GQ Legend Jim Moore Revisits Four of His Favorite Photographs

Published October 3, 2019

Photo by Arthur Elgort, New York, 1997.

Jim Moore needs no introduction—well maybe he does. In 1980, Jim F*cking Moore started his career in the world of men’s fashion as an assistant at GQ. Since then, Moore has elevated, disrupted, and transformed the world—and business—of men’s style magazines. His rise at GQ led him to fulfill several roles, from Fashion Director to Creative Director, and now, as Creative Director-at-Large for the men’s fashion bible. Moore made a name for himself by not following the rules and making new ones along the way. His new book, Hunks & Heroes: Four Decades of Fashion at GQ (Rizzoli) traces and celebrates Moore’s 40 year career through 250 archival images of his most important collaborations with photographers such as Inez and Vinoodh, Peggy Sirota, and Craig McDean. As per usual, Moore didn’t want to create just another photo book. “I wanted to tell little bits and pieces about behind the scenes, and then save some stories for when I’m on the road,” he told Interview over the phone. “I wanted there to be a modernity to it. I wanted pictures that I love, because they had a timeless quality to them, which I like to think that, that’s how I style.” The day before embarking on an international book tour that will take him all the way to Asia, Moore took some time to revisit four choice images from his collection.

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KANYE WEST, 2007

Photo by Patrick Demarchelier.

“Fifteen years ago, because it was my 25th anniversary at GQ, [Editor-in-Chief] Jim Nelson wanted to throw me a big party in Milan. So this is 15 years ago and he’s like, ‘Let’s blow this out.’ Budgets were different then. So we had an amazing pre-party with the designers, and everybody came: Giorgio [Armani], all the Milanese designers, Donatella [Versace]—everybody. There was also a surprise film, and that broke out into a bigger party, where Kanye West performed. He was already a friend of the family; we had done a couple shoots with him. I had met him on several occasions. It was probably after the performance when we stepped into the temporary green room and started having this conversation about style, and our brains locked together in a very wonderful way. I’ve always understood Kanye, no matter what he’s been through, or what’s next for him. He’s unpredictable, which is what I love, he’s fearless, which is what I love, and he’s a maverick, which I love. He’s also a gentle giant. He’s respectful and we have the best conversations about fashion. I like intense conversations about everything, especially when it comes to men’s fashion and style, so we created a bond that night, that we’ve had  one ever since. When I go to Calabasas to see him, I never really think, “This is Kanye West, the megastar.” I just think, “It’s Kanye West, my friend.”

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ASHTON KUTCHER, 2003

A couple people said, ‘I don’t know if he’s recognizable in that picture. Are you sure you want to run that picture?’ And I was like, ‘I’ve always loved that picture.’ I love the fact that maybe you have to take a second look at it to tell that it’s him. Ashton’s a very young man at this point. He’s already broken out of modeling and into acting, but he’s in no way reached his peak. What I love about it is you have this baby-faced Ashton Kutcher, and it was a story that we had done on young Hollywood breakouts. I’ve always been fascinated by the proportion of baggy pants and a tight top, or matching color combinations. We always had a little joke in the GQ fashion closet:  “Is matching in, or is matching out this year?” Because sometimes matching one color looks good, and then the next season it’s all un-matching. Well, fashion’s not that easy, but it’s fun to also make light of it. It’s a strong memory for me, because I remember that day with Ashton, he was incredibly playful, and he was up for anything. I think the playful side of him really comes out in that picture.

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TOM FORD, 2016

Photo by Sebastian Kim.

“This was for the Men of the Year issue two years ago, when he came out with his second movie, Nocturnal Animals. We wanted to give him a shout out as the director of the year. Men of the Year has multiple covers. So a lot of the heavy lifting falls on my shoulders. I decided the way to make this particular issue look different than the rest would be to incorporate color in every picture. I made the declaration that nobody in the issue could wear black. Fashion is about self-expression, so let’s put the black suit away for a little bit. I called Tom. Usually, I don’t call him and say, ‘This is what I want you to wear,’ because he always shows up impeccably camera-ready. But I said, ‘Tom, I really need you to not wear black.’ He was like, ‘How could you ask me to not wear black? That’s my signature.’ Tom is an incredibly gracious person, with impeccable manners and a wicked sense of humor, and he always does the right thing. He showed up, and he had this velvet blue tuxedo on, and he said, ‘Now, this is color. For me, this is color. Are you happy, Jim?’ And then he surprised me. He opened a bag and pulled out this turquoise jewelry that he had bought in Santa Fe, which is where he grew up. He loves turquoise jewelry, and he put it on, and I knew this was going to be an epic picture. This is going to be something that people haven’t seen before.”

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TYLER, THE CREATOR & FRANK OCEAN, 2012

Photo by Peggy Sirota.

“You probably hit ground zero for my favorite picture in the entire book. This one was a fun story. I had shot Frank Ocean two years before. We just hit it off, and he asked if we could work together again. He said, ‘Wait for my next album to come out, but come down to New Orleans and shoot my family.’ So when it came time to do this next shoot, I remembered that, but he wasn’t going to be in New Orleans. So I said to him, ‘What about your friends and your family in L.A. and all the guys you hang out with?’ Because I knew that Tyler, the Creator was one of his closest friends, and he had this gang of cool guys that he loves. He was really excited about it. I wanted to style Frank and have his friends show up as they are, because I knew Tyler was going to come with a rolling rack of clothes and change. We came up with the location, so we went to the Farmers Market, which is this picture. It’s an engineered photograph, but also has the feeling that it’s a moment that was caught. I think that’s the illusion of fashion photographs.

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