Praise the fashion gods! New York's Fall Fashion issue is finally on newsstands, and boy is she loaded: We've got features on the elusive Katie Holmes, the holy Michael Kors, the spectacular Johnny Weir, the inimitable Daphne Guinness, and of-the-moment D.J.'s Cassie Coane and Harley Viera-Newton. There are trend roundups (camel! blazers! super-chunky knits!), of course, but also a peek into the strange world of tween fashion and a special Look Book featuring lower Broadway's best-dressed store clerks. Plenty to behold, all told, but one of the most anticipated features is the seasonal photography portfolio.
This year's shooter was Brooklyn photographer Andreas Laszlo Konrath, whose work has appeared in Interview, Nylon, Dossier, and Wired. For this portfolio, we sent him backstage at Paris, Milan, and New York's fall 2010 fashion shows; what we got back was gorgeous, haunting, and otherworldly — and, get this, shot on film. (You remember film, right?)
Konrath's four-by-five, six-by-seven, and 35mm cameras captured John Galliano, Diane Von Furstenberg, Alber Elbaz, Alexander Wang, Karl Lagerfeld, Anna Piaggi, Catherine Baba, Eugene Souleiman, J. Alexander, Frida Gustavsson, Karlie Kloss, Agyness Deyn, Tavi Gevinson, Coco Rocha, and other fashion insiders as you've never seen them before. Click on the link below to check out Konrath's portfolio, and then click ahead to read a Q&A with the spirited young photographer.
See it here: Fall Fashion 2010 portfolio, shot by Andreas Laszlo Konrath
Fashion Week is notoriously fast-paced, but your method of shooting is rather ... slow. How did you overcome the logistical roadblocks?
I must admit that my approach to shooting was not the most practical for the fast-paced nature of Fashion Week! But in a way, my methods helped me take a step back from the whole event and observe what was going on without getting carried away by the frantic nature of it all. Shooting on film, and particularly four-by-five, encouraged me to pace myself and reflect more about what I was taking photos of, rather than just filling a memory card with as much information as possible. The only logistical factors that posed a problem were that there really isn't enough space backstage to set up a four-by-five camera and have an area that can act as some sort of studio. People were confused by what we were doing. [But that] also worked to our advantage, because people were intrigued and wanted to be part of the experience.
You have some experience photographing fashion but are not considered a fashion photographer. What surprised you most about Fashion Week?
I had never been backstage at a fashion show in my life prior to this, and although I admire fashion photography and have always been intrigued by it, I had nothing to prepare me for it. To suddenly be thrown into what is probably considered the most important moment in the fashion world was really exciting but also hard to get to grips with. I was trying to learn the rhythm and nature of the shows, but each and every show, designer, and fashion house is different. When I first started [shooting] in New York, I was completely overwhelmed — but [eventually you] get familiar with the PR teams, the security guards, the models, the other backstage photographers, and the hair and makeup teams. It was nice to begin making friends, and a lot of them were really kind to me and [my assistant] Josh [Elan]. That's probably what surprised me the most: that we managed to fit in even though we were complete outsiders.
You're the youngest photographer New York has ever sent to Fashion Week. What was your first reaction when asked to do this project?
I was scared shitless! When the [former New York] photo director [Jody Quon] questioned me a few times about if I was comfortable shooting portraits in confined spaces, on location, without studio lights, and at a fast pace, I was completely confused. Then it dawned on me and I didn't know how the hell I would figure out shooting four-by-five backstage. I messed around with my camera a few times using my girlfriend as a model and also with Josh, and brought some Polaroids to Jody. We both liked what I was coming up with, so then the only thing I could do was wait for the first day to hit. I was trying to work out in my mind how to make it all run smoothly, but I could never have prepared for it. The only thing to do was jump on the wave and ride it through!
What was your favorite part about shooting the shows?
Just wandering up to people and asking if they'd step aside for a few minutes to let me take their picture. It was funny, because I was walking around with this massive cape around my neck and approaching people; they must have thought I was a nutter!
What was the worst part?
I got tired of waiting endlessly to get inside the venues. So many times my name was spelled wrong on the list, so I'd end up arguing with all the security or PR teams to convince them that myself and Josh really needed to be inside that show. The Italian security were the most laid-back and friendly, but in Paris I got really frustrated; they just didn't care and wouldn't listen to us. Every day was an ordeal to get inside the show.
You shot a dizzying array of shows and people. Who were your favorite subjects?
Shooting the designers was always the most stressful experience, mainly because my expectations of them would be that they would have huge egos. That was the case sometimes, but other times I was surprised at how easygoing they were! It was also hard to nail a time: Their main concern is the show, not some idiot with a huge camera wanting to take their picture! Alexander Wang was the coolest and most laid-back of the designers. As for models, Karlie Kloss was the most lovely girl — really amazing. Freja Behar and Abbey Lee were also very cool and gave me a lot of their time at various shows. I loved hanging out with Eugene Souleiman as well, and I am really happy with the portrait I got of him. His team was the most fun out of all the hair teams.
Which pictures are you happiest with and why?
One of my favorite images is the portrait of Catherine McNeil at Prada. It's one of those moments where shooting on film can lead to accidents, and then something magical happens. I basically shot a photo of her and the flash didn't go off, which myself and Josh noticed immediately. So he cocked the shutter again and we took another frame on the same sheet within a second of the first frame. It's a double exposure but she didn't move so there's no ghosting, really, but I love the way it came out. I also really love the photo of Karlie Kloss at Donna Karan; she's just so fierce and absorbing. And I think the shot of Karl Lagerfeld really sums his character up.
Do any moments stick out as particularly poignant or meaningful?
When Josh almost had a fight with a security guard who tried to manhandle him out of a show in New York. We are both skateboarders and have grown up with a slightly anti-authority attitude, so Josh, who's such a nice guy, was trying to explain that he was just taking care of my gear while I was off shooting. The security guard wasn't prepared to be reasonable and tried to put him in some weird arm lock; Josh just lost it but knew he had to keep his cool for my sake. I saw what was going on and ran over to him and I could just see rage and tears in his eyes, so I just pulled us out of there and gave him this massive hug. I couldn't bear to think that this environment, which isn't really that important in the grand scheme of things, would make my good friend break down. [After that,] we went to the bar and had a stiff drink of whiskey and abandoned the show.
Any funny stories to share?
Shooting Galliano was hilarious. The PR told us to wait by his VIP backstage area, which was some kind of tepee! So we were there with the four-by-five and a line of about 100 film crews trying to get in for an interview. Suddenly the PR grabbed me and Josh, dragged us past the whole line, down a corridor and then through a door, which opened up into this weird den with fur carpets. [When] the PR sees we're ready, she brings Galliano over, but insists the chair won't work. So while he stood in front of me, I quickly had to readjust the whole tripod, absolutely bricking myself while he's there dressed as a crazy pirate! Finally I just threw the sheet over my head and focused, shot four frames, and then the PR cut us off. It was completely mental and the whole time Lindsay Lohan sat next to me, looking at me sweating my arse off trying to move this camera around and get it ready for Galliano! Next thing I knew, we were thrown out and it was over.
What do you hope readers take away from your portfolio?
A unique collection of images that no one else would have caught. I want them to have this glimpse of the fashion world as seen through my eyes and my cameras.
Related: Fall Fashion 2010 portfolio, shot by Andreas Laszlo Konrath
Spring Fashion 2010 portfolio, shot by Lauren Greenfield
Fall Fashion 2009 portfolio, shot by Marcus Bleasdales
Spring Fashion 2009 portfolio, shot by Benjamin Lowy