It’s a sunny day in October and we’re shooting the SS19 collection. We arrive to a warmly lit studio, Katrynada playing. Photographers, lighting technicians, makeup artists and models are preparing for their crafts; friendly conversation between distinctive characters fills the room. Shooting behind the scenes, Chris Lensz is a photographer from Belgium. He’s studying Menswear at Central Saint Martins and lives in a warehouse loft with his girlfriend. She’s also at CSM. “She’s a very good designer”, Chris says of her fondly, “MA Fashion Design Knitwear”.
Chris and Serena discuss sexuality. “There’s nothing wrong with nudity”, Serena says, “but today bodies are faked and objectified”. “You can’t show the real thing anymore”, Chris adds, “you can talk about it but you can’t show it”. He’s referring to the over-saturation of photoshopped, hairless, plastic bodies, and the censorship of what’s real. He speaks with nostalgia about full-frontal, sexual nudity you’d find in 70s Spanish magazines. “We don’t want glossy perfect people”. Whilst testing his lighting, Chris recalls memories of his Engineer Grandfather, who developed his photographs in their at-home darkroom. Back on set, self-taught photographer Chris isn’t afraid to ask for advice from the experienced lighting technicians: “I think if you don’t make mistakes with your lighting then you’ll never learn. So I fuck up a lot”.
Zelda is first in front of Lensz’s lens. She’s from West London and modelling in her Gap Year. She’s hoping to go to Japan, or maybe Milan with her Agency. “One, two, three” the shutter clicks, then the running sound of polaroid ejecting from the camera. Chris has tested the light and his shoot is underway.
Chris speaks openly with the models he captures; they’re relaxed with him. Emmanuel talks about Drama School. He wants to be an actor so he’s making short films to develop his showreel. The acting helps him feel comfortable in front of a camera. Phoenix is studying Journalism at City University. He finds it challenging to write without opinion or subjectivity and wants to express himself more creatively.
Angel and Jiahe tell stories of uncomfortable work situations, often with older photographers. They share advice on how to handle things, and what to be weary of. Jiahe’s called to Fabien’s main set, so Angel tells Chris about ex-girlfriends, the good and the bad. She makes jokes and laughs between shots. Jiahe’s back now, walking on the heels of her Vans. She joins the conversation on romantic relationships, holding a polaroid to the light to watch it develop. Lunch arrives. Jerk chicken and macaroni cheese. “Good vibes today!” Angel says, taking a quick selfie in the mirror.
Nikita is in town from LA. He has long, blonde, wavy hair, but he’s not a surfer. He’s a little quiet but talks enthusiastically about cars. He warms with the flash of the camera, then seems at ease in his leopard cool cotton briefs. “Sexy” says Chris.