>> Juergen Teller wore an oversized white T-shirt and super-short blue satin shorts edged with white piping for a recent interview with the Independent — a practice he apparently picked up on the set of the Spring 2004 Marc Jacobs campaign shoot he did with Charlotte Rampling: "I got to Paris, and to my complete horror I couldn't fit into any of the clothes. I was too fat." Juergen had chosen to shot himself for Jacobs's menswear that season, but the only piece he could fit into was a pair of silver satin shorts. The decision was made, and supposedly, he's worn the style religiously since.
Photographing "dead things" and being "frightened" by Winona Ryder »
The photographer, who has worked with Marc for over ten years, isn't ashamed of fashion any longer.
"It's insane that people say I don't like fashion just because my pictures look a bit different. Everything is how you dress. Everything. I would never do some sort of stupid picture where everything is dark and you can't see the fabric or whatever, or crop something badly so you don't get the right impression of a garment. I did have my problems with fashion before, maybe. As a heterosexual man, I was always a bit embarrassed of being a fashion photographer and didn't have the confidence to describe myself that way. Now I do have the confidence. It's a weird thing to do, I know, but I just kind of got into it and I think I do it very well."
But he'll only work for people he respects.
"They are all their own boss, if you like. Marc Jacobs may be part of a big corporation now that LVMH is involved [as well as designing his own line, Jacobs is responsible for LMVH cash cow Louis Vuitton], but he pulls the strings. You don't have an art director, a creative director, a CEO on the shoot. What Helmut [Lang] says goes, what Rei [Kawakubo of Comme des Garcons] says goes, what Vivienne [Westwood] says goes, what Marc says goes. I like that direct approach, where if something goes wrong we only have ourselves to blame. I like that kind of relationship with a person who responds to my work, admires and understands it. Of course I take the whole thing seriously but I couldn't do a job where I didn't have any fun, and just to make money."
There's never a team around for a Jacobs shoot — usually just Teller and his subject — and the ads usually tell a story or "fairytale." They're rarely retouched.
"Everything is staged though. But it's not like with Charlotte Rampling I thought, 'I'm going to wear silver pants'."
The ads usually feature one of Teller's or Marc's friends, thanks to Sonic Youth's Kim Gordon, their first subject.
"It was all very natural. Marc was friends with Sonic Youth and we liked their music. Kim really liked one of his dresses and she was wearing it every day on her tour. He was really touched. So he asked whether I'd go and photograph her onstage. It just made perfect sense. We liked her. He was proud that she liked him. I think that you feel that energy in the picture. From then on we realised that, rather than photograph dead things, rather than photograph only product, we wanted to photograph Marc's friends, my friends."
Marc long wanted to cast Winona Ryder, but Juergen didn't say yes until her shoplifting incident.
"I was a bit too frightened by her beauty. She's like Bambi or something. Then there was that court case, where she stole Marc's clothes and I rang Marc straight away and said, 'You know, I think we should do Winona.'"
Jacobs gives Teller huge amounts of creative freedom, as evidenced by the Spring 2005 set with artist Cindy Sherman.
"I didn't even tell [Marc] I was going to be in the pictures. When I finally showed them to him he thought it was f*cking hilarious".
And he loves the iconic shot from Spring 2008 with Victoria Beckham's legs dangling out of a shopping bag.
"Of course, that was the last picture in the shoot. And it was the one I'd wanted from the start."