Since 2008, Todd Selby has given us glimpses inside the homes of style stars like Lou Doillon and Amanda Brooks on his blog The Selby, and again in his 2010 book The Selby Is in Your Place. He’s also turned his camera on the kitchens of culinary stars with his 2012 book Edible Selby. With his latest book, Fashionable Selby, he is offering a peek into the workspaces of some of the most creative forces working in fashion.
Selby profiled over 42 people in his latest work with his signature mix of watercolor portraits, Q&As, and collages, and the result feels like a scrapbook of inspiration that you could occupy yourself with for days on end, while discovering things like what Isabel Marant‘s studio looks like.
We chatted with Selby about how the book came together, his blogging star status, and what really surprised him about this project.
StyleCaster: Tell us about Fashionable Selby.
Todd Selby: This is my third book—I’ve focused on homes and food [before]—and I really wanted to dive into the world of fashion [with this book] with a mix of names, from really big names, to more insider names that not everyone knows. So there are people like Isabel Marant and Dries van Noten, but others only the biggest fashionistas will know. I wanted to create a sense of discovery. I want people to see a different side of fashion—really the beating heart—not just the advertising, marketing, and commercialism of it.
What was the process like of actually putting the book together—it looks like you were traveling around the world for quite a bit doing this.
It took three years. I was everywhere from Japan, to France, to Italy, to London, trying to broaden my view of fashion.
Any spaces that you photographed that just blew you away?
Iris van Herpen is this designer from Amsterdam, and she has a very materials-oriented process, she uses latex, different printing techniques, she’s even 3-D printing dresses. Her designs are just really interesting and intriguing. I relate to spaces that really tell you something, not anonymous spaces, but creative places that are an explosion of color and are kind of insane.
Anything that you photographed that really surprised you?
Isabel Marant arranged for us to see a fitting process behind the scenes, and she doesn’t use a fit model—she tries everything on herself. She takes a pattern design and looks in the mirror. It’s a really personal approach to designing that I didn’t expect.
Also just seeing this range from really stylish people who only wear black and have all-black everything to someone like [English jewelry designer] Andrew Logan who probably doesn’t own a black garment. That diversity was really interesting.
Was it hard to convince people to let you photograph them at work?
Fashion is a really secretive world, and it took six months of talking with Louis Vuitton, which is this top secret dinosaur, to work with Faye and Ansel [who design fashion shows for LVMH brands]. It’s really about building a reputation so everyone is confident that there aren’t going to be strange photos out there.
You were one of the first breakthrough stars on the web with The Selby. What about the site do you think struck a chord?
I see what I do as being a creative journalist. I think of The Selby as: “This is my creative input and I want to share it with you.” So hopefully that is what people have responded to.
Now that you’ve finished this project, anything from all of these workspaces that you’ve visited that you’ve taken with you and incorporated into your own office?
No, not really! You know, I spent so long working on this, that when I was done I was ready just to step back into my own world.
Fashionable Selby (Abrams, $35), by Todd Selby, is available to order from amazon.com.