The Other Side of Fashion Week is a film about outsiders: a group of incredibly dedicated show attendees you never even knew existed – obsessive and eccentric photographers who traipse the streets of New York, London, Paris and Milan to photograph models. Birdwatchers of female beauty driven by love or loneliness (and sometimes both), the men featured do not make money from their images, although some have been doing it for almost a decade. At times both humorous and poignant, The Other Side of Fashion Week takes a humanising look at the lives of the men featured – like Bobby, a retired teacher from Florida: "I closed the door, and just started coming to fashion week, and that's my passion now." Often living strange double lives, for them, their love of models and fashion week stands in stark contrast to their everyday lives. As for the film's director, Swiss-born Salome Oggenfuss, she too considers herself at something of a distance to the world of fashion. “I am still an outsider looking in,” says the New York based filmmaker and photographer of her own relationship to the industry. "Fashion is a world geared towards the surface level – inevitably, there are some interesting stories beneath that."
Today, an excerpt of the film premieres exclusively on Dazed, launching all of our SS15 womenswear coverage. Here, we speak to Oggenfuss about gaining entry to this community of eccentrics, and turning her lens on those who usually exist only behind the camera.
How did you come to meet the documentary’s interesting protagonists?
Salome Oggenfuss: A few years ago, while working on fashion week castings, I met Damian, one of the young men in the film. He was interning at the casting agency I was with, and we spent some time working together. He told me about the group of model photographers he belonged to, and that he was going to travel to Paris for the very first time to follow all of his favorite models with a camera. I was intrigued by what I heard – and to my knowledge, this was a community of people that had not been documented before. I saw potential in the story because of the clash of ‘everyday people’ – the photographers that don't have access to the shows and take pictures on the outside – with the more guarded atmosphere of the fashion world.
I followed Damian with a camera, and met his colleagues. As soon as I met Bobby, I knew there was something special there – he was so animated and entertaining, and it turned out he had been photographing outside of fashion week for almost a decade, without ever making a dime from his photographs. When I started doing interviews with models and fashion industry people, I realised many of them were aware of this kooky southern guy who photographs them outside the shows, but no one knew where he came from or what he takes pictures for.