The Lord Ashbury Fashion Week Prospectus, SS16 Edition.
Yumi Lambert & Guillaume Rasquier
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Before the start of each Ready to Wear Fashion Week season, I find myself making a post both reflecting on how far I’ve travelled since starting this little blog back in January of 2012, and my goals for the upcoming season. And to accompany that post, I usually attach an old archival photo from a previous season that is special to me in somewhat but remained unpublished. For this year I had another photo in mind (which I’ll post tomorrow), but as I sat down to write this it became clear to me that there was really only one image that would be an appropriate illustration.
This image of model Yumi Lambert and her boyfriend, Guillaume Rasquier was taken on 2nd March, 2014 in Paris. (I thought the photo was older until I looked up the date! Shrug emoji.) While this probably doesn’t seem like that long ago, for the fashion calendar it was actually four seasons ago. The FW14 campaigns are significant to me because it was when I first started shooting backstage at the shows. Up until that point, trying to “make it” as a street style photographer came with some exhilarating highs and deplorable lows. I went into that season hemorrhaging money just getting to Eurpoe; the magazines had all gotten smart about their FW business models and began commissioning single photographers to cover the entire seasons for them. Unfortunately, I wasn’t one of those photographers. I loved attending Fashion Week, and I loved shooting above all else, but without any sort of real in-road it was basically a losing proposition. If I was going to cover Fashion Week, I needed to do it in a different way — I didn’t want to chase my peers.
It started in the previous season in New York. I’d landed my first significant commission with the Standard Hotel who were hosting a bunch of shows. In shooting for them, I also had an all access pass, so before shows I would slip backstage and take photos. I’d seen Adam Katz Sinding do this; it was straight documentary and I immediately fell in love with it. By the spring of 2014, I was emailing every designer asking for this access. This is when I was approached by Eclectic Magazine; they couldn’t afford to pay me, but they had backstage access at the Paris shows. I didn’t have any Paris access. It ended up working out for both of us.
Which brings us to this photo, taken at Ter et Bantine, the final backstage I was scheduled to shoot that season. Yumi was perhaps the first model I ever built rapport with at Fashion Week. Though we never really spoke, she always recognised me and always allowed me to take her photo. So when I found her tucked away in a legitimately hidden corner with Guillaume, I wasn’t exactly sure what to do at first. Do I take the photo? Do I leave them alone? Best to just stand here with my camera in my hands and let them make that decision. Guillaume was startled to see me there, and so was Yumi… at first. But then she smiled, and indicated to Guillaume that it was okay for me to be there, and then she immediately turned and forgot about me. I took three frames at 5000 ISO (you probably can’t tell, but the corner was very hidden and very dark) and left them alone:
When it came time for me to deliver photos to Eclectic later that night, I honestly didn’t know what to do with this one. It was the first time I’d ever captured a truly intimate moment; I didn’t know how the model would feel about the photo, or even what the etiquette was about publishing photos taken “off the grid”. I decided to hold onto it, perhaps post it later, but I never did. Months went by and then it was things like, What if Yumi and Guillaume aren’t together anymore? That might be awkward for both of them. It took me perhaps another year to find out that they were still together, but by then I had no idea what to do with the image. It just sat in my archive, gaining more sentimental value by the day. That is, until today.
I realised quite recently that I almost never post those very few photos that I consider special and amongst my best work. As of today there are exactly 2,300 posts and 8,300 images on Lord Ashbury. That’s a lot. That’s a lot to get lost in the sea. When you think about it, it’s kind of a horrible way to get lost. So I know that my focus this Fashion Week season will be radically different than in past seasons. I won’t be chasing after a volume of work that will inevitably be lost in the sea of the internet or my hard drives. I will of course be shooting for Grazia and a couple of other clients, but whereas in past seasons I would spend the preceding weeks trying to accumulate as many appointments as I could, this season I’m really just sticking to the things that I know work well for me. Carolina Herrera, Lacoste, the streets of Paris, etc. There are an infinite number of channels on the internet that will bring audiences all of the daily looks and all of the daily street style. This season, I just want to improve on my craft. I want to find more moments like Yumi and Guillaume.