In 1992, Elein Fleiss and Olivier Zahm started the magazine Purple Prose as a reaction against the superficial glamour of the 1980s; much as a part of the global counterculture at the time, inspired by magazines like Interview, Ray Gun, Nova, and Helmut Newton's Illustrated, but with the aesthetics of what usually is referred to as anti-fashion. Based on their personal interests and views; Purple was, and in a sense still is, made much in the same spirit of the fanzine. The magazine became associated with the "realism" of the new fashion photography of the 1990s, with names like Juergen Teller, Terry Richardson, Wolfgang Tillmans, and Mario Sorrenti.
In the introduction of the Purple Anthology, Zahm writes:
"We launched Purple Prose in the early 1990s without any means, and without any experience, because we wanted to make a magazine that was radically different. We wanted to support the artists around us that no one else supported, much less talked about. [..] Purple is the portrait of a generation, I mean it's a portrait of those who embody their times. At the same time, it's a portrait of myself and Elein Fleiss, our ideas, our lives, and our aesthetics."
In 2004 Purple divided into Purple Fashion published by Purple Institute based in Paris and New York, and Purple Journal, published by Les Editions Purple, based in Paris.