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The cover of "Fashionable Selby," photographer Todd Selby's new book.
Photographer Todd Selby has brought his readers inside many exclusive worlds thanks to his books—2010's The Selby Is In Your Place (focused on interior design) and 2012's Edible Selby (dedicated to the indie personalities of the food industry)—and via his blog, theselby.com. His new book, Fashionable Selby, which hits shelves next Tuesday, March 18, will offer a rare view inside the work spaces and homes of some of fashion's biggest names.
The 36-year-old photographer spent three years traveling the world to capture the images, which include French designer Isabel Marant, shoemaker Guiseppe Zanotti, Belgian fashion designer Dries Van Norten and Lady Gaga's favorite designer, Iris van Herpen. His book—complete with detachable paper dolls—contains 42 chapters of photos, interviews, and illustrations.
"There are so many interesting creators and unique visionaries in the fashion world that don't necessarily get out there. There's a whole side of fashion that people don't know about," Selby, a Brooklyn resident, told Racked. "People know about the glitz and glamour, and the marketing and advertising but they don't know about the heart and soul. I thought I could share the parts I love most."
Selby shooting Brooklyn designer Audrey Louise Reynolds.
Part of the challenge of capturing designers' studios was the risk of exposing ideas or leaking future projects, but Selby said he built trust with the creatives he shot. His work for fashion glossies didn't hurt, either: Selby's produced spreads for magazines like Vogue UK and Vogue France. While the photographer has certainly learned a thing or two about impressive interior design over the years, he said he never helped set up the rooms he shot, but rather showed up and acted as a wallflower.
Brooklyn designer Audrey Louise Reynolds' work space.
"Everything is pre-styled and the spaces were inhabited by very stylish people. I wouldn't dare touch anything," he said. "Fashion people are visual by definition. They tend to have a workspace and home that they think about. Places inside the book reflect the personalities of the people who live in them."
The book has left Selby completely inspired by the fashion world. While some might assume many designers have similar techniques and workflow, Selby was fascinated to learn that each person he photographed had their own unique regimen.
Designer Dries Van Norten rummaging through fabrics. Photo by Todd Selby.
"These people work in a similar area of fashion but some work with patterns first, then fabric, or some start by playing with colors and some work with a muse," he said. "There's no right or wrong in this [world]."
He was shocked to learn about the process of some specific designers. For example, Isabel Marant tries on all her pieces and build designs from there instead of working on a fit model. Dries Van Norten, he said, had an amazing way of "picking collections of velvet, prints, lace, and pinning them all together on a model."
While Selby did focus on a number of big names in fashion, he said he also wanted to expose some designers in the industry who are underrated and the "best kept secrets." There was no specific criteria as to how he chose who to photograph but said he searched for "people who had a unique vision." That included designers "even the most hardcore fashionista wouldn't know," like jean creators in Nashville and punk knitters in Brooklyn. Selby also photographed some designers people may have heard of but don't necessarily know so much about, like Japan's Yoshikazu Yamagata or Lanvin's jewelry maker Elie Top.
At Iris van Herpen's studio.
While the book's main focus is a mix of fashion designers, stylists, and models going about their everyday routines, Selby said his favorite part was seeing the designers' visions come to life.
"The best part, personally, was seeing the final product," he said. "Everyone sees pictures of fashion shows and then sees the clothing in stores but what's most interesting element to me is the creative process."