Enjoying my new book on Beth Levine shoes

Enjoying my new book on Beth Levine shoes

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Mama’s got a brand new bag! From Woodstock, New York- @pmwmfg  #CAMO

Mama’s got a brand new bag! From Woodstock, New York- @pmwmfg #CAMO

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Jean Paul Gaultier talks London with my hero Suzy Menkes at @barbican

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Seduced by grandeur #palacelife #FashionRules @harpersbazaaruk

Seduced by grandeur #palacelife #FashionRules @harpersbazaaruk

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Now we’re getting to it. Drop waists shoulder pads and bows by Jacques Azagury from 1985. Wowza #FashionRules @harpersbazaaruk

Now we’re getting to it. Drop waists shoulder pads and bows by Jacques Azagury from 1985. Wowza #FashionRules @harpersbazaaruk

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Good dog on the cover of Feb 1959 issue of @voguemagazine #FashionRules @harpersbazaaruk

Good dog on the cover of Feb 1959 issue of @voguemagazine #FashionRules @harpersbazaaruk

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Does anyone else see @Ryanlostudio in this Hardy Amies silk organza dress from 1959? #FashionRules

Does anyone else see @Ryanlostudio in this Hardy Amies silk organza dress from 1959? #FashionRules

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#FashionRules at Kensington Palace #NormanHartnell

#FashionRules at Kensington Palace #NormanHartnell

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Palace life #fashionrules @harpersbazaaruk

Palace life #fashionrules @harpersbazaaruk

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Should have brought a book to this queue. #Zuczug @Topshop and @Vans today.

Should have brought a book to this queue. #Zuczug @Topshop and @Vans today.

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Brazil Takes to the Stage

Brazil is hot, it’s official. With the 2014 World Cup almost upon us and the Rio 2016 Olympics set to unveil a modern Brazil to the world, the country’s economy is booming and everyone wants a piece of the action. Luxury brands have flocked to the South American nation in the last couple of years to expand their empires with glistening flagships and plans of acquisition amidst a flourishing new class of consumers, but when it comes to fashion and beauty, there’s more to Brazil than a group of super rich shoppers with bulging wallets of freshly minted reals.

Unlike fellow emerging Russia, India and China, Brazil already had an established group of popular, high quality brands when the world began to pay more attention to its economy. Years of political strife, hyperinflation and preventative imports laws created an insular environment in which those companies could develop at their own pace, without international competition.

So, exactly when did Brazil begin to emerge as a creative force in the fashion and lifestyle markets?

One could go back to 1962 - the year Scotsman Robert Fraser launched Havaianas, the iconic rubber sandal based on the traditional zori brought to Brazil by Japanese immigrants. The flip flop manufacturer’s story is one of remarkable success; the brand is instantly recognisable the world over, with a colourful image which is inextricably linked to an attractive ideal - that of the tropical, sun-soaked Brazilian life.

However, the launch of the brand might be going back too far. Though the rubber flip-flops were universally popular with working Brazilians - within a year Fraser’s Alpargatas company was making more than 13,000 pairs a day and the sandals were even counted amongst a list of staples the Brazilian government used to calculate the increase in the cost of living – it wasn’t until the late nineties/early noughties that Havaianas exploded onto the international scene after a ingeniously executed rebranding, changing them from poor person’s footwear into a glamourous, aspirational fashion item.

1974 maybe, when Gloria Coelho opened her eponymous brand, or 1984, when her husband Reinaldo Lourenco (previously her assistant) began his own label. The two designers – now divorced – are household names in their native country and have begun something of a dynasty with their son, Pedro Lourenco, who at only 23 has already established himself as one to watch on the international scene, having debuted his own label at Paris Fashion Week in 2010.

Another key point in the country’s fashion history is the launch of Sao Paolo Fashion Week and Fashion Rio by Paulo Borges in 1996. The Business of Fashion describes Borges - CEO and founder of marketing and event production company Luminosidade - as “an instrumental figure in the Brazilian fashion industry”, and his company continues to organise the events, styled ‘the fifth largest fashion week event in the world’.

More recently, in 2011, The International New York Times chose to hold its annual luxury conference in Sao Paulo and invited some of the biggest names in the fashion world to speak; Brazil natives Francisco Costa (creative director of womenswear at Calvin Klein), Gustavo Lins (Paris-based menswear, Ready-to-Wear and Haute Couture designer) Daniella Helayel (founder and, at the time, creative director of Issa London) and Roberto Stern (CEO and creative director of jeweller H.Stern) joined international guests Diane Von Furstenberg, Mario Testino, Sarah Burton, Carolina Herrera and Christian Louboutin at the event. Menkes herself declared to a delighted audience:

“Now is the time for Brazil, Latin America and for these new markets.”

Maybe – and please forgive a clichéd fashion answer – now is the most exciting time for Brazilian fashion to emerge. The world is watching as, with two major international events on the horizon, it prepares to take centre stage and project its culture at its best.

On 31st March, the 37th edition of Sao Paulo Fashion Week began, the first of Brazil’s two bi-annual fashion showcases. Sao Paulo features more urban, fashion forward collections while Fashion Rio represents a casual, laid-back style more associated with the city’s famed beach culture. Top models such as Karlie Kloss and Agyness Deyn have brought attention to the events by headlining shows, as have local bombshells Gisele Bundchen (the world’s highest earning model) and transgender Givenchy muse and industry favourite, Lea T.  

For both, the line-up is strong, with local brands Vitorino Campos, Cris Barros, Ausländer and Acquastudio proving themselves worthy of holding up the events under the scrutiny of the international fashion crowd. One of the biggest names showing is Alexandre Herchcovitch, dubbed Brazil’s “one superstar designer” by fashion journalist David Hellqvist. ‘Anti-cellulite jeans’ from Herchcovitch’s AW’14 diffusion line, shown last October (Brazil shows collections a season ahead of New York, London, Milan and Paris) garnered column inches in the international press, however the designer had already become a name to know within the fashion industry, with a regular scheduled spot on the New York Fashion Week calendar.

Another hot ticket on the schedules is Osklen, dubbed Brazil’s first global luxury brand by Forbes in 2012. Founded in 1989 by orthopaedic surgeon Oskar Metsavaht (also a guest speaker at the INYT luxury conference), the brand began as technical outdoor clothing before developing a modern, urban style centred around the physicality of the body and inspired by Oscar Niemeyer’s architecture and the Bauhaus movement. There are 63 stores in Brazil, with flagships in Tokyo, New York, Miami, Rome, Milan, Buenos Aires and the city resort of Punta del Este in Uraguay (often referred to as the St-Tropez of South America for the crowd of millionaire jet-setters who flock there).

Valued at $110 million (approx.) when, in late 2012, Havaianas owner SP Alpargatas acquired a 30% stake (valued at $33 million) - beating competition from European luxury behemoths LVMH and PPR - the brand has won accolades for its eco-friendly approach to fashion design. Metsavaht’s Instituto e, a non-profit organisation promoting sustainability combined with design and lifestyle - with a distinct emphasis on Brazil’s pivotal role – has won him the honorary title of UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador.

“If I can use [the title] to show the world that sustainability is the future and that Brazil can lead the way towards the sustainable lifestyle, then I will be one step closer to reaching my goal..

“It is all about what I call the ‘Brazilian Soul’. This is what I think we Brazilians can really bring to the world: the energy of our people and our natural resources…”

(From Around the World in 80 Brands by Anouk Pappers and Maartin Schäfer)

Word of the project’s activity has spread. KENZO are already using the project’s fair trade e-Fabrics.

The more one delves into these success stories of Brazilian fashion and beauty, the more it becomes evident that consumers are drawn to brands which resonate with their culture and have been developed within Brazil over time.

This is something homegrown companies can smile about, especially in the cosmetics market.

The quest for the body beautiful is something of an obsession. With supermodels like Gisele Bundchen, Alessandra Ambrosia and Isabeli Fontana exporting Brazilian sexiness around the globe with their exotic beauty and enviable curves, is it any wonder women are flocking to the cosmetics counter?

Annual hair and beauty fair Hair Brasil holds its 13th edition in Sao Paolo this April, an event which includes meetings of manicurists and make-up artists, hair workshops and competitions. Last year 900 brands showcased a range of beauty and spa products, attracting around 97,000 industry professionals.

Global market research company Euromonitor has predicted that the nation’s beauty industry will be worth $59 billion by 2016, overtaking Japan as the world’s second largest consumer of cosmetics. The international businesses have seen these numbers and are keen to tap the new wealth of Brazil’s beauty junkies.

Founded in 1977, O Boticario is Brazil’s second largest cosmetics company. In 2011, American billionaire co-founder of the Carlyle Group William Conway Jr. travelled to the company’s headquarters in San Jose dos Pinhais with a mind to buy O Boticario. So impressed was he by the Brazilian gem that he withdrew his offer, advising owners Miguel Krigsner and Artur Grynbaum never to sell.

What’s the secret to their success?

“Good brands are those by which you convey good value and build a relationship with the customer”, says Grynbaum.

Along with Natura, Brazil’s largest cosmetics company, O Botanica grew on the upper-middle class thirst for natural, eco-friendly products which grew in the 1980s. Indeed, Brazil’s abundance of natural resources has made it a target for beauty brands around the world who are eager to include their rare, elixir-like qualities in their own products. Aveda, Kiehl’s and MAC have all sourced raw materials such as semi-precious stones, seeds and berries for their unique pigments and restorative properties. The products fly off the shelves.

*

With such an investment in long-standing Brazilian brands, do international players have a chance at winning over shoppers?

Of course. Brazilian luxury shoppers are plenty interested and those brands are heading to the country’s malls to set up flagships to cash in. A look at those impressive, state-of-the-art giants and it’s not hard to see why.

Take the JK Iguatemi shopping mall, opened in Sao Paulo in June 2012 – the thirteenth owned by parent company Iguatemi Empresa de Shopping Centers SA. It’s opening marked the launch of the first Lanvin, Tory Burch, Prada and Saint Laurent stores in Brazil and they sit alongside the likes of Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci, Diesel and Ermenegildo Zegna.

Wealthy shoppers can take their Chanel and Bulgari, with a dose of VIP service, perhaps a work out in the gym followed by a meal in one of the city’s top restaurants before collecting their car from the concierge service, all the while breathing in extra-purified air, specially filtered for pollen. JK Iguatemi also has eight cinemas, one of which was the first 4DX cinema in South America.

Again, the familiarity of long-standing institutions holds significant sway with paulistas of South America’s biggest city; at the INYT Hot Luxury Conference in 2011 Diane Von Furstenberg told audiences that sales at the original Iguatemi mall – the oldest Brazilian mall still in operation – were second only to her New York flagship.

Carlos Jereissati Filho, president and CEO of the company has this to say about his malls:

“We were the first to offer customers services such as concierge and personal shopper — and we innovate to continually bring new events and exhibitions of fashion and culture. The mission of a mall is to constantly amaze customers and this has been the reason for our success.”

Cidade Jardim shopping mall - Iguatemi’s biggest competitor – offers a similarly luxurious shopping environment, with services, champagne gardens, French and Italian restaurants as well as high end designer brands Dior, Fendi, Giorgio Armani and Brazilian Cris Barros.

And that’s just Sao Paulo. South-west of Rio’s centre is Barra da Tijuca, a younger district populated with upscale high-rises, clubs and centres like Shopping Village Mall, home to Gucci, Tiffany, Louis Vuitton, Cartier and Prada, and also a venue for theatre shows, gigs and exhibitions.

Though the wealthy elite of Sao Paulo and Rio are an obvious draw for businesses, a major area for development in Brazil lies in its smaller cities. In the same way that Western brands sought to set up flagships in Beijing and Shanghai when the colossal spending power of the Chinese became apparent, so too did Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro become the target for the luxury brands looking to establish a presence in Brazil, but once roots are firmly planted in the flagships of the twin cities, plans are now being directed elsewhere, where the scope for growth is large.

A 2013 report by Euromonitor highlighted how the growing number of affluent shoppers in different regions of Brazil combined with increased awareness of developments in fashion - thanks to the internet and social media platforms -  had led to smaller cities like the capital, Brasilia, Curitiba and Belo Horizonte becoming ripe for expansion, mimicking the eventual lure of China’s second and third-tier cities to luxury businesses.

Brazil’s rising middle class, or ‘C class’ as it’s known, has been a major factor in this expansion. This new consumer market has grown thanks to rising wages and more jobs; combine that spring of affluence with a system which allows shoppers to pay for goods in installments – a common method of payment in the country - and this new, upwardly mobile consumer is able to shop luxury goods and services in a way that would not have been possible ten years ago.

Featured in Chinese luxury magazine TARGET

Other things

Who Are You Dressing For?

White Drama at Les Docks

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Me and Rankin talked about stuff

Rankin has shot everyone from Queen Elizabeth II to Madonna. He’s founded and edited five trailblazing manuals and pop culture and style (Dazed & Confused, Rank, Another Magazine, Another Man, Hunger), travelled to the Congo to promote conflict awareness with Oxfam, documented attitudes towards death with the BBC, and directed music videos and short films. Now, 21 years after he launched Dazed & Confused with Jefferson Hack, Rankin is still driven (and called upon) to create.

The film documenting your Alive: In the Face of Death series was really emotional to watch, particularly because of how visibly moved you were. Is it harder to photograph and document when you’re emotionally attached to a project?

That’s an interesting question. I think the thing about photography, for me, is that it’s probably where I feel most comfortable - with a camera. On a one to one basis with someone, it’s got to do with the camera being a little bit like a shield, but at the same time like a microscope. I don’t know why that is, for me, but in the most difficult situations I feel very calm and even excited. So actually it was harder for me to do the interviews and looking into people’s eyes and talking to them. And also it’s really uncomfortable for people to be questioned and have a camera stuck in their face. So a lot of my job is to try and calm them down as well, in the same way that I’m calm. The emotional aspect of it.. the weird thing for me about the project was that me and Jack [Cocker] the director, we thought about the project a lot more than we’d thought about anything before. This might sound a bit strange but, if you’re scared of death, if you’ve got a fear of it, which I definitely had and probably still to some extent have, you feel a bit like you’re playing with fire when you start talking to people because you’re a bit like.. there’s an element of thinking about the Grim Reaper, like there’s an order to it all.. that really affected us quite seriously. We started really talking about it last year in August but we didn’t really do anything until January because we found it so difficult, to get over this hurdle, we actually both got quite depressed, especially over Christmas, it put us in a weird place in our heads.

We photographed [one of the subjects] Sandra and talked to Sandra but we hadn’t really dived into it properly, because we just kept talking about it and thinking about it, talking about it and thinking about it. So that weird depression was part of the process. Then once we’d met a couple of the people, like [novelist] Diana Athill, who was like a breath of fresh air for me. She’s about 93 and she was like a slap in the face, a bit ‘just get on with it!’ Then we interviewed Lou who unfortunately passed away. She did this weird thing where, almost immediately, she started crying when I started talking to her. It’s not used in the film because it was so emotional. And I think that those two people, by the time we’d got to that point, we’d already thought so much about it, for me it was.. I’d become a bit obsessed with it, but I realised that, in the end that this project wasn’t about me, it was about the other people. Which is weird because that’s what most of my photography is about, it’s about the person I’m photographing, not me. It was a process I had to go through. By May, I just felt so much better about my parents’ passing away. When people have got ill or passed away I’ve been very eager to talk to them. I’m not scared of it, or talking about it. In a sense it did what it said on the tin. It was about me processing it. I think some work can be really good when you show the process. In the film we didn’t go into the personal bit too much because I actually thought it was boring compared to other people’s stories.

You mention that your photography is usually about the people you’re shooting, but would you agree that to an extent, your portraits of other people are self-portraits? That they speak of who you are as much as they do of the subject?

Yeah they have to be of you because it’s your opinion, it’s your view of someone, so you can’t ignore the fact that you’re in the picture in some way. Looking at a photograph tells you a lot about my view of the world. You have to be really aware of that when you’re shooting but at the same time, to get a sense of people in their picture, you have to kind of love them. You have to be fascinated by them. I’m a really inquisitive person and also I’ve got no block on myself - I just say what comes into my head. In those situations it’s better because people aren’t necessarily expecting it. It becomes a bit like, not therapy but there’s an element of analysis. And then with other people it’s just fun. Some people don’t want to be serious in pictures. When I look at books I’ve done, when you look at your old work, it’s like a strange diary of your life. You’re not physically in it but metaphorically you’re in it.

But also, pictures get misinterpreted. A woman in Australia picked up a picture I did for Elle MacPherson Intimates and thought it showed domestic violence. It’s quite strange when people misinterpret your work. Of course I knew it wasn’t about that at all, it was about something completely different. You’ve got to be thick-skinned about it. There’s a lot of.. especially in today’s media, people knock your photos left, right and centre. So I let the pictures stand for themselves. It’s every person’s right to interpret it their way, even if they’re doing it for their own gain. When the pictures go out into the world they become the public’s in a sense. You’ve got to be hardened to it. If I’d listened to every criticism of every picture I’ve ever taken, I’d never be able to take photographs.

The more I thought about how photography records moments in time, the more natural it seemed that death and mortality would be a subject for a photographer. Do you feel that there’s that sense of need to record everything while you can, as if you’re against the clock, in every photographer? 

I think that’s a really, really good question. I think that, as a photographer, you’re very aware of the fact that you’re capturing time. In it’s essence, it’s implicit to what you’re doing, you know, it depends on time. So you have to be at 1/125th of a second. There’s a great quote by a photographer who said, when asked about his own exhibition how he felt about the time it took he said ‘It only took a few seconds’. They’re captured moments. You can’t not be aware of it. I think that as a young photographer I didn’t think so much about what my images would mean in five years or ten years. I really tend to not think about that. When you do start to look back on your work, there’s got to be an element of wanting the picture to represent a moment in time, or a moment in fashion. There’s a part of you that wants to create something that’s going to live forever. When you’re young you don’t have people die much around you, then as you get older people start dying and the photographs take on a new meaning.

In the film, John showed the pictures of the people in their childhoods, growing up, those pictures are really resonant and I tried to do the same thing with my parents and their photos but no one can see my parents, they don’t have that connection or any sense of who they were. That’s one of the things I really wanted to do, I really wanted to take photography back, so that it’s not just about selling but about how you capture a memory, or how important a photograph can be. I don’t know if my show really captured that.

As a photographer I try not to think about it but you can’t help it because you’re dealing with time. Time changes you. You notice it when you look at yourself in the mirror. You can’t help but notice it.

You talk about taking photography away from selling things; watching you on Jamie Oliver’s Dream School I noticed that the kids honed in on the money a photographer can make. Did that bother you or were you expecting that kind of response?

I think the thing is that kids have this immediate idea that something like what I do, what models and photographers do is easy because glamourous and is probably quite easy because it’s glamourous. You know, all you’ve got to do is click a shutter. Of course you have to have a talent to do it. But everybody thinks I could give that a go. I think they just focused on that because that’s their immediate assumption. One of the things I wanted to suggest was that if you do something you love professionally you’ll never get bored of it. The thing about money is, which I think it super important, and I said it to my son the other day, who’s 17, after he was implying that he was very different from me, like he wouldn’t do things for money.. I said to him, what money does is, it allows you the freedom to do the creative projects you want. I wasn’t brought up to be an artist and I certainly didn’t buck against trend to be an artist, though I did by being a photographer because my parents wanted me to be an accountant. So I never really thought I could achieve value in creating my work on a non-commercial basis, that’s probably got a lot to do with to my not having enough balls to do it and growing up in an environment where art was never really a part of any agenda so I didn’t really have any knowledge of it, whereas with photography I looked at every day in magazines. So I just went for what I knew.

If I was just a guy who only did commercial projects then that would be it. I easily could understand why kids would think ‘Oh he must make loads and loads of money' but if you really doing it for what you do as a creative person, you don't really make that much money because you're always pumping back into what you do next. You know, I'm not sitting on a pile of cash, living a crazy life. I work my arse off and I've worked my arse off to get here. What I do like about it is I can literally say 'Today I’m going to go down and take some pictures, if I want.’ It means I can PR those photos, I can get them in an exhibition.. for me that’s what money’s about, it’s not about the fame thing. Actually fame is this terrible burden. So I think that’s why the kids honed it on it, thinking that they could easily do it.

How did it feel being a teacher for a short period?

I’ve probably had about 150 assistants in my life and you just naturally end up teaching them. They become part of your family and I treat everything like that. If you’re going to do it you’ve got to try and do it with as much enthusiasm as you can. Try and relate to them, if you’re teaching them something otherwise there’s no point in it. It’s the same with photography. There’s no point trying to take a portrait of a person without trying to relate to them. Why would you just focus on the surface? Why would you just make it about what they look like? For me, a portrait is like a collaboration. I guess that’s what I was trying to explain to the kids and the project I gave them to do was first showing them these pictures who are famous, musicians, people they admire and I asked them to destroy this piece of art because I think everybody has these physical, body issues, everyone’s got things they don’t understand about themselves and I think photography’s a really good way of looking at yourself and trying to work out what you want to be, who you want to be and how you want to be perceived. It’s a good way of analysing yourself by looking at a picture. The project was to go away and interpret the photograph that I’d taken of them.

It helped them to understand that a photograph can be very, very glossy, very perfected images of people. Life in a magazine isn’t real life. It’s a fantasy world. But also, how do you want to be seen? Do you want it to just be about wearing great eye make up, wearing the right shirt? Or do you want to have more to yourself than that? In some ways I guess that could be perceived as selling out what I’ve been doing for the 25 years but it was about talking and debating this stuff, trying to get more than the glossy image. I guess what I’m most happy with in my work is that my photos aren’t just about selling something, there’s a lot more going on under the surface, between me and the subject. And also, they’re not conventional portraits, hopefully there’s something a bit more telling about the person, that makes you want to know and understand the person more.

Talking about defining your work, I’ve watched you say in an interview that you set out to avoid definition in regards to your style, so rather than ask what defines a Rankin photograph, instead I’ll ask what unifies your work? How, for example, did you choose the pictures for your retrospective (at the Old Truman Brewery)? Were they your favourites? Were they the ones which you felt tapped into an extra dimension in the subject best?

I think with my photography, it’s all about this idea of you collaborating with someone who’s an artist in quite an unusual way. They use their face as a kind of canvas. What I bring to it is the reality, I hope. I just love those images, they’re so surprising and challenging. When you look at something and you think that’s so unusual, it’s quite a unique way of looking at the world. So I do stuff like that but then I’ll do something where there is no make up, no styling. I don’t do it for any other reason other than I’d probably get bored if I did the same thing every day.

There are people who don’t take my work that seriously, who think I copy other people, I’m not a true artist, I’m a magpie.. I don’t intentionally do stuff not to be recognised, I just don’t find it interesting to do the same thing every time, and I love photography! I love how broad it is and how many different genres there are. I’m a big fan of photography, that’s why I do these TV shows. They’re like masterclasses in the people I really admire. I find it really difficult to explain why I don’t have a particular style. And also, ten years ago what I was doing was maybe a bit more unusual, but now a lot more people are doing. It’s not as judged as it was but I find that I don’t even think about it. I just do what I like doing, I don’t think about the style. I’ve also learned to trust my gut. if I genuinely like an image other people seem to like it as well. So I try not to be too analytical about it. I don’t enter competitions, I don’t promote myself on the international photography circuit. There are a lot of groups and associations. I’m a member of a couple but more for information. I’m a bit like Groucho Marx, you know, I wouldn’t be in a club that would take me as a member. I don’t know if that answers your question, but I just don’t think about it, I feel a bit, take me or leave me! If you don’t like me fine! Don’t worry I’m not going to lose sleep over it.

Talking of scope in photography, you’ve definitely branched out over recent years. Your projects outside the fashion industry - Alive, which we’ve talked about, the portraits in Congo with Oxfam - have these projects changed the way you feel about fashion photography and portraiture? Have they changed the way you approach your work?

I don’t think they’ve changed the way I approach my work but I’m definitely a better human being for having done them. I feel better in myself about it. One of the reasons I do things like that is because I had a five year old son and my moniker is ‘celebrity photographer' or 'fashion photographer Rankin' and I'm hardly either of those. I do do it, I do own fashion magazines but it was more about being interested in life and learning about yourself. When you go to somewhere like Congo, it's so good for you. I don't mean you feel like you've done something good, you just realise that there's a whole other world out there and you're so privileged and we take it for granted a bit. I really don't want to get heavy about it. It's more of a personal thing, for me, I like being around people. Weirdly, when you go to places like Congo or when you deal with people who have terminal illnesses, they're positive and optimistic. Personally, it really helps me, I go slap myself in the face and say stop being a stuck up wanker. Because that's the problem, we can really live in a bubble. Generally we're not like that the people I've met aren't like that, they have another way of being real, everyone deals with things in their own way and my way is to, through photography, to help people. It's not like I do it for PR or because you get something back, it's about every part of it. It's much more complex than black and white. Hopefully the way I photograph people will get something out of it. I hope that people learn something. If people are watching it on TV I hope they're getting something out of it. It's about giving people some information.

You launched The Hunger magazine last year. What’s the appeal of print media for you? 

Well Hunger's not just print, it's a website too. I guess I just missed it. I missed working in magazines. I love that interaction you get with people working in magazines. You know I've never left Dazed, I just sort of stopped working there, though I still own it. I wanted something of my own, that I didn’t have to go to someone else for approval first. I didn’t want to go back and knock the DNA at Dazed or mess up the balance, because it’s very hard to get the balance of a magazine right, to get the feeling of how you balance a team and if I’d gone back in and reinvented the wheel it would have upset everything. Financially too, I was in a position to do The Hunger and I thought this might be my last chance to do another magazine, so it’s like my last hurrah, I guess. There was the challenge to create something with digital. I wanted to jump in at the deep end and push myself to create it. I’ve always kind of trusted my instincts, which is why I don’t make a lot of money, but I do think I make the right decisions creatively.

Print’s not a very attractive prospect these days. I wanted to know what you believe keeps a print magazine going? How do you make sure your content remains fresh?

I don’t know, they say that about everything don’t they? People still buy records from record shops, they still listen to the radio. I think that if there’s a real love, it’ll continue. I think it’s a saturated market at the moment, which makes it difficult to launch something. Unless you have a digital element to it as well, but it comes from the same place. I mean, digital and print, websites, iPads, they’re about content, great content. It’s really interesting too because they can be coming from the same place but execution is very different and you can keep the reader happy. You’ve got one for digital and one for the actual magazine.

I don’t think people are ever going to get sick of books, even though we’ve got iPads now. I still quite like to buy a book There’s something nice about magazines. and if you’re into photography or fashion, you definitely like the format of a magazine, and something that comes out every six months is more like a book, it lasts longer. It’s stays in your house, it doesn’t get replaced by another magazine every month. So I think, the magazines finding it difficult in terms of fashion, are those finding it difficult to sustain their monthly issues. They’ll probably reduce the pages for each issue. For Dazed and AnOther, there’s the digital versions, which will hopefully walk together hand in hand into the digital era.

I don’t claim to have the answers, but I’m very interested in digital and I enjoy looking at what people are watching. At the same time I love getting a new magazine because it’s so exciting.

I agree that there’s a thrill you get when you buy a new magazine that you don’t get when you look at a website.

Yeah, and I think people like to take pages out of magazines and stick them on their wall. It’s basically cheap art. What art can you get for £6.95? We’ve all done it, kept clippings or torn out pages. Magazines are really inspiring if they’re done well. The big magazines are doing really well, they’re going from strength to strength.

Which magazines do you buy?

I buy Purple and LOVE. I like a bit of everything. I love that there are loads of independent publishers now. It’s like they’re putting their hearts on their arm. I like that. It’s so strong now. It’s good that there are people out there doing it. I don’t like that kind of exclusivity, I’m a bit more like ‘keep it open’. But like I said, I don’t like clubs. I try and make my magazines a bit more pop, so that they’re fun. I love LOVE magazine, I think Katie [Grand]’s done a great job with that.

There’s no snobbery in it.

It’s good when it’s like that. I love AnOther as well. Stylist too. I always read Stylist.

How do you feel about Dazed? It began so long ago and it’s become a cultural benchmark against which so many other publications must measure themselves. How do you feel about that?

Erm.. I feel very privileged to be part of that group of people I’ve always thought it’s funny that no one’s done a story on the three of us each going on to do our different things. Even though I still own Dazed, we’ve all gone on and created our own magazines and they’re all very different, which I think is quite funny. Because it was me Jefferson [Hack] and Katie who did it. I do feel really privileged, I feel very happy that I was a driving force behind it. Very proud, a bit like a dad that it’s gone on to do so well. But I don’t know, as you get to your forties and fifties, you still want to achieve things. Twenty years of Dazed is a great achievement but you feel a bit like you don’t want to be marginalised because you’ve already done it. I still want to do things which have meaning, that have an agenda. I’ve got my own agenda, Katie’s got hers and Jefferson’s got his. It’s something I feel passionately about. I’m happy that we’re all still out there doing it. It’s not even about success, it’s about being ambitious. We set out with that agenda, we wanted to change the world and we still want to change the world. You’re like ‘hold on a minute I’m not finished!’ That’s why Jefferson and I don’t have so much to do with Dazed. It’s not about middle-aged guys, it’s about young people who feel a little bit distanced from everything else. Wanting to change things. There’s no point in me trying to talk to twenty year-olds.

Is that how it began then, with you feeling like an outsider?

Yes! Yes, we were outsiders. We’d never been to London before. I was from the home counties, Jefferson was from the south coast and Katie’s from Birmingham. We didn’t feel at home at home and we didn’t feel at home in London. We were very much outsiders and we always felt like that. We definitely wanted to create out own scene, our own platform. We loved Malcolm McLaren. We all respected that do-it-yourself attitude. That’s where we came from. Andy Warhol and Malcolm McLaren.

I think there’s something to that idea - that if you don’t grow up surrounded by the industry or in the coolest place, you’re not raised with predetermined ideas of what’s cool and you have a viewpoint that’s outside of it.

Yeah I agree with that. I think to grow up with it, you become a little bit numb to it. There people of course who do really well, I just think your ambition when you’re not from that makes you want to do really well. You want to make it in the big city. We all read The Face, we all read i-D. We were enamoured by it.

I wanted to finish with something lighter than the intense stuff we’ve been talking about. What’s a typical Rankin day like?

A day for me is.. I get up at around 6 o’clock, or between 5 and 7. I’ll get up and do emails for a couple of hours. I’ll shower. I’ll have a cup of tea around 9.30. I’ll go down and check hair and make up’s going, brief people if I have to. Then I’ll meet my production team for an hour on set to go through things and chat, but basically go through what shoots are coming up and check the diary. Then I’ll probably start shooting at 11 until five or six o’clock. I’ll have meetings in between shots, which is one of the most difficult things to do because, people kind of think that what I do is easy and you can just turn it on, turn it off, and a lot of the time you can, but it can be hard. Because there’s so much going on on a shoot every day I’m in and out of meetings. At 7 o’clock I’ll have a round up of the day and then I’ll probably go home (just upstairs) at around eight. I’ll probably go to bed at ten o’clock, though my wife’ll try to keep me awake because I’m so busy. Pretty boring really.

Intense though.

Yeah, I mean I work every day. Unless I’m hungover at the weekend or something I’ll try to get my inbox to around 200, that’s a good number. If it goes up to 1000 I’m fucked. Aeroplanes are good for that, most of it’s just rubbish but you’ve got to check everything.

You say you never have a day off. Are you ever without a camera? Do you usually keep a camera on you when you go out?

I don’t, no. I’ve started to a little bit. I’m using my camera phone a lot because I’ve just started using Instagram. I prefer to construct photographs, but I do like to.. the other day I was on a farm taking pictures of the animals.

Is that coming next? An animal exhibition?

Oh no I don’t think so, although I do do a dog calendar every year for my wife, for a laugh.

A version of this interview featured in VVV Magazine’s For the Love of Art issue

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China Fashion Week: BeautyBerry by Wang Yutao AW’14

For autumn/winter 2014, Wang Yutao reminded us why his collections for BeautyBerry are a high point of China Fashion Week in Beijing.

The womenswear – by far his best yet – may have taken its cue from Phoebe Philo’s most recent collections at Céline (think curving volume and well-constructed dresses with flattering, flared silhouettes), but as the label continues to achieve record-breaking sales worldwide for its parent company LVMH, who can blame him? A tad derivative though it might be, it demonstrates a broader vision and an understanding of the value of tapping into international trends. China isn’t closed anymore and its designers have to plug themselves in to the global style conversation if they want to achieve popularity with a fashion-savvy audience; to plough on with one’s vision irregardless of the zeitgeist is a luxury few designers are afforded.

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(Source: anywearstyle.com)

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Dystopian Spectacular - Chi Zhang AW’14

Does Chi Zhang have a bleak outlook for the future? His collections, which regularly turn gender dress codes on their head with glossy fabrics and skin-tight clothes, repeatedly conjure up images of dystopias with conflict and danger. Chi has a knack for storytelling.

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Corduroy Skirts Are A Sin! Talbot Runhof AW’14

talbot runhof

Why not build an entire collection around the idea of the corduroy skirt as a ‘fashion yes-yes’?

The above picture of a University of Syracuse student’s retaliation against a local woman’s bigotry in 2009 was the starting point for Talbot Runhof’s celebratory autumn/winter 2014 collection, shown at the brand’s Rue d’Alger boutique during Paris Fashion Week.

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