do you think has been the key to LE BOOK’s longevity, success and creativity?
Veronique Kolasa, LE BOOK’s founder, started the company 30 years ago. I’ve been doing it for 20 years, and Fabien Duverneuil who runs our European offices has been doing it for 15 years. We are privileged to have a dedicated international team of 25. Over the years we’ve built a clear understanding of the industry’s needs – constantly in contact and communicating with creatives at the highest level. This understanding has led to trust and a certain reputation – the creative community can rely on us to curate and connect them with the best.
Why do you publish two separate editions for the Americas and Europe?
In this day and age, information can be found in so many different ways. That said, quality is hard to find – and takes time. We’ve done our print edition for 30 years. Through it, we maintain our leadership as the curated resource for information and inspiration. Of course, we offer layers upon layers of information and content through our site – but the print edition remains the collectible piece that you find in the offices and desks of opinion leaders and decision makers.
Please tell us a bit about the print edition and your collaborations.
It has become a status symbol of sorts to receive our annual editions. Each year we look to wow the industry through our collaborations that dress each. Recent collaborations include Dennis Hopper x James Franco, Keith Haring x Nicola Formichetti, Jean-Michel Basquiat x Shepard Fairey – as well as fashion brands such as Marni, Azzedine Alaïa, YSL, and more.
How do you decide on the guest art director? How does the collaboration process work?
The collaborations come about in a number of ways. We reach out to artists & designers we admire, or are approached with interesting ideas. The goal is always to inspire.
What is your most recent collaboration?
Often we will do a mashup of sorts – taking an iconic artist, with a contemporary perspective. Our latest collaboration involved 80s icon, Maripol, curated by artist extraordinaire, Diplo. Not only did Diplo choose the imagery and offer design direction, he put together a mix to match the music. A very fun project.
How many LE BOOK Connections events do you hold each year?
CONNECTIONS is celebrating its 10 year anniversary – it started as a small event in Paris to bring together the creative community – and has grown into an annual meeting point that brings together the very best creative buyers in talent, services and solutions. Face-time has never been so valuable in discovering – and due to high demand we now host 7 CONNECTIONS around the world each year. NY, Paris and London – as well as LA, San Francisco, Amsterdam, Berlin, Chicago, Stockholm and more.
What do you love most about LE BOOK?
I love the opportunity LE BOOK offers to connect with a range of creative talents around the world. It has allowed me to meet, interact and exchange ideas with a range of young talent, emerging artists – to established icons, and decision makers on the highest levels of creative commissioning. It’s a network that represents the very best and I’m lucky to be a part of the constant adventure.
Now more than ever before, there is so much discovery, and so many changes that I constantly look forward to showcasing what’s next – and introducing it to our audience. It’s a valuable opportunity that is unique to LE BOOK.
Interview conducted by Erica Roseman