As the photographer releases ‘10 works for Raf Simons’, he discusses his first encounter with his long-term collaborator, friend and ‘brother’
“I met Raf on a terrace in Antwerp, next to the cathedral,” says photographer Willy Vanderperre, recalling his first encounter with fellow Belgian, the designer Raf Simons. “He sat there with some mutual friends we have. They invited me over for a drink. Though we didn't share a word the whole evening, we were very intrigued by each other. The next day, we met again, shared thoughts and became friends.” More than just friends, the pair became long-term collaborators, responsible for some of the most iconic outsider fashion imagery of the last two decades.
Now, years since that first meeting, Vanderperre is paying tribute to their relationship with a limited edition box of photographs entitled 10 works for Raf Simons. Containing ten prints which span both of their careers – there’s the iconic shot of Simons muse Robbie Snelders from the cover of seminal 2005 book Redux, and a shot from the designer’s latest menswear campaign – it is, in the photographer’s own words, a “reflection of post-zeitgeist, past-present-urgency, and neo-nostalgia for the future.”
The box was created in partnership with fashion’s favourite booksellers IDEA, and contains ten prints produced in an edition of 25 signed and numbered copies. Vanderperre says he selected the images by going through the archives and choosing ones that “moved me the most.” It’s not surprising that he would take this approach – emotion (alongside a profound beauty and sense of dark romanticism) is something that marks his photography. “I try to evoke an emotional response,” he says of what he strives for in his work, “and I express my feelings through it.”
10 works for Raf Simons is a touching ode to Simons and Vanderperre’s collaboration – though “collaboration” is much too cold a term – “family” and “brother” are words he uses to describe his relationship with the designer.
This isn’t the photographer’s only project of late; last year he released 635, a book inspired by Instagram that featured all 635 images he had posted to the app. He also published Naked Heartland, a book of stills from his recently premiered new short film of the same name, which featured clothing by Simons.