Paige Powell Book Set Out From Dashwood

by Drew Penner

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There are few eras of New York history that are more captivating from a global creative standpoint than the rough-around-the-edges artful 80s. And there were few in as enviable position as Paige Powell, who banged on the bulletproof door of Interview magazine to request a job — and ended up at the centre of the burgeoning scene. She’d even make toffee for fashion innovator Stephen Sprouse at Christmas.

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Now Powell has a new, eponymous, book set coming out on Dashwood, with support from Gucci. The three-volume collection was edited by Kim Hastreiter, the iconic founder of Paper Magazine.

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Hastreiter says she enjoyed noticing how the mementos and photos Powell brought to the table represent a significant view on the invention of pop culture as we know it. Of course, as we better understand what was happening in New York from 1981 – 1994, the better we can make sense of a brand new disco edit you hear on the radio of the early hip-hop experiment from nearly three decades ago, for example.

In fact, Powell was actually the one who “orchestrated” a lot of it, Hastreiter remembers.

Powell had left Portland for the Big Apple in 1980, aiming to work for Woody Allen or at Interview Magazine. It was her initiative to pound down the door of a niche publication in a sketchy area of town that scored her an ad gig. She signed a long-term deal with an advertiser right out of the gate. Soon, she became intertwined with that whole Andy Warhol and Keith Haring world. She became especially close with Warhol.

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It’s fun to watch Powell interacte with the creative genius, such as in a 1983 video where she tries to convince him to stop by a party for the magazine, which he founded. She isn’t overbearing. She’s playful. She’s persuasive.

Powell even dated extraordinary art innovator Jean-Michel Basquiat, who is still influencing both commercial and underground creators worldwide.

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Basquiat died of a heroin overdose in August 1988. New York morphed into new forms, as the pop art scene gave way to hair metal, then grunge.

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Powell left New York in 1994, eventually settling in Portland, where her art show invites, photo negatives and videos just sat under her bed for years.

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Eventually, she decided it was time to revisit that era.

She’s unearthed rare (and unseen) photos of Bill Cunningham, Matt Dillion, Fab 5 Freddy, Gus Van Sant and Madonna. And Powell is taking over the Gucci ArtWalls in SoHo, including a triple-exposure Polaroid she took of Warhol.

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Four-book hardcover set available via Dashwood Books for $295 USD (€260).

Or, if you’re in Florence, Italy, at Gucci Wooster, Gucci Garden,

Powell will be on hand for a signing April 18.