Paul Rowland Is Driven by Spiritual Cultures

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Photo: Melissa Hom

We've all seen the nineteen special-edition covers Paul Rowland shot for V's special insert, each featuring a Women or Supreme model, naturally. The shots were dark, beautiful, and intense. Rowland, the founder and president of Women and Supreme, doubles as a photographer, and his images are arresting to say the least. His first solo show was at Art Basel Miami last year and he debuted "Transformations," an exhibit of portraits in New York, earlier this year. We caught up with the very busy multitasker to talk about his hippieish, organic style, his spiritual inspirations, and more.

Tell me about the V shoot you did — it’s very dark and riveting. What was the inspiration behind it?
I was inspired by the work of Joel-Peter Whitkin and my obsession daily with otherworldliness.

Do you think we’re having a pagan moment right now in pop culture with all the movies, books, and shows touching on the topic?
We possibly could be having another moment of curiosity with darkness …

Your photos are always so beautiful but at the same time startling — it’s different from so many other fashion images that are just pretty clothes on pretty girls. Is this something you strive for in your shoots?
I don't consider my photos to be fashion photos. All I strive for is trying to show what I'm feeling at the moment.

What was your favorite image from the V shoot?
I have many favorite images from the V shoot. One that sticks out in my mind is the cover I made with Rose Cordero. It reminds me of a Nubian witch from Egypt.

What’s been your favorite shoot to work on so far?
I always love working on the show packages with my girls. It is a bit of a family effort, so to speak.

Who are your influences (photography or otherwise)?
Well, that is a hard question. Diane Arbus, Joel-Peter Witkin, Roger Ballen, Francis Bacon, Riccardo Tisci, Morocco, sorcerers, shamans. The thing about me is that I just try to incorporate what's in my world. I grew up in nature, and that's coming back into it. I don't practice mysticism per se, but I'm very allured into it, but I'm interested in African culture, and Santeria, and I'm really driven by this culture.

What was the first designer item you bought?
A Comme des Garçons coat.

Who are some of your favorite designers?
Riccardo Tisci.

Where do you shop most for clothes in NYC?
Vintage stores, secondhand stores. There's a store called Narnia on the LES. There's a store called Cherry.

Describe your style.
I always wear Birkenstocks, I'm a bit of a hippie. I wear old jeans that I've had for ten years, that I've cut the bottoms off, and I wear a lot of things from Seven — they have these really great long-sleeved cotton shirts. And I wear these really great Moroccan caps, knit crocheted caps.

Is there an item you are currently saving up to buy?
No … I just buy it.

What’s something every guy or girl should have in her closet?
A jellaba from Morocco.

Finish this sentence: I never leave the house without …
Giving my baby boy a kiss.