Miles Redd's big book arrived while breakfast was being made (thank you Amazon), then sat in a corner while I taught. Once teaching the Art of Singing was finished late afternoon, I opened Redd's tome, then sat with it for a good half-hour, all the while sipping Darjeeling tea. Five pages in, I thought to myself: "This is an homage to Diana Vreeland's book Allure!" Pulling Vreeland's book off the shelf (my copy is a 2002 reprinting of the 1980 original), I saw that, yes; both have red covers, Vreeland's full red cloth to Redd's red letting; both feature fashion photography and contain little original text; both evoke rather than educate.
I could be wrong, but believe Redd's book is designed to make you see. Not look. See. What else could be the reason behind the use of identical images presented in black & white and color? The former pull you in, while the latter explode in your face: yin and yang making me think of Federico Fellini's films with their loose narrative and big American cars as phalli. Fellini's joy in life is mirrored in Redd's sensual enjoyment of glamorous environs with glossy hard surfaces, the liberal use of dark teal and hot pink, patterned floors, zebra stripes and studded leather doors. Redd seduces the willing viewer, not by talking about what he does, but by showing you. No introvert, even if- privately speaking, the man is - perhaps - shy, even dyslectic (which often reveals an inordinate sensitivity to visual stimuli), Redd speaks the languages of the Continent with a Hollywood accent rooted in the black and white films of the 30's and 40's. That he quotes Charles Rider in Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited made me smile. A gay guy after my own heart: Redd gets the whole idea of romance and creating a beautiful setting for a well-lived life.
I like this book, even though the cover pages were stuck together with a dot of glue (see below). The endnotes didn't indicate where the publisher does its business, but a little snooping revealed the location: "We print it in China." Dear Assouline. For such an expensive book, the blemish of shoddy production values does not speak well of you. How about sending me a replacement?
Postscript: Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013
Dear Mr. Redd,
Your book has seeped into my brain after I jumped under its covers (yes..a mixed metaphor), inspiring the rather radical thought of glossy dark peacocky walls in the bathroom. I also thought of desecrating an old Empire dresser in the bedroom with oxblood paint, to sing along with the gilded Chinoiserie pelmets and red curtains. Now that you're under my skin, I can only do what Oscar Wilde suggested, which is submit to temptation.
Image of Miles Redd from Housing Works website.