Joan Juliet Buck, the only child of larger-than-life film producer Jules Buck, was born into a world of make-believe. Her childhood was a whirlwind of famous faces: John Huston, Peter O’Toole, Lauren Bacall, Federico Fellini, Angelica Huston, and many more; ever-changing home addresses: London, Paris, Cannes, Los Angeles; and the unspoken lesson that appearances mattered more than reality. When Joan became the first and only American woman ever to fill the coveted position of Editor in Chief of Paris Vogue, she quickly became a force in the cult of fashion and beauty. Her job gave her the means to recreate for her aging father, now a widower, the life he’d enjoyed during his high-flying years – a splendid illusion of glamour and luxury. But such illusions cannot be sustained indefinitely, and they always come at a cost.
In THE PRICE OF ILLUSION (Atria Books; March 7, 2017) Joan offers up a dazzling spanning six decades spent in the creative heart of London, New York, Los Angeles, Milan, Paris, and more. The cues she had gleaned early in life from her family were about how things looked and where they came from. The key to success was the perception of success; the only trick to transformation? Believing you were what you wanted to be. But when her fantasy life at Vogue came to an end, she had to find out who she was after all those years of make-believe. Now Buck chronicles her quest to discover the difference between glitter and gold, fantasy and reality, and what merely looks like happiness from the thing itself.
Q: What do you mean by “Price of Illusion?”
A: The stories of my life took over the reality of my life. I went into magazines which presented a better version of reality to their readers and I believed all of it and I paid the price for it.
Q: Why did you decide to write a memoir?
A: I needed to assemble all these and strange, wonderful, and horrible things that had happened in my life. And figure out what the map was of where I’d been.
Q: What advice would you give to writers or those looking to get started in the industry?
A: Go with your talent. Writing is putting one little word after another, using punctuations marks, etc., but it takes forever. The best thing anyone could do is trying to figure out what their true talent is and deepen that. Figure out how to be more than good.
Q: Is fashion a part of your life now that you’ve left the fashion world?
A: I gave away the clothes that sent a message of power and dominance and importance. I kept the clothes that I felt happy in. “I won’t interview fashion designers anymore,” she says. “I haven’t been to a fashion show in years.” After I was no longer with American Vogue at the beginning of 2012, I re met Zac Posen and his boyfriend Christopher Niquet. They both became very good friends when I was no longer with Vogue, and so now Zac makes beautiful clothes for me that are exactly what I love most.
Q: What is your favorite piece of clothing?
A: Zac Posen made me the perfect, perfect outfit. It’s silk, samurai trousers with a very tight jacket. Its navy blue, but he also gave me a purple and dark red one. So I have these three identical evening outfits that are absolutely my style—part priest, part warrior.
Q: You are a world leading media personality, editor and author. Introduce us to a day in your remarkable multidimensional lifestyle.
A: I live in upstate New York in a small house that I live in alone. I have great friends and relationships and I have a wonderful and eclectic office at The Morton Memorial Library