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Rick Owens Model Portraits
AW18 SisyphusPhotography Harry Eelman

The photographer capturing the otherworldly beauty of Rick Owens’ models

Harry Eelman documents the castings at the radical designer’s shows

If you were unaware of Rick Owens work, and by some strange turn of events found yourself sitting amongst the fashion crowd at one of his shows, you’d be forgiven for thinking his catwalk had been invaded by some otherworldly beings filling in where the models should be.

As selected each season by Dazed casting director Noah Shelley and Owens himself, the strikingly beautiful but wholly unconventional individuals that take to his runway lend the designer’s radical creations an unearthly edge, as their angular bone structures, wide-set eyes and long limbs encapsulate the unique beauty that Owens sees in the world.

For the last two years, photographer Harry Eelman has been documenting the casting process as part of an ongoing portrait series captured on film. “I’d been backstage at Rick's shows for so many seasons, I took it upon myself to start documenting the models,” he tells us. “The people he chooses really resonate with me. They’re unique and uncharacteristically beautiful – the exact faces I seek out in my work.”  

The last few seasons have seen Owens exploring a more sculptural silhouette within his collections, as he sent ‘huge meringues’ down the runway as a comment on pollution and sustainability. Though he’s primarily a portrait photographer, the move has seen Eelman extend his visual vocabulary to reflect this. “The pieces have become much more sculptural, so I’ve pulled back a bit to get the shapes in where it’s appropriate, but it’s still the faces that draw me in,” he explains. “That’s not to say I don’t appreciate the clothes though. I think the men’s ’Dirt’ collection from SS18 was my favourite to shoot, the casting was so good. And I loved the scaffolding in the middle of the Palais courtyard. Rick knows how to put on a show.”

Something surprising Eelman mentions when we speak is that Owens has never actually seen any of the images. “I’ve never shared them with Rick. I’ve never really felt the need to,” he tells us. “Maybe I should though.”

While the designer might not have laid his eyes on the photographs, we’re wholeheartedly glad that we get to see them. See the series in the gallery above, and head here to see more of Eelman’s portraits.