Circa 1994—I remember that time well when I lived in London and revered The Face magazine. Grunge was in full throttle, with images of dirty realism that filtered editorial fashion stories, and a skinny Kate Moss rocked the heroin chic look that typified the standard, arbitrary dress code.
The Face, 1994, For Your Pleasure: Well Basically Basuco is Coke Mixed with Kerosine…
In complete contrast, fashion photographers Inez Van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin catapulted into notoriety, as a digitally savvy duo with the glossy fashion story, titled, “For Your Pleasure.” Featured in the British fashion and pop culture magazine The Face, in early ‘94, the story featured a highly stylized, explosion of explicit glamour and expression of pure hedonism—uniquely composed of stock photos and hyper-real backdrops.
Last month, in prep for the upcoming exhibition opening, Inez Van Lamsweerde & Vinoodh Matadin: Pretty Much Everything, at the Dallas Contemporary, I had the opportunity to garner inside details from the fashion-famed couple.
Motivated by the changing landscape of fashion during this time Inez informed me, “We were obsessed with the categorization of life in the news media. It inspired many stories.” The era of grunge expired, and the hyper-realism style of Inez and Vinoodh, which celebrated the use of technologically enhanced, and computer manipulated imagery was soon in hot demand with designers Hervé Leger and Vivienne Westwood assigning the duo with their first advertising contracts, and magazines Visionaire and Vogue commissioned them for editorial stories—their careers officially launched.
Both from Amsterdam, Inez and Vinoodh met while studying fashion design at the Vogue Academy in their hometown. Vinoodh graduated and launched his own label Lawina, but after five years in the tumultuous fashion industry, Vinoodh quit and changed his artistic medium from designing stories about fashion to telling stories about style, Vinoodh reflected, “It made me move from 80% business and 20% creativity to exactly the opposite situation.” Inez studied fashion design and then converted to photography—after completing her Masters at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie, she was awarded a yearlong residency to P.S.1 Contemporary Arts Center in New York. Inez reflected, on her decision to change from design to photography, “I wanted to have the immediacy of photography to express our ideas about changing our society and dreams.”
From portraits, advertising campaigns and fashion shoots, their favourite method of capturing a story, interestingly, “The portraits are the most inspiring as it is all about the exchange of trust between the sitter and the photographer,” they explained. And, the most meaningful body of work represented in this 26-year long retrospective, which showcases over 300 works of art, fashion and portrait photography, “is the Me Kissing series [Me Kissing Vinoodh (Passionately), 1999, Me Kissing Vinoodh (Lovingly), 1999, Me Kissing Vinoodh (Eternally), 2010]. It is a very personal vision of love and loss,” added Inez.
Branding through art and consumer products—the elixir of their inspiration, the Dutch duo have graced the cover of a poster, a postage stamp, and published over 900 works of photography and art in three book volumes by Taschen. Their unique style crosses the boundaries of art and consumerism, and earlier this year they launched a private fragrance, “We just created a perfume with Byredo Parfums, which is our first step. It was based on one of our images titled Kirsten ’96.”
Byredo Parfums: Kirsten-96.
So what’s next—with a high profile client list including luxury fashion titles such as, Vogue, Vogue Paris, Vanity Fair, Harper’s Bazaar, Interview, Vogue China, Self Service, designer brands, Givenchy, Christian Dior, Viktor & Rolf, Chloe, Chanel and Balenciaga, and portraits sittings with celebrities that include, Clint Eastwood, Natalie Portman, Colin Firth, to name but a few—only one person remains on their must-have list, “Prince is the only one we dream about shooting.” And, as photography conspires with video, “the ideal project would be to direct a feature film or rock opera,” always pushing the boundaries of technology, these haute couture designers of the photography world will continue to illustrate the defining talent that launched their careers. “Video is the wave we are on now. It is the new photography. Finding ways to express beauty and emotion with or without dialogue through film, light, edit, sound and effects is most exciting right now.”
This symbiotic partnership that has endured the fickle fashion world for over two decades will feature their first U.S. institutional exhibition, at the Dallas Contemporary. The exhibition opens Saturday, September 22nd, and this is a must-see for everyone, and anyone who has an inkling of style, and a passion for photography.
Inez Van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin: Pretty Much Everything – September 22 thru December 30 at the Dallas Contemporary.