How did you become an art director?
I'm mostly self-taught. I didn't go to art school, I studied sociology at university. And then finally I wanted to reorient myself towards a more creative profession and I started to find internships in advertising agency ...I learned a lot from the people I met.
What are key characteristics an art director needs to succeed?
I believe that we need to be open to all the forms of creativity that surround us. You have to feed your culture of image and be curious all thetime. And above all, knowing how to surround yourself with people you admire and get along with is the most important thing in my opinion.
Can you tell me an iconic image maker whose work you got very fascinated by? — What did you feel when looking at their images/films?
I'm quite a fan of director Wong Kar-Wai. I find his universe very poetic.There is also Patrick Demarchelier, when I look at his photos it's a bit the iconography of my adolescence, the images I saw in Vogue when I was a highschool student.
Do you think the “male gaze" is a myth?
Not at all. Are there still people who think so? It is very concrete and people need to be able to understand it little by little. It's often unconscious, it'll take time to deconstruct its mechanisms. It takes several generations to feel the changes...
What was the first shoot you ever art directed?
It was on a skincare project and I had the chance to work with a very experienced photographer, much older than me. We went together to find rocks for the shoot in shops of the Louvre, we spent the day to source fluorine, it was fun. He was really collaborative and respectful I have a good memory of it.That was not always the case afterwards.
What do you love most about this Industry?
It is indeed to meet a very interesting and talented people. Since I work at Dior, I have the chance to approach highly stimulating and admirable people, I feel really grateful.
What do you hate most about this Industry?
On the contrary, many people in this domain allow themselves to be disrespectful or snob. And they are not necessarily the most interesting people precisely.
If you would start out now what would you be doing, how would you go about it// who would you work with and where would you be aiming?
You always feel like you're in the wrong time. I would have loved to start working in the 80s. But I think we all agree that it is not simple today. I don't think I'll turn to advertising agencies, there are less and less creative freedom ... I may turn to smaller, more digital structures with more flexibility...
Statistics show that less than 1 in 12 of the big money jobs i.e. Womenswear-, Beauty- and Perfume Campaigns (aiming at women) are shot by women. For example, in the last 10 years (2009-2019)
100 covers in 10 years
0 shot by a female photographer alone
33 shot by the duo including a woman -- Inez& Vinoodh
77 shot by men
120 covers in 10 years
1 shot by a female photographer
3 shot by a duo including a woman – Inez &Vinoodh
119 shot by men
120 covers in 10 years
3 shot by female photographers
5 shot by a duo including a woman –Inez&Vinoodh
112 shot by men (83 were shot by Steven Meisel alone)
The Top 2 photography agencies in the world only represent 5 women out of 37 photographers represented. Is there just no qualified female image makers out there?
It's a little sad that we have to highlight it thanks to statistics. Maria Grazia Chiuri referred to it in the 2018 collection on a t-shirt with message: "Why have there been no great women artists? ".
In the case of the famous fashion magazines, I have the feeling that it is mostly a small men monopoly. Some people have given themselves legitimacy and aesthetic codes to create an entre-soi that guarantees them to stay in their place. These are power games as in all big companies where positions of responsibility are trusted by men. It's not about talent, it's about power.
What would need to change in your opinion to get more women shooting the big money jobs?
I feel like things are slowly changing. Sometimes radical and controversial initiatives are needed, such as at Dior, where Maria Grazia Chiuri decided to shoot her campaigns only with female photographers. I don't think equality necessarily means excluding men, but it has the merit of denouncing the inequality of things and getting people to talk about it, so why not.
What do you think about the claim that creative authority on set is more often found in men?
Authority is not a form of aggression, it is the ability to get people to adhere to a vision. A photographer on set is like a manager in a company, he has the authority that is granted to him and it is generally distorted by the conception we have of what is authority. You teach men from a very young age to be authoritarian and to be respected, so we think it's intrinsic when it's quite an apprenticeship that we don't give to women.
When a woman shows authority we think that she is nasty, that she is aggressive, whereas we find it normal and even rewarding in a man.
Before a woman is "allowed" to manage a team, she must prove herself and her worth for a long time. For one man it is sometimes just a matter of being a little more aggressive than another.
Who is your female fashion image maker icon and who is your the one to watch?
Who is your female fashion designer icon and who is your the one to watch?
I'm a big fan of Phoebe Philo. I look forward to her potential back!
And of course, I admire Maria Grazia Chiuri. I think the commitment she made when she came to Dior is very brave. Some say it's opportunistic, that it's not the role of fashion to hold political speeches but why not? We have to remember that she arrived in 2016, just before #MeToo. I think it's important to take a stand when you have so much visibility, power and interest. I believe that a Dior fashion show can have as much, or more impact than the speech of a politician.
What do you look for in an image maker?
A kind of emotion, when you see an image and you feel like it's the first time you see something like that. A different style, message or technique. Now that everyone starts producing images with phones, it's important that artists continue to go against the flow and create new things.
How important is it how an image maker behaves towards their team?
For me it is very important and unfortunately there are many drifts of all kinds in this trade because unlike companies, shoots are done in small committee, it is a very closed environment where you work thanks to its contacts and has its reputation. When a person abuses his authority, it is difficult for the teams to denounce that...as if the eccentricity and supposed talent of people could justify the lack of respect.
Since #metoo has there been a noticeable shift of behavior on sets? If so how?
I didn't particularly feel any changes on the shoots. It's evolving on a much more global scale. But I feel thatt here are more visible changes in business. As in the Parisian advertising agencies that have created a movement to denounce certain abusive behaviors of managers. Having experienced this from the inside and in a personal way, I am relieved to see that the languages are finally loosening.
What do you say about the charge that all fashion imagery is predominantly sexist?
I'm not that radical. When we stage women to talk only about clothes, accessories or beauty, it is certain that we easily fall into a reductive vision of the woman. Thanks to social networks things are changing faster, with for example the #bodypositive movement, people are reappropriating the way to show women's bodies and pushing the fashion industry to change too.
There is a big surge of feminism at the moment - do you think that will affect Fashion and Beauty Imagery?
Yes I think, and I hope. It is an industry that needs people's support. It is also a reflection of society. Images influence people and reinforce their opinion, but society influences fashion and advertising. It's necessarily going both ways.
What was your relation to fashion & beauty prior to working in this industry? Has it changed?
I've always been attracted to this universe, ever since I was a little girl. I don't come from a family and an environment that is particularly interested in it so I created my own vision. We are more fascinated when we grow up totally outside of it. Of course, it is a very hard and sometimes brutal world, it is based on a whole capitalist system and you have to know how to separate things. For me it's still a princess world in which I love to immerse myself. It's all about dreams and beauty.
What is the most valuable piece of advice you were ever given and what advice would you have wished for earlier on in your career?
When I started working, during an internship, the creative director I was working with put a lot of pressure on me to prepare for a meeting and I didn't know how to deal with. A more experienced colleague found me crying, she reassured me that "you don't save lives". It sounds obvious, but when you invest a lot in your work you sometimes forget it.
What is your next big project or goal for your career?
I am currently pregnant and my biggest project right now is to have my baby and enjoy every moment!
Is there anything in particular you'd like to accomplish?
I would like my child to be proud of what I will do as a woman, and it goes through my life choices and also my career. It's part of the biggest challenge for women today to be able to balance a family life with a career, but it's also a huge motivation!