The coupling of luxury swimwear brand Vilebrequin with quintessential coastline photographer Massimo Vitali evokes more than just a nostalgic yearning for a beachside vacation. Vitali's distinctive style of capturing crowded and colourful beaches plays right into the essence of the 40 year-old, Saint Tropez bathing brand.
The renowned photographer, whose large-format work has been showcased from Venice Biennial to Art Basel Miami, took a series of coastal photographs specifically for the project: 'The result is more than a picture on a piece of cloth, it's a little conceptual game played out on a pair of trunks,' says Vitali. 'I think they will be funny to wear.'
Often referred to as 'the oldest photographer of the young generation', Vitali's romantic photographs capture life and its emotion. 'I think my pictures are very much part of a moment,' he continues. 'Every year people change, colours change, beaches change. The way people behave reflects their role in a changing society.'
Primarily aiming to document the people around him, Vitali's beach series came about just as there was a political shift in Italy circa 1994. 'Back then, [Silvio] Berlusconi had just come to power,' explains Vitlali. 'People seemed ready to start a new life - there was optimism.' He was able to observe and capture this feeling on the country's beaches.
With a background as a photojournalist, Vitali says he 'tries to put all the ideas from a lifetime working in photography to good use. I didn't really want to become an artist, rather I wanted to have the possibility to put all my thoughts into my work.' Adding, 'It was only by chance that I started working on beaches, and although I became known for these, my idea of photography is not specifically about beaches, but about any multi-layered setting and situation, and beaches just happen to perfectly fit the bill.'
As the years go by, styles and technology change, but as Vitali observes, 'what hasn't changed is that moment on the beach. It doesn't matter how hard your life is, in that moment life is good. What people get from the sea and sun is a moment of relaxation and happiness. That will always be the same.' His collaboration with Vilebrequin is another medium on which to capture that ephemeral happiness of coastal habitation.