One of my favorite things in NYC is to look back upon my time here and evaluate the evolving relationships we have formed. This city has such a fast turnover of residents and dreamers, and the ones that are here for decades earn their stripes. When you form tight bonds with people in the creative industry, and grow together, it makes it so much tighter and more special to the respective people... Viktor Luna was someone who I've had a long and evolving relationship with.
Within the first few years of my time in NYC, I was moonlighting as a young (and pretty green) Art Director, building my book to try to get good enough to work at the ad agencies (which I later did). I was working with a young photographer and we were shooting for a mexican magazine named Blink. I wanted to do a punk story with a red-headed beauty who's name completely escapes me. My long time pal Elsa Canedo made these Mcqueen-Inspired braid sculptures and the shoot was pretty great - and at the end of the shoot I saw on the clothing rack... a fringe body suit. When i say body-suit, imagine everything covered ,even the face. You could see (kind of) through mesh panels in the eye area but everything else was covered in black fringe. I loved it instantly.
We shot it , the model moved really well in it, and subsequently the magazine ran it on the cover. The fringe body suit was designed by a young Mexican-American designer, Viktor Luna. He and I both loved the cover and stayed in touch...
Over the years, I pulled/rented his clothing for many shoots, we became great friends, and I watched him get cast for Project Runway, and later Project Runway All-Stars. He was delightful and I loved watching him shine on this platform. Here was a fabulous, sweet-hearted guy who rocked shiny shoes, bowties and a fan, and had the most unique outlook on life. How can you not connect with him?
Long after I had made the transition to shooting and directing full-time Viktor and I decided to collaborate on his seasonal look book / online campaign. He had presented his SS15 sketches and samples to me back in winter of '14 and I was SUPER inspired to creative-direct and shoot it - we called the unfinished collection Alien Queen. We shot the seasonal online campaign with Ruby Rose (sans-eyebrows) and the look book with Sarah Bledsoe against white with a background glow and reflective acrylic floor - I wanted it to feel like they were on a spaceship and was inspired by the music video SCREAM by Michael/Janet Jackson.
SS15 was such a success, we repeated the same collaboration set up for FW15, this time with androgynous beauty Ashley Kolodner for a very Mad Max Apocalypse inspired collection. Unfortunately the day of the shoot happened to be right on the tail end of the worst snow storm we had that year, (yay :/ ), so we were shooting in snow drifts and puddles, and luckily I had scouted the location the day before the snow fell and had to use clean plates of the streets from that to composite into the dirty slush-filled backgrounds of the shoot day... tricks of the trade come in handy when you're in a pinch.
Things leveled up further when we collaborated on SS16 - by this point I was creative consulting on the collection from the moment he started sketching. We were working together really closely, and for this collection I felt strongly that photographs wouldn't do it justice - the collection was about movement and fluidity. I wanted to direct a short fashion film, and was totally inspired by the circle of celebrity personalities that were all wearing Viktor's clothing and felt it more authentic to have them feature in the video... Laverne Cox said yes instantly - she has been a long-time wearer of VL and I had previously shot her for Interview Magazine September issue, so we were all comfortable working together. Others who featured were actress Jackie Cruz, choreographer to Beyonce - Jonte, saxophonist Leo from TooManyZoos (who played on the soundtrack), Artist Jessica Mascetti, and models Trevor Shapiro and Ashley K (from FW15).
We filmed at Pier59 and worked with Industrial Color on post/cinematography, and Ghibli Media on production.
(Photo - Sophy Holland / styling Christina Pacelli / Makeup Shirley Pinkson / Hair Keiko Hamaguchi / LC hair & mu - DDPro / JC hair - Marc Mena / JC Makeup Alyne Halvajian
For the same season I introduced him to two of my friends who are geniuses in their respective fields - Joshua McKenney who makes the fashion doll PIDGIN and Kerin Rose Weinberg of A-Morir. They both collaborated with Viktor for the same season, making a Pidgin doll wearing tiny versions of Viktor's fashion (which is for sale, btw) and A-Morir made a custom collection that Laverne and Jackie wore in the SS16 collection video.
Since that season, Viktor and I both interviewed for Marvel Comics podcast and we have collaborated on a few smaller projects together - I always try to shoot his clothing as much as possible in editorials and consider myself one of his biggest fan.
I dont know what is next for us both as collaborators, but the future is bright and I will always consider him fashion family. Here's to you Viktor!
check out his work at viktorluna.com