The Infrared Summer

The Infrared Summer

From Calvin Klein in the '90s to Steven Klein in the present day, Joseph Lally has experience working at the perilous peaks of high fashion. But with his new novel, The Infrared Summer, Lally shines a darker and more dangerous light on the industry than ever before. The photographer, filmmaker, and creative director tells us how he came to craft a totally fucked-up fashion fable for the kindle generation

From Calvin Klein in the '90s to Steven Klein in the present day, Joseph Lally has experience working at the perilous peaks of high fashion. But with his new novel, The Infrared Summer, Lally shines a darker and more dangerous light on the industry than ever before. The photographer, filmmaker, and creative director tells us how he came to craft a totally fucked-up fashion fable for the kindle generation

For background, when did you start working in fashion and what have been some of the landmarks of your career so far?

JOSEPH LALLY I started in the '90s working with Bruce Weber on post production of his films, there I met art director Sam Shahid who would design my first photo book for Rizzoli entitled FUN?GAME. I worked as a casting director for Calvin Klein and was lucky enough to work six weeks in the studio with legendary photographer Richard Avedon for the CKb campaign. I've been fortunate to meet many great people in the business: Bob Richardson, [Horst P.] Horst, Julie Britt, so many great people. Bruce Weber was and is an idol. He photographs a world of his own, then and now, with great beauty. And I work with one of the best photographers of this era Steven Klein. No one compares to him in terms of visual command.

What inspired you to write Infrared Summer?

JL I spent a lot of time in South Beach in the '90s and I got to know the scene there well. I went down there because Michael Scalisi, the writer and photographer, invited me down for vacation. We both knew Bruce.

Is the character of Walker based on any real person(s)? 

JL It is based on my younger self.

Are any scenarios based on real events?  

JL I say 75 percent of the book, one way or the other, is true.

Are there any characters based on real people from your work or your life, and if so, do you feel comfortable telling us about whom and how?   

JL [Laughs] Legally, I cannot say, but, yes, based on real people or a mix of them.

What were you hoping to convey with the tone of the book?   

JL I wanted to capture the dark side of the world of glamour.

Having worked in the fashion industry for many years, have you experienced a dark side, or a seedier counterpoint to the glamour on the surface?   

JL Actually, the fashion world has changed so much from the ‘90s, which was wild. Now, it is very corporate.

Do you think the fashion industry has lost its dark side? Do you think it’s important to feed it and keep it alive?     

JL I think we need a bit of dark to outline the light in order to be interesting. Except for Steven Klein and Juergen Teller, I find most photographers bland, especially the ones who use to be so good! I will not name them.

What have been some of your craziest experiences working in fashion? How has Miami changed since the death of Gianni Versace?    

JL His death was the death knell of what made South Beach special.

Which character in the book do you identify with and why?  

JL Walker, of course, and also Jean. She lives on the edge but does not go over.

Who are some of your favorite writers? Was your development as a writer influenced by anyone in particular? 

JL Joan Didion was the main influence. I wanted it to be a male version of Play It as It Lays.

How does fiction play into the fantasy that you explore in your fashion work? Do you feel editorials are meant to tell a story?   

JL I feel the only photographer whose editorials are often like cinema is Steven Klein.

Are there any supermodels working today who remind you of Baby Doll?   

JL Yes, Pyper America.

Where would Walker be in the present day? What would he be doing?     

JL He works in advertising and takes Valium and has affairs on the side and is still married to December.

If The Infrared Summer were to be made into a movie, who would play Walker, Baby Doll, Jean, Hale, Walker’s mother, and Skipper?  

JL Gosh, Walker and Skipper are hard to cast, but here are some that come to mind: Pyper America as Baby Doll, Julianne Moore as Jean, Sharon Stone as Linda, the mother, Guy Pearce as Kelvin, the cult-like head doctor, and it would be great if Steven Klein directed. I predict he is the new Kubrick.

The Infrared Summer is available now here

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