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When Tommy Met Anna

Fashion photo blogger Tommy Ton discusses his work and the muse for his latest Toronto expo, Vogue Japan editor Anna Dello Russo

The fashion world has always been about flash, prestige and fantasy, but no one has documented the elite cove of fashion editors in their natural habitat (i.e. runway shows) and poise as well as photographer and photo blogger Tommy Ton. His perfectly cropped shots catapulted him to astronomical fashion heights and, following him en route, is Japan Vogue editor Anna Dello Russo who Ton has helped make into a fashion icon, capturing her unique, sometimes ironic and always fantastical ensembles.

Photo expo 'When Tommy met Anna' is currently on display at Toronto's Hudson Bay. It features over 80 photos of the “fashion maniac” ADR in all her multi outfitted glory - she changed seven times during the Hudson Bay fete! Dazed talked to the gracious Tommy Ton about his obsession with his muse, ADR as French pastry confectionery, Anna’s “why not” approach to Internet celebrity and what his design line might look like…

Dazed Digital: Why is Anna Dello Russo the ultimate muse?
Tommy Ton: Because she changes so many times in one day. I like to compare Anna to a bird of paradise. When she enters the picture it’s kind of like when a film actress enters a movie set. It changes, elevates and brings glamour to everything. We can be in the most unglamorous setting for a show. And then, Anna appears and everything changes. The past four years I’ve been shooting Anna, every moment that I shot her has been wow! She just has fun with fashion. I wish I could have been around for the years when Isabella Blow was. But she is sadly no longer around and Anna’s here... it’s just amazing that someone dresses up so much to that degree for the shows.

DD: Describe your relationship with Anna?
Tommy Ton: You can kind of say it’s a photographer and muse relationship. I mean, we are friends, and she’s also someone who is very supportive of my career. I actually just shot an editorial for Vogue Japan last week in Toronto. So, I’m lucky Anna gives me the opportunity to work. She’s a great mentor and very supportive. 

DD: She’s kind of everywhere and so are you…
Tommy Ton: She is everywhere. She doesn’t realise what the blogosphere has created in terms of this character called ADR. So, I mean, if she’s going to embrace it she’s going to do it full force and she has done that. So, I mean she’s not hurting anyone, so why not?

DD: What’s your favorite ADR photo in the exhibit?
Tommy Ton:
In the exhibit, the one of her in the giant black feather shoulders, her mouth is kind of dropped open and she’s walking in Paris. I don’t know what kind of character she looks like, maybe a black swan.

DD: Or like a really beautiful elegant vulture?
Tommy Ton: Exactly, she’s like some creature you’re very intimidated by but you can’t help but to look at.

DD: I heard that you’re a foodie. If you could compare ADR to meal, what would it be?
Tommy Ton: She definitely would be a desert because of how colourful and whimsical she is. I don’t know if you could say her style is this but I would say she would be a French pastry that you would find in Laduree.

DD: What is your favorite fashion moment?
Tommy Ton: I was lucky to attend the last shows of McQueen and Galliano for Dior. The moment that stands out in my mind is Balmain, my first show in February 2007. I just remember that moment very vividly. I remember going to Paris, not expecting anything and getting into this show by accident. Seeing the top girls like Daria, Freja, and Carmen and they were playing the Cure. I went outside afterwards, it was pouring rain and I was dancing in the rain.  I was just like, ‘wow’. I didn’t realise this was what fashion could do.

DD: Where do you want to take the Tommy Ton brand?
Tommy Ton: I’m very happy with where things are now. I like working, being able to observe, to document through photos and the fact I have outlets such as GQ and Style.com where I can share my photos. I would love to one day consult and work on branding.

The Hudson Bay Company in Toronto will be exhibiting “When Tommy met Anna” until April 29

Text by Jen Tse