For decades, Catherine Opie has made a career capturing images of everything from architecture to high school football players, but for her latest project, the California photographer is stepping into unknown territory: fashion. She's teamed up with Kate and Laura Mulleavy, as well as fellow photographer Alex Soth on a brand new book, the aptly titled Rodarte, Catherine Opie, Alec Soth, out in November. We spoke with Opie about the collaboration.
How did the project originally come about? Kate and I were seated next to each other at an art dinner party and we go to talking. I know it sounds kind of lame, but that's how it randomly happened. She said that she loved my work and then a few days later she called me and told me about this idea she had. This was in April 2010.
And then what happened?
She told me that she wanted me to contribute doing portraits, and that Alec Soth would be doing landscapes. I thought it was an interesting proposal from someone who was becoming such an iconic fashion designer to ask two artists who are not known for fashion to make a body of work with them.
You don't normally work with models. How was that?
Working with models was amazing. I just loved the way they moved in front of the camera. It was fabulous to see people who are professionals in front of cameras instead of my friends.
Do you feel like place and fashion are inextricably linked? That's an interesting question. I think that narrative and fashion are linked, and place is part of narrative. Not only do Kate and Laura reflect the importance of landscape in their work, but it's also part of that narrative. It comes up in everything we look at, from novels to films to fashion. One of the things the girls are doing is deriving from their history and twisting it and turning it into this product.
Would you work with fashion again?
If it was the right project, then yes. I had fun doing it. It's funny, because I got to attend the Rodarte Spring collection. I told Laura afterward, I have some ideas about what we can do with the line. We better start now! [laughing]. I'd love to collaborate with them again in the future.