The Spring/Summer 2020 issue of Document has been released at a time when the world is in upheaval. Seemingly overnight people’s values have changed. Self-isolation and solitude have created a backdrop of introspection. Previous norms of beauty and fashion have to adapt, to be reevaluated. What really matters? How does fashion proceed from here? With such uncertainty in the air, the issue’s evocative imagery by Mario Sorrenti, Richard Bush and Venetia Scott takes on a new poignancy. In the Models.com exclusive interview below, Document’s creative and fashion director Sarah Richardson and newly appointed beauty director Lucia Pieroni discuss modern beauty, societal change, and the way forward.
Cover by Venetia Scott
Models.com: Where in the world are you both right now?
Sarah: Islington, London. At home.
Lucia: I’m in my kitchen at home in West London, looking out at the torrential rain that appears to be killing my roses, and trying to bake a cake for a friend’s birthday.
What type of lasting impacts do you foresee Covid-19 having on both the fashion and beauty worlds, positive and not so positive?
Sarah: We will have to re-evaluate. I believe the pandemic has given us time to refocus. And, due to restrictions, social distancing, and economics, we will need to create less waste. This includes working with smaller teams, with some working from home, and creating less product with longer lasting appeal—partly due to consumers having less disposable income. Fashion purchases will need to be more of an investment. This will mean there will potentially be fewer collections per season, giving designers time to focus on quality and design over quantity and immediate impact. This will allow the manufacturers and production time to focus on efficiency and the quality of the product, in turn creating a healthy market with less leftover stock, which is more enticing for consumers.
Lucia: I don’t know, on one hand it all seems so distressing – with people around the world in danger of losing their livelihoods. But, trying to focus on the positive, we can see this huge setback as a great opportunity for change. I would hope things would be less throwaway, less consumer driven, more meaningful. Perhaps this is the perfect opportunity to look at the world around us, slow down, take stock, and take a serious look at how we live our lives.
This is Lucia’s first issue as beauty director. Sarah, how did you come to know each other, and what does this mean for Document?
Sarah: I first met Lucia when I was an assistant. I have always admired her approach to beauty; always contemporary and creative, but effortlessly cool, a magic combination. She’s also a diamond of a woman, smart and incredibly funny! Document is a collaboration of some of the most creative minds in the industry, we believe in freedom of expression and Lucia has exactly this understanding from both a beauty and fashion perspective. This, coupled with the experience and work ethic, creates exciting and innovative content across all of Document’s platforms.
Lucia, this is your first tenure with a magazine, but your work is legendary. Are there ideas you’re excited to explore that you may not have before?
Lucia: I’m thrilled to be working with Document, I’ve always admired its creative vision. While I’m not going to give too much away just yet, I think I can say that I will be collaborating with some pretty amazing people. I’m looking forward to getting my teeth into the other side of beauty, exploring and creating new things.
What’s been the thing you’ve missed the most in the past six weeks of self-quarantining?
Lucia: I’m in self-quarantine with my boyfriend and my cat. I have a lovely garden and the weather has been beautiful, so it hasn’t been bad at all, I’m very lucky. I guess what I miss most is freedom and spontaneity. I miss my friends and family calling to say, “Fancy a drink or the movies?”
Sarah: My friends’ smiles and faces, hugs and face-to-face laughter, travelling, freedom to be myself and do and go where I want and of course working and collaborating with teams and clients. As Lucia says to be spontaneous.
How do you see the industry shifting in the coming months? Years?
Sarah: I see a focus on becoming more ethical and sustainable and being more thoughtful in general. The industry has had a bad reputation in the past for being superficial—throwaway and elitist—and a bit mean-spirited in its behavior to people. This can no longer continue and the industry must embrace its creative and inclusive spirit and be in keeping with the times. I think trends will always be part of fashion as they have throughout history. But I believe the focus will be more on innovative design with desirability, comfort, and style, over superfluous trends that the consumer does not relate to. The process will need to be more thoughtful on a whole, from workforce ethics to sustainable products, so the industry moves forward with the times and sends a clear message to the consumer that it is an ESG-focused business.
Lucia: I think the shift will come from the way we think about the world, and the people who live in it. Becoming more ethical and sustainable is the only way forward.
Tell us about the model you scouted for the shoot, Ajsa Movic. This is her first cover.
Sarah: Lucia, photographer Richard Bush, and I were looking for the right face for Lucia’s first Document cover, which is in collaboration with Hermès Beauty, for the launch of their new lipstick range, so we needed to find someone who represented modern beauty and sophistication. Alexander from SMC Model Management sent me a few raw digitals of Ajsa on a Saturday afternoon, saying, “This is my cousin what do you think?” We knew there and then that Ajsa fit the bill—her overall look, bone structure, and vivid hair color was immediately striking.
What types of projects are you working on now during quarantine?
Lucia: I have a few creative projects on the go. I’ve been upcycling old fabrics, hand-dyeing cotton thread with vegetables from the kitchen. Who knew soaking avocado skins in a jar of water and leaving in the sun turned fabric a beautiful shade of pink? I’m sewing them together, it’s a bit of experimental embroidery mixed with Japanese boro patchwork. Not sure how it will turn out, but the process is very meditative. I’ve also been making natural hand sanitizer with essential oils, which is fun and very useful right now—in between cleaning out my studio, painting it, and making a granny square crochet blanket.
Sarah: Zoom conferencing, which is new to me, has been a great way of maintaining a certain level of dialogue and activity during lockdown and I’ve been researching and thinking about the future of the industry, the world, the changes that will inevitably happen and how we can make sure these are for the best. I’ve also been reading some incredible books, researching, exercising, cooking lots, and teaching myself Italian! which I have always wanted to do but never had the time to—and making time to discover new music whilst of course enjoying my all time favorites! Keeping in touch with friends, and sharing thoughts and ideas about life, the future, and of course the crisis.
How has the industry changed since you started?
Sarah: I came into the industry in my early 20s in the ‘90s, it was an incredibly exciting and creative period for both fashion and music. The industry was thriving creatively, with very few restrictions and so much freedom and innovation. Many of the artists from that period are still innovators of fashion today, as they have not sold out or lost their passion. It’s hard for the younger generation, as they have the weight of commerce on their shoulders. There are incredible young talents, although maybe less space to be noticed, who we do our best to promote at Document. But I also think freedom of expression has been lost through the growth of industry and economics, which has meant the business side has the focus; with sales and commerciality being more of a priority, hence more limitations and control. In one way, it is great, as it’s allowed more opportunities for the industry to evolve and become a reliable working space, but at the same time it’s caused limitations and less innovation. I think the way forward should be more of a balance, so both art and commerce, without the pendulum going too far one way.
Lucia: It’s changed a great deal, social media being the main culprit, in both the positive and the negative. I don’t like to dwell on the negatives, so let’s just be pleased that — at least in some cases — the whole Twitter, Instagram thing has allowed young, aspiring makeup artists to paint their faces in their bedrooms and make a career out of it. In some cases quite lucrative careers!
A favorite historical period for fashion and beauty?
Sarah: Oh, so many. I’m slightly obsessed with history of fashion, from the beauty and fashion of ancient Egypt—original minimalism—to the ostentation of the French 18th century court, to the elegance and luxury of the ‘30s, the original power dressing and formidable look of the ‘40s, the innovation of the ‘60s, the creativity of the underground in the ‘80s, and the rebellious dress-how-you-want of the ‘90s. In fact, there’s something to love and inspire in almost all periods of fashion. I think a big part of our perspective on past generations is down to how they dressed, which gives us an insight of their lives.
Lucia: This is quite a difficult question, as there’s always something amazing to take from each decade. But I think, for me, it would have to be the ‘90’s. It was the time when makeup was stripped bare. Gone was the overly foundationed skin, faces were clean and fresh—leaving a raw canvas to use different mediums and be experimental.
Being two women in an industry that’s predominately about women’s beauty and fashion, how do you feel a woman’s point of view is represented?
Sarah: I think this is a tricky question to answer. Luckily we live in a period of inclusivity but I think it can still be a man’s world in many ways, although there are incredibly inspirational women in the world and in our industry and hopefully there will be more opportunities for women globally in both business and society.
Lucia: It’s still very much a man’s world, but I like to think that things are slowly becoming more inclusive. I’m inspired by the seven female political leaders—from Angela Merkel in Germany to Jacinda Arden in New Zealand—who are showing extraordinary resolve in dealing with this unprecedented global crisis while at the same time showing us an alternative way of wielding power.
Is there anything we can learn from the pandemic moving forward?
Sarah: To be kind. Not take our freedoms for granted, or the time spent with friends or loved ones. Making an effort to always see those we care most about, as they will not always be accessible to us. Enjoy the time travelling the world and meeting new people. Take in every small detail of your life, and travel and learn as much as possible about the world through looking, experiencing, communication, and interaction. Then use all that for inspiration to become more rounded. Take in the world as you did when you were a child, with wonder.
Lucia: Be kind and wash your hands
How will the pandemic affect our views of beauty and fashion, will it be more natural or more creative and experimental?
Sarah: Lucia and I discussed this; in one way I think many women will have been able to spend the time during the lockdown feeling comfortable with their own beauty, with no need to put on makeup or to dress up and find a way to live without a mask and to be okay with that. But at the same time I can’t wait to go out, glam up and put on a red lip. It will be a liberation. I don’t wear much makeup but I love to dress up on occasion. That is one of the great things about fashion, stepping into a different you through how you style yourself. It’s liberating self-expression and a part of why I have always loved fashion, to take what you have and change that depending on your mindset and mood.
Lucia: Personally, I’ve been loving not having to worry about my appearance; wearing sweatpants everyday and not looking in the mirror is quite liberating. On the flipside, after six weeks in lockdown and counting, I would love to get dressed up and put on a bit of lippy, but more importantly, get my roots done! I think, once we’re allowed out, all hell will break loose and you’ll see some amazing creations walking the streets.
Will the pandemic bring back eccentricity?
Sarah: I do hope so, there’s nothing more boring than conformity and my absolute favourite people are a little eccentric in one way or another. For me it’s self-expression and a little rebellion. The world and civilization moves forward beautifully with a little rebellion and self-expression.
Lucia: I hope so. The world would be a very dull place without eccentricity.