‘I first encountered his adolescent boys between two worlds; then his ‘novilleros’ between ‘sol y sombra’, life and death, fear and triumph. For fifteen years, he has faithfully related fittings and life behind the scenes – other spacetimes in transient equilibrium; initiatory experiences.’
WITH CHRISTIAN LACROIX FROM 1995 TO 2000
I first met Christian Lacroix ‘virtually’ when making films about his first perfume. At the time I found myself surrounded with documentary material – press articles, family photographs, etc. – some of which were troublingly beautiful.
Then came a (furtive) meeting in Arles in April 1990, during the Easter Feria. I was worried about being a nuisance, and in the evening I wrote him a message containing the following excerpt from Antonin Artaud’s Heliogabalus or the Crowned Anarchist*:
‘Heliogabalus went from stone to stone, dress to dress, festival to festival and ornament to ornament. The colour and meaning of the stones, the shape of the robes, the sequence of the festivals and the jewels throbbing against his skin led him on strange mental journeys. ‘It was here that one saw him grow pale, that one saw him tremble, searching for a fragment or an uneven surface to cling to, faced with the terrifying flight of all things.
It was here that a kind of higher anarchy appeared, in which his deep disquiet ignited; and he ran from stone to stone, fragment to fragment, shape to shape and fire to fire, as if running from soul to soul, in a baffling inner odyssey that no one after him has ever undertaken’.
Christian Lacroix then made an appointment to see my initial images of young bullfighters. His world seemed to me part of the same story, the same aesthetic quest. And later, between January 1995 and July 2000, he opened his fashion house to me and left me free to work, discreetly, with my Leica M4P and a 35mm Sumilux lens.
Later still he and I realised that we shared the same birthday, 16th May. It was then that I recalled that Heliogabalus had been led before the legions and crowned emperor on the night preceding 16th May 217 AD.
Artaud’s text on this young, appalling emperor was ever-present in my mind as I photographed Christian Lacroix during those years.
*Antonin Artaud, Heliogabalus or the Crowned Anarchist, tr. Stephen Barber, Solar Books, 2007.
This translation by John Tittensor.
Acknowledgements: PIXIES FILMS. Rémy Badan, Laurent Doumas, Kalthoum Laporte.
Prints produced by PICTO.
Executive producer: Le Tambour qui parle.