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Meet the Artists: Inez van Lamsweerde & Vinoodh Matadin

Photo by Inez & Vinoodh

John and Paul, Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Watson and Crick—creativity loves company.

The Dutch duo Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin met in 1986 and have been working in collaboration ever since. Though best known as fashion photographers, their talents are hardly siloed to a single medium. This fall, they shot Barneys New York’s fall campaign with Lou Doillon and directed an accompanying music video. We’re excited to announce that Inez and Vinoodh have also collaborated with Ten Thousand Things on a jewelry collection and with Ben Gorham of Byredo on a fragrance. Needless to say, it’s been busy year.

We caught up with Inez in anticipation of these exciting launches. Read on for the interview, or better yet, head to our Madison Avenue flagship tomorrow, Saturday, September 7th, at 3p.m. to meet the pair. The fragrance, new jewelry collection and copies of their book, Pretty Much Everything (Taschen, 2011), will be available for purchase. And don’t worry, they’re coming soon to Barneys.com.

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You’ve got three big launches this fall in addition to your day job as photographers, including shooting our campaign with Lou Doillon. How do you do it all?

It has grown out to adding fragrance and jewelry to our existing jobs as photographers and directors so naturally and out of so much enthusiasm that it feels more energizing than exhausting. It is all creative and part of the many ideas that float around in our heads.

What was the impetus for collaborating with Byredo and Ten Thousand Things specifically? 

We are always on the other side of the coin when we shoot fragrance campaigns, where the design of the bottle, the name, the scent, etc. have all been decided upon already. We always said that we’d love to create a scent in reverse, so it was based on our image Kirsten, 1996. Ben Gorham of Byredo created the perfect interpretation of the dualistic tendencies in this photograph.

With Ten Thousand Things, the collection grew from a personal piece of jewelry (the necklace with our two wedding rings intertwined and the star pendant representing our son, Charles Star) that Vinoodh asked David and Ron to make as a gift for me. From there, it evolved into a 200 piece collection in a very organic way. We spent hours at their studio looking at stones and metals with new ideas each time we would meet.  Now we can’t stop thinking about it, new ideas are constantly worked on and researched. The possibilities within the concept of the star and two rings are endless.

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How would you describe the Inez & Vinoodh attitude or aesthetic that you bring to these projects?

It reflects our style, which you could say is precise, timeless, classic and easy but with a romantic edge. We would never make anything that looks forced or unnatural. We approach everything from a very personal perspective.

Why did you pick the name 1996 for the fragrance? What does that year mean to you?

It is ten years after Inez and Vinoodh started working together. It is the year that we moved from Amsterdam to New York. It is the year we made the photograph Kirsten, 1996, which struck us as the ideal image to base a fragrance upon.

Do you think the jewelry collaboration with Ten Thousand Things is just the beginning of your work as designers?

There are so many ideas. We meet so many great people through our work that we have learned so much from. We see so many products and travel so extensively from hotel to hotel and eat out so much that we build up this mental database of ideas that we could bring into play in any creative situation. It could be designing a shoe, a hotel, anything that excites us.

How do you collaborate with each other? What is your artistic process like?

We talk, we draw, we listen and push each other further all the time

Do you work together as individuals, or as one seamless team?

We feel we are a seamless team. We have been working together, living together and loving each other 24/7 since 1991.

everything-ivWhat made you pick the title Pretty Much Everything for your book? How do you think the book portrays you?

It has that ease and hugeness to it as a title, which we love for a 666-page retrospective book of 27 years of creating images together.

It shows how the images have always lived in our heads. We work in pairs always, so it is literally about the connection and interaction between the two images on the pages in a purely associative and personal way.

What was your inspiration when working on the Lou Doillon campaign? How do you feel about the finished product?

Lou was the person we were inspired by the moment Barneys asked us to think of a person to embody the store’s philosophy of fashion, ease, edge and creativity. We focused really on her and her attitude, which is all of the above.

We love the simplicity of the photos accompanied by the elaborate and personal vision of Lou and her song “‘Devil or Angel” in the video and in the windows.

Any other exciting new projects in the pipeline?

There is a lot going on, but the one thing I can mention is that we are working on a bag with BLKDNM and of course more jewelry for the holiday season!

Inez & Vinoodh @ Barneys New York
660 Madison Avenue
Saturday, September 7
3PM

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