Andrej Pejic by Jez Smith for Oyster… two years later

From the cutting room floor

Long time, no Andrej Pejic update.

What’s news? Although we are not at liberty to divulge hard details, we can tell you that Pejic is about to make his acting debut… in a fairly unexpected market.

No, it’s nothing to do with the reality show that he shot last year, the pilot for which has so far not been picked up according to one of his representatives. Or the lead role in a French feature film which he was considering last year. This latest entertainment project, moreover, takes Pejic above and beyond the intriguing, nonetheless silent, role he played in David Bowie’s The Stars Are Out Tonight video clip which was released earlier this year. And it could be aired before the year’s end.

In the interim, Frockwriter has been intrigued by some hitherto unpublished images of Pejic, shot by Jez Smith, from a job done way back in December 2010, which have only just surfaced via Instagram – specifically, via the IG account of Australian stylist Kelvin Harries. The lowres IG shots have since floated around the various Andrej Pejic fan forums, in addition to the original set which AP fans unearthed from Harries’ portfolio on the website of his agent The Artist Group – where they have been, ironically, since mid 2011. Smith has kindly supplied Frockwriter with the highres version.

The shoot was originally destined for the 91st edition of indie Australian fashion title Oyster, published in February 2011, to accompany a feature story on Pejic.

But Oyster only wound up running a handful of relatively ‘straight’ portrait shots, in which he essentially looks like a surfer dude who’s been a little too heavy-handed on the guyliner (shots that were subsequently scanned by Pejic’s Australian mother agency Chadwick and uploaded to the latter’s blog). Thus omitting these rather more spectacular fashion images, in which Pejic is styled in, among other garments, a striking wool shag coat from Jacquelyn Wellington and what looks to be a pair of Spanx control briefs.

Nothing out of the ordinary, right, considering some of the getups in which Pejic has since been styled for fashion magazines?

In late 2010, however, Pejic had only just emerged on the international stage via the Spring/Summer 2011 menswear shows in Paris, walking for, among others, Jean Paul Gaultier and John Galliano.

Interest was immediately ignited, with Pejic subsequently shooting a raft of high profile editorials in publications such as Vogue Paris, Vogue Italia and Vogue Turkey, all published by the end of that year. In most cases, Pejic was presented as a glamorous man.

In spite of the fact that Pejic had made his first and hitherto only Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia appearance in May 2009 by opening the Antipodium womenswear show, it wasn’t in fact until after the Fall/Winter 2011/2012 menswear show season in January 2011, that designers/publications seriously began running with the androgyny concept when it came to working with him.

That month, Gaultier sent him out onto the runway as both a man and a woman in his FW1112 menswear show in Paris, in fact dedicating his FW1112 collection to Pejic, who he rechristened “James Blond”. A week later, Gaultier and Pejic would make fashion history – and global headlines – when Pejic closed Gaultier’s haute couture show in the traditional couture closer: a wedding dress.

So it seems Smith and Harries were a little ahead of the curve with these images.

Which begs the question: if Oyster had an opportunity to shoot one of the world’s hottest up-and-coming models and the creative team behind the shoot went above and beyond the basic brief – which was apparently a beauty shoot – to produce these fabulous fashion images, styling Pejic up as a girl, why would the magazine not have made room to run with them?

Now editor of Vogue Australia’s Miss Vogue offshoot, Paris-based Alice Cavanagh was Oyster’s editor at the time. Cavanagh was unavailable for comment at press time.

“I think they wanted more of a stripped back, raw beauty look story rather than anything with fashion content” Harries told Frockwriter. “I was really surprised too [that the photos didn’t run]. We put a lot of effort into the shoot. I think the timing was really on the money, given that Andrej’s profile was rising internationally and I thought it was a just a bit of a lost opportunity. Given that Oyster is a very young, independent magazine, I would have thought they would have embraced those types of images”.

Noted Smith, who has shot for magazines all over the world, including Vogue Italia and British Harpers Bazaar: “It was done as a beauty shoot. We all went, ‘Oh let’s just get some clothes there anyway’. We wanted Kelvin involved and it was more for ourselves really. We all knew he [Andrej] was going to be huge”.

He added, “I shoot stuff all the time and shots get dropped. I never really understand what the rhyme or reason is and after 30 years of working in the industry, I shoot the pictures that I want to take and if they get published, they get published. When I shoot for someone like KAREN, it’s basically submission-based. I shoot whatever I want and I have complete creative freedom. If you shoot for Harpers or Vogue – anywhere in the world – you know there are always perameters. As a photographer, you’re an idiot if you don’t know that. We are commercial photographers. Our jobs are to sell products. You do that as creatively and as interestingly as you can. Obviously the whole point of editorial is as a photographer’s creative outlet, but within that there are boundaries. I wouldn’t shoot the same style of model for KAREN as I would Harper’s, or position them in the same way. That’s the truth of the industry. When I started working with Harpers [Australia], Eric Matthews [former Harper’s Bazaar Australia creative director] said to me ‘There’s not a single picture in your book that’s appropriate for Harpers, but we love the way you light”. I did two shoots for them and they put me on a contract. It’s like anything, say an architect designing a house for a certain kind of customer. Every creative in the world has to balance the art and the commerce. Every single magazine in the world has creative constraints – either caused by the budget or the fashion editor’s tastes. But I don’t sit at home and cry because photos don’t get published”.



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