IT IS INTERESTING HOW THINGS CAN COME TOGETHER AT DIFFERENT TIMES IN HISTORY. I DON’T KNOW IF DAVID BOWIE AND YVES SAINT LAURENT EVER MET IN PERSON – THOUGH I CAN’T SEE WHY NOT – THEIR NAMES SEEM TO POP UP EVER NOW AND THEN IN COMBINATION WITH EACH OTHER. NOT SO STRANGE CONSIDERING BOTH MEN HAVE BEEN EMBLEMATIC FOR THE FASHION AND POP CULTURE AND ARE AN INSPIRATION FOR MANY. EVEN TODAY.
In 2008, the year Yves Saint Laurent died, the fashion house decided to skip a runway show. Instead they channelled resources in an arresting video. Actor Simon Woods was casted to trash and splash his way through a shower of rose petals while presenting the fall/winter collection on his well-shaped body. Creator of the video was designer Stefano Pilati who, claiming the films message to be fashion for everybody, found inspiration in the archetypal creative chameleon David Bowie.
YSL 2008 fall/winter collection itself also showed Bowie inspired features. Tapered as well as flared trousers, velvet biker jackets and three-quarter-length coats combined with slim silhouettes and lighting bolt details. The soundtrack of the video was a mash-up of Lou Ree, Portishead and LCD Soundsystem and concluded with a section of the 1997 Aphex Twin remix of – yes – Bowie’s legendary Heroes, combined with the singers original voice recording. All together a most interesting combination of 1970’s punk and rock and roll and 1990’s fashion lines that created a new look for 2008/2009.
Landis Smithers, creative director and photographer, is a many of many facets. Already his childhood was exciting, having grown up in Manhattan, London and Houston. Also in his career he is multi-hyphenate, crossing genres from photography to creative direction, starting with traditional advertising agencies to guiding iconic global brands as diverse as Old Navy to the relaunch of Playboy and the global campaigns for the Pepsi brand. Currently living in Los Angeles with his husband and pit-bull named Grr, Landis' photography focuses mainly on art and fashion and he shoots primarily for a darker form of beauty, trying to find some undone, tangible glamour in the world.
That dark glamour Landis Smithers strives for is beautifully brought to life in his work with model Ponthuz. Ponthuz comes from Germany but has recently made the move to sunny California. Los Angeles to be precise. Not the worst destination if you have your goals set on a modelling and acting career. Ponthuz is relatively new on the modeling scene but has already the reputation as one of the best bodies in West Hollywood. Quiet a reputation to live up to, but according to the portraits he shot with Landis, he does it with glance. For the moment Ponthuz wraps himself in mystery. He is an enigma who doesn’t give away too much about himself. His personality that is. Physically he seems to have no problem with showing.
All in style of his creative vision, Landis Smithers wanted to do a kind of Fall rock and roll fashion shoot with Ponthuz. True, Ponthuz seems to be more a rock and roll person than a pop person. They selected some tights from the nineties and Yves Saint Laurent suits from the seventies, mixing things together and giving Ponthuz a Bowie meets headbanger look. And turning Ponthuz in an iconic character that, besides fashion, music and super model Iman, is once again a link between two of the biggest heroes of the 20th century fashion and pop culture. –BM-
LANDIS SMITHERS | BEAUTIFULMAG