EXCLUSIVE: Inez & Vinoodh Add Design to Their Docket
More often than not, “love at first sight” is written off as bullshit. But somehow, Dutch husband-and-wife photography duo Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin manage to make it a believable concept. “We knew the first time we met,” said van Lamsweerde while eying Matadin from across the table in their downtown New York studio. The year was 1986, and they became acquainted while at art school. “We each had a different partner, so it just wasn’t possible. But we worked together on and off for six years without dating,” she continued. “And then we met on the street in Amsterdam, went for a coffee, and it all sort of clicked.”
In the more than two-and-a-half decades since that initial encounter, the couple has married, had a son, Charles, and built a veritable fashion and art photography empire. You’d be hard-pressed to flip through a magazine’s September issue without stumbling upon an Inez & Vinoodh-lensed editorial, or one of the Fall campaigns they shot for Jason Wu, Balmain, Valentino, or a bevy of other powerhouses. Oh, and of course, they’re responsible for Lady Gaga’s latest album cover and video. Their next creative endeavor? A collaborative jewelry collection with TenThousandThings. “It’s a love project,” explains van Lamsweerde. “And it’s about having something to commemorate the love you have for your partner, your child, your best friend, your co-worker…”
The seeds were planted last year while the couple was working on a charity project with TenThousandThings’ David Rees and Ron Anderson. Before they wrapped, Matadin enlisted the jewelers’ help to design a one-off necklace for van Lamsweerde—an oxidized silver chain garnished with a pavé drop, two linked circles (representative of the couple’s wedding rings), and a star pendant. “That’s a symbol for Charles, because his middle name is Star,” said van Lamsweerde. “I started wearing it right away, and everyone would ask me, ‘Where did you get that?’ So it grew into more.” The photographers worked with Rees and Anderson to create a carefully considered debut range, which began with ten of the intertwined wedding-band necklaces (ten because Charles celebrated his tenth birthday this year). Each piece (available in oxidized silver, 18-karat rose or yellow gold, or leather) is garnished with various charms—a ruby resembling a drop of blood, a turquoise heart, a diamond briolette, a white Tahitian pearl, and more. An eleventh necklace combines all the trinkets on one chain. The same concept applies to the collection’s delicate rings, earrings, and bracelets, and van Lamsweerde and Matadin plan to update the offering biannually.
Naturally, the pair shot their own campaign—a selection of black-and-white images that depict friends and lovers including Stefano Pilati and his boyfriend, Christiaan Schoonis; The Misshapes; Charles and his best friend, Stella (“It only took ten frames; he’s seen a lot of people strike poses for us,” said van Lamsweerde, laughing); musicians Lou Doillon and Keren Ann (van Lamsweerde describes them as sisters in singing and songwriting); and van Lamsweerde and Matadin themselves. The latter two images debut here.
The collection—priced between $450 and $19,000—can be found at Colette, Net-a-Porter, and Barneys New York this September, and will officially launch via a personal appearance at Barneys’ Madison Avenue store on September 7 at 3 p.m. The event will also celebrate the pair’s Byredo fragrance, 1996, and offer a sneak peek at their forthcoming Taschen book, Pretty Much Everything, which follows a traveling retrospective of the same title.
So considering they’ve conquered the worlds of photography, art, and—now—design, it seemed only appropriate to ask the photographers if they felt like they had done, well, pretty much everything. “No,” said Matadin. “We’re working on a movie…. It’s just meetings in Hollywood now. It will take a bit of time.” No doubt they’ll enjoy spending that “bit of time” together.