This week, we're rolling out the three covers of the spring issue of Self Service , the biannual cult fashion tome (that we happen to be obsessed with), and speaking to the brains behind the pictures: the mag's creative director Suzanne Koller, photographer Collier Schorr, and makeup artist Karim Rahman. Here, Koller talks about a new (old) direction for the magazine and the season :
'This issue is very different. It’s more in the tomboy, early-'90s direction—still glamorous, though. I think it’s somewhat of a reaction to what we’ve done in the past. It actually started with [contributing stylist] Marie Chaix, who wanted to work with someone different than she usually works with. I know that she was close with the artist Roe Ethridge, and so it really started from there, because Roe is an artist and fashion photographer. It can sometimes be more interesting to work with artists who understand fashion photography than just purely fashion photographers, and that brought me to Collier Schorr, who I have worked with and known for some time. I actually thought her men’s portraits were very sexy and good-looking, so I thought, ‘Well, maybe I can do that with women with her.' And so we shot a series of portraits, Collier and I, and wound up selecting three of those photos for the covers: Bo [Don], Anja [Rubik], and Iselin [Steiro].
In general, what we wanted to do this season was work specifically with art photographers, but art photographers who understand fashion photography. They’re quite long stories, like 40 to 46 pages. They look so much better when they are long. Sometimes art photographers don’t understand fashion and it can become kind of strange-looking, but Collier totally understands fashion. The fashion for our shoot is also more so in her direction—not really fancy or anything like that; it’s more kind of tomboy, t-shirts, shirts. The mood is totally androgynous but it is also a lot of minimalism and a return to the early '90s. I’m going more in that direction: very black and white, plain colors. It’s kind of 'back to basics' in a way, instead of going over the top. I really was fascinated by these tomboy pictures of very sexy women looking very normal, but without a lot of makeup. I just find that quite interesting and new, in a way; it feels fresh. Even in my own life, I am kind of tomboyish for the moment. [Laughs] I would say I dress every day very casual, but then for dressing up, it’s—I don’t know how to say it—it’s more like dressing down, in a way. I really like menswear: men’s shirts, pants, shoes. I'm very much into that. You know, like Church's shoes for women. They’re nice.
Casting-wise, I really like and wanted to work with Arizona [Muse], Anja, and Iselin—the top girls. And I really wanted to shoot them in a very normal way, because they look very beautiful when they just come in the door—beautiful skin, simple makeup. I really like to shoot the supermodels in a very simple, natural way. I find it quite sexy-looking, actually. Anja was really impressive because she totally understood the idea. She is always depicted so over-the-top sexy, but she looks very beautiful in more simple pictures, which I find quite surprising. I really like a gallery of portraits of the bigger girls and then always three or four younger, newer faces and put them all together on the same level. This is where Bo [Don] comes in, and Ondria [Hardin] and the others. With someone like Bo, it's an important moment in her career—I’m quite sure that telling her agent that she has the cover, that’s how they will sell her for the next collections. Of course, we will see her all over the place. That’s actually how it works in the business—it all happens for them and they become bigger. For me, when I choose them, I always need a nice personality—of course you want them to be good and beautiful but they have to have a nice personality.
Anja, for example, in the beginning of the shoot, I thought that she didn’t really get what we wanted from her, but she did understand it very quickly. It was amazing to see how she changed from very glamorous posing, which we didn’t really want, and then she looked at the images of Collier, and she totally got it. Naturally, for work, models will act as other people ask them to: like models. But when you see them in real life, they are also kind of tomboyish sometimes. They’re not sitting in very glamorous positions, like bimbo style. They’re not really like that—they’re normal girls. They're still gorgeous-looking and have amazing beauty, but for me, it’s more about the face and the character of a woman. And knowing Collier’s work, it was important for me to go in her direction and not have an idea that she could not really do. It would have looked wrong. Too much makeup, too much styling kills the whole thing.”
—as told to ITG