Platon Dresses Up Power for Garage Magazine
Platon is always creating new work. His studio is a flurry of activity, with every moment scheduled to the minute. This way of working is done to ensure that he spends his time the way he wants to and the way he needs to. Each year he tries to fit in at least one big fashion story – bigger than what we normally see in the industry – because as a photographer who has mastered fashion work he can use the medium to have a significant impact. This year he teamed up with Garage Magazine for their 13th Issue on a story called ‘Power Dressing.’
“It was our tribute to power and authority and we were looking at how we use fashion to express a self-expression, particularly with power,” says Platon. “And I didn’t want to just treat it as a surface based style project, this was very much calling on the younger generation to think again about their own moral compass and their own responsibility.” Unlike a typical fashion story that would usually take just a week, ‘Power Dressing’ commanded Platon’s schedule for months because the message is worth it. All the models are styled by Pheobe Arnold in the most cutting edge, high end fashion, but all of it is inspired by power – cultural, political, historical. But there are hard lines between them, lines Platon wants to disappear.
RuPaul tells us, “You’re born naked, the rest is drag,” underscoring that all fashion is costuming. We dress to identify ourselves, to identify with others, and to place ourselves in the world and in history. It is this exact notion that Platon seeks to disrupt with ‘Power Dressing.’ “We have become more tribal than we ever were in history and ironically social media was supposed to build bridges and help us communicate more and I believe it’s done the reverse,” Platon explains. “Before, tribalism always existed especially with style and self expression that’s how you had subculture and it was always the way youth would express themselves but now this idea of tribalism has gone way beyond that idea of self expression and it’s become it’s choking society at large. And I think it’s important now to start to challenge this idea of tribalism.”
So how do we do that?
Platon says we must enlist cultural leaders into the fight. Most of them have become leaders as a result of the powers that maintain the lines between tribes, but if they’ll take on the fight their voices are ever more powerful.
“These models are leaders in culture, and they have huge followings. With that position of authority comes responsibility. You can’t be a leader even if it’s a cultural leader without carrying a sense of responsibility,” Platon explains. “Winston Churchill always said, ‘True greatness comes with a cost and the cost is responsibility.’ So I then turned to all these fantastic young models as cultural leaders of their time and I told them that we were going to work together to provoke respectful debate and they must to use their authority and their position and their influence in society to help people think again about this tribalism. And they all stepped up to the cause.”
It’s not lost on Platon that by photographing the representations of the tribal groups, in a way he’s perpetuating them. We must diagnose the issue before we can heal it. He has photographed more than 60 world leaders in his time, many sitting on the same apple box that Lineisy Montero sat in for this story, and too few of those leaders were women. There’s a sickness in our culture where democracies do not elect a representative ratio of women – so showing women as leaders in these groups, right before they tear them down, is a part of the disinfection. “This was a photo essay about women’s empowerment first and foremost, but it was also a sign to help everyone recognize that each picture almost represents a tribe and either we choose to stay in that tribe or we choose to destroy intolerance and destroy the barriers that exist between us,” Platon says. “And maybe I would like this to be the last time these tribes were ever seen.”
Take a last look for yourself in the latest issue of Garage Magazine.