The gifted, Paris-based writer Stéphanie Cohen’s stellar practice extends across the creative arts, from fiction and theatre to copywriting and screenwriting for film. With a signature style that is at once confrontational and poetic, her tender, partly autobiographical writing has earned her critical acclaim from the literary, art and fashion worlds alike.
Having originally studied and trained in theatre, Cohen assisted the celebrated theatre directors Alain Satgé and Jorge Lavelli at the Théâtre National de la Colline from 1993–96. Leaving to teach and develop her own writing, Cohen engaged in major dramatic collaborations with the esteemed experimental director Eric Vigner, including adaptations of Aristophanes’ ‘The Birds’ (1996) and ‘L’Empio Punito’, the earliest known operatic interpretation of the myth of Don Giovanni, (2003). But it is for her famous ‘word portraits’ that the writer rose to prominence at the end of the 1990s, penning intimate characterisations of fashion and celebrity figures including designers Véronique Leroy, Yohji Yamamoto and Nicolas Ghesquière, French singer-songwriter and actor Alain Souchon and model Kate Moss for magazines such as Numéro and Paris Vogue.
Cohen contributes to a wide range of publications –from art catalogues and literary journals such as Perpendiculaire, to magazines such as Self-Service and Technikart– and her romantic novel Camille Judith Claire (2001) inspired the publishing house Denoël to found the series ‘Format Utile’, dedicated to experimental and progressive literature. She also writes for radio and has collaborated with photographers Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin on numerous exhibitions and events in France and Holland. Cohen’s voice and impressive linguistic command were a stand-out feature of Van Lamsweerde & Vinoodh’s mesmerising, erotic film short created for the Yves Saint Laurent Autumn/Winter ‘09–’10 presentation, in which Cohen’s words –rather than the film footage itself– were used to sensuously evoke Stefano Pilati’s collection.
By Penny Martin