AGAINST THE BOREDOM: MILES ALDRIDGE TALKS CAREER, BEAUTY AND HIS RELATIONSHIP WITH M.A.C COSMETICS
Dream or nightmare? Sanity or neurosis? Behind its surface of impeccability, where the bright colours and the luxury elements reign, Miles Aldridge‘s photographies cause distress. Even though virtuously dressed, make-up and hair combed, the women portrayed by him inhale melancholy and, perhaps, madness.
During the launch of the book “Miles of M.A.C”, produced by M.A.C Cosmetics and Rizzoli, we had the pleasure of interviewing Mr. Aldridge, whose work is frequently seen on the Italian “Vogue”, “Numéro”, “The New York Times” and “The New Yorker”. He is also an accomplished illustrator and recently showed his drawings in the Sims Reed gallery, in London. Read below the full interview.
You graduated in graphic arts at Central Saint Martins, so how was that you transitioned to photography?
My father, Alan Aldridge, was already a well-known illustrator and even contributed with M.A.C Cosmetics. As a child he showed me that drawing on a piece of paper could produce a whole universes of ideas. So I enrolled in Central Saint Martins to study graphic arts and become an illustrator, but I found it very boring. In my twenties, I thought it would be a very dull way of spending my life. I had this fantasy of being a director or a photographer, but I didn’t know which one I would be. For a while I was a bad videoclip director, however I had the luck of having a girlfriend that wanted to be a model. I took some photographs of her and these images ended up in her portfolio, which arrived in the office of someone in the British Vogue, that then asked who had portrayed her and they called me over. She is not a model anymore, but I’m still a photographer. This was already 20 years ago!
And when did you resume with illustration?
I had an amazing career until now, I clearly discovered that I love women and to photograph them, but, again, there was a point when I started to find everything so boring. I questioned myself about how to make my work not stay boring, and the answer was coming back to the illustration and make drawing of the protographies I would like to take.
The aesthetics of your work is striking, always dominated by bright colours and women perfectly dressed and with makeup fully-done, but they sometimes seem empty or problematic. How did your find your style?
I come from a world closely related to beauty. All my sisters are models [Lily and Ruby Aldridge], my mother was very beautiful and I married a supermodel [Kristen McMenamy], so, for me, the pure beauty, without any flaws or cracks, was really boring. I already used the boring word so many times in this interview, but I am against boringness. As an artist, as a man and even as a human being, I cannot stand what’s dull, my days are very short for this. Already as a photographer, having the chance to watch my sister to model for Ralph Lauren in a yacht and with a martini in her hands, I wanted, in fact, to see the yacht in flames, I wanted things to be different and make them more interesting and exciting. During all my life I was sold this idea that beauty will make you happy, which, honestly, is not true at all. There is happiness even in the madness.
You already directed videoclips for The Charlatans and Jesus and Mary Chain. What are the differences that you felt between photograph and directing a film? And why, as you said before, you believe you are better as a photographer?
Photography is more satisfying because for me a single image can open the doors to the imagination whereas a film, as a series of images, merely tells a story. Of course there are some brilliant film directors who I love but I do not have their talent for storytelling.
How the idea of the book “Miles of MAC”, produced by M.A.C Cosmetics, came up?
It’s very simple, in fact. I already did a book with Rizzoli, called “I Only Want You to Love Me”, and was working in New York with James Gager [M.A.C Cosmetics’ vice-president] in one of our projects when a guy from Rizzoli came to greet me and I introduced them. Then I had to leave and I jokingly suggested that they could do a book together. When I saw they were already doing a book, but, for my surprise, the book was about my work. When I received the PDF and saw that the book was called “Miles of M.A.C” it’s that the penny dropped. I mean, I was very flattered and the only photographer I know that has a book like this is Richard Avedon, who did a book with Versace. Patrick Demarchelier has one about Dior, but it is different because it is not about his history with the brand and, in my case, it is.
In spite of working with fashion and beauty, do you follow these industries closely?
No, not at all. As an artist I need to to produce my ideas independently of the business.
Who are the photographers and artists that you admire the most?
Richard Avedon, Lucas Cranach, Leonardo da Vinci, Federico Fellini, Ingmar Bergman, Horst P. Horst, René Magritte, Gerhard Richter, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Helmut Newton, Giotto, Piero della Francesca.
Is there someone that you haven’t photographed but that you would love to? And who to you like to photograph the most nowadays?
The women in my head are who I like to photograph the most. There’s no real person I’m obsessed to photograph.
(Leia esta entrevista em português aqui)