Q&A WITH RANKIN

by Mauro

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Photo courtesy of Rankin

Hey there Pretty Birds,

How is your week going? We’ve been invited to the showcase of Hunger Magazine’s self directed Fashion Films and Music videos last Tuesday, where we’ve had the pleasure to have a long, amusing and interesting chat with Mr. Rankin (the famous photographer and editor-in-chief of Hunger magazine). From Hedi Slimane to London life and Burberry (off the record) to feeling un-cool, photographing the Queen and working with Coco Rocha (on the record), read on for a fun, revealing and cheeky interview with one of the key players of the fashion industry today.

Hallo Rankin, it’s a pleasure to meet you. You’re a real icon!
Awww! Well, thank you very much.

Let’s talk about why we’re here tonight. What’s the idea behind the fashion videos you’re presenting?
Wait, can I talk a little bit about the history of my work before this?

Of course!
I’ve been in magazines for a long time, I own Dazed & Confused and Another Magazine and Another Man with Jefferson Hack. In the beginning I was like: “Yes! Fashion! I love Fashion!”. And then because I worked with some of the best stylists, I started to feel uncomfortable with the fashion world when I was about 33. I started to feel like I wasn’t very good at it and I wasn’t very interested in it. I felt like the person that wasn’t cool.

No way!
Yes, so I went off and I did my own things… After five years I really missed doing magazines, I didn’t have a platform to have a voice anymore. So I started Hunger Magazine and as I did Hunger I became more comfortable with my opinion about fashion again. In the beginning we didn’t come to Milan, but then my own fashion editor was like “You can’t pretend that you’re in this little bubble you know”.

Or was it more like: “Come on Rankin, don’t be a snob, let’s go to Milan!”
No, no, not at all! I wasn’t being a snob I was being …

…Shy?
No, no. I’m not a shy person. It was more like I felt I didn’t get it, I didn’t really understand it.

So what happened next?
So by the time Issue 6 and Issue 7 came out I was like: “This is it!”. And for issue 7 I got this fashion director, Kim Howells, who came from Dazed & Confused and who worked for Nicola Formichetti. She was different. So I guess I fell back in love with fashion because I wasn’t intimidated by the people around me anymore. I was intimidated in the past and then Kim was like “Come on! I love your ideas”.

And then you came out of that bubble and came to Milan, right?
Yes. We were like: actually, we love Trussardi. We love Iceberg. We started to fall in love with it again. I started doing special projects, like special films with Pomellato and Prada, and interpreting the shows and the creativity of the shows. A lot of the films here tonight are my interpretation of a season or of a collection.

We’ve done lots of great work with Dior and Chanel and lots of different brands, we’ve also been doing “Dirty Videos”, where we’ll do a music video for a band, and we do “Dirty Lives” where we get the band, get them in the studio, we’ll have a live fashion shoot and then put everything together. So I thought let’s do a screening of our films. It’s fun, people can come and watch it and get a taste of all the things we’ve done so far.

Of all the films you’re showing here tonight, which one is your favorite?
We did a Louis Vuitton film and I love it because it’s like a short film. It’s about two people that mix up their bags and they go to their rooms and one bag has her clothes in it and the other has his clothes in it. And they swap them over so she puts on his shirt, and so on. It’s cute.

Let’s talk about your magazine. It’s always so avant-garde, you feature very cool people in it. Where do you get your inspiration for it?
I’m pretty much inspired by what surrounds me, from music and film and people. The issue before last was about Britain and that came from dealing with Americans publicists. My experience with them was so bad that I was like: “You know what F— you, I don’t need your American stars”. And so I did the British issue with 20 amazing British people.

And before that there was an issue about female musicians. I did that specifically because I was just so impressed by all these women who were taking control of their careers, and really playing the game much better than anyone else. It was like that Girl Power!, but not in the Spice Girl kind of way…

And what about the next issue? Can you reveal something about it?
The next issue is kind of funny, it’s about the fact that we’ve all got complex ideas about the world and that we’re all a bit f—— up!

Ha! We are all a bit messed up in the brain, you’re right.
You know what, once someone asked me: “What’s the difference between photographing famous people and normal people?” and I was like: “Famous people are normal people!”. They also have complexities and issues just like all of us.

You’ve worked with some the most inspiring people in the fashion industry. Is there anyone that you’ve enjoyed mostly working with or that you really respect?
Katie Grand is definitely one of the most inspiring people that I’ve ever worked with. Alexander McQueen – I didn’t work with him a great deal but I did a few things with him and he was brilliant. Katie England, who was his fashion stylist. Jefferson Hack of course, he was my ying and I was his yang. We were two sides of a coin.

Those are really great people.
Yes but you know what? The people that are really talented are also the people who work day by day – like hairdressers and make-up artists and set designers. It’s a very talented group of people that put fashion and beauty imagery together. But we tend to focus only on one or two stars. Andrew Gallimore, my beauty editor, is an amazing person to work with too.

Also, the models. I really respect them. The ones that are really hard working and come in and sit down for five hours, have someone put beads on them and then get out in front of the camera and give you something. Hats off to them! Coco Rocha is one of the hardest working models I’ve ever worked with. She’s an incredible woman. She’s always just trying and trying and trying to do a great picture.

What has been the most important moment in your career to this day?
I’ve got three: when I met Jefferson Hack, when I met Katie Grand and when I photographed the Queen.

If you had to describe your work in three words…
Inquisitive, honest and… sexy. No, funny. Not sexy. Definitely funny. And sexy is number four.

What’s next on your agenda?
At the moment I’m waiting to go on Christmas holidays…

I think we all are!
But I most definitely want to do a portrait project. I’m fascinated by people, I’m absolutely fascinated by them. When I look at a person I look at their profile, the angle the light falls on them, I observe everything… I love it, its like a drug.

by Margherita Calabi. 

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