back from the dead

The Return of Holiday, the American Travel Magazine

Holiday, the cult American travel magazine that launched in 1946 and closed in 1977, was known for its vivid accounts and stunning photographs of far-flung places from contributors like Ernest Hemingway, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Slim Aarons, and Gay Talese. The publication became, in the words of Vanity Fair’s Michael Callahan, “less a periodical than a rapturous travel bible — one that would re-invent the concept of American leisure.”

Now, after more than three decades, Holiday has returned. Parisian art director Franck Durand, who has worked with labels like Hermès, Chanel, and Anthony Vaccarello, bought the rights to the magazine three years ago, and now oversees its creative direction. He appointed fashion journalist Marc Beaugé —  known for his tongue-in-cheek column in M, le Magazine du Monde in which he “restyles” famous figures from Valérie Trierweiler to Kim Jong-un — as its editor-in-chief. The first issue was released last month, and the magazine will be published biannually. A lifestyle brand will follow, with designer collaborations and eventually a Holiday café in September 2015, in Paris’s posh 16th Arrondissement.

Frank Durand (Photograph by David Sims.) Photo: David Sims

The magazine’s current iteration has a very different feel from the original, though Durand said his aim of delivering distinctive visions of place remains very much the same. The comeback issue was inspired by the year 1969, and the sense of being “libére.” The layout is beautifully clean-cut and spare, but feels more restrained than that of its predecessor, less exuberant. Playful adventure has been replaced with manicured polish. (You can see some of Holiday’s original issues here, courtesy of a collector.) It hews, perhaps a little comfortably with Durand and Beaugé’s backgrounds, closer to a magazine de mode, with plentiful fashion photography, and interviews of fashion-world personalities.

A spread from Holiday’s spread, “Thinking of You, Edita.” (Photograph by Mark Peckmezian) Photo: Mark Peckmezian

Within the pages of the inaugural issue, readers will find a recipe for paella with ground saffron and spring onions and sardines (serves two). There’s an at-home sit-down with Dutch photographers Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin in their Simrel Achenbach–designed loft (“It took guts to go and live in Nolita in 1996, what with the drug dealers, street hawkers, and cruising police cars,” writes François Blet). Arthur Dreyfus’s piece about Ibiza explores its wild, discothèque reputation, noting offhand “the singer Nico from The Velvet Underground reportedly died in Ibiza after falling off her bicycle.” In his tribute to the first incarnation of Holiday, Julien Neuville describes the magazine’s original culture: “Tickets in first class and refunded travel expenses without asking to see receipts.”

Holiday is a magazine written in English, but its heart is French,” declares the magazine’s new website — though, in deference to the magazine’s roots, the new Holiday is printed in English, because, as Durand puts it, “keeping the language of origin made sense.” He admits it also gives a wider reader purview. “It’s more international,” he says. “Less regional.” Still, it resolutely maintains what Beaugé affirms is an “esprit français”: The entire Holiday team is francophone, they execute a French outlook, and the articles are written in French before being translated into English.

“Sardine / from the island,” a spread about the foods of Ibiza. (Photographed by Philippe Lacombe.) Photo: Philippe Lacombe

Luckily, the word holiday has the same connotation in both cultures — evoking relaxation and pleasure — but, if anyone knows how to take a holiday, it’s the French. Beaugé hasn’t booked his summer plans yet, but says he’ll likely head to Italy; Durand cites the Amalfi Coast as his favorite retreat. Simple pleasures and local color are at the heart of what he considers a smart travel ethos. “The most luxurious thing is to find a little well-preserved spot, with a restaurant serving local products, where the menu options aren’t printed in 12 languages,” he says.

Durand firmly divorces Holiday from a literal definition of vacation. The concept, he says, is experiential: “It’s more of a sensation.” Beaugé concurs: “I hate being a tourist; it’s maybe the worst human condition possible. I like tourism that isn’t touristic.” A holiday, he says, is about “taking possession of the place, meeting local people; not talking about monuments.”

*The interview with Durand has been translated from French. 

The Return of Holiday, the American Travel Mag