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LÉGENDE MAGAZINE INSPIRING LIFE STORIES TOLD IN IMAGES

Video: Ludovic James Dias - Text: Kate Matthams Photos: be-poles

“Pictures have the final word, because we see them first.”

éric fottorino, founder of légende magazine

A legend of French media himself, Eric Fottorino is the journalist and writer behind over 30 books, and the brains behind four magazines. While his first three – Le 1, America and Zadig – were more conceptual, his latest venture is quite unique from the rest. Eric wanted to bring some of our best-loved contemporary legends to life, through words and, more importantly, pictures. This is why he chose print as his medium.

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éric fottorino

A magazine to spark and stimulate

 

Inspiration and hope, embodied by contemporary personalities; a much needed concept in these peculiar times. Legends who shaped us as we watched them grow, wether they are living or simply living on in our minds. When Eric decided to launch a new magazine, he wanted to tell the multiple facets of these much-loved figures’ life stories, putting an emphasis on photography, which so effectively transports the viewer into a new reality.

 

Eric’s magazines have always been very focused. Le 1 deals with a separate topic each week, interpreted by writers, artists, philosophers and intellectuals. America is a quarterly publication exploring Trump’s America until the end of his Presidency, with a US creative as guest-editor each time. Zadig takes a deep dive into an aspect of contemporary France each issue, through the words of writers and intellectuals.

 

For Légende, he wanted to do things slightly different. To take a broad view of society, through big pictures and even bigger life stories with multiple facets told by various editors; be they journalists, historians, psychologists or artists. His hallmark.

“We’re talking about people who aren’t perfect. A legend must inspire and have a good dose of mystery.”

éric fottorino
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The power of pictures

 

Eric wants to draw the readers straight into the reality of each subject’s life through photography. To provide a fresh visual slant on stories that are already familiar, through the seemingly unimportant details that anchors them in a reality far from their habitual pedestals. But reality has more than one face. From the very moment the readers see the cover, they are immediately struck by a single, untitled, powerful image. This idea was born during his days as CEO at Le Monde, where he learned the potential of a double-spread, standalone picture on a visit to the offices of the Guardian, in London. Immersive visual journalism, designed to inform and inspire.

“I wanted to get down to reality through pictures”

éric fottorino

 

 

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Zidane as a mirror to ourselves

 

To Eric, the body tells a lot about the mind, which is why he never really made the distinction between the two. Sport is a recurring theme in Le 1. For Légende’s first issue, he wanted to start out strong with French footballer Zinédine Zidane. In an age during which disparagement seems to be common currency, Eric believes people need to be able to look up to others with admiration. Telling the story of a successful life with grit and gusto, not deviating from its real path no matter how many twists and turns, is a powerful way of taking readers beyond the superficial. Zidane is the football player with the most red cards, his path has not been smooth. The hight point of Légende is acknowledging and, above all, telling the imperfection of such legendary figures. As the choice for the launch issue, Zidane inspires and intrigues. He will always make us dream, all the while remaining a mystery. What drives him? What has taken him from exceptional football champion to exceptional coach? A good magazine should trigger questions and a multifaceted portrait of a legend will push readers to question themselves.

 

“Even if we don’t care for football, we all have a bit of Zidane in us.”

éric fottorino
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Honoring social justice: Angela Davis

 

Légende is a magazine that speaks of our times. After the murder of George Floyd, Eric decided to pay tribute to this moment in time by choosing Angela Davis for the second issue. An African- American icon for her political and social activism. She is also gay, an intellectual, a communist, a Black Panther and at one point, one of the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives. Honoring her at this point was a natural step. Eric sent a Légende journalist to Birmingham, Alabama; her hometown and one of the most racist in the US, to report on the place she grew up and the environment that shaped her. Some generations will know her as soon as they see the cover. Younger people will not necessarily know or recognize her. They will see a stunning woman and be moved to discover her story, to understand what she has to say.

 

“She was at the heart of the civil rights movement, it’s incredibly wonderful that she is still alive to tell us her story.”

éric fottorino
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The day-to-day of big lives

 

After Zidane and Davis, what’s next? Légende will not only explore living icons, but focus on contemporary figures even after they are gone. The magazine’s hit-list includes leaders, artists in the widest sense of the term, actors, musicians and designers, to show that legends can rise from anywhere. Bringing their whole lives to light is the trickiest part. There is a documentary aspect to reporting; there are the anecdotes and images that reveal the person behind the name. Showing phases of splendor as well as intimacy. Kids who are growing up in the shadow of Zidane, kicking ball at the same place he first did as a kid. An extraordinary story from a 14-year-old Kylian Mbappé meeting Zidane for the first time.

 

“Zidane is a footballer, but before that, he is Zidane. Davis is a civil rights activist, but above all, she is Angela Davis.”

éric fottorino
be-poles - Le 11 Juillet 1998, veille de la finale, au centre d'entraînement de Clairefontaine. À gauche, assis, Bernard Lama ; puis de gauche à droite, Patrick Vieira, Zinédine Zidane, Bernard Diomède, David Trezeguet et Christophe Dugarry.
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Print is not dead

 

If successful editorial is about telling the story through an object that then becomes part of that story, then a print magazine is the only fitting medium to tell such tales. Designed as a reinvention of the photographic novel for our times, only print allows for the multiple intelligence of seeing images, assimilating text and experiencing real feeling at the same time. The unusual format, specifically designed to meet the needs of such exceptional stories, allows the reader to dive into the pictures. Whether the subject is living or dead, male or female, issue after issue, the pact made with the reader will remain the same. Attachment to a magazine is like belonging to a unique world. With Légende, Eric is mindful of the promise he made to the reader.

 

“Paper creates space for real emotion.”

éric fottorino
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