DPP Home Profiles Richard Reinsdorf: Master Of Architectural Fashion

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Richard Reinsdorf: Master Of Architectural Fashion

Richard Reinsdorf blends building design and glamour in his provocative images

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Richard Reinsdorf remembers standing in New York’s Rockefeller Center as a child and carefully framing the statue of Atlas in the viewfinder of his Kodak Instamatic. While his equipment has changed drastically since then, his fascination with architecture and the human form has not. Now based in Los Angeles, live models replace Atlas in Reinsdorf’s fashion photography, with the structures of Frank Gehry, Richard Neutra and other star architects providing dramatic environments.

Reinsdorf began building his portfolio and his reputation photographing “new faces” for modeling agencies. His ability to bring out the best in his subjects and their surroundings soon caught the eyes of magazine editors and advertising art directors. His current portfolio is packed with editorial tear sheets from top fashion periodicals, including Elle and Vogue Brazil,and ad campaigns for companies ranging from Sony to Skechers.

DPP: Where did your signature style of combining models and architecture come from?

Richard Reinsdorf: In the beginning of my career, I was mainly concerned with my subjects and the fashion I was shooting. As I evolved, I started seeing that the background could serve the telling of a deeper story that serves the fashion through the relationship of the clothes and the models to their environment. This, to me, is a more fluid and cinematic approach. But there’s always a balancing act. One isn’t exclusive of the other. Architecture can create fantastic moods through shapes and context.

With photography that runs the gamut from editorial to commercial, Richard Reinsdorf is a consummate professional. His body of work that we’ve called Architectural Fashion shows Reinsdorf’s ability to meld classic glamour with dramatic architecture. In some images, human curves contrast with hard-edged lines in man-made structures, and in other images, softer building features are shown in dramatic juxtaposition with more angular model poses.
DPP: What sort of architecture works best for this kind of approach?

Reinsdorf: Modern architecture is an important movement in our environment that influences fashion. If the designs of the clothes are modern, then I like to work in a futuristic setting to set the theme. When I was in Brazil, we used Oscar Niemeyer’s shapes to complement the geometric clothes, and with that we found ourselves transported to a whole new world. There’s a deep-red, snake-like ramp at the Niemeyer Museum and Theatre complex that leads into the “the spaceship.” The drama was palpable. I was becoming part of that environment, too. I helped the model find positions that lent to the mystery of the “spaceship” behind her. Then the model joined the journey, as well, and came up with striking poses that drew the whole team in. It’s vital to mention the team—the stylist, makeup artist and hair person—they’re a vital part of the creation process. The wrong styling or look can ruin an otherwise great shot. I’m very fortunate to work with people who bring the shoot to new heights by adding their creativity.

DPP: How do you use older architectural styles and newer architectural styles in your work?

Reinsdorf: As a contrast to the modern, sometimes futuristic, architecture, I use traditional architecture for period looks and degraded urban environments for more gritty concepts. I also love to use contrast. There may be a sharp environment that I can soften with the femininity of the clothes. An element can sometimes be more clearly defined by contrasting it with another.

DPP: Can an architectural approach to fashion work in the studio?

Reinsdorf: We’ve created architectural elements in a controlled studio situation numerous times. For instance, Axiom Design hired me based on my location work, but after our meeting we decided that logistically we could accomplish their ad campaign for Westfield Shopping Centers in a studio. We built large-scale movable sets with silver-reflecting shapes and colors that I manipulated with gels. The result was a fresh, chromatic, contemporary vision. Inside the studio or out on location, lighting is an integral part of storytelling and setting mood.


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