“Whenever there is a slight opportunity or a loophole in an assignment, I’m working with Céline,” says Julian DuFour, a 1st year FCP student at Central Saint Martins, of his most recent collaboration with his friend and menswear designer Céline Schubert. This opportunity arose when Julian was tasked with creating an alternative lookbook for a 2nd year Menswear designer as part of his degree.
The project brief challenged Julian to document any part of the designer’s work that he found interesting. “But I knew if I was going to shoot, it was going to have to be everything,” admits Julian. The focus of the ensuing images, however, was on Celine’s 1st year white shirt project. Julian’s affection for this garment is unsurprising as Céline used him as a fit model, thus he saw the garment develop from illustration to construction.
The toile which was fit to Julian’s body also features in the lookbook, draped across chairs, and worn by Céline. “The nicest fabric was used for the toile, and the not nice fabric was used for the real garment; they had run out of the nice one”, confides Céline, which poetically reflects the prominence of her toile in Julian’s photographs.
A great influence on Céline’s designs and the aesthetic of Julian’s photographs was the photographer Brassaï who, incidentally, hails from the same region in Romania as Céline. Julian, like Brassai, used black and white film to shoot at the familiar CSM studios, explaining: “It’s more tactile, it’s more romantic. I tend to produce my best work on film, just because I can’t afford to make mistakes.”
The images are backlit with a soft diffuser, making the poses look almost biblical. One particularly striking image stages the designer Céline in the lap of the model, Fabrice Desvaux de Marigny, recreating the tableau from Michelangelo’s Pietà sculpture. I ask about Julian and Céline’s choice of including the designer, mainly nude, in the shoot. “It wasn’t about the fragility of a woman being supported by a man,” asserts Julian, disregarding any gender subtext. “It was about putting the spotlight on the designer as an overworked CSM student who is making gorgeous things. And having the model – who is often seen as this stupid disposable thing in fashion – in the supporting role”.
As their friendship has passed the test of a working relationship, Julian and Céline hope to continue collaborating.
Words Ellie Taylor Photography Julian DuFour