Joerg and Maria Koch are in Paris at Silencio, the semi-private nightclub conceived by David Lynch. It’s a subterranean labyrinth of rooms, intended to be a place for creative types to exchange ideas, like the Parisian literary salons of the 18th century or Zurich’s Cabaret Voltaire, where Dadaists hung out in the early 1900s, or Studio 54. But tonight it’s simply the best party in town—perhaps the best party on the planet—and the Kochs are hosting. It’s a Paris Fashion Week get-down. Bella Hadid is here. So is A$AP Rocky. Virgil Abloh is DJ’ing. Outside, the crowd is twice as large as the crowd inside, and it’s growing. But Joerg and Maria can’t stay long. They’re getting up early to see their friend and business partner, Justin O’Shea, launch SSS World Corp with a guerrilla fashion show on the street outside the Ritz Hotel. Then it’s back to Berlin, to St. Agnes, the 1960s brutalist church where they live with their kids and dog, Toastie, to work on all things 032c: the magazine, the apparel brand, and the cultural instigation mechanism they run together.
“032c is like our last name,” Maria told me when I was visiting them at St. Agnes recently. “Everything we do, whatever it is, is under this roof.” 032c is the quintessential magazine for a generation that feels no obligation to systems and structures put in place before its time. It is a publication that sometimes operates as an agency, or as a gallery, or as a fashion brand.
“We’re always interested in where energy is,” Joerg says. Originally from Wuppertal, Germany, he moved to Berlin from New York in the mid-’90s, not long after the Berlin Wall came down. “It was all construction sites,” he says, “so you imagined this amazing future to be possible. That timing was, for me, super instrumental.” Berlin became a bohemian refuge, a city where the creative energy had already been building for years. David Bowie and Iggy Pop spent time there. “The city was poor,” Joerg says. “There were not many jobs, and there was absolutely no interest in making money.” So he opened a project space with two friends. “And we didn’t sell anything—we didn’t want to sell anything.” One show featured punk and skate photography by Glen E. Friedman; another was on Metabolism architecture from Japan. “And out of that 032c was born.”
Joerg founded 032c in 2001. The magazine’s name comes from a Pantone code for red,and the first three issues all had solid-red covers. “It’s not how you would start a commercial magazine,” he says. But commercial success would come, partly because the magazine was perfectly timed and positioned for the new era that was just getting under way in fashion. “There was this new development of, like, Helmut Lang, Raf Simons, Hedi Slimane, and you could relate to it, whereas ten years before, I could not have related to fat Karl Lagerfeld. Fashion became this really important engine for visual culture.”
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