In fashion, the creative process, not to mention the product, is a largely closed-off universe—more personal involvement with these artists is a privilege reserved only for their cadre of investors, clients, and the indomitable Anna Wintour and her minions. In truth, that struggling designer or photographer in the Midwest can only glimpse at the finished creations of Alexander McQueen, or the photography of David Bailey, on the pages of drugstore magazines.
So how to explain the phenomenon of the web site SHOWstudio? Imagine emailing photographer Juergen Teller to ask him what type of flash he uses, or even who does he think he is (and Teller in turn, telling you to fuck off.) Then there are the live broadcasts from an ongoing photo shoot, where viewers and celebrities like Patti Smith submit their personal belongings to the web site, to be restyled and modeled on Naomi Campbell for a spread in I-D. (Björk contributed her infamous swan dress.) In what is perhaps SHOWstudio’s most unusual project, designers like Yohji Yamamato, John Galliano, Junya Watanabe for Comme des Garçons, Alexander McQueen, and Martin Margiela submit dress patterns of their own designs to be downloaded off the web site—for free. Visitors with some sewing expertise send in their results, a collection of which are posted on the site.
Known as much for his album covers of Björk and Massive Attack as for his highly-regarded work within the fashion industry, photographer Nick Knight conceived of the online project five years ago with Peter Saville, graphic-designing mastermind behind New Order and Joy Division’s legendary album covers. “SHOWstudio is based on the belief that showing the entire creative process—from conception to completion—is beneficial for the artist, the audience and the art itself,” Knight says on the web site. In opening up his and his colleagues’ worlds to anyone who happens to drop in on the site, his project also seems to keep in mind why he started on this path in the first place: not for one-on-one time with supermodels, but for the simpler joy of creating art. As technology improves and Knight’s circle of contributors widens, we expect even greater things.