Enlisted by the designer, the filmmaker and photographer shot the AW17 collection on a diverse cast of friends, models and street cast locals
As a native New Yorker, Marc Jacobs often references his hometown and the AW17 collection was no exception. Inspired by a documentary on 90s hip hop culture, the collection explored the way music has influenced style over the years and saw models walk the runway in matching tracksuit sets, oversized gold jewellery and bucket hats.
In addition to the traditional campaign images, Jacobs was keen to come up with a new way of presenting the collection so enlisted New York-based filmmaker and photographer Tyler Mitchell and gave him free rein to create a photo project from his point of view. “I saw the collection and immediately thought about boys in womenswear runway clothing,” the Atlanta-born Mitchell told us. “I thought about taking a brand like Marc Jacobs and setting a shoot up how Dipset might have in the 90s – a bunch of kids hanging around.”
Mitchell was keen to make sure the cast was as representative of his work as possible. “I was – and always am – looking for a sense of boyish innocence. No matter if the people in my photos are men, women, trans, models, non-models, or anything else.” The full cast for the project includes a diverse mix of Mitchell’s friends, models and street-cast locals. He even went as far as flying one of them over from England to New York because his look was perfect for the shoot. Regardless of age, gender or race his aim was “to show that they could all look amazing in the clothes no matter their physical differences.”
Mitchell and stylist Julia Baylis were even open to new ideas over the two days that the project was shot. While in Brooklyn, they came across two boys playing basketball and had to include them. “I asked them if they could be in a shoot for Marc Jacobs and wear some coats. They were so shocked that I even wanted them to model. It was like they didn’t know they were cool.”
Most important for Mitchell was to bring the same depth that exists in his photographic work. “When I showed this project to my mom, she kept asking if each subject was a boy or a girl. I feel like the casting is creating discussions people should be having,” he said. Casting, of course, is a sensitive subject for Marc Jacobs – following the criticism after he featured mostly white models with dreadlocks for his SS17 show – which wasn’t lost on Mitchell. “I would be lying if I said his statements and the mistake of the runway collection two seasons ago didn’t initially worry me about a collaboration together. But I thought hard about things and the perspective I thought I could bring the to the image of Marc Jacobs.”
“When I showed this project to my mom, she kept asking if each subject was a boy or a girl. I feel like the casting is creating discussions people should be having” – Tyler Mitchell
In addition to Mitchell’s throwback style photos, he also directed a video for the project, shot by Kyle Keese. It sees the same gang from the images dressed in the hip hop styles, hanging around downtown New York. “We just had fun. We had people coming in and out trying on clothes, going to the park, or the street,” he explained.
Ultimately Mitchell hopes that this project will be the start of ongoing crossovers with fashion brands. “Being from Atlanta, high fashion isn’t something I would stereotypically be participating in,” he muses. “This is special. And I want this to be the start of further fashion collaborations.”