Brice Hardelin says that men can be just as glitzy and glamorous as any woman in the fashion world. And the French photographer proved just that in his new exhibition in collaboration with PARISARTISTES, which kicks off September 26th at W Paris – Opéra for Fashion Week and will be on display through January 3rd, 2018. Hardelin shot Atlas-looking male models adorned with Haute Joaillerie jewelry, in a ferocious stand against the banal industry standard of what it means to be a dapper gentleman in 2017. With striking monochrome portraits, Hardelin questions, who gets to wear what, and when?
Hardelin began his career in New York in the early 90s, first as a textile designer, and then as a high fashion photographer. He’s since become a renowned specialist in male beauty through his unique graphic style. We spoke with the artist about nostalgia for men’s fashion in days bygone, and why he’s dead set on bringing sexy back.
Talk a little bit about your show at W Paris? Why did you choose to show these images and how they fit into the scene of Paris Fashion Week?
The exhibition is about pushing boundaries concerning the image of men in fashion photography. Few years, I was shooting for Lash magazine to celebrate the 400-year anniversary of the high jewelry house Mélerio, and I came with an idea to put very expensive women’s jewels on men. The result was amazing, strange, and beautiful. The models looked like greek emperors. The key is to show a very masculine guy wearing diamonds or extravagant accessories, without showing something ridiculous or caricatural. It explores the feminine side that maybe all men have inside.
Do you have a beauty routine you follow while you are traveling? How do you balance staying fit and having fun?
I hate flights but I have to travel a lot, so I’m always traveling wearing oversized, light clothes or jerseys. Nothing is worse than a 10-hour flight in a pair of jeans. For long trips, I have some beauty essentials with me like Vetyver scented pouches by Roger & Gallet, and a serum by Philémon. And, of course, I have my perfume, Vetiver by Guerlain.
I often have lots of appointments, parties, or events which means eating late, drinking champagne and wine. So I walk a lot. Walking is the best way to discover new places. Another key is a long shower to relax before a good night of sleep. Six hours are enough for me.
When did you know you wanted to be a photographer?
My grandmother gave me my grandfather’s camera when I was 15, but I didn’t use it until I arrived in New York at 20. Living in New York was like living in a Scorsese or Warhol movie. The city is so photogenic. It took me years to understand that photography was what I wanted to do. I travelled a lot for Parisian fashion forecast offices, and one day I decided that I was tired of choosing other people’s pictures, and I wanted to do my own.
What attracts you to a subject to want to take their portrait? How do you make people comfortable when taking their picture?
I am fascinated by people. Their eyes, their skin, their attitude and looks. Their personality. The eyes are the first thing I look at. Hands are the second. After that, we can speak! I’m a sociable person but secretly very shy, so I had to work a lot on my shyness to be able to take pictures off people. I talk a lot with the models when they arrive at the studio. We drink coffee. I let them speak, I listen. I always play music. I am very concentrated but relaxed. I love models and they can feel it.
What are your plans for Paris Fashion Week? Do you have any insider tips on how to hit the shows like a pro?
Well, the fantastic show the W is preparing for me in collaboration with Karine Paoli, the president of PARISARTISTES and Emmanuel Pierre, who’s an architect and scenographer. I can’t wait to be there! Usually I run to go to a show to another, so I need a good pair of shoes. I try to eat healthy food to have strength! Make sure your phone is always charged, and don’t forget business cards. Wear black or navy blue, and accessories with colored scarves or accessories for an extra kick and a personal touch!
Fashion Week is the place to stand out. What are trends in male beauty & style that you love?
TREND 1: Total leather
What you love about this trend: I love leather pants. Leather is sexy. You will look like a rock star, even if it’s just for one night!
How to make it work for PFW: Soft leather, stretch leather. The key is to wear the perfect fit.
Advice: Avoid leather hats and oversized perfectos. It will make look like a biker from the 60s. Heavy and out of style.
TREND 2: See-through or frayed sweater or shirt
What you love about this trend: I like clothes that have been worn out. Luxe material like cashmere are beautiful when it’s been worn and washed for years.
How to make it work for PFW: Play with contrasts. Wear a used cashmere sweater with brand new jeans or suit trousers and a beautiful jacket.
Play the casual chic look. You will look hype and feel confident.
TREND 3: Suits with a touch of spark
What you love about this trend: I love perfectly fitted suits, but they can be so boring, especially if it’s grey, so accessorize!
How to make it work for PFW: Depending on your personality, you can wear just a small brooch on the jacket; or for something more extreme, go for a huge Swarovski necklace by On Aura Tout Vu, with nothing less than your skin under the jacket!