“Once upon a time…. ” Is there a more magical phrase in the English language? Its effect on us is akin to that of Proust biting into a madeleine—no sooner do we read or hear it than we’re instantly transported back to our childhood bedtimes, tucked under the covers and waiting breathlessly to learn whether the princess in the fairytale would outwit the wicked witch or the hero would fulfill his quest. Nothing in “grown-up” literature—we’re using quotes because as far as we’re concerned, fairytales make gripping reading no matter how old you are— can match that kind of excitement. Or so we thought. But the creative minds at Visionaire, the groundbreaking fashion and style publication, have taken up the challenge and come up with something that’s just as compelling: A limited-edition mini-library of 11 fairy stories created by a who’s who of creative types, including actor James Franco and the artist Carter, who contributed a creepily surreal tale (the lenticular on the cover morphs from a bear into a ghost); the fashion designers Viktor & Rolf, who wrote an adorable story of a hedgehog that glows in the dark; and John Baldessari, whose sweet but twisted alphabet is in the order of a QWERTY keyboard. Other contributors include Jo Ratcliffe and Stéphanie Cohen Chaptal working with Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin and Karen Kilimnik collaborating with Kirsten Dunst. Says Visionaire co-founder Cecilia Dean: “Fairytales are ubiquitous in many cultures as a way of teaching children the ways of society. Some of the fairytales in Visionaire teach acceptance, some celebrate confusion, some are pure imagination.”
The collection comes packaged in a specially-designed book-strap like the kind school children used to carry. Each story is individually bound in hardback and features intricate and delightfully surprising design details such as flocking, scratch-and-sniff patches, or glow-in-the-dark elements. This is Visionaire’s 59th creative collaboration and like many of them—we’re still kicking ourselves for not buying the Tom Ford lightbox—it’s destined to be a collector’s item.