Paris Fashion Week

2 October 2006

ICONS Photographer, Zenon Texeira explains how the Vivienne Westwood photographs in ICONS came about.

The adventure with Vivienne Westwood began at Centre Court, during the Wimbledon Men’s Final. Vivienne was attending with her husband, Andreas who were seated in the Royal Box.

Dame Vivienne Westwood photographed at Wimbledon

Dame Vivienne Westwood photographed at Wimbledon

I had already sweetened the ladies chaperoning the guests in the Royal enclosure earlier that day by photographing them on the camera and in return they were going to usher any special guests our way for a photo. They initially sent up Sir Cliff Richard and Johnny Wilkinson and then they asked if we would be interested in Vivienne Westwood. To say we bit her arm off wouldn’t be far off the truth and within minutes Dame Vivienne with her golden horns entered our humble studio. Both she and her husband fell in love with the camera and the analogue charm of the iconic prints. Immediately questions were asked of how they too could embrace this bygone technology and within no time numbers were exchanged to make something happen.

Three months later we found ourselves in Paris, a day ahead of Vivienne’s show at the Louvre. Her showroom was a hive of activity. Seamstresses working on lavish garments with incredible stones and crystals being sewn in, a wall of shoes hidden behind a clothes rail that had names of models penned on dress covers. Next to this was yet another wall which had polaroids of models next to dresses which was a living, breathing and ever evolving roster of who would wear what and when.

Above the energising mayhem was a glass fronted room, elevated and somewhat removed from the main floor. We were asked to wheel the camera into the room which involved negotiating a flight of stairs. Walking to Jan’s van to get the camera had us pass through reception which was filled with anxious looking young models hoping they would be selected for the Westwood show the next day.

Setting up in the room was easy once we knew what we were doing. Rather then using a backdrop we took advantage of the building’s beautiful architecture and grand balustrade. The models downstairs were simply being dressed in various dresses with no attention to hair and make-up. It was once a girl had been chosen to walk the next day that they were asked to visit us for a Polaroid. My heart went out to these ladies as they were probably expecting to be captured on a handheld camera to be then confronted with a six foot box on wheels. To be fair I must praise each and every one of the girls who were happy to be snapped without make-up and just entered into the spirit of the occasion.