We attended the presentation of Aristocrazy’s new collection FW 16/17 in an informal meet and greet event in Madrid, where we had a talk with the campaign’s talented photographer, Adam Katz Sinding from Le21ème, a familiar face for all international fashion week insiders.
Adam described every detail of this dazzling collaboration, shot in eight different locations and produced along with a team of fifty people during one marathon of a day. We had a stimulating conversation about fashion, street style, photography and the evolution of the Spanish label, which brings a minimal touch to upcoming winter. An enriching encounter where he shared his vision on fine jewelry, the fashion industry, his concept of beauty, the magic of ugliness and his exciting point of view on the big fashion weeks.
An allure of exclusiveness is the signature of Aristocrazy’s new collection, showing a clear evolution from the original jewelry concept launched in 2010: a more refined line with a less casual and more sophisticated series of essentials, but equally compelling. The Spanish label has evolved towards a kind of simplicity that enables us to define our own style through timeless pieces, high-quality materials and fashion inspiration.
The new collection is a flash of stylish avant-garde pieces which use geometry as the main theme, whilst four different selections which find perfection in simplicity: Confetti is fun and colourful, an easy breezy touch to enjoy the upcoming autumn. Fun is young and fresh, showing different shapes of cloves and horseshoes, and is also one of the most approachable lines. Nimes is modern and original in the use of different threads which represent the woven of denim fabric. Metrie plays with geometry in pure straight and curved lines designed to highlight the shimmer of natural stones so you can hit the next Christmas Party in yellow and pink gold. Essentials reveals the classic side of the label in a series of pieces that will persist over the years and trends, and Diamonds, includes the most exclusive and iconic pieces in eighteen carat gold and diamonds. A smaller and more selected collection, that Adam Katz has captured with the same delicate spirit.
Born in San Francisco, Adam grew up in Washington, and had his first camera at the age of fifteen or sixteen. His father was a photographer and his mother is a fashion designer so he gradually became interested in this visually stimulating environment. It wasn’t until 2007 that he started to take photos of people “I was helping a friend with a video in a bar, he was a very good looking guy, I had my camera with me and he thought it was a really nice photo…” His international vocation is very strong, as Adam is based in Amsterdam and thinking of moving again “maybe to Copenhagen, we’ll see, I’m American and it’s difficult to get a visa, but I don’t spend anytime anywhere, I’m always travelling.”
Adam, you say Le21ème “is not a fucking Street Style Blog”. You don’t focus so much on the clothes, but on the atmosphere and the people. For Aristocrazy and also your own work, how do you integrate both, the product and the spots?
In jewelry you know what to focus on, but one of the nicest things of this campaign which I think is rare, is to make it very minimal and the jewelry is clearly the focus, but it becomes more about the woman, it becomes about the identity of the model and what she’s trying to say, although you understand you are looking at a photo of a jewelry brand, when you look at it, you first identify with the woman and who this person is expressing. I mean, this ring doesn’t make you a different person. The jewelry becomes the key piece in the overall mood. I think it’s important, as you are not selling just an object, you have to create some kind of desire to identify with, to feel connected. The jewelry is part of the woman; it should help you to find something in yourself that you want to express or put some emphasis on. The jewels are so fine and delicate that they fit very well that it’s more about lifestyle. The simplest silver bracelet probably in the whole photo you don’t see much detail at all, but you see the girl, the dress she’s wearing, how her hair is done. It shouldn’t be “Oh! I see the bracelet and then look at the girl”. It should be the opposite: you are looking at the whole picture. This doesn’t make me a different person, it’s something that is part of the puzzle.
What do you think about the evolution of Aristocrazy, showing a series of clean lines designed to pair with every style?
I think almost anyone interested in fashion at some point, as time goes on, becomes more focused. They understand more what their identity is. Maybe something you wore some years ago wasn’t really you. If I look at how I dressed some years ago whilst I was taking photos and you see me now, I think: how could I wear that jacket or those leather boots? Everything becomes more honest and it happens the same with this: do you want a piece of jewelry that dictates who you are? Or do you want a piece to express yourself? People realize, as time goes by, that they want the clothes just to be complementary of who they are to express their identity. It’s the same thing with jewelry. A pretty good example is this: before I came here I was wearing like five bracelets on my wrist for six years and every time went to the airport, which was about two times a week, I had to go through security. So I thought ok, I don’t want to deal with this every time, as much as I love the bracelets, it’s not practical. If you fly as much as I do, why should I waste that time? Right now in my life it doesn’t represent reality. I think this is a good metaphor about what we were talking about.
Photography always tells a story. How does your creative process work to create that story?
Yesterday we had a really big team so in this case there’s a concept, locations, castings and things like that. I think in this situation I feel my goal is to capture what the creative director has in mind, who plays a massive part. I have control as I set the lights, direct the model, the way that I soot… I’m more trying to document and just adding a little bit of my personal touch, whilst on the street it’s totally different. On the street I rely on the way that you dress yourself when you’re at home. I don’t tell you what dress to put on, or your hair, how to hold your bag… On the street it just happens and I have to capture what I think you’re trying to show without talking to you. I take a picture and without words I try to tell people what you’re trying to say, which is not easy I guess. But it’s exciting because there’s a real sense of urgency. I don’t spend two hours with you, just five seconds. If I’ve seen you on the street and miss the photo I’m crushed but at the same time it’s super motivating because I have to work harder and need to see you in the next show… Sometimes when you with each model for a couple of hours, you have all the time of the world, but with Aristocrazy we also worked with very tight schedules.
Where do you get the best photos?
I think I get the most interesting photos in London because people are so eccentric, so different. How they dress is ugly, they don’t really follow trends, but they are so cool. You look at these people walking down the street and you think if I could put those clothes on and then look in a mirror and say “ok, let’s go”, I don’t know, it would be like I have to change, but they are so confident, they just don’t care. They have such a strong identity that you don’t see in Milan or Paris, which are more minimal. New York doesn’t have a style, it’s kind of a mixture of everything. Milan is too much… Although I love their brands, they have Marni, Prada… Paris has the most usable images for the weather and it’s the most exciting and longest fashion week. Copenhagen has a very good mix of everything, very utilitarian. I like Oslo, Kiev… There are so many good places, you can’t choose just one. There’s always something new to see. And if someone invites me somewhere I’ve never been before, I want to go and see how people dress. It’s one of the most exciting things about this job, travelling and seeing new people and new environments.
You’ve just talked about “ugly clothing” in London, what do you think about these kind of ugly aesthetics, which seem to be the new beauty?
I’m on for it. It’s different. I can’t see everyone just dressing in Giambattista Valli dresses or Valentino, Gucci or any of these amazing brands. It becomes too obvious to wear those ones. They’re beautiful, I love Céline, don’t get me wrong. If I were a girl, I’d probably wear Céline. But if you want to dress cool, you just walk into a Céline store and get any piece in there, and you can be the coolest girl on the street. But that’s too easy. The way English people dress is always touched by some kind of punk or subculture vibe. You look at the clothes and think who the fuck is going to wear this? Who’s going to wear these clothes? Everybody who wants to be cool. I hate to use this word but it’s done incorrectly. The majority of people just consume and don’t understand or don’t get the identity of the brand, what it represents. These British brands are doing it properly, only the coolest of the cool people are wearing them and that’s fine.
It seems we’re getting fun in fashion, as we’ve been a bit boring or quite commercial for a very long time. Do you think people are being creative again?
I think you have to, because anything normal that you put out there is going to be consumed by everyone. It’s like when you hear a song on the radio, there’s a formula for creating music that everyone is going to love. You can make millions of dollars if you ask the right person how to write a good song. You don’t have to be creative. It’s like this Calvin Klein vintage T-shirt everybody was wearing last year. I bought one early on but now I’m not going to wear this T-shirt anymore, because the people wearing it also buy Abercrombie&Fitch, it’s in the mainstream and it doesn’t interest me. They don’t care what they’re wearing, they just wear it. People just don’t understand you can walk down the street and buy what’s cool now. That’s not how fashion works. A perfect example is Vetements. Last year it was worn by a few people and now it’s a supercool brand but it doesn’t have the same allure for me that it had a year ago because everybody has it. It doesn’t necessarily describe them as a person. It’s very ugly and grotesque, it’s not flattering on your body but that’s cool. A person who yesterday was buying Céline, the next day goes to Dolce Gabbana and the next to Vetements. And they just want to have that specific or commercial piece and put it on their body. It’s a tragedy, as the brand looses some of its cache. In the meantime, they’re cashing in people’s desires and it’s genius to be part of the subculture. They say I’m here to make money. I’m a business man. And we all buy it! It’s genius and to me is so impressive, there’s no secret about it. Everybody pays for it. There is a bizarre psychology behind it. But going back to English style, people are always trying to do something different that breaks from the norm. I think that the coolest brands are those who maintain that essence for the longest time. It’s like good musicians as well, you have a band and maybe the first album comes out and it’s amazing then the second is “Oh forget it!”. The ability to make money is very tempting, in every business. Fashion has the same potential.