Sunday, 20 October 2013

Jordan Sullivan: The Young Earth for Dazed Digital

After artistic endeavours like capturing New Mexico’s Indian summers for The Ghost Country, Jordan Sullivan’s latest project saw the Houston-born photographer leave behind the desolate American desert for the scenic splendour of Iceland.

The resulting volume one of his Wandering Days book series, A Young Earth, mixes Sullivan’s evocative landscape imagery and voyeuristic portraits with poetry, prose and historical fiction anecdotes. The photo-text novella tells the story of two twenty-something Americans attempting to come to grips with their own mortality, friendship and destructive love triangles of the past - all whilst trekking through the idyllic Icelandic landscape.

Dazed Digital caught up with Sullivan to speak about the recreation of forgotten family photographs, car breakdowns in the middle of the Nordic mountains and trips from heaven to hell and back. 

Dazed Digital: Where did your inspiration for the story come from?

Jordan Sullivan: I don't usually work from inspiration, I just work every day. I do follow paths and ideas, and have always been interested in the idea of ending at another beginning - the end of youth, the end of love, what comes next, the new worlds we discover when we finally move on. I knew this story needed to deal with death, specifically dying young. My friends and I were confronting some of the same things the characters in my story are, at least with regards to getting older. The specifics of the story were a little hazy until I started shooting it and looking at the images. I tried to let the feeling I got from the final pictures guide me when writing the text, though I did have this dream of a guy driving his friend to the afterlife. They get in a car and drive to this dead end, the man drops his friend off and then drives back to earth.

DD: What were the most memorable moments during the production of this series?

Jordan Sullivan: Sleeping on the sides of roads, watching the yellow moon rise, running out of gas in the mountains in a snowstorm 200 miles from the nearest town, being in one of the most strange and beautiful places in the world with my best friends.

DD: What compelled you to create a novella as opposed to a photography-only book, and how did the creative process differ when thinking about the combination of text and image, as opposed to just the visuals?

Jordan Sullivan: I have always had an interest in the interaction between image and text. I love stories and fiction. Growing up, I was always reading and watching films. I sometimes feel more like a writer or storyteller than an artist or a photographer. The Young Earth is as much a novella and a poem as it is a photography book in my mind. The challenge was to create images that illustrated the feeling of the story rather than just the action or the plot. The book needed to flow like music in that way. 

DD: How did the surroundings of Iceland inspire you as an artist and why did you decided to set the story in this specific location?

Jordan Sullivan: Iceland is one of the youngest bodies of land in the world, so it seemed to have potential to act as this mirror for the inner lives of my characters, both of whom were leaving their youth. The story needed to be shot in an empty and open space, as well as a very beautiful space, and I didn't want to shoot it in America. I wanted these men to be in a completely foreign place. I wanted to go somewhere I had never been before as well, a place I couldn't imagine. Iceland is a place one would go on vacation and that was important because the two men in this book are very much on vacation in some ways, albeit their last. Iceland is a realistic place that they would visit, and realism is at the core of all my work.

Those were always the most beautiful to me. In some ways I imagine some of the pictures in The Young Earth as those photographs - the forgotten ones, the ones that didn't make it in the family or vacation album. I wanted this story to sort of be like this mundane document of a vacation that turns into this whole existential and tragic thing. I really love that film Gerry by Gus Van Sant, where these two friends just go hiking and get lost and the film becomes this massive portrait of life and death and survival, but in this really quiet and understated way. 

DD: Does shooting the images in 35 mm and Polaroid as opposed to digital film make the process feel more precious in a way, or was there another reason for choosing this medium?

Jordan Sullivan: When I shot this a year ago, I didn't really know how to use a digital camera and didn't own one. 35mm was all I really knew how to shoot. Also, my vacations with my family were always shot on film, so I wanted to bring that quality to the book. Both the characters in the story are children of the film era, children of the 90's. 

DD: In the images human and nature, the tiny object and the panoramic landscape appear to contrast one another. What was your intention when using these two ‘opposites’ throughout the series?

Jordan Sullivan: I wanted the pictures to seem as if they were shot from multiple perspectives - first, second, and third - so I needed vast, intimate and omniscient views. Some pictures could be from the narrator's perspective, others from the earth's perspective. There's very much a back and forth between the portraits and landscapes. I wanted the images in the book to sort of grow like a vine, tangling all these people and places together. The characters in the story are trying to connect with themselves, the world and their past. I wanted to express that pictorially through all these different juxtapositions of people and nature. Also, the idea of time in a landscape is very interesting to me. My friend Emma Phillips, who is a wonderful landscape photographer, introduced me to this, and I really thought about it a lot when making The Young Earth, as well as the ways in which a place or a person can trigger a memory. A place can very much embody the feeling of a person and vice versa. We are always existing in so many places at once; the present and the past, our internal and external spaces, are constantly colliding wherever we are. The narrator of the story is simultaneously exploring all these parts of the world and himself. He's coming to grips with the inevitable death of his best friend, looking at this foreign place, roaming through landscapes, investigating the history of that land, and recalling his own history, the things he's buried, forgotten and been too afraid to confront.

DD: How do you see the overarching themes of mortality, friendship, love, youth and beauty portrayed in the final images?

Jordan Sullivan: The last chapter of the book is my favourite. It's filled with light and joy. It's a beginning of sorts. I wanted the end to be a celebration filled with hope and light and colour. I love that scene in Akira Kurosawa's Dreams where the funeral procession is a parade with singing, dancing and laughter. The Young Earth is in many ways a celebration of endings and death.

DD: What can we expect next from the Wandering Days series?

Jordan Sullivan: Wandering Days is a quartet of books. The second I finished shooting in NYC recently, the third will be shot in Naples, Italy this summer, and the fourth will be shot in the southern United States. It should keep me busy for a while.

Jordan Sullivan's The Young Earth is published 31 October, available for pre-order from Amazon or Barnes and Noble.
For print sales please contact Peter Hay Halpert Fine Art:

Read the full article here.

Siki Im SS14 Show Report for A Shaded View on Fashion

Dear Diane and Shaded Viewers,
Upon entering the abandoned car park venue of the SIKI IM SS14 show, it became evident that this wasn't just going to be your run-of-the-mill, three-piece suit routine.
Instead, models appeared to have just (stylishly) escaped from the psych ward — Saran wrap adornments and all. The collection, entitled Remorse, was inspired by the themes of crime, judgement, guilt and regret, as well as the following excerpts from Fyodor Dostoevsky's novel Crime and Punishment:
"He was standing over the river, he may have sensed a profound lie in himself and in his convictions. He did not understand that this sense might herald a future break in his life, his future resurrection, his future new vision of life.
He looked at his fellow convicts amazed: how they, too, all loved life, how they valued it! It precisely seemed to him that in prison they loved and valued it even more, cherished it even more than in freedom.
If he has a conscience he will suffer for his mistake. That will be punishment—as well as the prison."
The collection took on garments otherwise reserved for wear in penitentiaries and hospitals but liberated them into becoming something more: medical scrubs transformed into silky nylon tunics and straitjackets into slim-cut blazers.
Paper-nylon raincoats hung asymmetrically off of the body as if to hint at the sense of dysfunction present within its wearer, a majority of the cuts were "oversized like prison uniforms", and as an ode to the body art of the incarcerated, Im collaborated with tattoo artist MxM Maxime Büchi on a range of tattoo prints for the season.
All in all, this collection managed to take on a very poetic, and at times disturbing, subject matter and translate it into beautifully thought-provoking pieces. 


Read the full article here.

Hiroyuki Ito Interview for A Shaded View On Fashion

Dear Diane and Shaded Viewers,
As a freelance photographer for The New York Times, Tisch School of the Arts alumni and NYC resident for almost 21 years, it's safe to say that Hiroyuki Ito knows his artistic way around the city. His latest exhibition sees the Tokyo-born creative bring together both geographical aspects of his life.
In A Clueless Spectator, Ito captures the diverse moments of everyday urban life, whereas Red Rain follows him on a journey as he revisits his home country for the first time in 20 years following events of tragic personal loss. However different their themes may seem, both exhibitions offer a chance to experience the photographer's poignant and striking imagery.

How did you first get involved in photography? 

After I moved from Tokyo to New York in 1992. It was one of the random classes I took when I was a freshman at college.

In the exhibition intro to A Clueless Spectator you wrote: 'I photograph almost mechanically with no sense of emotion'. Can you elaborate on this statement?

I try not to place an emotional emphasis on what I photograph. Things already are what they are before I run into them.

Especially your Red Rain series draws on a lot of personal and painful experiences. How does this vulnerability feed into your work and how does it feel to publicly portray this side of yourself?

As a photographer I shoot out of joy most of the time. Obviously it wasn't fun to shoot my father's funeral but I could have been more devastated if I weren't able to digest what was going on by the sheer act of photographing what I experienced. It wasn't a personal art project. Things happened and I kind of had to react. To this day, I can't exactly judge the Red Rain series objectively. But I have never lived my life objectively, so...

How do the A Clueless Spectator and Red Rain series stand alongside each other? 

They are basically the same thing. Looking at Red Rain and A Clueless Spectator side by side, I was struck by how unoriginal my visual style is if I ever had one. I never invented any new vocabularies of photography but used what was available. But again, I was never big on originality. I don't mind talking out of stolen cliches. 

What would you like readers to take away from both exhibitions?

Even after answering these questions, I am not even sure of what these pictures are for. But somehow I desperately want people to see my photographs. What is my problem?

“Red Rain” and “A Clueless Spectator”: Two Series by Hiroyuki Ito 
September 3 to October 10, 2013 
721 Broadway
New York, NY 10003 


Read the full article here.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Marlo Kronberg Interview for A Shaded View on Fashion

Dear Diane and Shaded Viewers, 
The term professional networking mostly conjures up memories of formal cocktail parties, uptight board meetings or in some amusing instances, drunken nightclub encounters. Now, one online platform is looking to change that.
Enter Creators Connect, a multi-faceted online community for one-off and long term creative collaborations, all housed under twelve different categories ranging from digital to holistic endeavors. This week marks the relaunch of the site with a slick new template courtesy of Common Space Studio.
Just in time for the event, Creators Connect founder and CEO Marlo Kronberg sat down to discuss how dubious Craigslist postings sowed the seeds for the project, the advantages of digital networking and why creative collaboration brings out the genius in everyone.

What inspired you to start Creators Connect?

The idea initially came to me when I first moved to NYC in 2009. I wanted to be a magazine editor and was doing all of these magazine internships, feeling like my ideas had no currency. I desperately wanted to start my own magazine called Subbacultcha, with each issue infiltrating a different international subculture – from Japanese Ganguro girls, to shamans, to gypsies to international Elvis impersonators. Basically the raddest magazine in the world. Unfortunately, I didn’t necessarily know the people yet who wanted to make this happen with me. I felt like my big idea was going to waste. 

Around this time, I was also always looking for ways to help out on photo shoots and films in order to broaden my horizons and support people who were doing things I believed in. I would search the Craigslist creative gigs section, but it was always full of postings looking for nude models (not in the good way) or video hoes. It was then that I first thought, “I wish there was a trustworthy, tasteful place online where people could post looking for creative collaborators”. Then I got a job as features editor at OAK NYC’s magazine, OAKAZINE, and we were always looking for stylists, make up artists, writers, etc. Again, I constantly wished my dream website existed.

I know my purpose in life is to help and support people in making their ideas a reality. I’ve always thought I was a fin de siecle salon den mother in a past life. It all kind of clicked one day that this crazy website idea might, in fact, be my true path. The rest is history. 

What is the concept behind the site? 

People who get into a creative flow on a regular basis are happier and when you find somebody you gibe with on the creative wavelength it’s an incredibly intense and sacred relationship.  There are a million websites for finding romantic relationships – why none for finding creative kindreds? I want Creators Connect to be a champion for all humans who want to make cool things happen and meet like-minded people.

Even if someone already has a tight-knit network of really talented friends, sometimes that special person who will take their work and ideas to the next level is across the ocean. That’s why Creators Connect is international and you can see whether a posting accepts locals only or international collaborators. 

It’s really important for different kinds of creators to cross-pollinate and help each other out. In this day and age, all the creative disciplines are getting increasingly bridged and informing each other. Because of this, we have categories for photography, music, film, writing/editing, fashion, web/digital, design/fabrication, performance, holistic, food/drink, and etc, and postings can be posted to more than one category. 

The main thing when formulating how this site would function was that I wanted it to be really simple, with no need to put together a portfolio or answer a million questions. If you need someone for a project immediately, you post on Creators Connect and people who are available or interested will respond. You will get results. Plus, we’re invite only and people have to write about themselves in order to be considered for membership so there’s no spammers or shady stuff going on. There are profiles too, so users can further gauge if a poster is a good creative match before contacting them. 

What makes Creators Connect unique in comparison to regular networking tactics?

A lot of creative collaborators meet each other by chance, which is an inviolably beautiful thing, but we’re in the age of the internet. It’s normal these days to first connect with lifelong friends online. The old John Lennon and Paul McCartney meeting as teenagers in Liverpool story is rare, and a lot of people are not reaching their potential or making their great ideas happen because they don’t have the right people around them yet, helping and inspiring them to get to the next level.

Also, if you’re an introvert or lack conviction in your ideas, sometimes it’s hard to immediately attract all the people you need in your life. Creators Connect makes it easier to get started on the ideas you might be too shy or unsure of to actually approach people about. 

Plus, sometimes you have a very specific need and here you have a shot at finding someone who might not be in your friend group but would be willing to help you out in exchange for being a part of something they believe in.
What is it about the art of collaboration that you find so inspiring yourself?

Creative collaboration brings out the genius in everyone. Creative partnership is a lot like romantic love, and just as important in my opinion. To get the same references, to share the same sensibilities or have complementary sensibilities, to build off of each other and end up with something bigger and more powerful than both of you – that’s magic.

How can people get involved and what plans are lined up for this project develop in the future?

Email us at with some info about yourself to be considered for invitation. We soft launched in March and have close to 800 members now. Recently Alec Friedman, who is the epitome of a creative connector, came on board to shape and build a Creators Connect brand culture. We have our insanely beautiful relaunch coming out this week and some other interesting things up our sleeve to be revealed soon.
Hopefully some time in the near future we’ll branch out into an online magazine showcasing the work of our users and put on more events that champion the creative community. Eventually I hope Creators Connect grows to be a huge champion of creative communities around the world and a source of inspiration to many. ¡Viva la Creación!


The World Through the Lens of Lucy Luscombe for Twin Magazine blog

Lately we’ve been glued to our screens thanks to the work of film writer/director/producer Lucy Luscombe, who has recently garnered accolades such as the BFI Future Film Award and Outstanding Female Talent Award at Underwire Festival for her work. From the trials and tribulations of a young gymnast in Candy Girl to late night occurrences in a Dalston kebab shop inAgain Sometime, the CSM graduate’s films offers a captivatingly honest insight into the everyday challenges of human existence.
Twin spoke to the promising talent about her earnest beginnings, the inspirational factor of failure and the future of the British film industry…

What initially sparked your interest in film?

I’ve always been interested in ‘moments’; creating or recreating them. I remember finding a lot of fleeting situations/moments significant growing up and sounding pretty spacey when trying to explain why. In film you can take that moment, light it, slow it down, blow it up and say ‘that’s why’. Equally, if you’re told ‘don’t sweat the small stuff’ a lot, film is a good place to sweat it.

What was the first piece of cinematic work you ever made?

I made a lot of questionable video art at St Martins: a lot of raw meat, wedding dresses and Bataille. Pretty earnest stuff. A highlight was ‘My womb/ the mosh pit (Beat down)’. Not sure how cinematic it was.

Sum up your style of directing in three words.

One. More. Take.

How has working as an actress informed your work?

I know how to talk to people and get the performance I need. I don’t force anything because I know what that feels like as a performer. I’m better at reading the person when they walk through the door and knowing what they can give me or what they can’t – that’s the foundation and the performance is the surprise.

From late nights in Dalston to coming-of-age flicks, there is a very personal sense to your work. How much of your films would you say is autobiographical and where do you get the inspiration for your work from?

I’d like to think my work is quite human and that comes from a personal place or from listening to people, properly. I suppose I’ve also always been fascinated by failure – it’s managed to seep through a lot of pieces and like anyone who’s serious about making art and making sacrifices for it, they’ll know that’s personal.

Since your early beginnings, how have you seen the London film industry develop?

The old gatekeepers have lost a bit of dough and there are new exciting funding bodies who want to make interesting work, whether it’s through brave brands or online magazines. Specifically in features, where once you needed a lot of money, there is now cheap equipment that allows you to tell the story you want without going through a funding application process that wants to know everything from your grandparents’ ethnicity to your sexual orientation. Theres a ‘get up and go’ mindset emerging, most notably from filmmakers such as Tom Schkolnik (The Comedian). Sure, there’s an issue with quality control but there are great curators out there . If you wanted to make ‘The Fast and the Furious UK edition’, however, I think the British film industry would be a bad place to start.

In the day and age of rom coms and reality television, how important do you think it is for film to tackle serious subject matter such as human existence, identity and disillusion?

There has always been banal entertainment and who am I to tell Joe Bloggs what he should watch when he gets home, I don’t know what kind of day he’s had, and if it’s been pretty shitty I wouldn’t judge him for watching TOWIE to switch off. Film/television/theatre/musicals can offer an interlude to be numbed or moved, enlightened or educated. My interest lies in questions of human existence, identity and disillusion, but that’s my privilege and laughing at Kim Kardashian’s swollen ankles is Joe Bloggs’s.

What are your future projects, goals and plans?

I’ve got some music videos and a fashion film coming out which I’m pretty excited about. There’s also a beautiful short story I’m adapting to keep me fresh while developing a feature.

The Y-3 Anthology for Dazed Digital

Founded in 2003, Y-3 (the 'Y' representing Yohji and the '3' corresponding with Adidas' three iconic stripes) was one of the first labels to actually design sportswear, as opposed to purely looking at its functionality. Apart from fusing innovative sportswear technology with Yamamoto’s avant-garde creations, Y-3 also embarks upon artistic projects season after season, including floating runways and laser light shows. The brand’s latest endeavour sees Y-3 packaged into 150 square metres of futuristic retail space for the label’s second London store in Covent Garden, which opens today.
In honour of the label’s tenth anniversary, Dazed Digital looks back at the untold stories behind the most striking campaigns in Y-3’s history.
SS09Photography by Craig McDean
The “synthetic energy” of urban life is reflected in the surveillance camera-like imagery and colour-saturated cityscapes of McDean’s campaign, echoing the Dan Flavin-esque presentation of the SS 09 collection.
SS10Photography by Alasdair McLellan
Coinciding with the 2010 World Cup, this campaign features laser-cut pieces inspired by the moment when a soccer ball hits the net and is presented on the likes of Zinedine Zidane and Mr. Yamamoto himself.
AW05Photography by Matt Jones
They say there’s no second chance to make a first impression and Y-3’s premiere campaign, shot in the Peruvian desert, did not disappoint. Jones’ energetic photography fittingly sets the collection’s work wear details, eastern folklore-inspired colour palette, soft nappa leathers and constructivism-derived prints against a barren landscape backdrop. 

AW08Photography by Mario Sorrenti
Sorrenti’s graphic imagery solidifies the sleek urbanite feel of Y-3’s functional yet elegant aesthetic. The black and white garments represent a pure Yohji design mentality, the three stripes make a cheeky right corner appearance and legendary creative director and Y-3 collaborator Doug Lloyd gives the imagery his quintessential polish as well. 
SS12Photography by Collier Schorr
Schorr describes her collage campaign as being “inspired by the modernist literature and architecture that is in itself a fusion of political and architectural mantras, both dreamy and concrete”. Entitled ‘The Precipice’, the resulting imagery explores the relationship between the human body and its environment through a fictious travelogue and 1960s Brasília.
AW09Photography by Craig McDean
Karmen Pedaru (dressed in the season’s sharply-executed menswear) makes her way through a giant video landscape for McDean’s take on the interplay between fantasy and reality, natural exploration and the electronic age.
SS13Photography by Pierre Debusschere
The soft silhouettes of the season melt into one trippy structure thanks to the techniques of visual artist and Dazed Collaborator Pierre Debusschere, showing off the creative’s Iceland - and Northern Lights - inspired digital work alongside the styling of Jay Massacret.
AW12Photography by Collier Schorr
Seeing as Yamamoto’s collections have traversed us from places like Mongolia to England, it was only a matter of time before a Y-3 campaign explored the art of travel. ‘Beneath, Between, Beyond’ combines the landscape photography of David Benjamin Sherry with Schorr’s depiction of two internally daydreaming travellers, capturing the sense of losing oneself in both travel and love.
Photography by Mario Sorrenti
Through stark, black and white photography, Sorrenti delves into the purist side of things for his first Y-3 campaign. Despite the collection’s initial designs of digital floral prints and billowing shapes, the final images possess an undeniably sharp and precise focus. 
SS06Photography by Matt Jones
Jones’ last campaign for Y-3 was inspired by the most pivotal dance movements of the 20th century, from New York disco to Argentinian tango (energised with a splash of fiery orange nonetheless). The athletic collection didn’t only mark a collaboration with Adidas global creative director Michael Michalsky, but also marked the brand’s first show in New York.
AW11Photography by Alasdair McLellan
AW11 proved to be another showcase of McLellan’s trademark British sensibility and taste for subcultures - after all, the man did get his start depicting club goers in Leeds during the late 90s. This time, his army of choice are wool coat-cocooned models, photographed in the gritty surroundings of Hudson River Park.

The Denim is in the Details for Twin Magazine blog

Whether it was workwear overalls, slashed punk jeans or Daisy Duke cutoffs, denim has always been labelled as the most democratic of fabrics. However, since its founding in 2003, Superfine has managed to propel this everyday basic to stylish new heights, gaining a cult like status among premium denim fans. The brand’s SS 13 collection ‘War & Peace’ puts a light yet luxurious spin on utilitarian dressing with camouflage-printed leather trousers, chambray chino jumpsuits and cargo jodhpurs.
Twin spoke to its founder Lucy Pinter about political fashion, the label’s upcoming ten year anniversary and what puts the ‘super’ in Superfine…

What inspired you to start Superfine?

I was a stylist in London and wanted a skinny jean to work with (and wear). I also wanted something clean; at that time there were only distressed bootlegs available. The Ramones were my inspiration.

You mentioned the importance of the SS 13 collection reflecting our tumultuous times. Should fashion be political?

Good question. To be honest I usually avoid any politics in my work but last season it just seemed difficult to avoid, as the doom was everywhere. Usually for me it’s about something simple. Fashion is not conceptual or deep. I make what I want to wear. That’s it. But I totally understand and respect people that bring political statements to their work. It can be a good way to voice your opinion.

How would you sum up the collection in one sentence?

A strong, vibrant, rock ‘n’ roll collection with military feel.

What were the challenges of creating this season’s range?

The colours were completely new. I had agents screaming for them so I went for it, but it’s a challenge to see such strong colours in development. I’m more into neutrals in general. We also had some heavy laundry trips and getting the washes right was challenging.

Superfine started off as a very denim-focused brand. What has the process of broadening its design horizons been like?

It’s been a very natural progression to be honest. Again, it’s just about what I like to wear. Denim will always be my first love, but I do love covering all bases. It’s more challenging to design a full collection.

What makes the perfect pair of jeans and what do high-end brands offer that the high street cannot?

A perfect pair of jeans is the jean that makes you feel good, the one you throw on with anything for any event. It’s about the fit, wash and details. High end brands (mine anyway) offer a small manufacturing feel that huge production can’t — it’s in the details. Superfine has lasered print pocket linings in good fabrics (the print design changes every season), we have personalised zips in different colour zip tape for each collection, use the highest quality fabrics and don’t bulk buy cheap. I think it’s absolutely incomparable.

What projects do you have lined up for the future?

We have a 10 year anniversary coming up. Watch this space!

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Miles Aldridge Interview for Twin Magazine blog

This week presents a double bill of exhibitions for Miles Aldridge fans. The London photographer’s intensely colour saturated and fantastically glamourous images are now on display as part of the I Only Want You to Love Me and Short Breaths shows, exhibiting at Somerset House and Brancolini Grimaldi respectively.

Twin caught up with the photographer at the opening of his retrospective to talk about childhood memories of the camera, why flaws make a woman beautiful and the age of postmodern photography…

When was the first time you realised that you loved photography?

I went in and out of photography throughout my childhood and teens. My dad gave me a camera when I was about ten. He was an art director and bought a Nikon in the sixties to photograph the Beatles. He gave me this camera I think to kind of get rid of me really; it was a summer holiday and one reason go off and do something. I remember hanging up one of my sister’s doll by the neck and taking a photograph of that, it was quite a cinematic image from the beginning.

But I didn’t pursue photography, because my father was an illustrator I pursued drawing. I went to art school, was determined to be an illustrator and became one. That went quite well but I found it boring. Photography kept coming back into my sphere of experiences. I thought photography would be a way to become a filmmaker, I didn’t intend to stay a photographer. I picked up this camera, that my father had given me, again in my early twenties and started taking pictures. That coincided with a grunge movement in London, which was a really simple route for me to follow.

At that point the idea that you were not a professional fashion photographer was a bonus — it meant that you were authentic. I hadn’t trained or assisted anyone to be a fashion photographer. The real fundamentals of being a fashion photographer are really more the credentials that I had, meaning that I was a guy who had a camera who had a girlfriend that he photographed a lot. In a way that was more authentic than somebody who’d done lots of tests with models.

What I’ve always liked about being a photographer is that it puts a frame around something that you see, whether it’s your girlfriend or a doll hanging by its neck. By putting a frame around it, it becomes a picture. By containing it, you’re able to judge whether its interesting. For example, I don’t think I’d be very good at theatre direction because I don’t like the way the eye is able to rove freely on the stage. Ultimately, I’m not sure if I have the talent for storytelling. I think more my talent lies in presenting frames around images.

How do you see women represented in your images? They are very beautifully stylised but then upon second look there is something cracked underneath that perfect exterior.

I think the women are very beautiful heroes of the picture and in a way, we kind of worship them. They’re to be adored and represent the world that they come from and we live in presently, because that world is not a happy place of contentment. I read the newspapers everyday and it’s unbelievable how bizarre, inhumane and amoral the human animal can be.

I don’t feel comfortable presenting beautiful women as perfect beings. I think about them much more as broken, wounded and beautiful at the same time. Beauty goes hand in hand with being wounded. In movies a heroine who has it all and is successful is not very likable, but if she’s suffered and is a representative of this society that she lives in, then we have empathy with her. When people see the pictures of these goddesses that I make, they’ve all got cracks in them, they’re not immaculate. They represent, not complete unhappiness, but the questioning and troubling nature of our times, which is what I’m after.

That’s also interesting because you say you are inspired by Fellini and Hitchcock, who have very specific types of women in their imagery as well.

Yes, there’s often a mother figure, a girlfriend, a wife. There’s three kind of archetypes and that’s mostly the women I know. My mother is a very strong memory for me. The fact that she died when I was young and then short of vanished, I think for anyone creates a mystery about the mother figure. You’re left with the enigma of what she left behind: her makeup, her clothes in the wardrobe, who is this woman that is gone? To quote Robert Smith from The Cure, ‘Nobody ever knows or loves another’. I think that’s interesting and there’s some truth to that.

How do you see yourself in terms of your work? It would be too simplifying to say it’s just fashion photography, especially now that we are seeing fashion photography as more of an art form.

Luckily I’ve been of a generation where photographers have pushed through. People like Helmut Newton and Richard Avedon had exhibitions, but it’s interesting that Avedon’s exhibitions were about his so-called personal work. I’m coming from a postmodern point of view where I’m taking pictures for a fashion magazines that I know go on a gallery wall, whereas Newton was taking pictures for a fashion magazine only and then they went on a gallery wall.

I’m coming from a much more technical point of view. I know I have to make these pictures work so that they can be enlarged in scale. And again with Avedon, even though he was the greatest living fashion photographer, in order to be taken seriously as an artist he had to do pictures in asylums, things that document. Instead of photographing his beautiful models, he now had to go and photograph the white trash of America. All of that is brilliant work, but when people ask me if I have any personal work, I do have personal work but really this is my personal work.

I’ve probably taken Newton’s and Avedon’s lead in the sense that you document your world as well as the clothes. I’ve probably taken that to a degree beyond where even they had imagined. When I have meetings with Vogue Italia, we don’t talk about clothes at all. We talk about women, ideas about women and what these metaphors and symbols might mean. Fashion magazines have transformed over the last ten years because of the internet, they have less power to dictate to the photographer what they need from them. I think I’ve moved into that vacuum. I present an idea instead of just accepting commissions because of my very lucky relationship with Franca Sozzani. She will give me enough rope to hang myself in that she will let me do what I want to do.

How has your method of working changed since the earliest and most recent pictures in this exhibition?

The earliest picture is from around 2004, so it’s ten years of work more or less, yet it all hangs together as one body. That was the intention quite early on. I wanted the work to have a signature, whether it was in the colour, focus, clarity or in the kind of bittersweet imagery that was being made. I wanted it to be within the same universe yet be as broad as Shakespeare. It’s working on the human condition: those ideas of love, mothering, death, addictions, religion, the relationship between your child and you and vice versa. Everything begins with the human so it’s a small but at the same time huge universe.

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Percy Lau and Cat Potter Studio Visit for Dazed Digital

Dazed collaborates with YKK to showcase and support new design talent for the sophomore edition of our New Breed project. As the largest manufacturer of fastenings in the world, YKK also sponsors the coveted ITS ACCESSORIES award. This platform for young designers challenges participants to incorporate the company’s zips, buttons and more in innovative ways, with one winner receiving the financial and industry-focused support to produce their collection.

After previously paying a visit to YKK brand ambassador and shoe maverick Kei Kagami, Dazed Digital headed to the London studios of competition finalists Percy Lau and Cat Potter to discuss their creative process, points of inspiration and how they are breathing new life into zips, snap buttons & co.

Percy Lau

“In the very beginning, I wanted to make jewellery to make people happy. Now I want to make pieces that make people think,” says accessories and jewellery designer Percy Lau.

Her latest collection “Seeing is Believing?” is a range of clear resin eyewear that utilises eye-catching optical illusion techniques. Having focused on mathematics, physics and chemistry prior to beginning her university studies, the range provided the perfect excuse for Lau to reference her other professional passion. “I used loads of physics theory about refraction for that work. My educational background helps me a lot. Science, techniques and materials inspire me the most,” she says.

Spectacles are also the focus of her designs for the ITS ACCESSORIES project. “Eyewear is a symbol of your horizon so I love to design those kinds of pieces. With YKK being a zip product, I thought of it as something that can open and close a horizon,” the 24-year-old explains. In this instance, she incorporates the element into multifunctional sunglasses/spectacles/reading glasses hybrids. Once again her love of science glimmers through as Lau drills, saws, moulds and pierces her pieces with an almost mathematical precision.

Although she just graduated from Central Saint Martins this summer, the young designer has already won competitions like the Swarovski live project thanks to her otherworldly creations, ranging from kingfisher millinery sculptures to acrylic fingernail dentures to nose-shaped necklaces. Lau plans to set up her own studio post-graduation, but ultimately wants to “influence and inspire others, and change their mind about the jewellery and accessories industry”. Naturally this also entails not letting her creations be pigeonholed into any genre of aesthetics. “I don’t want to label myself in terms of style. Style cannot explain anything. It’s more about doing your own thing rather than putting something onto ourselves,” Lau states, soon adding: “In design, if it's a good concept, it doesn’t matter how it develops.” 

Cat Potter

When Cat Potter presented her graduate footwear collection in 2012, her masterfully crafted creations immediately caught the eye of footwear giant Jimmy Choo, who awarded her the MA Final Collection Award for Excellence. Fusing the ancient material wood with modern digital techniques, Potter’s architectural designs were conceived using CAD/CAM software, created around the 3D scan of a foot and then precisely carved using 3-axis milling machines. “I don’t see footwear as just a practical object. Even if it looks like a shoe and does everything that a shoe is meant to do, I still think that it should be able to stand in an environment by itself and bring something to that environment,” the Swiss native explains. 

Having previously completely her studies in fine art and curation, Potter finally found her vocation after enrolling in a diploma course at London College of Fashion’s Cordwainer’s College. “I thought, well it’s year, might as well see how it goes. I immediately loved it, this mixture between sculpture and the craft of footwear. On my first day I knew this was exactly what I want to do,” she enthusiastically says.

An avid photographer in her spare time, the 27-year-old finds inspiration in themes including European folklore culture, furniture and Swedish architecture. For her latest project with YKK, she is working on vacuum-forming leather around wooden high heels, fastened up through the use of snap buttons. “Working with YKK has been really interesting. I went to their offices in London and they have so many fittings and fixtures that I found it hard to choose just one. It was quite challenging because I would never use zippers or poppers, but it made me think about my aesthetic in a different way,” the designer states.

Whether she is experimenting with new fastening techniques or digital software, one thing that always remains is Potter’s love for artisanal design, something which can be traced back to her childhood. “When I was younger I lived near a jewellery designer. There were these little boxes full of gold, brass, and other bits and pieces. I just remember going over the top of the table and staring at all of them,” she recounts. “It was a beautiful workshop. It’s that kind of life that I still want really - having a studio and being able to create what you want with really good materials.”

Read the full article here.

Kei Kagami Studio Visit for Dazed Digital

Dazed and YKK join forces to celebrate the spirit of fashion craftsmanship for the 2013 edition of the International Talent Support’s ITS ACCESSORIES competition. The contest is sponsored by the Japanese fastening manufacturer giant, which selects a small group of upcoming designers to reinterpret their products through innovative creative solutions. Aside from a prize of €10,000 for the winner, all finalists will be able to glean advice through their process with exceptional womenswear/accessories designer and YKK ambassador Kei Kagami, who also teaches hands-on workshops for the company at prestigious fashion schools around the world. In a prelude to our series of upcoming studio visits to ITS finalists of the past and present, Dazed stopped by his North London studio to learn about Kagami’s work methods and commitment to artisanal design.


No doubt about it, Kei Kagami lives and breathes the creative process. His workspace is filled with all aspects of it: multiple clothing rails full of archive pieces, rows upon rows of fascinating footwear constructions, mannequins hung with brand label tags, stacks and stacks of fabrics, sewing machines, mechanical tools, even a picture of him riding a motorcycle from his Selfridges Bright Young Things window installation. “Francis Bacon’s studio really encouraged me. Basically it’s a mess but I thought it was brilliant,” he laughs. But perhaps the abundance of materials and creations only helps envelope the designer all the more in his creative world. Classical instrumental music plays in the background, adding a sense of zen-like concentration to the sensory overload of it all.


Hailing from Tokyo, Kagami’s original career path saw him pursue a bachelor’s degree in architecture, something he soon supplemented with a simultaneous tailoring diploma course at Bunka Fashion College. “At that time I didn’t really put a boundary between fashion or architecture. For me it was one and the same thing: starting from something flat and two-dimensional and making it three-dimensional,” he explains. However, fashion soon won him over. “I just wanted to create something for myself and express what I wanted. With clothing, I can design, draw patterns, stitch and wear it. I thought that is fantastic. I can express myself in each process and manage everything by myself up until the very end,” Kagami says.


Having held a fascination for all things British since his childhood, the young designer came to London in 1989 to work alongside his hero John Galliano. After three seasons, the studio declared bankruptcy and relocated to Paris. Kagami decided to stay in London and enroll in the MA Fashion course at Saint Martins college, graduating alongside Alexander McQueen and Wakako Kishimoto. But while some of his peers went on to have houses backed by major luxury groups, Kagami stayed true to his craft-focused roots. “I don’t really like fashion. I love clothes, creation and making conceptual things,” he openly admits, adding: “I’d never been fascinated by money. If you get a job from a commercial company, obviously you get paid a lot, but I rather preferred making what I wanted.”


Kagami describes his love for handmade and unusual creations as “a matter of craftsmanship. I don’t want to have a boundary between thinking and actual making. Intrinsic, genuine creation is both. I have always had that kind of spirit.” When it comes to this introverted style of production, the designer literally calls his studio home. “I have a favourite area in the back of my studio, surrounded by many machineries, which I love. Usually we work on shoes there. Sometimes when things are busy, I will sleep in my studio upstairs and often go to this space on my own before I go to bed,” he says.


His creation over a corporate way of thinking struck a chord with YKK, who began their collaboration with the designer when he proposed a design to them in 1998. Said piece was a dress constructed entirely of zippers. “The idea was about using zips as a textile but still each piece had a function. I don’t like using things just for decoration. Each part has a meaning. That functional beauty is an important element for me,” Kagami states. Since then, the international manufacturer has continued to work closely with the designer. “I like working for YKK because it has an educational value and is not business-minded,” he says. With the company’s backing, he has been able to create radical designs like resin fibreglass and mechanically constructed metal footwear, but Kagami is quick to admit that his avant-garde ideas don’t come easily. “To do something new in fashion is very, very difficult, so many things have already been done. I do struggle each time, to be honest. That’s why I try to use different materials, I believe it is still possible to create something new,” the designer explains.


This concept of the new seems to become all the more difficult in the frantic pace of today’s fashion cycle. “Nowadays things are too mass-produced, too commercial and everyone basically works in fashion as a business for money. To break it, you have to do something extraordinary and extreme. If someone doesn’t do something creative, eventually culture will stop developing. I’m more interested in contributing to culture or education in the end. If I could be an influential designer to someone else, that would make me more than happy,” Kagami notes. His words of advice to young designers starting out? “Do something radical and truly express yourself rather than thinking about what other people are doing. The power of the trend vector in fashion is too strong, new designers should break it to keep their identity.”

Read the full article here.

Stavros Karelis of MACHINE-A Interview for A Shaded View on Fashion

Dear Diane and Shaded Viewers,

Since its inception in 2009 through the powerhouse quartet that is Stavros Karelis, Anna Trevelyan, Ella Dror and Ashley Smith, MACHINE-A has been a retail haven for upcoming design talent. After a relaunch earlier this year, the store now resides in Soho's Brewer Street and stocks international labels like Raf Simons and Bernhard Willhelm alongside new names like Alex Mattson, Agi & Sam and Ashley Williams.

In the following interview, founder and head buyer Stavros Karelis discusses the rebirth of MACHINE-A, retail versus e-commerce and the driving force behind London's fashion industry.

What inspired you to start MACHINE-A?

I always wanted to create a space where many young creatives will collaborate on different projects and push the boundaries of fashion retail. A space where all young emerging brands would be accessible to customers. That was an initial raw approach that got shaped into what MACHINE-A is today: a dedicated space to showcase international, British and emerging brands and a place where all the latest trends are concentrated under one roof, offering the most exclusive products to our customers. 

How would you describe your work process as a team?

We have worked together for quite a long time and that has created a strong bond between us. We are very appreciative and grateful for that. For me personally, working with our fashion director Anna Trevelyan and PRs Ella Dror and Ash Smith has been an amazing process that I wouldn't have done any differently.

We talk about everything, all have different opinions and see things from different angles. We are all very respectful of each other, and want the same thing which is to promote and showcase the newest talents and position them along with international and up and coming brands. It is a team effort and we all are young professionals who work hard to achieve what we feel is right. 

What do you look for in a designer?

Talent is the most important thing, but I also see the quality, ethos, hard work, determination and a great understanding of how to produce a beautiful collection with approachable prices. 

As a retailer, how do you find yourself challenged by the creative vision versus commerciality debate?

I think that these two parameters don't sit opposite, but instead, they can coincide in order for something to be successful. A retailer needs to be commercially appealing to attract customers, but a directional and clear creative vision will create a dedicated crowd and a niche to the retail market. 

What things have you decided to do differently in your relaunch and why settle down in Soho?

The previous store and current store are very different in terms of brands, selections and direction of the store. Having said that, the core of the store, which is the creative team, is the same. As result our beliefs and how we feel the store should be, remain the same; we want to promote and showcase the best of London as a fashion capital, concentrating on the emerging brands and graduates. 

Soho is an ideal place to be because it is so vibrant and centrally located. I strongly believe that Soho is transforming into a shopping destination that will be more visible in the next few years, and it works perfectly for the concept of MACHINE-A. 

What makes London such an attractive fashion capital?

London is such an amazing city to be in, the creativity here is absolutely unique in comparison to any other city in the world. Every year the number of successful examples of creatives that are working in key industry positions is increasing because the best fashion colleges of the world are in London, and as such it produces a vast number of talented people and puts the city on the top list of fashion capitals in the world. 

How do you see the relationship between retail and e-commerce developing, do you see the latter threatening the other in any way?

They are both so interconnected that I cannot imagine the one could exist without the other. In order for a retail business to survive and have a long lasting successful growth, it needs e-commerce to open its sales to an international market. However, in order to secure that the e-commerce will be successful one needs the gravity and reputation that the retail space provides, which is absolutely necessary for the brands to feel comfortable, and the customers to feel safe to place orders and to know that they will always find the products they are searching for.

What does the future hold for MACHINE-A?

MACHINE-A was launched almost 4 months ago, and the reviews so far have been fantastic. For us, this is a great beginning of a bright future. Our main focus is to move forward securely and build the safe grounds that an enterprise needs.

From a creative point of view, we have started with a wonderful selection of brands that we will increase each season, and our efforts have been concentrated on securing all the exclusive and hard to get products from our favourite brands. As we would like to keep our customers always satisfied, we have planned a number of exclusive products and collaborations with designers that will be available from our retail and online store.



Read the full article here.