a beautiful mind
New York-based photographer, curator, model and muse to Gucci’s Alessandro Michele, Petra Collins has captured the hearts of the art and fashion worlds with her unique style and colourful explorations of femininity. With a new book, Coming Of Age, out thi
Acclaimed photographer and Gucci muse Petra Collins lets us inside her inspirational world.
AS A TEENAGER, I WAS ALWAYS FIGURING OUT A WAY TO REDEFINE FEMININITY.
A big part of that was using classic imagery to create and subvert new imagery. I’ve always been fascinated with what we think and what we see as feminine. It’s something that’s fluid, undefined and multidimensional. It’s not just something pink or makeup or one body type. So, for me, it’s almost kind of nothing and everything at once.
I DID BALLET FROM A YOUNG AGE
and I was always obsessed with costumes and how they moved. That’s sort of bled into my real life where I really look for things that are fun and expressive. The clothing my subjects wear is very important – it dictates how the whole image is perceived.
I REALLY LOVE THE AESTHETIC OF ’70S DISCO.
It’s not so apparent in most of my photos, but with Gucci for sure. Alessandro references the Studio 54 era a lot, but he mixes it with renaissance, everything at once. I love living through images and I’m also fascinated by colour and movement, and that sort of time period for me has always been the strongest – it was so colourful and bright and there were so many things going on. A big part of the ’70s was the rainbow motif, too, which I really love.
I FIRST MET ALESSANDRO AT HIS STUDIO
when I went for a runway fitting. It was crazy – I got thrust into his world. It’s so beautiful walking into that room with the fabrics and the colours and all these shoes and sequins. Right away I was like, “We’re going to get along!” We spoke the same language – not literally, he’s obviously Italian! – but we have a lot of similar references and love taking from every era and making something new.
THE MORE I CAN DO IN DIFFERENT WAYS THE MORE I LEARN,
and the better everything I do gets. That’s how I felt in school. I decided to study criticism and curatorial practice instead of photography because strengthening my mind is more important than just studying how to take photos.
I KEEP MY APARTMENT VERY CLEAN AND WHITE.
I have some photos hanging on the wall, but otherwise I don’t stick to any aesthetic. I like to have a blank slate where I can just think and create new things.
I HAVE THIS AMAZING WHITE SILK VINTAGE COWBOY SHIRT
with rhinestones that I wear with my Levi’s. I buy a lot of vintage pieces from Stella Dallas and L Train Vintage [in New York]. I love dressing comfortably, so I’m a real hoodie person. My favourite one is from a friend who found it in Chinatown – just a New York tourist hoodie. I wear it every day and everywhere. Petra Collins: Coming Of Age ($57, Rizzoli) is out this month
Jeans, $445, Re/done, mychameleon.com.au Sunglasses, $210, Ray-ban, ray-ban.com
Jacket, $3,935, Gucci, gucci.com/au
Shoes, $2,580, Gucci, gucci.com/au
Belt, $932, Gucci, gucci.com/au