Fashion week’s quieter side uncovered in Joachim Mueller Ruchholtz’s model portraits
Photographer Joachim Mueller Ruchholtz spent two years capturing the mellower side of the often correscating international fashion scene. A new book, launching in London on 1 October (in the hangover period after this season’s shows), contains Mueller Ruchholtz’s quiet series of portraits, depicting off-duty fashion models in Paris, London, Berlin, Helsinki; as they are, lounging, relaxing, simply existing, before majestically stalking the runway.
Each protagonist in Portraits also graces the books of Eva Gödel’s Düsseldorf-based modelling agency Tomorrow Is Another Day. ‘Gödel is in interested in male archetypes,’ writes Lucy Kumara Moore (of Claire de Rouen Books) in the books’ introduction, which is self-evident in the eclectic mix of male models represented in Mueller Ruchholtz’s imagery. It becomes a catalogue not just for what it means to be a young male model, but what it means to be ‘male’, in general.
Vincent, Paris, January 2018, from Portraits, by Joachim Mueller Ruchholtz, 2018
‘Are they boys or are they men?’ Kumara Moore continues. ‘They’re caught between worlds – between adolescence and adulthood, the ordinary and the luxurious, the known and the new – some of them were travelling out of their hometowns for the first time.’ It’s in these ‘in-between moments that identities are formed’, and Mueller Ruchholtz documents the unfolding of ‘I’ on film.
Though not necessarily devoid of ‘pose’, each image is categorised by its relaxed informality; caught in a hotel room here, a living room there. ‘They’re pictures taken at stolen moments along the urban circuit of a restless, globalised fashion industry,’ Kumara Moore writes. ‘But even though these men might be walking Raf Simons or Hugo Boss the next morning, there isn’t much to indicate privilege or decadence in their surroundings.’
Distinct from the complex, rarified fashion universe, the male models take on new personas in Mueller Ruchholtz’s photographs. Plays with light and colour dance upon these unique character portraits, creating sustained and meditative reflections on identities often moving too quickly to study with such exactitude. §