Greg Kessler: Pre-Catwalk

The Backstage Fashion Photographer Teams Up With Illustrator Somsack Sikhounmuong

Amid moments of chaos and anticipation, photographer Greg Kessler and illustrator Somsack Sikhounmuong document the hidden electricity that surrounds behind-the-scenes imagery. Raw, unhindered and almost surrealist, the shots were originally captured during the Fall 2012 shows before being hand-illustrated to offer a new take on the traditional backstage photograph. “There is a certain beauty in that tiny moment where everything just stops and the only thing you can hear is the camera shutter,” says the New York-based Kessler, whose work has appeared in The New York Times, Numero, and Teen Vogue. This season, intrigued by the fantastical and voyeuristic elements he encountered on the runways of New York, Milan and Paris, Kessler asked Sikhounmuong to add his playful illustrations to the original images. “The final collages reveal something you cannot see in the air backstage but something you can feel: the chaos, the drama and the emotion,” adds Kessler. Rejecting digital manipulation, Sikhounmuong took a back-to-basics approach and worked solely by hand, cutting and pasting directly on to the photographs, then applying paint and ink on to acetate over the top. “Rather than erasing reality, the collages heighten the backstage experience using a hyper visual language,” explains the illustrator. 

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