“I guess what I do is create images for myself and for others,” says Petra Collins. “I create worlds that people can experience and, hopefully, find themselves in.” We asked the Toronto-born artist and photographer how she would describe what she does to someone who knows nothing about Simone Rocha, Balenciaga, one-shoulder tops and fashion sneakers, because in this image-saturated world, it’s getting harder and harder to convey why some pictures are evocative while others just scroll on by. So why not go straight to the source?
“I can’t say what makes my work so special, but what I can say is that I need to create with work and it comes from the bottom of my soul.”
Olivia Kim, who has long admired Petra’s work and commissioned the images you see here, put it this way: “[Her] photos capture moments that are real and honest, even when the moment is just friends hanging out talking about pimples and politics. It validates those conversations in the flash of a second. Those are sometimes our most important moments—that is modern life.”
This—our spring brand campaign and video, with the photographer’s friends and familiars in new-season looks from Belstaff to J.W.ANDERSON—is modern life too. We talked to Petra about spring—and other things that feel both of the moment and in the future.
Amber Lucia Propper: “When Petra was taking pictures of me I felt relaxed, and happy; she was making me laugh. The whole day I was thinking how this was the only shoot I’ve done where everything’s been actually super fun, as well as being chill and running real smooth.”
All images by Petra Collins.
The Thread: How would you describe the mood you wanted to create with the campaign? What feelings did you want to coax, and what did you hope the images would convey?
Petra: When working on the creative with Olivia and my team, I kept saying that I wanted it to look like a new hopeful world. I wanted it to feel fun, safe and nostalgic all at once, and I think we achieved that! I want people to look at this campaign and see themselves, to feel that they have a place in the future.
At its most powerful, what can photography do in our lives? How can it affect or change us?
We live in an image-heavy world. It’s our way of communicating and getting information. We’re surrounded by it and constantly looking at and for it. If we see images—especially in media—that we can see ourselves in, we feel like we belong in this world.
Tell us about the people you chose to work with. What types of people do you feel drawn to in your life and in your work?
A lot of the cast—and crew!—are personal friends of mine; people I admire, and artists that are really creating change. I wanted this cast to represent its audience, because most fashion campaigns do not. I am always drawn to people who have stories to tell, because that is what really makes a photo: when the subject exudes a type of energy, the camera automatically captures it.
Lumia Nocito: “Right now, ‘Keep Me There,’ by Nicolas Jaar is stuck in my head. I’m probably going to be listening to a lot of The Beach Boys in the spring.”
All images by Petra Collins.
What does spring mean to you?
Spring means change. Spring always makes me feel hopeful. I am doing a lot this spring! A lot of secret things that I am very excited to reveal.
And how about personal style and self-presentation? What’s your approach and how does your day-to-day, season-to-season style play into how you show yourself to the world?
I think style comes from within, and I think everyone looks good in what they are most comfortable wearing—which for me could mean an array of things. One day I’ll be wearing jeans and a hoodie, and the next I’ll be in a full ’70s glam look. It really depends on how I feel. I don’t follow a season-to-season style schedule. I wear, buy or source clothing that I am inspired by the most at the time.
Can you tell us about someone who has changed your life, made it more meaningful and directed?
My little sister. She is my everything.
EXPLORE a womenswear curation inspired by our campaign
EXPLORE a menswear curation inspired by our campaign