50 posts tagged "Steven Meisel"
“This is it. This is me. And I want you to come on my journey”: Jonathan Anderson on His Honest Debut Loewe Campaign-------
Despite what designers may tell you, there are few things in 2014 that are truly new. Everyone is inspired by something, whether it’s iconic photographs from decades past, seminal runway shows, an artist’s work, the list goes on. Jonathan Anderson, who showed his first collection for LVMH-owned heritage house Loewe in Paris this morning, is no different. But in his debut campaign for the house, which was unveiled yesterday, he actually did something quite fresh: He not only acknowledged his references, he highlighted them. The campaign, which was shot by Steven Meisel with art direction by M&M Paris (who also created Loewe’s revamped logo), is based on a 1997 Meisel editorial, which itself was based on an Alex Katz image. So alongside the new ads, Anderson has incorporated the old snaps. “Instead of hiding the inspiration, we just showed it,” offered Anderson, while snacking on some prawns in Paris Wednesday night. This honesty permeates his Spring ’15 menswear collection, too, which you can click through here. Ahead of his presentation, Anderson spoke with Style.com about the new ads, striving for timelessness, and why he never wants to feel like he’s “made it.”
This is the first big-budget campaign of your career. How did it go?
I keep pinching myself to believe that it’s all happening. It’s been nearly nine months in the making. When I was first thinking of Loewe, I had this 1997 Steven Meisel Vogue Italia editorial in mind, which was based on an Alex Katz picture. It was a group of kids on the beach, and I pitched it to the group. We were trying to work out how to tackle the house’s historical credentials. We got M&M on board to do the logo, and then it was, Well, how do we make imagery for this brand and show it as a cultural reference to fashion, a cultural reference to non-fashion? So we came up with the idea to reuse the 1997 Meisel images, and then we did new imagery with Meisel. We superimposed both, and used the idea of the fashion reference. There was no point in asking Meisel to re-create the image. It was more exciting to show his work now as art.
It feels very meta—this idea of Meisel referencing himself referencing Alex Katz. How does that tie in to your approach to this first collection?
I want Loewe to become a cultural brand. For me, the challenge was how do I take a [heritage] brand and make it modern for right now? We see these images in fashion repeated and copied and repeated and copied, and I thought it was better to just show them. They exist and they’re sharp and modern. I want Loewe to be an honest brand, and I want it to be open to new forms of fashion, new forms of imagery, and new forms of information. So by taking the still life of the bag and shooting it against a white backdrop, it is the bag. We’re not hiding anything—that’s it.
You included some pieces from the Loewe archive in the campaign. As an experimental designer, how did you go about working with Loewe’s archive to create your Spring ’15 imagery?
Well, I had to think, Do I reject the archive or do I embrace the archive? When I looked at the products from past decades, or when I looked at all the logos from years gone by, I loved what these things referred to culturally—what was happening at the time in photography, art, sports, music. All that was reflected in the logos. And when I looked at products, they did the same. In 1846, when trunks were necessary, Loewe had trunks. And then when it came to the seventies and the birth of airlines, you see the bags developed. Loewe has always been reactionary, and I wanted to show a work in progress, because this brand is a work in progress for me. So the campaign images are basically saying, “This is it. This is me. And I want you to come on my journey.”
What do you hope these images convey about the collection you’re sending down the runway?
That clothing exists in the world, in many forms and many decades. And ultimately in the end, you never really own it. It becomes part of the zeitgeist. I want people to see this as an edit—a very personal edit of a man’s wardrobe. This is my first major serious job, and it’s a big undertaking, and I want people to see that this is what it is, and we’re going to take it in many different angles, but fundamentally, it will be culturally aware.
The campaign shots you sent over are very accessories-driven, but there’s one striking image of a model wearing a look from the menswear collection, posing against a Saran-wrapped backdrop. Can you tell me about this photograph?
The concept is the idea of the nothingness. It’s the purity of the silhouette and the character within. I wanted to convey the idea that you were unpacking something, and that’s what it was. I love that this image looks like a work in progress. Ultimately, it’s a jersey suit, and in my mind the Loewe man is on the beach, in a jersey suit and espadrilles. He’s on the beach and being cool, even if it’s been boiling hot all day. I like the lightness, the airiness. I love how the flesh looks with the jersey. It has this naive effect. And it’s not anything more than that. I didn’t want to rush into the brand. I want to nurture it.
Did you feel that you had to go a more commercial route for these images than you would with ads for your own label?
I never thought about it as, “We have to be commercial.” I think that’s always a trap. I was just thinking, Does this feel right? The product has to make sense for me and for the consumer. I think this is consumer-led advertising because it’s coming right now—the product will be in the store in the next couple of weeks, so I want to know what the customer is thinking. I need to know what the buyer is thinking. That’s the nerve-racking part, but it’s also the most exciting part.
I remember interviewing you when you did your first campaign for J.W. Anderson. It was beautiful, but very DIY. Now you’re working with some of the biggest people in the business. Do you feel this campaign is a “made it” moment?
I don’t know if it’s a “made it” [moment]. I think, as a designer, you never really feel like you’ve “made it.” And if you do, it’s kind of worrying. I’m just so grateful that Steven and M&M wanted to work with me, and I think this campaign is a milestone for Loewe. It encompasses what this brand has fundamentally been about for many years. But we live in the day of social media, where images are devoured and devoured. People who were not involved in the fashion world would not know if Meisel’s image was shot today or twenty years ago. That’s what’s so interesting about Meisel. His work has got that element of timelessness, and that’s something I want in my products—for them to feel timeless.
How are you feeling leading up to the big debut?
It’s a lot of work. We’ve got our new building. We have the advertising campaign. We have the menswear collection, we have the bag collection, everything. And then it goes into stores in a couple weeks. There are a lot of balls in the air, but I have an amazing team of people who have been incredible. I’m very lucky that someone has basically said, “We trust you to do it.” I want to enjoy it. I’m looking forward to seeing that beach scene on a kiosk. I’m looking forward to seeing it in a magazine. I’m looking forward to seeing clothing on people. Loewe has become my brand, but it is Loewe. I’m here as a guest, but we’re rebuilding, and we’re rebuilding a house that has incredible craft and technology and details that I’ve never seen before in my entire life. Every day, I get up a 6 a.m. because I’m excited. And I think that’s what it should be about.
On June 11, Jason Wu will merge good art with a good cause when he hosts the Second Annual Young Friends of ACRIA Summer Soirée. But his involvement with the AIDS research and education foundation goes far beyond turning up at the benefit and smiling for Billy Farrell. “I want to help pave the way for my generation to get involved,” said Wu, who sits on ACRIA’s board. “I love what ACRIA does, and it’s great for me to be able to work with people I admire, like Francisco Costa and Donna Karan.”
In order to help raise funds for the organization, the designer has put together an extensive auction of photographs (fashion and otherwise), the proceeds from which will naturally go to ACRIA. “Last year I collaborated with artist Nate Lowman on T-shirts, and I wanted to continue the art-and-fashion element,” said Wu. “So I thought it would be nice to curate a collection of photographs by young and established photographers that I admire.”
Open for bidding now on paddle8.com, the auction includes Inez & Vinoodh’s Guinevere Descending a Staircase; Herb Ritts’ 1991 portrait of a pensive Karl Lagerfeld; and Bruce Weber’s erotic snap Gregory and Sacha, Nantucket, Mass, 2012, as well as works by up-and-comers, like Kevin Tachman’s moody shot from Rick Owens’ Fall ’13 show, Kelly Klein’s punk-tinged image, and Gregory Harris’ uplifting 2008 photograph New Hope.
“I’d like the younger generation of creative people to be able to afford and have these things,” offered Wu. To wit, starting bids range from $400 (for Simon Burstall’s grayscale image) to $6,000 (for a Weber or Steven Meisel). Sure, it’s no small investment, but these are pretty appealing prices when it comes to big-name photographers. “This is a great way for people who are really interested in collecting to get an incredible work that most people in their 20s and 30s wouldn’t be able to buy.” A collector as well as a philanthropist (his latest acquisition was an Inez & Vinoodh-lensed print of his Spring ’14 campaign with Karen Elson), Wu places himself in this category. “I’ll definitely be bidding on everything!” he laughed. Why not join him?
Nicolas Ghesquière continues to mold his vision for Vuitton today. WWD reports that the designer has tapped not one, but three leading photographers—Bruce Weber, Annie Leibovitz, and Juergen Teller—to lens his first campaign for the house. Marc Jacobs often worked with Steven Meisel during his reign at Vuitton, so it will be interesting to see how Ghesquière’s creative relationship with the above bold-faced names develops—if you’ll remember, he tapped Teller to shoot the conceptual Fall ’14 lookbook images (left), which debuted exclusively on Style.com the day of the runway show. Ghesquière’s Fall campaign will feature Liya Kebede (left) and Freja Beha Erichsen (both of whom walked in his Fall show), as well as actress Charlotte Gainsbourg. This move further proves that Ghesquière at Vuitton is a defining force to be reckoned with—as if there was ever any doubt.
My mother used to work with Haven, a shelter for abused women, when we lived in Detroit. One night, she came home very shaken up after a meeting for the charity. I asked her what was wrong, and she recounted a 911 call she’d listened to, in which a little boy was trying to save his mother, who had been beaten by her boyfriend. The boy kept saying, “My mommy’s not moving,” and just before hanging up, told the operator, “My mommy’s dead.” I was 10 years old at this time, and at that age, I had no idea such horror existed in the world. I sobbed for hours, and to this day, I feel sick when I think about that little boy, that haunting call, and that woman whose life was stolen from her.
I don’t care who shoots it—a scenario like that one cannot, and should not, be translated into a fashion photograph. Franca Sozzani, however, attempted to do just that in her April issue of Vogue Italia, which hits newsstands today.
Sozzani, who serves as the editor in chief of Condé Nast Italia, as well as Vogue Italia, is an original and often fearless creative thinker, and she has frequently addressed hot-button issues through the pages of her glossy magazine. In 2005, she ran a clever editorial about plastic surgery. In 2007, she produced an issue that tackled the elite’s rising obsession with rehab. These editions sparked controversy, too—and Sozzani should be commended for her commitment to asking important questions through her often forward-thinking spreads. But the abovementioned problems more or less affect the privileged classes, and the shoots were done in a certain tongue-in-cheek manner. That approach is not appropriate when discussing domestic abuse.
I’m sure that April’s Steven Meisel-lensed cover story, dubbed “Horror Movie,” was conceived with the best intentions. In a statement, Sozzani explained, “Violence towards women has never been so hard-hitting as it is now, so reminiscent of a ‘real horror show’…The intent is in no way to shock, but rather to raise awareness of a horror that must be condemned!” However, “Horror Movie” takes away from the seriousness of the topic at hand.
The first problem is that, while it’s allegedly meant to raise awareness and provoke conversation, this spread is still selling clothes. It’s using violence to push product. The images—like the one of Natalie Westling laying bloodied and lifeless on the floor in a red Moschino dress, ruffled Melissa Levy garters, and Alexander Wang shoes, her lover slumped in a chair, staring at her while drenched in her blood—are underscored by clothing credits. How can a photograph like this be seen as respectful and empowering to domestic abuse victims, or even taken seriously, when it reads, “chiffon smock, Marc Jacobs” in the corner?
Furthermore, these images are glamorous. They star young women dressed to the nines in the hottest new wares. The models’ faces are elegantly painted, and the girls look pretty while cowering in the corner, hiding from a man with a knife, or grasping at a railing, pressed against a wall smeared with blood. Abuse is not glamorous, and the brutalization of women should never be portrayed as beautiful, especially in a fashion magazine. Additionally, these images are based off of classic horror films, and by design there’s an almost comic quality to them. In a different context, as a commentary on our addiction to the nasty thrills of the ever-popular horror genre, say, they might have worked. The problem arises when Sozzani claims the intent is specifically to raise awareness of domestic abuse. Abuse isn’t funny, period.
Of course, we’ve seen images like these before—in varying degrees of offensiveness and insensitivity. There’s Helmut Newton, whose sexualized photographs of naked women in heels or bonded with rope bordered on misogyny. There’s the particularly macabre Guy Bourdin, who often posed models as if they were dead—one of his snaps features a made-up woman lying in a pool of blood; another depicts two dead models, the first hanging from a noose, the second naked on a table. “Fear is something that we, despite ourselves, want to experience. And I think the violence does add glamour in a kind of perverse way,” Nick Knight told the Guardian while speaking about Bourdin’s photographs back in 2003. I don’t necessarily agree with these images. But in the cases of Newton and Bourdin, the male character isn’t pictured, there’s an air of mystery and ambiguity, and the women aren’t explicitly being abused. And—though again I wouldn’t necessarily concur as quickly as some male critics would—you can argue that these are two great artists walking the line in the way that great artists are driven to do.
Vogue Italia‘s latest outing also calls to mind last year’s Vice editorial, in which models were snapped while pretending to commit suicide. Unsurprisingly, the shoot sparked public outrage. Fashion photographs have an element of fantasy, and, as Knight mentioned, there is something unsettlingly sexy about death—this has been the case throughout history (Sir John Everett Millais’ 1852 painting Ophelia comes to mind). But suicide, and domestic abuse, don’t fall into a “fantasy” category. They’re tragedies that real people struggle with every day. “Photography is such a powerful medium, which we read as being a literal depiction of reality,” explained curator and fashion historian Dr. Valerie Steele when I asked her about this particular issue. “It can be very problematic when you have images of violence that have been staged for a photograph. The image of the fashion model being physically attacked and murdered is one that has considerable existence in pop culture, considering films like the Eyes of Laura Mars ,” she continued. “That further complicates the issue of trying to make a photograph have an ideological point against violence, since the exploitation of violence against beautiful young fashion models is something that has another fantasy existence, apparently.”
It seems strange to me that, judging by social media and editorial responses, people can’t seem to make up their minds about “Horror Movie.” Perhaps they’re afraid to take a stance because, as I mentioned before, it may have been created with the best intentions. But just because one’s intentions are good, doesn’t mean the results are, too.
During her twenty-six-year tenure at Vogue Italia, Sozzani has successfully confronted a bevy of heavy global concerns. For instance, her July 2008 issue, which featured only black models, was the magazine’s best-selling edition. She has proven to be one of the most progressive editors of the last thirty years, constantly championing young designers; driving Italian fashion forward conceptually, commercially, and creatively; and helping her readers to understand fashion in a broader cultural context. This misstep won’t change that.
Sozzani’s more tasteful attempts, as well as efforts by the likes of Vivienne Westwood (always fighting to save the environment), Iman (who frequently speaks out on behalf of models of color), and Riccardo Tisci (who’s aimed to rectify the lack of diversity in the biz with his multicultural runways and Spring ’14 ad campaign), prove that fashion can have an impact. Considering ours is one of the biggest industries on the planet, we can absolutely change the world through fashion. We can get important messages across in magazines, during runway shows, through garments, and in newspaper articles. We just can’t do it like this.
Olivier Saillard has struck again. For Papier Glacé, the second exhibition he has curated at Paris’ newly renovated Musée Galliera, Saillard riffled through one hundred years of Condé Nast’s photography archives, pulling mainly from a handful of international Vogues (American, British, German, French, and Italian), to spin a selective history of fashion-as-dialogue. The 150-image show scans like a who’s who of 20th-century lensmen: Images by De Meyer, Horst, Clark (above, right), Schatzberg, Penn, Man Ray, Parkinson (above, left), Beaton, Blumenfeld, Lindbergh, Meisel, Turbeville (below), and Weber, among others, feature in the show. The snaps are accompanied by a dozen or so dresses and accessories, such as an evening coat by Doucet (1913), a Mondrian cocktail dress by Yves Saint Laurent (1965), and a red molded bustier on loan from Issey Miyake (1980).
“Fashion-related exhibitions so often tend to run chronologically, looking toward the past,” offered Paris Vogue editor Emmanuelle Alt, “whereas a magazine comes out every month, it’s life, and it’s constantly changing. [With this show] you see what each brings to the other.” Saillard concurred, noting that fashion magazines are akin to archeologists.
For Alt and for Paris Vogue, the eighteen months spent collaborating on Papier Glacé was far from an end in itself. Rather, it marked the beginning of a new chapter for the nearly one hundred-year-old publication, with the establishment of the Vogue Paris Fashion Fund—a new initiative that will allow the Galliera to make new acquisitions, be they photographs, garments, accessories, or beyond. Launched with a contribution of 100,000 euros, the fund will be renewed annually and receive additional backing via fundraising.
When asked for his wish list, Saillard offered names ranging from Margiela to Corinne Day, Comme des Garçons, Junya Watanabe, Iris van Herpen, and Jurgen Teller. “I am always interested in auteurs. To look at our archives, you’d think that everyone has always worn Balenciaga,” he quipped. “I plan to shop myopically: Sometimes the exceptional can be found in an ‘ordinary’ shirt.”
It’s a fair bet that spending the Galliera’s first windfall won’t be too difficult for Saillard, but new acquisitions will be kept under wraps until July 9, the night of the first Vogue Paris Fashion Fund gala event, during haute couture.