The young Parisian designer duo AFTERHOMEWORK (PARIS) – Pierre Kaczmarek and Elena Mottola – unveil their most recent campaign for the brand´s Spring/ Summer 2018 collection. Shot on a street market in the Château Rouge neighborhood, the campaign stays true to the brand´s spirit: embedding the street and the city in their creations, subverting industry´s formulas and proclamations, and confronting the typical with the unexpected.
The photography work behind the campaign stands out through the choice of models, settings, and angles: “the faces of the campaign are a mix of models and friends of the brand, and were shot from the windows of Parisian buildings overseeing the scenes, offering wide shots diametrically opposed to tight crops and perfect angles. Here, the popular streets of Paris become a stage, models turn actors and fashion is the play.” These apparently unglamorous, unstaged, and rather decentralised shots are part of an attempt at deconstructing traditional elements of a fashion campaign.
Packed with detail, real-life scenes, and spontaneous action, the photography invites interrogation and interpretation beyond existing garments, and into a more interconnected form. The role of narrative is explored here in its capacity to tie fashion work to larger social contexts. By capturing fleeting moments of street life with precise quality, the photographic work refers to more immediate realities: the emotional difficulties of human interaction, the lines between public and private, the impact we have on others, and the impact they may have on us. This type of engagement with reality is an extension of the brand´s established view on the role and scope of the real and the immediate: they don’t create to exit or avoid reality, but to access it a deeper, more genuine level.
Elena Stanciu: What is the red thread of the SS18 collection? What is it inspired by?
Pierre Kaczmarek: We see this collection as the continuity of FW17 and we've been inspired by what surrounds us, what we are able to observe in our daily lives. We tried to do better, to raise the stakes, and create the signature Afterhomework silhouette.
Womenswear in AFTERHOMEWORK (PARIS) SS18 collection.
I think our badass, “futuristic” looks are inspired by our present, by these young urban silhouettes we're interested in. Let's say our reflections for this collection revolve around work, money, and how to fit into this world we live in. There are many taboos, real preoccupations that we often try to hide but we wanted to bring them to the forefront. We tried to decompose and destruct various styles that we could meet every day and make them special, completely different, change their whole nature. We mix, we displace fabric, we try everything we can think of until it looks harmonious.
ES: What role does this collection play within the aesthetics and ethos of Afterhomework (Paris)?
Pierre Kaczmarek: It's all about continuity and evolution, step by step. We have no idea what we're looking for or where we're going, so we're trying to figure it out as we go. This collection is very important for us because it might be the start of our own "look." SS18 is clearly a milestone, and we have kept trying to affirm our vision for FW18 with a "rawer" collection.
ES: The campaign for the SS18 is somewhat untraditional and defined by a series of unexpected elements for a fashion campaign as seen in current mainstream industry. Can you talk a bit about these choices – of photography, setting, models?
Menswear in AFTERHOMEWORK (PARIS) SS18 collection.
Pierre Kaczmarek: We've tried to get out of the box, yes. We worked with Boris Camaca for the campaign, with whom we've been working from day one. We truly feel like creative accomplices with him on a project, and he really knows how to showcase our work. We wanted to show diverse Parisian scenes, far from the touristic hotspots, the real Paris we live in: that's why the campaign models are friends and family, people who inspire us on a daily basis.
ES: Your work is often described as radical or deconstructive – what prompts this approach? Is this creative attitude something the fashion industry lacks, in your perspective?
Pierre Kaczmarek: Spontaneity, and mostly spontaneity in a work environment might be lacking a bit in the industry, so maybe our instinctive approach has a fresh touch to it. It might even be what best characterises our work.
ES: How do you incorporate the city in your creations? What is it about Paris that you feel ends up most often in your designs?
Pierre Kaczmarek: The city's name is often linked to the name of the brand, and Paris truly is our main inspiration. Maybe it's not what people see in our clothes, but it's this city that brings us both the inspiration and the energy we need to make our project evolve. The classic Parisian chic is very interesting to us, we love to play with it and deconstruct it bit by bit. Paris is a melting pot and that's how we like it: many looks and a lot of attitude. It's a great well of ideas for us, and it will never run dry.
ES: There is a lot of action and details in the photos for this campaign, which will invite the viewers to interpret the narrative in many ways – is this the intention, or do you have your own narrative laid out for the campaign?
Pierre Kaczmarek: We wanted to show actual life in those pictures, it really highlights our creative process. Paris is full of people, each of them doing their own thing and our models blend into this décor, but it was also interesting to see the impact of our clothes on the people in these street scenes.
The images are a bit messy and that was the whole point: everyone is free to interpret what they see through their own sensibilities. We like creating this sort of confusing feeling through a narrative line. We also wanted beautiful pictures, to share an aesthetic, but also filled with details and disorder. Each of us can see what we want in them, that's why they are so special to us.
ES: Looking at these slightly aerial shots, I can´t help thinking of the line between private and public – all the movements, postures, and emotions we have in public, which we feel are private because they belong to our bodies, are in fact extremely visible and constantly exposed. How do you see the role of fashion along this line – as a tool that creates identity in a private manner, or rather as a way for people to project publicly the way they want to be seen?
Pierre Kaczmarek: Absolutely, these pictures are somewhat uncomfortable, with a voyeur vibe, but again so is the world we live in. These photos reference an important part of a designer's work, which is to observe people, society, and its shifts. In these pictures, the photographer really is the designers' eyes.
I think fashion is a public tool, I don't think anyone dresses up to stay home. Fashion allows people to feel good and find their identity, which has to be through someone else's reaction – even though we all think we're strictly independent. It's actually a way to be validated in public, so we can build a private identity through this prism.
Words: Elena Stanciu