Fashion label Sies Marjan’s list of fans reads like a who’s who of Hollywood: Glenn Close, Emma Stone, Zendaya, and Saoirse Ronan are all among its followers. But its appeal extends well beyond the fashion and entertainment realms as well. With its asymmetrical tailoring and eye-catching color palettes, it’s no wonder the brand, founded in 2016 by the Dutch-born wunderkind Sander Lak, recently teamed up with fine art photographer Tina Barney to document the lead-up to its spring 2019 show at New York Fashion Week. The collaboration has resulted in a new series of 12 photographs and two new films that lift the curtain on the fashion show.
Barney is best known for her portrait series “Theater of Manners,” for which she turned her camera toward her own well-heeled family, populated with linen-swathed members of the blue-blooded upper crust. Despite the charmed lives of her subjects, each was pictured in the midst of domestic banality—reading the Sunday newspaper or primping in the bathroom. Barney honed the style of an irreverent anthropologist, managing to capture candid scenes that were nevertheless pregnant with psychological intrigue.
Over the course of her four-decade-long career, the artist, (who is represented by Paul Kasmin Gallery in New York) has delved into other subcultural enclaves, shooting small-town colonial fairs, a dance troupe touring China, and artists at home. She took a similar anthropological approach to her Fashion Week residency.
Barney first met Sies Marjan’s designer Sander Lak when she photographed him at his Manhattan apartment. He invited her to document Sies Marjan’s Spring 2019 New York Fashion Week presentation at Lever House last September. The show was praised by fashion critics for its use of nontraditional materials and for featuring models of varying ethnicity, age, and body type; catwalk natives Presley and Kaia Gerber and actress Dree Hemingway shared the runway with a selection of friends, and even Lak’s mother.
“Entering the Lever House space upstairs where the show took place was like diving into a cold pool,” Barney said in a statement about the project. “Just the enormity of the space… what seemed like hundreds of people, equipment, bags, and so forth… but what stays in my mind was the atmosphere of calmness and congeniality between every single person in that space regardless of their activity.”
Barney’s Super-8 film footage exudes a similar quietude. In one clip, she trains the lens on model and actress Dree Hemingway for an extended period of time; in another, the show’s finale, which featured the models toting clear umbrellas as they traipsed across Lever House’s upper-level terrace, is shown beneath a hazy film, with occasional glimpses of poppy red or electric lemon as the figures stride by.
See more exclusive backstage photos and film footage by Tina Barney for Sies Marjan Spring 2019, below:
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