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La Crema

A Toast to the Tastemakers

Top photos by Sophy Holland | Bottom photos by Michael Sharkey

For nine years, Out has dedicated an annual issue to a group of Tastemakers, singling out LGBT men and women who have enlightened our world.

Taste is a slippery business. One person's trash is another person's art, or to quote Whoopi Goldberg, "Not everybody's gonna dig what I dig, but I reserve the right to dig it." As for Oscar Wilde, another great arbiter on art and life, his philosophy was simple: "I have the simplest tastes. I am always satisfied with the best." That was not the first or last thing Wilde had to say about taste, but it was the most pertinent to Out's annual Tastemakers Issue--a search for the men and women behind the best, most creative currents in modern life.

There are good reasons this makes sense for a brand like Out, starting with the preponderance of queer people in the visual arts, such as fashion and interior design, but also because of our well-earned reputation as "early adopters." There's no question that the LGBT community plays an outsize role in the popularizing of ideas and trends, not only as consumers, but also as creators. Taking the broad view that taste informs everything, from the clothes we wear to the books we read, and from the architecture of our streets to the art in our galleries, we've assembled, year after year, a gallery of tastemakers whose passion and verve lights fires. To quote Tom Ford, who appeared on the cover of our inaugural Tastemakers issue in 2007, "People think things are effortless for me, and they're not. I spend an enormous amount of energy and time thinking and worrying about all these things so they can appear effortless." It's that skill--of making the extraordinary seem effortless--that runs like a connecting thread through the men and women singled out as Out's Tastemakers over the years.

There's something else, too, maybe the most important factor: imagination. Whether it's photographer Ryan McGinley's radiant images of evanescent youth, the celebrated menus of restaurateur Jody Williams, or the spellbinding words of the literary editor and novelist, David Ebersoff, whose book, The Danish Girl, is now a movie starring Eddie Redmayne, these are people who plunder their imaginations to create rich, beautifully-wrought worlds for others to step into. "I don't know if people of gay, lesbian, or queer status are more active dreamers than others," our 2011 tastemaker, the playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney, told us. "But when you are pressed to have an inner world for yourself, you populate it with some fantastic people and things."

Over the years the Tastemakers Issue has included people both at the cusp of their fame, such as McCraney, who subsequently won a McArthur "Genius Grant", as well as fashion designers like Joseph Altuzarra and Alexander Wang, and those at the height of their fame, such as the prolific songwriter and producer Linda Perry, or the decoupage artist John Derian. They are daydreamers and idealists, but also savvy entrepreneurs who have helped to shape the tastes and aspirations of the wider public, as surely as P.T.Barnum or Louis Comfort Tiffany did in their own era. The rewards are obvious. In applying their talents and energies to the things they love, they help enlarge the universe for all of us.

So let's raise a glass and toast to these arbiters of taste and style and to those who make a statement with their passions, influence and craft. They show how beautiful standing out can be. They strive to redefine what's stylish, powerful and creative. What's in the glass? Try any of the six excellent wine options in La Crema's 2015 Fall Pack. La Crema celebrates these statement makers everywhere, daring and confident with a unique point of view, personality, individual craft, sense of style, and an appreciation for distinctly elegant wine.

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