ONE INTERVIEW: ANDREW RICHARDSON
An interview by One Management's Christopher Michael for models.com
Cover portrait by Olivier Zahm for models.com
Right: photo by Terry Richardson for Interview Magazine
Andrew Richardson: I grew up in England and spent part of my childhood in the Middle East, then moved to New York as a menswear designer when I was 22. At the time, I was going out with a girl who borrowed an apartment from a couple of guys who were photo assistants; they seemed to be traveling around a fair bit and having a lot more fun than I was…So, I began to work as a stylist assistant and I worked for Brana Wolf. Through Brana I met Steven Meisel, and through Steven I worked with Anna Sui when she was an editor with him doing Italian Vogue. Then, I worked for Paul Cavaco and spent a lot of time working in Steven’s studio, about 3 years with those different stylists, which gave me a really great base. I was very spoiled watching those great talents make those great images, and being provocative, it really fit for me.
AR: Magazines back then began to sort of gravitate towards sexual provocation, to make images compelling. Sex just seemed to come through and I was in the right place at the right time, I never really thought of doing anything else. I’m straight… well, as straight as a fashion stylist can be (laughs)… and that was what turned me on, that was what was exciting. When I was a kid I was very into Yves Saint Laurent and the images of Helmut Newton, the way they both presented this woman in a very provocative way but still being in control. I always tried to encourage irony and a sense of humor into the sexuality in the pictures I’ve worked on.
V 56 / Photo: Steven Meisel / Fashion Editor: Andrew Richardson
AR: It’s kind of a funny thing… When I was a younger man, I had a couple of investigative adventures, so to speak, which is why it’s funny that he misquoted me that way. I do find myself looking at cute boys walking down the street differently now… almost as if once you get outed in print it changes something within you (laughs). But yes, I was misquoted. I really gravitated towards the gay club scene in London and New York when I was younger because that was the best scene, I enjoyed that kind of mentality and attitude and never had problem with that.
AR: A lot of stylists work in a way where they are sort of dressing themselves in a picture. I’ve always been more geared towards the photograph and what the idea is, who the character is. Who is she when she wears that? Who is he when he wears that? For me, that’s the way I like to think about stories… it’s more about the idea. I’m like a closet photographer in a way. I do a lot of referencing and really collaborate with the photographer on what we see in the world around us. Recently, I did a story with Terry on “The Jersey Shore” for Interview magazine; I was really into the show, so I said to Terry, “Wouldn’t it be great to shoot these guys?” I was interested because the sexuality in that show is associated predominately with the men, and the women are kind of secondary. That’s really what I think styling is about for me… being able to process my environment and what I’m interested in, who I know and what’s coming in… I come from that school where at 13 or 14 I was reading The Face and it really affected me. I lived 30 miles from London and it was everything I wanted to be a part of and couldn’t, I was too young and couldn’t afford the bus fare… it was what turned me on. That magazine was really great because it featured fashion, culture, and music; a post-punk, culture magazine… that’s the point of view and the school that I come from. Trying to make a fashion story that is more like an album, an image, like a single. You know, you really want to do a story that someone is going to tear out of a magazine and put up on their wall.
AR: I think Paul Cavaco was definitely an influence for me, and Brana too. With Paul, it was his way of being. He was a great person to work for. He had a great sense of ease about working, it wasn’t a neurotic process (the way he worked), it was also very much about the image. He could do a whole story with a white shirt, and it was about the way he worked things out on set. Anyone can get a Balenciaga look off the runway and put it on a girl and it looks great. Paul taught me how to work using simple things. Also, I was very influenced by Melanie Ward and Anna Coburn and what was happening in the ‘grunge’ movement in London, the way they used transgressive elements in quite a plain way. I think Paul had a real confidence in his ability to make anything stylish… He depended less upon what you put on the girl and more about what you did with what you had. If you get stuck on a shoot and you can’t figure it out, and the idea you had and what you were building towards isn’t really working… if you divert from that, and if you don’t try to work it out within the idea, you can really end up in a lot of trouble. So I always try, for better or worse, to work out what we were originally trying to do. You are going to have to make mistakes to learn and make it better next time. You have to sort of go through that whole thing. I think that’s how you develop, and Paul was really good at knowing how he would be able to resolve the look in the picture.
CM: At what point in the whole journey of your career did the magazine come to be?
AR: It came to me really; I didn’t decide to call it Richardson either. It was late 1997 that it began to be talked about and we got the money and began to shoot it in early1998, Laura Genninger and David Ortega from Studio 191 agreed to art direct and we had Issue A1 ready to print in March of 1998.
AR: You’ll see in the print version you have the QR codes and if you have a QR reader on your phone you can scan it and that will open up the online version where you can watch say a film that is referred to in the print version or a translation of an article while you have the magazine in front of you. So you have this Analog Digital interface. What we have on the website is not really a reflection of the magazine, it’s an ancillary device to the magazine and then what we’ve started doing now is blogging…So we have a ‘feed’ section on the site where we put up something every day or every couple of days, something that interests us… That’s what’s exciting in a way; the magazine is a beautiful object, a resolved rigorous publication, whereas the website is a much more spontaneous easy way of communicating. We have 4 or 5 different contributors and they each bring their own sort of thing to the mix. There is a gay point of view, a lesbian, a straight girl, straight guy- different types of people who are sharing things that they are interested in. It’s very important that this magazine is not a ‘straight’ magazine, it’s all sex and we try to represent that in the blog as well.