- Edition 8, Chapter 1 -
by Tony Kelley
I've been thinking about time, about how quickly information travels; what used to take half a day now takes seconds over fiber optic lines using computer algorithms. Even as I type this my iPad is finishing my sentences.
When I was younger I pored over magazines, cut out pictures I liked, and kept references of what I thought was cool. Now those things are a hashtag away; the world is literally at our fingertips. I'm fascinated by this. I often find myself in a sort of digital haze, scrolling through Instagram and getting notifications of events as they unfold. Agencies now send out comp cards noting the number of social media followers models have.
My fear is that an element of magic disappears in this new, instantaneous world; a once secret nitty-gritty has begun to show its belly. A fashion show is no longer a twelve-minute affair of coiffed perfection; gone are the days of waiting to snap a pic until a model had her makeup finished. Now every second is a chance to brand, to sell, to influence, to create content. This instantaneous world has given us the chance to take media into our own hands, to produce our own content and leave our indelible mark on the collective digital brain.
When Michael Gordon and I started to discuss this project, I wanted to do something very, very current. We had just finished the threeASFOUR fashion show, and I loved the technical perfection of the fabrics, the laser cuts, and 3D-printed dresses. I loved a lot of the oversize clothing I was seeing in the shows, and nods to goth kids of the ’90s that I could relate to. I wanted to create a story about the kids I knew growing up; I wanted to see what they were like hanging out, pals, trapped in a digital realm together.
At Hairstory I'm lucky to see a lot of interesting characters, and some have just stuck in my head. As we started to cast the story I had a list of people I thought could work in this world we wanted to create. I love street casting a story, because there's more of an element of the unexpected when you shoot, more in-between moments or awkward things that translate really beautifully. Sometimes it all feels like a mistake that just works out.
While I was researching for the shoot, I was able to watch backstage videos of the shows that had happened hours before. A lot of the collections were made available immediately after the shows ended – from runway to consumer in just seconds. I wanted to reference that "availability" by creating something really in line with the new concept of time. I also wanted to give a face to that concept, a group of kids hanging out, super-stylish, super-done, in a sort of bleak, oversaturated wasteland, with an information hangover – current, but lost.
In the way that a great designer can cull elements from all sorts of eras and make them feel fresh and new, I wanted to use classic techniques in an updated and elevated way, to pay homage to the people who mentored me. While there is a coldness to the mood of the photos, I wanted the models to feel connected, familial, like part of a gang, looking out for and really caring for one another.
There is an inevitable reality: we live in a world that needs constant access. I wanted this project to show a human side to that world. We still need each other to interpret all the information, to sift through and figure out what's actually worth paying attention to and what is just filler. We still need storytellers and role models, teachers and mentors. We still need our gangs, offline, and in person. It's worth making time for that.