The D. Graham Kostic Interview

DGK.JPGToday is my dad's birthday. Here is a photographic tribute to him that I'm not sure I can top. Happy birthday, Dad! Also, a reminder--the next Funny Ha-Ha is in a week!

Today's interviewee is sort of technically family. He is married to my cousin's cousin, so I get to see him at the odd baptism or Easter. However, both because of children and because the conversation style in my family can sometimes be "HEY EVERYBODY LET'S TALK AT THE SAME TIME" I never actually get to ask him questions about his work in style and media, so I interviewed him! He is the creative and editorial director at Chicago's delightful and engaging fashion and style webmag Glossed & Found, as well as the creative director of the Randolph Street Market. You can find Graham's beautiful Instagram here and the Market's here.

What does the "D" really stand for?
Dennis. It's my dad's name. The story goes: my mom always wanted to name me Graham--after Graham Nash. And subsequently, I have a soft spot for CSNY. Mostly Young, though. My parents loved the name Graham. And my mom thought Dennis Graham Kostic sounded better than Graham Dennis Kostic. And she's right, because she's just naturally gifted when it comes to those kinds of things (and other things too, but really good at those kinds of things). I had started an internship with Modern Luxury Magazines and began writing small style pieces for them and when they asked about my byline, I added the "D." so people would take me more seriously. I have always liked my name.

How did you transition from theater to fashion and style?
One day I was teaching an early ballet movement class to five year-olds at a dance studio and the next day, I was styling my first shoot for a local Chicago magazine. The worlds are closely in line: very aesthetically driven and it takes a certain level of historical knowledge to understand trends/sets/costumes. And now, I've got a little of both worlds by being able to be on the G&F camera and also have an authentic and authoritative voice in the Chicago media scene. But one of these days, I'm going to get back up on that stage, goshdarnit! I really miss it.

Did you watch our best of 2015? It's a good one:

What do you consider a formative big break for you?
I can't pinpoint one moment, but there is one person I have had the pleasure to work with to whom I attribute a lot of my professional success. With my first job, I assisted the creative director of a chain of regional magazines. This woman was incredible. She pulled together a team of photographers and stylists and hair and makeup artists seamlessly. Everything about what she did was done with extreme grace, incredible patience and always a conviction that she was making the correct and swift decision--and she did so in a way that never sacrificed the integrity of her team, the creative drive of the publication or herself. This foundation was invaluable as I launched my own career and I always keep her in my mind when faced with challenges. As much as I respected her point of view when it came to creative decisions, it was her compassion that always had me in awe. Kindness is such a powerful and surprising trait today--it sometimes slaps you in the face and you don't even realize the impact until you find yourself singing at the top of your lungs with your windows down on the Dan Ryan.

Can you share a story of a photo or video shoot going completely awry? In TV and movies they look so glamorous but they must be something of a choreographed slog.
One time, we were shooting with a local chef who just opened a new oyster bar concept. I'm always looking for ways to do more on our shoot. Sitting and talking about oysters is fine, but I wanted him to take us to the fish market to really get a different perspective on what he picks and how to shuck. I like getting our hands dirty. I didn't, however, warn my faithful and dedicated filmmaker Emily Hard about our excursion, thinking we were going to a sort-of Parisienne style fish market with oysters on ice and people shopping with big baskets and brightly striped, only-to-be-found-in-Europe awnings. Close your eyes and think of how romantic and relaxed that setting sounds. Now think of the exact opposite location. We pull up to this fish factory. Okay, that's cool and fun. We walk inside to freezing temperatures. There's fish slop and what we can only think are little fish guts on the floor. Again, all fine and good except that Emily has on a tank top, a skirt and sandals. Sandals in a fish factory!

Tell us about the cool history of your famously wonderful condo.
Well, first off, it's a house. Let's get it straight. We love our house. It used to be a garage and a soda factory back in the day. And then we got it and we made that thing our own. We love our house. It's just an ugly big brick box of a building. But inside--oh! Inside!--is a real treasure trove of design and cool finds. My husband Fran and I exchanged our vows in our courtyard and that was really special. You could feel the house just soak up the good vibes like a sponge.

Other interviews mention that you're a collector, so, what's your secret for maintaining a collection and not letting it get all dusty or letting your house look crazy?
Talk to me in five years and I might just be that crazy collector with way too many knick knacks. I'm definitely on the way. I just buy what I love. If I look at it and I love it, I buy it and I find a space for it. And collections have built from that. The fact of the matter is: our house does look a little crazy. I love when people come over for the first time and I can see their eyes bounce from object to object. I would love to have a live feed of their internal monologue: "Oh! That taxidermy boar head is wearing a Mickey Mouse hat." My school of thought: If you think something is pretty, put it out. Put it somewhere that everyone can see it. Or heck, put it somewhere where only you can see it. I have a little porcelain piece in my medicine cabinet because it makes me happy. Let your house get a little wacky--all those pieces are great conversations starters. For us, each mini-collection and vignette of objects is a visual map to really good and really happy memories.

How would you describe Chicago style, especially compared to other big cities?
You know what: I'm not too sure these days. I'm not sure there is a specific look that really encapsulates "Chicago Style." With the total takeover of social media obsession--Barf!--in our culture, we are a copy cat nation now. It's hard to tell what is authentic these days. The funny thing about my job is that although we're a style-driven magazine, I actually couldn't care less what people wear. And I think I've just stopped noticing those overarching trends because of it. I just don't care what you wear. I do care about how what you wear makes you feel--and if it makes you feel confident and flirty and fun and giddy, wear it every freaking day.

What's a typical Chicago thing that all Chicago people are supposed to be into that you don't like?
The Air and Water Show.

In fact, everybody who knows you mentions your positivity. What's something you get really crabby about?
Oh Claire, I cannot stand the Air and Water Show weekend.

How does it feel to be the 417th person interviewed for
It feels incredible. I really like what you're doing here.