A Conversation with Lisa Eisner: former Vogue editor, author, photographer, and now co-founder of Greybull Press

Rodeo Girl photographed by Lisa Eisner

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by Damion Matthews

Greybull Press was founded in Los Angeles by Lisa Eisner and Roman Alonso. Though the company has been in business for less than a year, it has managed in that short time to publish three exceptional books likely to wind up in every fashion lover's library: "Rodeo Girl," photographed by Lisa Eisner; "Height of Fashion," which Eisner authored with Roman Alonso; and now "Kustom," the first book by photographer Dewey Nicks. Ms. Eisner recently spoke with us about her photographic work, her company, and her plans for the future.

When Lisa Eisner was growing up in Cheyenne, Wyoming, the rodeo was the one big highlight of the year. For ten days, everyone in town would become a cowboy or cowgirl. Young Lisa would decorate a tandem bike with her friend, dress up, and ride through the big parade. "She was the girl, I was the boy. I had short hair and Converse sneakers and I was just very androgynous," she says. It was then that she had her first fashion epiphany.

"I remember on that tandem bike riding around these rodeo queens and just sort of looking at them and thinking, 'Well, wait a minute, we are the same gender here. Something is wrong with this picture!' They're looking all glamorous and all dolled up, with everything but the kitchen sink, with their tiaras and their banners and their belt buckles and their do-dads and their shine and their color, and the sun hitting them, and the light is bouncing everywhere. It was completely mesmerizing. It was sort of like, 'Oh my god, they're girls, I'm a girl. I'm going to -- I'm going to switch over!'"

She never became a rodeo queen herself, but she has been mesmerized by them ever since. So much so that when she decided to become a publisher a few years ago, her first book was a photographic record of the rodeo girls as she saw them -- sequined icons of feminine strength among the dusty down-n-dirty world of the American west. "Rodeo Girl" has been one of the most popular fashion books in recent history; an influence even on Madonna, who copied its style for her "Music" CD.

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