The Cutler and Gross Spring Summer 23 Campaign was shot by cultural provocateur and world-renowned photographer Rankin, the collection comprises 90s-inspired glasses and sunglasses reimagined for a modern audience. Rankin himself exploded onto the scene in the late 80s and early 90s with his irreverent style and way of capturing youth culture in its most evocative form. He co-founded legendary British fashion magazine Dazed and Confused in 1991 with Jefferson Hack, changing the face of publishing by showcasing the best of Britart and Britpop with a fiercely youth-driven ethic. He also independently publishes the similarly renowned biannual Hunger Magazine.
We sat down to discuss his approach to photography over the past four decades, the difference between the 90’s and now, and how his nightclub experiences played a part in his creative development.
“The Happy Mondays still bring a smile to my face and there’s forever a part of me left in those clubs from the early 90s. Not a day goes by when I don’t miss it, just a bit!”Rankin
CG Cutler and Gross
CG Dazed and Confused which you co-founded in 1991, captured youth culture in the 90’s , what inspired you and how would you describe your mission at the time?
R Jefferson and I were excited and inspired by everything creative. With me, it was definitely because I came from a non-creative family. Magazines became a way of expressing that but truly we were hungry for every single outlet of creativity.
A lot of the Dazed success came from being in the right place at the right time with the right access to new technology, that’s not to say that we wouldn’t have succeeded without that luck, but it definitely propelled us to work in magazines.
We could’ve easily started an art gallery, or a record label. In fact to some extent we did do those things but once you get the magazine big, it’s hard to not be obsessive about it.
CG The 90’s is back in many ways; the music, the fashion. What is the biggest difference between today’s youth culture and the era you captured back then?
R The one thing that I wish this generation could experience is just how inspiring it is to be bored.
Always on, 24/7 culture, where everything is a Google search away, creates a society that is more singular, less open to different thoughts and ideas. I think it’s called ‘cultural malaise’. In addition we seem to be living through a time where people can be triggered and opinions can be weaponised. That ability to amplify lies and create cognitive dissonance, scares the hell out of me.
The digital revolution has a lot to answer for.
Behind The Scenes: ‘A Night on the Dance Floor’ shot by Rankin
CG You have shot such a huge range of individuals over the past 4 decades, from supermodels, actors, musicians, to the Queen. Does your method change depending on your subject?
R Yes and no.
Yes, because everybody is very different, in fact incredibly unique. So you can’t use a one size fits all approach to how you collaborate or get the best out of someone.
No, because I do approach taking photographs as a collaboration, which means I work with a team and especially the subject I’m photographing. What I mean by collaborating, is making the picture together.
CG You released Play [archive photographs of the biggest names in contemporary music] in 2020, why was it important to you to demonstrate the value of pop music in culture?
R Music is where it all started for me as I think it does with most young creatives. It’s how I earnt a living for the first 10 years of my professional career. It’s funny, a lot of people call me a fashion photographer. But fashion doesn’t make me cry and certainly doesn’t lift me up in the same way that music does.
Every shoot I have ever done has been accompanied by some form of soundtrack.
CG Did you spend time in nightclubs in the 80s and 90s? If so, has it served as an influence for your work?
R I did, it was amazing!
That time, that place, that music is part of my creative development. The Happy Mondays still bring a smile to my face and there’s forever a part of me left in those clubs from the early 90s. Not a day goes by when I don’t miss it, just a bit!
CG Who’s on your list of who you want to shoot next?
Never really had a bucket list of people.
However, I have just read the Richard Avedon biography and it’s certainly excited me and fuelled my desire to photograph all of the people I love at the moment. You’ll see that in the next issue of Hunger.
Discover Hunger Magazine at hungertv.com,
With thanks to Rankin, rankin.co.uk