Fashion Photographers Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin Polish Their Brand

A fall ad campaign they shot for Gap, featuring millennials like Adam Driver and Dree Hemingway, was plastered on bus stops, in subway stations and on billboards. Pop into a magazine store, and their photos not only promote Balmain, Viktor & Rolf and Diesel, but also appear on the cover of Vogue Paris, V magazine, Flair and other fashion bibles.

Their new photography book, “Pretty Much Everything,” is sold at Taschen on Greene Street. They also have a new perfume and a jewelry line, sold uptown at Barneys. The music video they directed for Lady Gaga’s “Applause” has garnered more than 125 million plays on YouTube.

Despite their ubiquitous work, Ms. van Lamsweerde and Mr. Matadin are not exactly household names. But the Dutch couple, who are also married, are hoping to change that.

Professionally known as Inez and Vinoodh, they have been darlings of the fashion world for much of their 27-year career, and are now crossing over into the cultural mainstream. The goal, they say, is to become a lifestyle brand.

It may seem an ambitious dream, but Inez (she pronounces her name ee-NEZ) and Vinoodh have a juggernaut of influential people rooting for them. The two inspire gushy praise not just for their work but for their hosting skills, their decorating taste, their generous Christmas gifts and their charm.

“They are the loveliest people,” said Nicola Formichetti, the artistic director for Diesel, who hired them for the label’s fall campaign.

“When I hear I’m shooting with them, I just jump up and down,” said the actress Julianne Moore, who has worked with them a half-dozen times.

“They’re quite possibly the two coolest human beings on the planet,” said Natalie Massenet, the founder of the luxury website Net-A-Porter.

And while Inez and Vinoodh may not always have an identifiable look, in the way that photographers like David LaChapelle or Terry Richardson have a certain visual signature, they do inspire a loyalty that is rare in the insular, cutthroat world of fashion.

“They’re super talented, and they’re super professional, and that goes a long way,” said Cecilia Dean, the editor of Visionaire, the conceptual fashion and art publication. “And then they’ve got this whole nurturing private family part of their lives, and I think that keeps them grounded.”

Sitting in their wood-paneled, 1970s-inspired loft in NoLIta (filled with light, art and furniture they designed themselves), the pair come across as adorable. Ms. van Lamsweerde, 50, resembles a gangly sweetheart in an animated Tim Burton fable, with wide, spiky-lashed eyes. Mr. Matadin, 52, is rangy and tan, with a rumpled haircut and a sunny smile.

The couple’s personal story, too, has a fairy-tale appeal: They’ve known each other more than half their lives. In the 1980s, they were students at the Amsterdam Fashion Academy and collaborated for the first time in 1986, when Mr. Matadin, by then an aspiring designer, needed a photographer for a look book. A mutual friend suggested Ms. van Lamsweerde.

“We kind of instantly fell in love,” said Ms. van Lamsweerde, the more talkative of the two, “but Vinoodh had a girlfriend and I had a boyfriend.” For several years, they worked together on and off, and dated other people, until in 1992 they both found themselves single and began dating. “It took six years to synchronize our love life,” she said.

They also became photographic partners, conceiving and styling shoots as a team. Their big break came in 1994, when Lee Swillingham, the creative director of the British style magazine The Face, came across their work. The two were making dramatic use of digital special effects at a time when the technology was new, expensive and rare.

“It kind of blew my mind,” Mr. Swillingham said.

The Face published a series, “For Your Pleasure,” in which the duo digitally superimposed their own candy-colored, retro-futuristic photographs of models onto backgrounds purchased from an image bank. In one, two models wearing short-shorts and straddling bicycles share a Popsicle, while in the background a Space Shuttle takes off, rockets ablaze. In another, a gigantic model in an evening gown crawls on hands and knees, Attack of the 50-Foot-Woman-style, across a sunset panorama of the Golden Gate Bridge.

“It was what would happen if Ziggy Stardust and J. G. Ballard got together to take fashion pictures,” said Mr. Swillingham, now a partner in a London design firm. “It was so ahead of its time.”

The photos came out during a particularly grim moment in fashion: the era of heroin-chic and grunge. The look was all flannel and thermals. Photographs were black and white, models deliberately scuzzy-looking. In contrast, Ms. Dean said: “This was gorgeous and sexy. We were like, ‘Wow, this is so cool.’ ”

Visionaire was the first publication in the United States to work with the couple and continues to do so. So does its sister magazine, the quarterly V, whose fall issue featured four different covers of Lady Gaga photographed by Inez and Vinoodh. They have also shot for American Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. With their careers blossoming, the couple moved to New York in 1996 and married in 1999. They have a photogenic 10-year-old, Charles Star, who often shows up on their Instagram account, which is approaching 50,000 followers.

Source Article from http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/02/fashion/fashion-photographers-Inez-van-Lamsweerde-Vinoodh-Matadin.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

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