Baby blue and fabulous

He's young, he's cool, he goes out with Patrick Cox ... what more could he want? His own lifestyle magazine. Ruth Picardie meets Tyler Brule
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Indy Lifestyle Online
Tyler Brule. Tyler Brule (as in creme). Tyler Brule! (pronounced with an exclamation mark). Such a name - it's for real - practically demands that its owner become an absolutely fabulous style guru. Accordingly, as editor-in-chief and editorial director of furiously cool new lifestyle magazine Wallpaper* (don't forget the asterisk), Brule has, at 27, become the most fashionable man in the country. For the next 15 minutes, at least.

Wallpaper*, in case you haven't being drinking caffe latte in your dentist's Clerkenwell studio, is a new magazine devoted to interiors, travel and entertaining, aimed at the post-yuppie loft-dweller ("Mr Testosterone", in Brule's shorthand) and post-clubbing gay man ("Mr Metropolitan"). And women? "I don't want to say Ms Oestrogen," says Brule, who talks in speedy, throaty Canadian, "but yeah." The first issue is full of desperately severe architects who are into polished concrete floors and exposed lightbulbs, unsmiling models, and super-glamorous adverts for Ralph Lauren towels.

Who is this mini-impressario, shades balancing on his slicked-back hair, who has created this vision of "modern urban living"? Mercifully, as I learn over fresh lemonade in his sunny backyard, Mr Brule himself is simply Mr Metropolitan - think Isaac Mizrahi in his movie Unzipped mixed with Dale Winton, cultishly cool presenter of Supermarket Sweep.

There are two sides to this persona. On the one hand, Brule is terribly camp and silly and Absolutely Gayfabulous. His boyfriend of six years is the wildly successful shoe designer Patrick Cox. According to one acquaintance, he once asked for "buckets of cashmere" for Christmas. Meanwhile, Brule came up with the idea for Wallpaper* while recovering from an accident in the Chelsea town-house that is home to both man and mag. "It had peach carpets and peach walls. Just awful. Glazed curtains. Just dreadful. The garden was nothing. Everything was horrible." And he talks in a baffling fashion jargon. Why the asterisk? "It has a certain Sixties, flower, bathtub quality." His dream home, above the French Connection shop in King's Road? "It's very modern and it's very late Sixties/early Seventies."

On the other hand, Brule is too clever, funny and self-aware - though one acquaintance describes him as a "vicious, bad-mannered little freeloader" - to be a true fashion victim. He loves to slob out on mom's macaroni (she just came over from Canada for the launch): "White trash food. I've got a freezer full of it. And I'm best friends with Domino's Pizza." His dinner party companions? "I don't have media friends. That's a lie. I think I don't but I do." Clothes? "Could I own any more khaki trousers and navy blue shirts?" And his bijou and very messy rented non-loft? "I was supposed to move into a really cool flat on Portman Square and that fell through."

Nothing expresses this dichotomy better than the accident that, ultimately, led to Wallpaper*. This was no run-in with a polished concrete floor. Unbelievably, Tyler Brule, on assignment for Vibe and Sky magazine, got shot in Afghanistan. As Brule says: "They wanted poppy, glamorous reportage. We were doomed from the word go."

True to form, Brule begins the story (he's a natural raconteur) talking about the right look for Afghanistan. "For the first three days we had this big, white Land Cruiser with huge red crosses on the side of it and an enormous flag on the roof. The whole thing. And a great interpreter and driver. On the fourth day, there was a little shitty Toyota estate car that was baby blue - UN markings."

He segues into a shopping story. "Several months before we got there the national museum had been ransacked. So people said, If you see something that looks like Alexander the Great's breastplate, it probably is. Buy it! We were whizzing along this road and I did see these fantastic stainless steel ashtrays with big MiG fighters on top of them. Just extraordinary. They were huge! Stop the car, I said. I'm having those. Get them!" Soon afterwards, they got trapped in a snipers' alley. "I was wearing this green sweater," Brule recalls. "I could see holes. And blood coming out. So I though I must have been shot."

Brule survived every macho war reporter's fantasy assignment: 36 bullets in the car, "cut nerves and arteries and blood and everything", three days "morphined up" through the mountains to Pakistan; and non-urban modernist scars in both arms to prove it. He's also been to Liberia and the Lebanon (where he did a story about returning rich kids entitled "Beirut 90210").

However, when lettuce comes to iceberg (hotly tipped in the first issue), Brule falls firmly on the fluffy side, as befits a young style king. It started young: his first job, back home in Canada, was in the stockroom of WH Smith, where he was paid in magazines. "I loved Good Housekeeping in the late Seventies. How scary is that?"

After high school, he majored in journalism at Bennington College (alma mater of Bret Easton Ellis and Donna Tartt) but left after a semester. "It was a bit too earthy crunchy for one thing," says Tyler, lapsing into fashion code, "but it was all so contrived. We all wanted to follow the Grateful Dead around and read modern Russian literature and do lots of drugs but still make sure our mummies and daddies picked us up in the Jag when we need to go home and have all the latest pieces of luggage from Louis Vuitton. Very bizarre."

He moved to Britain in 1989, having got a job as a reporter/ presenter on the cutting edge yoof programme Reportage, but, after freelancing for a while, decided he wanted to get out of TV. "I just felt so dirty, setting up stories about hookers who said they'd slept with Kevin Costner - it was just so trashy that I started to write." (Though he did start dating Patrick Cox after an interview.) Highlights of his subsequent career as a print journalist? "I had my contributor's picture taken for Elle with Cindy Crawford."

Now, of course, he's a self-made style guru (he owns the magazine) and is living the Wallpaper* life. His last holiday was in Bali; on Sunday night, he had six people round for dinner and served turkey burgers on granary buns, with arugula and a dill and potato salad: "I think turkey burgers might be featured in the next issue of Wallpaper*." Other predictions include "this great new sparkling wine called Sonoma Pacific", Saturday breakfast and something called "intercontinental hotel Seventies Africa luxury living".

Any tips on the new lime green? "You mean lime green or you mean Prada green? A super, super pale washed-out colour, almost like a soft pistachio. Next year? A blue-ier version. Light blue and chocolate brown I think is kind of great. It's something that's having a moment right now, but I think it's got a few more miles on it."

Or maybe not. Patrick, a prototypical Mr Metropolitan, is into French salon style. "Patrick really likes Louis XVI, or whatever it is, but he has a great appreciation for the modern, too. If he had a second house - what am I saying, he already has a second house ... if he had a third or fourth house somewhere, maybe he'd do it up Fifties or early Seventies ...."

And the Wallpaper* cooking "moment"? "We started off terribly chic - one of us would cook a different lunch every day and we'd eat out here in the sun. Going down to the markets in Chelsea Green and getting tomatoes and just making great salads ... It got a bit scary. We've become great friends with Pret a Manger. Thai chicken sandwich is my recommendation of the month. Love it. I think it's actually waiting. Annabel!"

Which may not be very good for Wallpaper* and the urban modernist moment. But it's good news for Tyler Brule.

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