This shoot is the third collaboration between Swinton, Walker, art director Jerry Stafford, and stylist Jacob K. They have all traveled together to Iceland (“Planet Tilda,” W, August 2011) and to Las Pozas, the Surrealist sculpture garden built by the British poet and art patron Edward James in a Mexican jungle (“Stranger Than Paradise,” W, May 2013).
“The majority of my life as a photographer is about persuading people to do things on account of my imagination. Working on these projects is much more of a creative commune —I’ve been led up pathways I wouldn’t necessarily have approached.”
Art director Jerry Stafford, who initiated the series, explains what attracted him to this subject;
“The de Menils were true visionaries whose influence remains fascinating and far-reaching. There is one common goal and desire of this series: to challenge and seduce the eye.”
So true. And Swinton’s visual allure and natural ability to make clothes look amazing doesn’t hurt. The Menil is one of my favorites places to visit on earth and I always make a stop when I go back to my hometown of Houston. I started my professional life there working for Houston City Magazine just out of high school. The magazine at one point was owned by Dominque and John’s son, Francois and he hired the married team of Kezia Keeble and Paul Cavaco to do the fashion for the magazine. I was designing layouts with Bruce Weber and Bill King photos at age 19 because of it. They both told me that I HAD to move to NYC if I wanted to work in magazines. (Kezia had worked at Vogue for Diana Vreeland. Paul is Creative Director of Allure today) Paul alerted me to a job at GQ back then and I dropped everything to interview for the job which I didn’t get… but it got me to New York. Excuse the long explanation but this story, somehow represents all areas of my life coming together; art, fashion, publishing, Houston, New York, and Dominque de Menil’s incredible eye which still continues to influence and inspire. It is surreal and I kind of owe my life to it.
Go to W to see inside the Menil's house and the rest of the portfolio.