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Waiting for RihannaPhotography Juergen Teller via System

Juergen Teller shoots inside a giant weed factory for System

But RihRih failed to show up :(

Getting stood up is a moment anyone can relate to. But have you ever been stood up by Rihanna, though? Probably not – even less so if the date was arranged on a 60,000 square foot medical cannabis facility in Canada.

Unfortunately, that was the case for fashion photographer Juergen Teller, when the singer (who was in bed, as ordered by her doctor, 2,800 miles away) couldn’t make it to the shoot for System magazine’s 9th issue. Not one to shy around things, both Teller’s portfolio and the issue’s coverline are simply: ‘Waiting for Rihanna’. Brilliant. 

Even with Rihanna significantly absent, the industrious Teller didn’t leave empty handed – substituting the singer for Brazilian model, Raquel Zimmerman, with the further addition of some naked hula-hoopers for good measure. 

As a regular collaborator with System, Teller’s last photographic portfolio for the magazine featured those pictures of Kanye West and Kim Kardashian in the French countryside, with the latter climbing in the mud in little more than tights and nude underwear sparking hundreds of memes. The latest issue also features a second supplement on Raf Simons’ debut at Calvin Klein and the next chapter for the brand, as well as features on Proenza Schouler, Michel Gaubert and a kissy questionnaire with model Lily McMenamy

We asked System’s founding editor, Elizabeth von Guttman, to spill on the shoot.

What it was like being on set with Juergen, particularly when news of Rihanna being sick came last minute?

Elizabeth von Guttman: Initially, a mixture of disbelief and disorientation – heightened by the intense jet lag we were all experiencing. Most photographers would have got on a plane and gone home, but Juergen’s curiosity and desire to turn real-life situations into something to be photographed and explored and valued is almost stronger than him. To witness Juergen’s transformation of our collective vulnerability and desperation into a palpable energy and sense of new-found freedom was particularly impressive.

How did you find yourselves wanting to get Juergen to shoot in a 60,000 square ft medicinal cannabis facility?

Elizabeth von Guttman: Although System’s editorial voice and content could be perceived as quite focused – i.e. principally wanting to explore and examine conditions, people, and events within the heart of the fashion industry – it feels perfectly normal for us to want to break from or even undermine that from time to time. The beauty of operating within an independent editorial platform is being able to lose your head every once in a while – because saying to ourselves ‘What if we did this?’ feels right. That can also liberate you into exploring new ideas, new ways of thinking.

“Most photographers would have got on a plane and gone home, but Juergen’s curiosity and desire to turn real-life situations into something to be photographed and explored and valued is almost stronger than him” – Elizabeth von Guttman, System founding editor

This shoot was an obvious example of this line of thinking. Medical cannabis facilities the other side of Canada might not seem an obvious System backdrop, but when you go out into the world with an open mind, you meet people operating in activities beyond fashion whose values and perspective sometimes bring new light to how fashion thinks, or sees itself. In a chance meeting with Brendan Kennedy – the inspiring CEO of Privateer Holdings, the company who owns the medical cannabis facility in question – we immediately had one of those ‘What if we did this?’ moments.

Is System best enjoyed while thoroughly blazed or is it for the sober of mind?

Elizabeth von Guttman: We are happy to embrace System’s contradictory nature: yes, it’s rather earnest, but we also accept that there’s a slightly dysfunctional or almost unhinged streak that makes it less easily defined. Still, perfectly coherent tends to be boring or lifeless. With this in mind, all mental states should be able to find something within its pages to stimulate them.

The Waiting for Rihanna supplement is available with System 9 (out April 12th) and more images are available online at Just in time for 4/20.