Inside The Glamorous Life Of Joan Juliet Buck Former Vogue editor Joan Juliet Buck talks about her memoir, The Price of Illusion.
Posted on May 18, 2017 07:00am


When it comes to childhoods, Joan Juliet Buck's seems tailor-made for the woman who would go on to become the first American editor of French Vogue. As she details in her new memoir, The Price of Illusion (Simon & Schuster), the daughter of esteemed film producer Jules and glamorous actress Joyce learned French before English. She vacationed at a family villa in the south of France, where frequent guests included her parents' close friends Lauren Bacall, Peter O'Toole, and Federico Fellini. John Huston was her godfather and Anjelica Huston remains her oldest friend.

Buck made her own mark as a writer and social commentator in the '60s and '70s in London after dropping out of Sarah Lawrence College and working at Glamour. In New York, she wrote for Vanity Fair, Interview, and Women's Wear Daily; after working at American Vogue as its movie critic from 1990 to 1994, she was named the editor-in-chief of French Vogue. Back in the country of her childhood, she spent seven years transforming the magazine from a perfumed relic to a major cultural touchstone with a burgeoning circulation.

For all of Buck's privilege, her gift to Vogue, and to her friends, is an absence of elitism and a good dose of self-deprecating humor. As she jokes about her willingness to divulge bad wardrobe choices in her book, "I made them especially at French Vogue. Look at the shoes! Until then I was dressing in what I wanted to wear and I looked pretty good, but then at Vogue I'm wearing what I should wear and I can't get it right!"

Buck's sartorial errors did nothing to dissuade the famous men who would become her lovers, including Donald Sutherland, Jerry Brown, and Eric de Rothschild, about whom she writes with unflinching candor. "One of the things that was always in the way of writing a memoir was that I was involved with public figures and didn't feel the right to tell my story since many of the relationships were secret," says Buck, who is also the author of two novels.

Ultimately, she found her voice. "I'm not passing judgment on anyone," she says. During the five years she spent working on the book, Buck wrote about unpleasant experiences, including sudden losses and professional betrayals. Of revisiting those, she says, "I don’t know that it was healing, but it was an interesting exercise." She adds with a laugh, "I've often been in the right place at the right time. But I've also been in the wrong place at the right time, too."

By David DeNicolo | Originally published in Watch! Magazine, April 2017.

Photo Credit: Danil Golovkin (Buck); Malerapaso/Getty Images (Book).