New York artist Peter Schlesinger's relationship with Alessandro Michele and Gucci dates back to 2015. Fast forward a couple years, and Schlesinger shot the lookbook for the fashion house's Pre-Fall 2018 collection.
Now, after manning projects for Gucci men's and women's lookbooks, Schlesinger has compiled an assortment of extra images into a new book, dubbed Disturbia. According to Vogue, the publication is "addictive in its depiction of an eerily shadowy Rome, not to mention the always compelling lavish eclecticism of Michele."
Schlesinger in turn recently got together with Vogue to discuss the project, as below we've highlighted key excerpts from the interview.
On the shoot for Disturbia:
"The best pictures do look like stills from a movie. I am assuming that’s what Gucci saw when they asked me to work on this. The book is like a movie. The shoot was like a movie! There was a crew of 65 people. I always work by myself; I have no assistants. I just had to pretend that they weren’t there!"
On how the project came about:
"I got an email from someone at Gucci, saying they’d like to talk to me about something. I thought maybe they wanted to buy a print. Then they explained what they had in mind. It was quite a surprise. And also incredibly scary. I’m used to working alone. But in the end the buildup was scarier than the shoot. After a while I got into it."
On planning for Disturbia:
"I’d received a portfolio from Gucci with movie stills and images of mine that they liked. The locations and models had already been decided. Quite a few of the places I was shooting had been used in Dario Argento’s movies. Italians are obsessed with him; he’s a cult over there. One roundabout we used was designed by architect Gino Coppedè; he’s like a Roman Gaudí. We shot in a school auditorium that had been used in one of Argento’s movies. And a crazy villa that had been abandoned in the ’60s; it wasn’t in any of his films, but it looked like it could have been. Oftentimes we were working outside in the cold [laughs] and then we’d get bussed to the next location. It all had to be planned with military precision; there were 80 outfits to be shot, so I was doing around 30 a day."
On celebrating different types of beauty:
"Alessandro purposefully chooses models who are not mainstream in terms of their beauty; they have an eccentricity to them . . . . And his clothes are far out. People are obsessed with the period that I was photographing, the ’60s and the ’70s, though now the real obsession seems to be with the early ’80s. People look back all the time. In the ’70s we were obsessed with the ’30s—’30s movies, ’30s fashion. It’s always a 30 year or so gap."
On photographing Alessandro Michele:
"He asked if I would take his portrait. He’s incredibly busy, so I had a 30-minute slot to do it. He was very sweet and charming, and then he was gone."
Now, follow on over to Vogue for the entire piece on Peter Schlesinger and Disturbia.
Peter Schlesinger is in turn celebrating the launch of Disturbia with a book signing at Dover Street Market New York (160 Lexington Avenue) May 3 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
In related news, Gucci and Versace rank among the least transparent brands for workers rights.