Prior to working as a photographer, Dominican-American artist Rodriguez trained as a professional dancer, enrolling at New York’s prestigious performing-arts college Juilliard. Rodriguez’s background in dance brings a special quality to his work, which merges physicality, movement and visual drama to create extraordinary images which blur the lines between fashion and art. One such example of his style is his recent AnOther Magazine cover with stylist Robbie Spencer, where dancers – dressed in layers of voluminous clothing – contorted themselves into strange forms that resemble abstract sculptures.
Styled by Tom Guinness, this visual essay is for Maison Margiela is art directed by Olu Odukoya and is more physically restrained but still reflects his atmospheric signature. The studio-shot portraits celebrate Margiela’s new Avant-Première offering, which riffs on the house’s last ‘Artisanal’ collection that Galliano devoted to post-pandemic youth. Slouchy deconstructed silhouettes, dreamy muted colours and touches of glamour – such as a hint of a sparkly silver glove, or a sequin print abstracted over a turquoise trench coat – come together to form a quintessentially Margiela wardrobe. Models’ faces are entirely covered by floppy woven hats in most of the images – gesturing not only to the arrival of sunnier months but also to the iconic mask motifs first designed by Martin Margiela in the late 80s.
As ever with Margiela, concept is at the heart of this project, and Galliano has formatted the book to “propose ideas” about the collection to the reader for personal interpretation. Deconstructing the idea of the photo book itself, pictures are gradually layered with hand-cut panel overlays that allow you to invent different page compositions, and, near its end, the book’s pages are cut into strips which echo “the mix-and-match effect of classic flipbooks” to finally reveal a circle cut out of the centre of its final chapter. In this space, readers will find a measuring tape – a nod, the house says, “to the Artisanal ateliers out of which every proposal is born.”
“The act of proposing ideas – rather than proclaiming them – nurtures the individuality and self-expression that courses through the veins of the house,” says Maison Margiela of the project. “Drawing on these values, the Visual Essay is an invitation for the reader to investigate and interact with the collection: to arbitrarily create new versions or aspects of it, which resonate with their own self-concept.”