Daring images driven by a fresh creative vision have helped Christian Blanchard make a name for himself in fashion photography by the tender age of 30. Interview by Alison Stieven-Taylor.
The somewhat vacillating world of fashion isn’t for everyone, but one Australian photographer who seems to have successfully cut through the miasma of hairspray, fabric(ation) and egos to make his mark is Christian Blanchard, an almost obscenely talented 30-year-old who’s breathing new life into the field. Of course, Christian Blanchard won’t admit to such grandeur, he’s surprisingly self deprecating and enormously likeable, reminding me of my eldest son, Jackson, who is 19. I voice this thought when we first meet in Melbourne. He shoots me a grin, “Why, because he’s a little shit?” he laughs, his voice echoing mischief. But it’s his tenacity and creativity rather than his irreverence that has seen Christian breakthrough into an intensely competitive field. And he’s collected some heavy-hitting friends along the way including Christian Blanckaert, former vice-president of Hermés International and undoubtedly fashion royalty.
I ask how he knows Blanckaert who, I assume, is hard to gain access to, with no doubt innumerable minders blocking the way. Christian laughs and explains. “We met at L’Oreal Fashion Week in Melbourne. By chance I bumped into him, a little old man. He says, ‘Hey guys, what are you doing?’ And we were like, you want to come and party? We didn’t know who he was. We introduced ourselves and when he got to me he says, ‘I know you, you is me and I’m the same name as you’, and I’m like… shit, this guy knows who I am!”
Christian continues. “It is so refreshing to find that this man who had such an important position within the fashion community globally is so grounded and down to earth and fun. He’s just this beautiful, sweet, golden person and I think that’s what makes someone rise through the community. As pretentious and vacuous as it can be, you need to have that approachable quality where you can connect. No matter where you are from or who you are, it is important to be able to bond with people from all walks of life… and now we’re brothers.”
Right Place And Time
Blanckaert is an impressive connection, but Christian Blanchard seems to frequently be in the right place at the right time – an email from him at the end of last year was full of news of his partying ways in New York where he was attending various fashion week events and hanging out with the likes of Nicky Hilton and Chloe Sevigne. At the Melbourne Spring Fashion Week screening in 2010 of his debut short film Animalia – which was shot for the Melbourne label Trimapee – we talk about the film which was shot on Nikon D3S and D3X D-SLRs. The storyline is an abstract take on the mating rituals of animals. Male and female characters, reminiscent of pre-historic birds, act out a life and death scenario where in the which has included spreads for Mimco, Amstel, L’Oreal and Nobody Denim.
“They don’t really know me in Sydney, so in some ways, it is like starting again. It’s a challenge, and I’m looking forward to it.”