What’s Contemporary by Patrick and Victor Demarchelier
Timeless is a word we all use, and one we often bear in mind with focused intention when creating images today. Despite the ubiquity of the concept of timelessness, to successfully achieve such magic is a feat very few can accomplish, much less accomplish time after time. The name Demarchelier hangs like an iconic banner of such imagery over the pages of countless magazines and endless advertising campaigns today and through decades past. As contemporary is frequently defined as ‘A person or thing living or existing at the same time as another,’ we thought it would be an incredible concept to invite the Demarcheliers of two different generations to present together their idea of contemporary as it exists in our time. Rather than interpret the same subject from contrasting generational points of view, Patrick and Victor found it more interesting to come together and create images that, for them, represent a timeless and classic aesthetic that has always been, and will forever be, contemporary. Selecting six of the most stunning models of our time as their subject matter, they have successfully created the most epic moment ever created for an online platform, proving that the quality of content is in no way dependent on the platform through which it is experienced.
Epic, timeless and classic, ContemporaryIS Patrick & Victor Demarchelier.
Photography Patrick Demarchelier
Photography Victor Demarchelier (Paris/New York: Management + Artists)
Stylist William Graper
Editor Christopher Michael / What’s Contemporary
Introduction and Q&A by Christopher Michael
Hair Teddy Charles @ Art & Commerce
Makeup Fulvia Farolfi @ Bryan Bantry
Stylist assistants: Mollie Maguire, Mel Eligon
In response to the question of What’s Contemporary, you and Patrick chose to create these images together rather than run your separate perspectives of the same subject in a parallel contrast. How did you come to the decision to do it this way?
PD: We love to work together.
VD: I thought it would be fun to work together on this. We are both contemporary, and I wanted to show that, with the generation gap, we could still create images that appealed to both of us.
You were both very specific about the casting on this. What was it about these girls in particular that you held to be so contemporary and accurate as a response for this subject?
PD: I like them all. These are interesting girls we work with regularly.
VD: We wanted to shoot the sexiest and most beautiful girls around.
So many people feel the pressure to create new ideas with each and every passing year, yet you guys chose to create images of a timeless nature. Why?
PD: We don’t feel the pressure. We like to work in an instinctive way.
VD: I find most ideas for shoots terribly repetitive and vain. A beautiful girl shot in a beautiful light never gets old. Fashion is always changing, but I don’t think that our idea of beauty is changing as quickly. Fashion is always changing, but beauty is timeless.
How important is the role of the fashion in your pictures?
PD: We work in fashion, so, of course, the fashion is important, but the team you work with and everyone around you is equally important.
VD: Fashion is essential to our work. You cannot make a pretty picture with ugly fashion, but it’s the people who wear these clothes that make them especially interesting.
This is not the first project you have worked on together. Do you often get requested to work on projects together?
VD: Sometimes, but we prefer to work together on our own terms.
This timeless Demarchelier aesthetic is one that stands not only the test of time, but also equally challenges the common imagery of today the same way it has in years past. What do you think makes a photograph timeless?
PD: Style comes naturally. When I work, I don’t think about my style, just about the pictures I am taking.
VD: You cannot create a style. Your style, what you like, is who you are. I think the best quality a work of art can have is timelessness. I think there is an ease to our style — a natural, organic process that defines us.
Not to over-intellectualize or demystify these incredible images, but what lead to the choice of nudity for this series?
VD: We wanted the focus to be on our idea of beauty. Keeping the girls as natural as possible — minimal hair, makeup and styling was important to the process.
PD: I wanted to let the girls express themselves and not have the clothes take over.
Discussing the subject of contemporary, both as it is in culture, but more specifically to fashion, it seems that many are deferring back to wanting to create content of a timeless nature, in an effort to avoid the commonly used current aesthetic that will no doubt be recognizably of this time in years to come, and much more ‘throw away.’ In theory, this is great. However, not everyone is able to create this kind of image. From the point of view of photographers, what do you think about the direction and nature of fashion imagery most commonly created today?
PD: There is no “style” today. Everyone has a different style.