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August 27, 2014

L’Avenue Shanghai: Rencontre

An After-Hours Romance in the Luxury Destination’s Second Fashion Film

Radiant model Amber Anderson and menswear face Hao Yun Xiang plunge into the bright lights and dark corners of L’Avenue Shanghai in Rencontre, the second short directed by Nathalie Canguilhem. Inspired by the luxury mall’s illuminated exterior and architecture centered around its hemispherical dome, the film is set to a hypnotic score by emerging French artist Liza Manili and maverick producer 1963. “I wanted to create a sense of commotion,” says Canguilhem, who spliced together voyeuristic footage taken from L’Avenue Shanghai’s CCTV cameras, which shows the loved-up protagonists getting lost in the mall’s French-style gardens in looks from Dries Van Noten, Marc Jacobs and Saint Laurent by Hedi Slimane. “The shape of the building is naturally cinematic,” says the director of the cinematography, which referenced Chris Marker’s La Jetée and the contrasting hues of Blade Runner. “The nighttime Shanghai light is really vivid. It’s not silver, it’s white, and the reflection travels.”

Watch part one of our L’Avenue Shanghai double bill: Desir.

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Sharif Hamza: Dreams of Levitation

A Soaring Portrait of Daredevil Motocross Riders High Above the Nevada Desert

“As a sport that involves great personal risk, freestyle motocross is a perfect way to create a sense of story and proved a beautiful way to look at menswear,” says NOWNESS contributor Sharif Hamza. The V, Vogue and W photographer's black-and-white portrait of professional motorcycle riders Tim O’Brien and Greg Garrison captures the duo revving across a barren Nevada plain. “I love spectating people who are able to do something with their bodies and minds that I understand but couldn’t be capable of.” With the stuntmen flying overhead, Dreams of Levitation features model Shaun de Wet clad in metallic, biker-inspired gear by up-and-coming New York-based designer Tim Coppens, and a hypnotic voiceover written by Laura Albert and read by De Wet. “The voice she created is that of the rider in his later years, washed up and living a normal life,” adds Hamza of the contribution of Albert, who under the pseudonym JT LeRoy became the provocative voice of the literary counter culture in 1999. “She helped me to think about who the man is beyond his sport. He’s a roadside mechanic, reminiscing on a peak in his life, a time when he was capable of anything.”

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Irving Penn: On Assignment

Matthew Donaldson Curates a Personal Selection from the Influential Late Photographer’s New York Retrospective

Photographer and filmmaker Matthew Donaldson selects a series of Irving Penn’s most dynamic shots. Donaldson is known for a bold approach to image making, as was Penn, whose 60-year editorial and commercial career saw his work regularly grace the pages of Vogue, Look and The New Yorker before he died in 2009. Below, Donaldson recalls the time that he unexpectedly met his hero in 1985.

I was a young man in Paris working for a photographer. My boss called one lunchtime and told me to meet him at the Hôtel de Crillon on our way to a location. I pulled on a jacket, jumped onto my motorcycle and headed for the Place de la Concorde. As I walked into the marble entrance I spotted my boss walking into the salon. We headed towards a table at the back of the room where a small, well-dressed man sat with a china teapot, a cup and saucer. He rose and greeted my photographer, turned to me and introduced himself as Irving Penn.

Thanks for telling me boss.

Thirty minutes later I was more in love with a man than I thought possible. His charm, poise and honesty surpassed my dreams of meeting him. He said little but told me everything. He was a humble man who existed in a world where humility was an unusual trait.  

Penn was that rare bird, a photographer who truly inhabited both the art and commerce of photography with equal measure. From his extraordinary exhibition Street Materials at MoMA in 1977, Penn was officially an artist; his pictures being shown within the bracket of 20th century art. This was a landmark for an ostensibly commercial photographer.  He was the dude—long live the dude.

Irving Penn On Assignment runs through October 26 across both Pace Gallery and Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York City.

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