• written by TSEMAYE OPUBOR

    An interview with Rankin

    Written by Tsemaye Opubor by Michaela Widergren

    More Rankin for the masses

    How many times have you seen those cheesy American television programmes where the “call to service” comes? You know the drill: when the call to serve comes, one answers… yada yada.

    Pan camera slowly to freelance journalist (a.k.a. moi) answering the phone: “Hello?”

    Muffled voice: “Would you like to interview Rankin about his new book, MORE?”

    Moi: “Whatever, let me know. Like, no big deal. If it happens, it happens,” I say, trying to sound like a chillier version of myself.

    I hang up the phone, and gone is the über-fierce telephone version of myself. (Adios, chica.)

    HOLY SHIT!! RANKIN!! Photography’s Don Dada!!” I’m yelling, I’m in the office, and I’m in a tizzy.

    At times like this, only one person can bring me down from the ledge. I find my playlist and scroll to MC Hammer’s “U can’t touch this”. When my favourite bit starts, I torture everyone in the office by singing at the top my lungs:
    “Break it down:
    Stop, its Rankin time” (Yes, I changed the “Hammer time” bit to “Rankin time” to fit my circumstance.)

    Although you are all forgiven for thinking that I’ve lost the plot after the cringingly embarrassing MC Hammer sing-along, the release of Rankin’s MORE is not just a big deal for me. (Although I’m pretty chuffed about the interview, it’s not all about me, me, me…)

    Rankin’s MORE is a big deal for anyone interested in photography. His visual aesthetic has defined a generation to such a degree that there is a special place in popular culture reserved just for his good self. Not to mention that Rankin and his posse: Jefferson, Katie, and Katy started Dazed & Confused, one of the new wave of 90’s British style magazines that brilliantly documented every thing happening right then, with freshness, cheekiness and a fuck-you finger (probably painted a neon colour) proudly raised in the air.

    MORE offers an overview of some of Rankin’s most phenomenal work and it documents his photography from the fashion, music and media worlds over the past 20 years.

    For Rankin, who has a mammoth picture archive, and has taken so many unusual photos of celebrities, I wonder if it was a nightmare to decide which pictures would actually make the cut, since the hardcover book is a whopping 368 pages, and contains 243 color and 110 duotone photographs?

    “Well, the book was always gonna be full on. This is my third retrospective, it’s basically the big Kahuna, a greatest hits of sorts,” he says.

    “I have a very emotional relationship to my work. But there are some pictures that floated around that we ultimately decided not to use. They are a little bit like your family, because they’ve been seen so much: a bit like the annoying cousin… so you put those photos in a box to simmer for a while, and you hope time will change the way you feel about them,” he explains.

    When I ask him if anyone refused to be included in MORE, my question triggers the type of response that I’d been warned about from people who know Rankin well.

    An inch away from turning into an angry yob he says: “Funny you should mention it, but there was one celebrity that was such a dumbass he said he didn’t want his picture in the book because he doesn’t look like that any more. I mean come on, it’s a retrospective you dumb ass, that’s the meaning of the name!” (Believe me I tried, but he wouldn’t give up the name of the dumb ass.)

    Rankin then admits that it was actually the celebrity’s publicist that broke the news to him. (He wouldn’t give up the name of the dumb ass publicist either).

    “I’m happy just the same, actually if he’s too fucking stupid to get it, I shouldn’t be so annoyed. But, I really wanted to say “don’t be so fucking dumb”.

    Rankin tells me that he thinks its “ kind of silly” that there are some celebrities that don’t want him to take their picture, although the paparazzi take their picture regularly, and “they look bloody awful.” “At least in my photos I think they look pretty good,” he says.

    For Rankin, the work to bring MORE to life involved a re-examination of his own contribution to photography. “Back when I was starting out, I was doing stuff as an original gangster, like you say… I was an O.G., and part of a group of unique photographers. Our work was, for the time, very conceptual and the edge was about being super competitive. We kept trying to better ourselves constantly, in order to come up with the best ideas. That was special. I’m proud of what I did then. It was the fire of the glory days,” he explains.

    “It feels quite weird to see this never-ending celebrity filled party diary of your life and you’re not in any of the photos. But MORE isn’t my swan song. I called the book MORE, to really signal that I’m a photographer and that after more than 25 years of working, I’m not ready to quit,” Rankin explains.

    We get onto the subject of love, and Rankin explains that MORE is dedicated to Tuuli, his wife. “In our secret language saying “I love you” to each other is to say “more”. (Note to self: must find code word, must share with some special.)

    I ask him if he has any photos that he loves more than the others.

    “Some of my all-time favourite photographs are pictures I took when I first met Tuuli. I really like them as images. We met when we worked together on a campaign for Elle Macpherson. I met her, we fell in love and we got married, so there are all those intense personal feelings attached to those photos,” Rankin says.

    Aside from the pictures of Tuuli, Rankin says that another favourite photo that he has taken is from “Eyescape”, a series of photos of eyes: “one of those eye photos is up on my wall. I think it’s the original test one. I haven’t tired of it yet. In fact, I think I actually like it more as time passes. There’s also a photo of a girl in flames that I did that I like a lot,” he says.

    THE RANKIN STYLEWhen I ask Rankin if he has a particular aesthetic or style he gets testy again.
    “I try to shy away from having a style. I know that there’s not just one way of lighting for instance. I’m always looking for something different. That’s part of a thread of my love for life that runs through everything I do,” Rankin explains.

    “When I was 28-29 years old, I was the guy who wanted to be successful. I wasn’t angry, but a bit aggressive. Just the other day Miley Cyrus asked me if I would work with her and do some photos that brought back my “in your face confrontational attitude”. I guess if you had to, you could say that style was unique to me during the 90’s”, he says.

    “Nowadays it’s all about celebrity,” says Rankin. I can almost see him shaking his head through the telephone.

    “Is that what happened to Dazed & Confused?” I ask. “That’s a very good question,” he answers. Rankin’s voice has dropped an octave. I ask him if he’s still a part of the magazine, his name is still on the masthead after all.

    “I’m still an owner of Dazed & Confused, but I don’t get involved with the editorial side as much anymore. Of course there’s been times over the years where I’ve had my head in my hands, as is the case with anyone that works in publishing, but I completely love the magazine, and always will. It’s been a huge part of my life and career. Whenever I meet up with any of the others [from the team], we tend to wind up talking about the history of the magazine,” he says.
    “Dazed is a magazine for young people though, and it should be run by young people and fuelled by their ideas. That’s one of the reasons that I take a backseat. Jefferson [Hack] and I have become more involved in it again recently and are planning a bit of a reinvention. As magazines change and become more digital, we need to play to our strengths. We’ve always championed the new and Dazed is still as cutting edge as it was when we founded it in the early 90s. There’s a very exciting future ahead of the magazine.”

    I wonder if Hunger is the grown-up version of Dazed & Confused? “Part of the reason I decided to start Hunger magazine, and Hunger TV was a strategic decision. I knew video was the future and I was keen to find a way to meld fashion and film into a new genre. I’ve always been a director, working on shorts and features. I just really believe in doing things like this online. Hopefully it will influence the genre,” says Rankin.

    He tells me that he is proud that his “feet are in both centuries, and part of two camps, pre- and post- Internet”. He does admit however to being glad that he didn’t have access to the Internet when he was starting out.

    “I learnt on film. I was part of a group of people that looked in books and tried to do the same things in our images that we saw in books. That’s all changed now.”

    My final question to Rankin is what he listens to in the studio whilst working. The line goes silent and I’m afraid he’s tired of me once and for all.

    “Oh god, its so embarrassing,” he says stalling. (I conjure up my telemarketing know-how from crap jobs of yore…I’m dead quiet, and I wait.)
    “Well, I usually listen to Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer”, particularly at the end of a shoot.
    © MORE by Rankin, to be published by teNeues in October 2013, € 98, www.teneues.com

  • photography by SANDRA MYHRBERG stylist MEGHAN SCOTT 
    model BEATA / Minus 20° Mgmt 
    photographers assistant JEANETTE SEFLIN
    all rings BEDAZZLED

    An interview with Lina Michal

    Written by Mari Florer

    The Swedish fashion designer Lina Michal’s summer has been tumultuous. When she was going through a really tough period, her life suddenly switched direction. She became the first Swede to win the Vogue Talents Young Vision Award 2013.

    In collaboration with the Danish fashion label Muuse she is now in the process of producing her collection: Heathen Hearts. Her garments are mostly stitched by hand and it will be a challenge to translate them into a ready to wear collection.
    – I don’t know if it’s even possible. It might be something completely different, she says.

    Lina seems like a woman with a lot of self knowledge. She describes herself as a restless person with a lot of energy. She always has projects going on and she usually has too much to do. Her strategy right now is to reduce her schedule. She wants to be more spontaneous - enjoying whatever happens. The only thing she has planned this fall is that she will be an intern at Opening Ceremony in New York.
    – I have always wanted to live in NY and now the time is perfect. There is nothing that will keep me in Sweden anymore and I’m free to do what I want.

    The weeks prior to the Vogue competition, there was a lot of heavy stuff happening in Lina’s life.
    – My grandmother passed away, I was separating with my boyfriend and I became homeless. I was broke because I had spent my last money on the collection. In addition, I was also searching for a job and I think I applied for 60 jobs without getting a single reply. At that moment I was thinking; Am I so bad, really?
    No one had explained to me that it was difficult to get jobs in New York as a Swedish designer. So when I realized that, I was thinking: what shall I do?”

    So, what did you do?

    Fortunately grandmother had left some money to me. It felt almost like she had planned this. When I was counting on it, there was just enough money to do an internship in NY for five months. I started to look for a place to stay in NY. At the same time I found out that I would participate in the Vogue contest. I never thought I would win.
    Due to the fashion award that I receive from Vogue a lot of people from the fashion business contacted me to discuss collaborations.

    What was your inspiration to Heathen Hearts?

    My collection is inspired from old Swedish traditions. In Sweden we have a long history of the animistic. My inspiration comes from midsummer traditions and the Elsa Beskow books. I wanted to work with something that was not about functionalism - something that was more decorated.

    What do you think about contemporary Swedish fashion?

    Swedes are very driven by functional and practical thinking. There’s nothing wrong with that. I am just a little frustrated that there never is anything else. Form and function are very important to us and that’s why it’s taboo to explore an aesthetic for its own sake. It’s much more socially acceptable to talk about beauty in other countries.

    So, do you think we need something new?

    Yes. I’m a little tired of the symmetrical shapes. The Balenciaga trend that existed a long time now is super and really beautiful, but I’m a little hungry for something else. And I need a break from parkas, chinos and army jackets. Though, I will not say too much. Next time maybe I will just want to make t-shirts and jeans.

    When did you realize that you wanted to become a fashion designer?

    I’m probably an annoying person because I had always knew. I was sewing already in kindergarten; although the sleeves may not really have set where they should.

    Did you have a mentor who helped you?

    Bea Szenfeld. She is the best because she is not afraid to be un-cool, unlike other Swedish designers. It suited me because I am a very un-cool person myself; I think I’m too nice.
    Bea was a very good mentor because she encouraged me to dare more.

    Your techniques; where do they come from?

    I use classic craftsmanship techniques and update them to a more contemporary aesthetic.
    For example, I made a purple dress with flowers on the sleeves and to get a more 3D feeling I cut out the parts of the flowers from the print pattern and embroidered them with pearls on the sleeves. I often work that way. I test a lot.

    Will your next collection to be this advanced?

    I wanted to try something more complicated this time but all fashion designers want people to wear their clothes. I think I will create a more wearable collection next time.

    Does your collaboration with Muuse work out well?

    Yes, they are professionals. They think of things that are important; the environment, ethics etcetera. They want to produce in Europe and they think it is important that the collection “breathes me”. They prefer quality over quantity, they say.

    How would you change the fashion world for the better?

    I want to add some responsibility, thinking and reflection. I can use models who don’t all look the same. I am a politically correct person and, as I said, rather un-cool. In the fashion world of today, it is more accepted to be provocative than to be inspiring. That’s a shame I think. There are too many remarkable things that are allowed in the fashion industry that are not allowed anywhere else. There are few who take responsibility.
    Almost in any editorial in almost any newspaper anywhere there are naked breasts as an accessory. It is both irresponsible and boring to always convey the same image.
    My schoolmate called her examination work Stop female death in visual communication. She made a visual petition in which she collected pictures of passive women in advertising. In some of the images they are so passive – they appear dead. The majority of these pictures are fashion images. This is so accepted that we do not even care when you see a man who is strangling a naked woman with his tie.

    Why do we see these photos you think?

    I think that the fashion world is not free from the rest of the world. Fashion and music picks up quickly, easily and directly current trends in time. They give us a very clear expression of what is generally going on in the head of people right now. It’s very interesting to look at fashion from a historical sociological perspective. Fashion reflects the time. It is really depressing when you think about it.

    bracelet & rings PAULA HAGERSKANS
    2nd ring on middle finger BJØRG
    pumps HUGO BOSS
    claw ring BJØRG
    sphere clutch and all rings BJØRG
    top worn under dress MADE BY STYLIST
    boots NOOID
    right hand
     ring on index finger MARIA NILSDOTTER
    rings on index finger & bracelet with chain PAULA HAGERSKANS
    left hand
    ring on index finger MARIA NILSDOTTER
    ring on middle finger BEDAZZLED
    ring on ring finger BJØRG
    skin M.A.C studio fix fluid spf 15
    glow DUWOP doubleglow7
    blush NARS orgasm
    mascara LANCôME hypnôse star
    lips VIVA LA DIVA kharma
    nail polish DEBORAH LIPPMANN harem silks from bombay
    eyeshadows EMITE dand CLINIQUE purple pumps 
    &OTHER STORIES moreen blue
    neckpiece BJØRG
    boots BEYOND RETRO
  • image by HÅKAN LARSSON

    Personal heroes and points of reference

    Written by Philip Warkander by Michaela Widergren

    Growing up, I often had the feeling of not fitting in, of not being in the right place. I lived in a plain one-story house but fantasized about magical palaces with hidden doors and secret passages.
    Instead of our small garden, I dreamed that I would one day own a private park, with fountains, peacocks and antique marble statues. Instead of a bicycle, I wished for a white horse, not to take me to school but simply away, somewhere else, anywhere but where I was. Life in my hometown was mundane, and the repetitive boredom of everyday life made me invent alternative realities to which I would escape as often as I could.
    It didn’t take long for others around me to notice that I wasn’t like them, that we didn’t share the same interests or ways of thinking. This distinction was enhanced through differences in dress. At school, the unarticulated but strongly enforced clothing codes were unknown to me and even though I tried I could never fully master these unwritten rules, dictated by my peers. I would wear the wrong jeans or a T-shirt with what apparently was an unfashionable print, or come to school in a jacket of the wrong color, making me a constant target of ridicule.
    Consequently, I began to escape into my fantasy realities more and more frequently. There, no one would question how I looked or talked, or what my interests were. As the years went by, I would start to explore alternative worlds and different ways of being not only through my personal imagination but also through literature, film and art, looking for a place where I would feel safe and at home. I became acquainted with the icons of past times, and one by one, I made them my personal heroes and points of reference. My perspective on the world was seen through a filter composed of people such as Jean Cocteau, Jean Genet, James Dean, Margeurite Duras, Arthur Rimbaud, Simone de Beauvoir and Montgomery Clift. I would read everything by and about them, memorize facts of their lives, cursing the fact that fate had placed me so far from them in space and time.
    As I grew older, I began to mimic the appearances of my idols. I would style my hair like James Dean, hold my cigarette the way I had seen Jean Cocteau do, imitate the speech of Montgomery Clift. These practices made me feel less lonely, giving me a vague and undefined, yet seemingly intimate and personal, connection with my idols. To me, they were larger than life, flawless super-humans representing the possibilities of an adventurous life and glamorous existence, far from my own experiences as a young and bullied schoolboy.

    Today, the memories of this time are distant, blurry images of a life that once was but not longer is. Much time has passed since I finished school and left home, for other cities in other countries. Philosopher Judith Butler once wrote that life is a series of performative acts, and with every new action that takes place we become slightly removed from what used to define our former selves. This is related to what Buddha said about life being a form of suffering; because life is about being in constant motion; we are constantly letting go of our past, pushing ourselves into an uncertain future. Being alive means leaving our old selves behind, turning away from former heroes and icons to create our own path in life. This is a painful process but the only way for us to live life to its fullest.
    Today, I no longer style my hair, wear my clothes or pronounce words based on the practices of people I have never met. Instead, I have become influenced by people with whom I have shared a life, as well as experiences of my own. A former lover’s favorite sweater, left behind one morning, now belongs to me. I wear it often. A perfume a friend once recommended has become part of my daily routine. My neighbor, a hair stylist, cuts my hair. Small things that connect us, and point to how our lives successively, have become intertwined.
    Similar to life in general, also fashion can be defined as a series of performative actions, articulated through its need for continuous change, forcing us to question how we look, act and think. For me, fashion was once a tool; I could use to escape from a place where I didn’t feel I belonged, to experiment with a new way of being by imitating the styles of my idols. However, what was at first a liberating experience soon became confining, as I realized that to rely on icons for inspiration and support is to live life vicariously. I knew I had to decide for myself who I wanted to be, not based on what others thought of me or on what had been done in the past by people I looked up to. I needed to learn to focus on the present moment, and not fantasize about past eras I had never been part of. This way, I could begin to see the magic of my own life, instead of dream of what could have been.
    The process of letting go is not easy but necessary. In order to live in the now we need to be free of past experiences, to create a space for ourselves where we aren’t defined by who we once were. In my life, I have used fashion and clothes as tools to construct that kind of space, and to help me move forward through time. This is not done by citing the icons of my youth, or by trying to fit with someone else’s expectations, but in the style that I have made my own. Its expressions are not constant but forever shifting, as I continually develop as a person. These changes become materialized through the garments I wear, influenced by the people that I meet and who are part of my life.