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Photographer Petra Collins Shoots Her Friends for Our Spring Brand Campaign

“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.” 

Lumia Nocito and Adinah Dancyger

Lumia NocitoNational YoungArts winner and U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts candidate for photography 
and Adinah Dancyger, a filmmaker. 
All images by Petra Collins.

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

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
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

—Laura Cassidy


  • lina February 27, 2017, 11:03 am

    no longer shop a Nordstrom
    travelling in Paris compare your clothes is too expensive , and the fashion is so banal
    not like used to be ,
    guess come with the time now ,
    even yours staff are not like used to be
    if someday Nordstrom can copy Neimam Marcus.

  • Matt February 16, 2017, 2:01 pm

    I will not set foot in your store again. You were my go to for Santoni Shoes. Interjecting your store into politics is disgusting. I find it suspicious that you chose to try and cover your rear by now saying her line was not selling!

  • Heather Valle February 10, 2017, 11:05 pm

    I am shopping at Nordstrom today! I am urging all of my friends to shop Nordstrom to show our support for you and believe me, my tribe is HUGE, fabulous and has money to spend! There are millions of us and we are all supporting your business decision. That’s the American way!

  • susan February 10, 2017, 1:35 pm

    I’m a long time, frequent customer of Nordstrom, but not anymore. I live in the Dallas area and I will no longer shop at any of your stores. Whose terrible idea was it to cave into the far left liberal boycott? Here’s a final tip for you, a department store can’t play politics, it’s a losing proposition for you.

  • Nordy Customer February 10, 2017, 1:19 pm

    People are getting all upset for no reason. If a clothing line is not doing well sells wise it gets DROPPED! No one made a big fuss when the Escada line was pulled from Nordstrom due to poor sales. This is nothing personal, neither should a company be bullied into carrying a failing line just because the owner is the presidents daughter.

  • Anonymous February 10, 2017, 1:01 pm

    Sad!! All of these comments are ridiculous, none of them are even relevant to the post!

    FIRST OFF, awesome job Nordstrom for jumping on the Petra wagon! Love the new campaign and overall look. I applaud you for always staying up to date and on trend!

    SECOND, if any of you took the time to actually read an article and/or statement you would know the decision was based strictly on numbers, NOT politics. As a previous Nordstrom shoe sales woman AND manager for many years I can speak on the fact that Ivankas line did not preform well. Nordstrom has dropped many brands in the past for the same issue, bad performance, and will continue to do the same in the future. Nordstrom is a very successful company because they are constantly evolving and cut brands that show a CONSISTENT decrease in performance and keep brands that have a CONSISTENT increase. Ivankas shoes NEVER had amazing sell through and couldn’t compete with the quality of the many other brands offered on the women’s shoe floor.

    So, I suggest everyone do your research and use your brain to think like a major retailer, whose number one job is to make a profit, before you get you panties in a wad. Good day 🙂

  • Celia Davis February 9, 2017, 7:24 pm

    I don’t have your card yet, but I will be applying for one. This country is based on a free market not a Trump Market

  • Patty murrer February 9, 2017, 6:59 pm

    Pretty shady decision…I will boycott your store along with other republicans. You have no significance by dropping Ivancas line of clothing. Most people don’t really care about Nordstrom but care about our country.

  • Peg derrick February 9, 2017, 6:09 pm

    I will never make another purchase from your store

  • Victoria February 9, 2017, 7:36 am

    I am shopping at Nordstrom today! The President has no right to use his office to promote his family business. It is well within your rights to drop a brand that is under performing. Never should a President bully a business. I am going to urge all of my friends to shop Nordstrom to show our support for you!!!!!

  • Ellie February 8, 2017, 6:48 pm

    Drop me from Nordstrom charge holder. Will no longer use store since you discriminated against the current President’s daughters clothing line.

  • linda February 8, 2017, 5:13 pm

    you judgmental trash i will never shop there again .Like all the leftist jerks.Ivanka is brilliant

  • Anonymous February 8, 2017, 4:52 pm

    Screw your bowing down to liberals. Sad AMEREICA! Go to a country that would let you be jerks

  • Rehnee Jacobs February 8, 2017, 4:48 pm

    Since you have decided to stop selling Ivanka Trump clothes I have decided to stop buying from your store. I am very disappointed with your decision.

  • Anonymous February 8, 2017, 4:23 pm

    I will never shop in any of you stores again I will also tell all of my family members and all of my friends and anybody I come in contact with. This because you listen to a left wing ratical and drop ivonica trump clothing line bye I hope you close.

  • JRG February 8, 2017, 4:00 pm

    You don’t have to like our president but to quit carrying his daughters clothes is childish. I will not support a company like that.

  • Barbara rood February 8, 2017, 12:42 pm

    I haven’t shopped in your store in several years. I stand with you for freedom of everything America
    Stands for. Good for u for taking ap stand. I am coming to shop in your store immed. With my two dtrs and three grand daughter proud of you.

  • Pamela February 7, 2017, 3:13 am

    Wonderful! Love those photos! Love the vibe!

  • Patricia Pyke February 6, 2017, 7:40 pm

    I have not shopped in your stores many times, but since you decided to get political and stop selling Ivanka Trumps fashion line I have decided to never shop in your stores again. I know I am not the only person who feels this way

    Patricia Pyke

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