Acne Studios has rarely met an out-of-the-box idea it hasn’t liked. So though for most labels, publishing its own limited-edition collection of rodeo-rider portraits from a mid-century physique photographer wouldn’t be the first order of business, here it is. And so last night, with its usual clutch of models in tow—Hanne Gaby Odiele, Jacquelyn Jablonski, Ji Hye Park, et al.—Acne launched Rodeo, a hardbound book of photos from the collection of New Yorker critic Vince Aletti. Must be something in the air lately. As Hedi Slimane’s latest editorial suggested: Cowboys—they’re a thing.
Bruce of Los Angeles, little-known except among physique-photo aficionados, has nevertheless been influential among later photographers. Aletti traced elements of his style in the work of Mapplethorpe, Herb Ritts, and Bruce Weber. (The similarities were in some cases so striking, you could probably have bylined the book Bruce of Los Weber.) “It’s clear that he’s looked at it and had some appreciation of this period of work,” Aletti said between tête-à-têtes with Fran Lebowitz last night. “And I’d imagine he knows [of] some other photographer named Bruce.”
Unlike much of the photographer’s oeuvre, these rodeo shots are naturalistic, of real guys (rather than models) in their own clothes (rather than nude). Of course, exceptions apply. In any case, Acne took the opportunity to create a little capsule collection of clothes around them, too, for those who prefer to wear, rather than page through, their vintage beefcake. There are T-shirts, glammy cowboy boots stitched with appliqués of cowboys, and the traffic-stopping shirt modeled last night by the label’s Louise du Toit, available at Acne shops now.