“A nous la mode !” – Exhibition portfolio commented on by the artists

Liu Shuwei, series “Friendship and the Pink Triangle” (published in Vogue Italia)

When young photographers look at today’s new designers, they see a pretty crazy emerging scene. Creativity feeding inspiration feeding creativity. The inventive and daring style of these young designers results in subjects that feed the photographers’ imaginations and lets them explore their emotions, obsessions and desires. 

The photographers selected for the exhibition, A nous la mode!, part of the first Franco-Chinese Fashion Meetings are very young. Lin Zhipeng was born in 1979, Paul Rousteau and Liu Shuwei in 1985, Louise Desnos, the youngest, was born in 1991. They have the distinction of developing parallel portfolios in fashion and art, drawing from each a singular inspiration, which in turn illuminates the other. Freed from complexity, reversing situations and genres, working their photos as the painter does their palette, these talented artists capture silhouettes drawn by others armed with their personality, in the same way that they sometimes use the codes of fashion to build their own personal universe.

We asked each photographer to select and comment on three of their images related to fashion.

Louise Desnos

Louise Desnos is photographer and videographer. Her photos first gained recognition at the 2016 International Festival of Fashion and Photography at Hyères-Villa Noailles – a celebrated European fashion and art platform– at which the public discovered her series Acedia, inspired by the ability we all have to be lazy. The following year, she got into fashion photography by shooting young designers selected at the Hyères festival. Her practice maintains a paradoxical relationship with the daily hazards that she captures or provokes.

She insists on details – plastic bags emerging from somewhat trashy landscapes or sophisticated fringes on designer trousers; on surfaces – grains of skin or limestone rocks on which models crawl – and abysses – sink piping as folds of silky clothing. Her photographs are stories in their own right, and ultimately, pretexts for her infinite search for signs. Louise Desnos has photographed the models of designers Marine Serre, Octo-Arcane, Mariana Ladreyt, and Hyunwoo.


Louise Desnos on Instagram

Louise Desnos, From Acedia series, 2017

Louise Desnos, « From Acedia », 2017.

“This image is from the series I made called “From Acedia”, which follows on from a series called “Acedia“. I approached the subject of laziness from a rather broad perspective, as both a symbol and an attitude. Acedia represents the more melancholy side. It turned into “From Acedia” because I saw in the theme a way to discover freedom : laziness is a moment of thoughtful introspection in which much is revealed. As far as I am concerned, it is an attitude in which I like to dwell, a time set apart from paid commissions, a time to really create. Here, for example, is an image which was simply stolen. You might think it was stage, but it was found just like this. What attracted me was the pure formality : a woman at the hairdresser’s, seen from the other side of the salon window. … I found the form fascinating, and reminiscent of an octopus, which is why I took this shot.”

Louise Desnos, series for the Villa Noailles, 2017

Louise Desnos, series for the Villa Noailles, 2017.

“This photo belongs to the series that I made for the Villa Noailles in 2017, for the 32nd International Festival of Fashion and Photography at Hyères. I was asked to photograph one outfit from each of the ten fashion designers selected to participate. This is the outfit from the fashion brand Marine Serre. Shooting this series was a very interesting exercise because you had to enter each designer’s world via a single outfit instead of the entire collection, and work with ten completely different identities to produce one coherent series.”

Louise Desnos, series for Octo Arcane, 2017

Louise Desnos, Series for Octo Arcane, 2017.

“I was really pleased with the experience of fashion I had with Villa Noailles. I found that fashion was actually quite a free space to shoot commissioned photos. I like photography when it becomes poetry, and with fashion you can really create universes with the designers, with their own universes. You can compose images. You are less dependent on the client than with other types of commissions that give you less room to move.

Here I worked for a designer friend called Octo Arcane. He was at Arts Décos at the same time as me, and this was his graduation collection. It was nice working with him because there was a real bond of trust. The project we had planned was totally different, but in the end he put his trust in me and gave me a lot of freedom. The commission was to photograph seven silhouettes including two duos. I worked on his collection using interaction especially for the duos for whom he had designed outfits.”

Lin Zhipeng

Lin Zhipeng, aka No. 223 (after the name of Takeshi Kaneshiro’s policeman in Wong Kar-wai’s cult film, Chungking Express), had been destined to go into finance before finding his vocation as a photographer in 2004. He works in both fashion and advertising, and has edited a fashion magazine for the last seven years. Lin Zhipeng shoots his own work in the same way that he shoots for a brand: his models appear to be from a tightknit circle of friends and seem to hang out in teenagers’ rooms revelling in the playful disorderly scene.

The ridiculous situations in which he sometimes places his characters (food that falls or drips from entangled bodies) are inspired but also counterbalanced by a controlled aesthetic of colour and shape. The result is a work that is both poetic and provocative in its diary-like revelations of a certain type of Chinese youth, without complexes in terms of sex and pleasure, off the beaten track. Lin Zhipeng has worked for Suen, Chictopia, United Nude, Glaceau Vitamin Water, Bacardi, Stuart Weitzman.


Lin Zhipeng on Instagram

Lin Zhipeng for United Nude

Lin Zhipeng for United Nude

“Although this work was a fashion shoot, it was not a commercial collaboration because the designer of United Nude shoes was a good friend of mine. He lent me some shoes to use and gave me free reign, to the point where I felt it was entirely my own creation. I was at home with a few friends and took these improvised shots that turned into a series of which this is one image. It was later used as the cover of the French photographic collection Hidden Track, published in 2016.”

Lin Zhipeng for Vogue Me

Lin Zhipeng for Vogue Me

“This series of fashion photos was taken for the Chinese edition of Vogue Me. I added some extra interesting elements. I found some really interesting objects. I thought the red fish, for example, would make a good prop, and an interesting colour clash.

I like to present everyday items and foods, especially fast foods like fries, ketchup and pasta. I think fast food is the epitome of contemporary culture, and can form interesting color clashes and mashups.

Moreover, the basic human urges, food and sex, often have an unspeakable association. There is certainly some symbolic sexiness here. I took these photos in a very intuitive way, and if the viewer sees in them erotic tones, that’s a very interesting effect.”

Lin Zhipeng for Atelier Rouge Pékin

Lin Zhipeng for Atelier Rouge Pékin

“This image from the “I Love We” series is part of a collaboration with the brand Atelier Rouge Pékin. This series does not intentionally relate to the title of the series. I found some friends and randomly shot some photos that I thought were interesting, in my own particular style. Some of the people in this photo have been backgrounded, so that only some limbs show. A lot of my work pays particular attention to limbs: hands, shoulders, or back, because I think one’s emotions may not be fully expressed in one’s facial features. Fingers and hair contain emotion too, and when people are nervous, it shows in their taut bodies. Corporal emotions are more representative of hidden emotions, which is why I like to shoot arms and legs in particular.”

Liu Shuwei

Based in Shanghai, Liu Shuwei, an engineer by training, has fortunately for us decided to be a photographer and videographer. To his credit, his body of photographs reveals the sensitive and romantic personality of an artist, as well as the structure and attention to detail of an architect (or engineer …). The medium of photography, whether for personal projects (Friendship and the Pink Triangle) or for commissions, allows him to evoke topics that are important to him, such as the shared experience of individuals. He is strongly inspired by literature and cinema (notably Jean Genet and Derek Jarman).

His characters, where they appear, are enigmatic whether as friends or solitary, and traverse lunar landscapes or the interiors of houses haunted by good spirits, much like of the images of Wim Wenders. Like the German filmmaker he admires, Liu Shuwei starts out with bright colours which he animates with a poetry that is very much his, and close to people he seems to love deeply. The work of Liu Shuwei is regularly published in fashion magazines (Vogue Italia, Elsewhere …) and he has collaborated with designers Momo Wang, Chaotic, Pure Idealism.


Liu Shuwei on Instagram

Liu Shuwei, Friendship and the Pink Triangle series (published in Vogue Italia)

Liu Shuwei, series “Friendship and the Pink Triangle” (published in Vogue Italia)

“This photo is from the “Friendship and Pink Triangle” series. The title derives from a twofold direction. One is towards the pink triangle, a well-known Nazi camp identifier used to mark gay male prisoners. The other is towards friendship, quoting Foucault’s article, “Friendship as a Lifestyle”, including the idea that “friendship” needs to be reinvented. The reason I’ve used this word in the title was out of concern for the current world, because a few years ago, the world began to go through some drastic changes. It feels like the 20th century is about to repeat itself. I am afraid that even with the word “friendship”, there are changes afoot in the boundaries of its use.

The photo itself was also inspired by a novel by Jean Genet. He wrote that a group of soldiers was seen on the street. Two were getting married. This was a collective act for the group. This series is not typical of fashion photography. It is more like the building of a character wardrobe in a movie. It is mainly my own clothes, including some old-fashioned clothes and some created by my designer friend Dre Romero. Together we designed the style. It’s our way of looking at gendered dress.”

Liu Shuwei, The Garden series (Elsewhere zine’s cover story)

Liu Shuwei, series “The Garden” (cover story of Elsewhere magazine).

“The Garden” series was made for the cover of independent magazine Elsewhere. I worked with Dre Romero, the same designer as in the “Friendship and Pink Triangle” series. Inspiration came mainly from the Chinese classic, “A Dream of Red Mansions“, and Jean Genet’s novel, “The Miracle of the Rose“, two works which I think have essential similarities. For me, that is true style.”

Liu Shuwei, series Childhood Revisited

Liu Shuwei, series “Childhood Revisited”.

“Childhood Revisited” is a series I shot a few years ago, working with designer Wang Tianmo. The photographs were taken in the China’s northern countryside. It is a re-presentation of my own growing up and childhood fantasies. The series has a very existential place in my body of work. “

Paul Rousteau

Paul Rousteau loves colour, infinitely and almost to the point of excess. His taste may have developed during childhood, as he was raised in Auvergne – a region of central France characterized by broad and wild landscapes – in a hippie family that made him appreciate the simple life close to nature. His recognizable style is expressed in all his projects, whether commissioned or personal: deformed silhouettes, foggy effects, gliding and

diffuse lightness, and especially cool and striking colours, which literally construct the photography, as in a painting by Monet or Matisse. No Photoshop post-production for Paul. He uses the most traditional of photographic techniques. He shoots through the lense or glass, and prints on special paper that tends to make the colours run a little. Paul Rousteau has worked for Agnès B, Pigalle Paris, Claudie Pierlot, Eddy Anemian, Asos.


Paul Rousteau on Instagram

Paul Rousteau, series for A Part

Paul Rousteau, series for A Part

“This is a Madonna. I was attempting to recreate a Virgin. For this shoot for Apart, a French independent magazine, I was inspired by Botticelli and Eve. I really like icons. It’s not exactly Eve, more like Mary. But it has something of the first woman about it, as she is often represented in painting by Mary. The whole history of painting interests me, and I wanted to revisit it by recreating a vision of the Virgin. The royal blue behind her is a color of the Virgin, and red is also one of her colours.”

Paul Rousteau, Paris sur Mode series

Paul Rousteau pour Paris sur Mode.

“For this image, produced as part of a commission for the fashion festival Paris sur Mode, I had carte blanche to shoot in the Tuileries Garden. So this is the story of a dancer in a natural setting studded with statues, and then there’s this bird. This image, I like it a lot, because you can feel the softness and connection between the two beings. I like the way it is clipped, so that it looks like an illustration poster. I really like the complexity of an image that lies somewhere between painting and photography. Besides, it makes me think … with the fresh joyous colours of her blouse, it could be a slightly Asian motif.”

Paul Rousteau, Another Man x Pigalle Paris

Paul Rousteau, series for Another Man x Pigalle Paris.

“This was a commission for the French brand Pigalle. Stéphane Ashpool’s collection was called “L’Atelier“. I took the theme as an excuse to play around with fabrics. Again, there are references to religious iconography. The model in the centre made me think a lot about Christ. I had all these religious iconographic references around me as a child. I had no TV when I was little, but my parents had books on the table, a special place for prayer, an altar, where we put things that were somewhat sacred. There were books on the Italian painter Giotto or the engravings Gustave Doré used to illustrate the bible. I looked at these books a lot. And now, all my iconography is inspired by these references. I still love them as these artists interpreted the bible and the sacred, attesting to ten centuries of visual history! It’s an important part of our cultural heritage. When visiting a church, there are the stations of the cross, a recurring iconography. It’s always the same scene, seen by any number of artists. I like to reinterpret this culture. And this may not be special scene, but I have the impression that something a little sacred is going on there. In the end, I returned to the fabrics of the collection. I took the theme of the workshop, l’Atelier, where clothes are crafted from the very beginning.”

The exhibition “À nous la mode” was part of the first Franco-Chinese Fashion Meetings 

Related DoorZine Articles
Choreographers, creative directors and directors, Parisian artist duo I Could Never Be A Dancer collaborate with fashion brands, cultural institutions and create visual, conceptual and pop video and dance ensembles. I COULD NEVER BE A DANCER was one of the artists invited for the First Franco-Chinese Fashion Meetings in Spring 2018.
Related Projects


Subscribe to our newsletter – get your foot in the door!