Platon Redefines Humanity
To live with an animal is to activate a particular sense of humanity. To share council with a non-human is communication that goes beyond species into something more raw, more instinctual, and deeper. For “Deep BREEDING,” Platon’s latest project in Garage Magazine, the photographer departed from his typical roster of international agitators and blinding stars to tackle the humanity that is cross species. He was tasked with finding the connections that go beyond speech or pedestrian contact using a visual language. To highlight the connections, each pairing uses designer apparel and “For some it was styling, for others it was a look, an energy, or color,” Platon explains. Like the iconic scene in 101 Dalmatians highlighting the connection between dogs and their owners, Platon is showing us how much like a mirror our animals can be.
Even though this shoot wasn’t surrounded by the obvious pressures of international fascinations, Platon and his team took it just as seriously. Before the shoot began, he held a meeting with all parties involved to explain, “We bring the same respect to this shoot as any other.” There is no hierarchy of human experience, and each glimpse of honest humanity on film begs the same deference.
Garage and Platon used some of the most famous supermodels in the world. It’s been a decade since he has shot what he calls “Proper Fashion,” but his time away from the fashion sector only enhanced his return. Spending a decade shooting older men with no sense of fashion taught him to show beauty in the banal. For him highlighting textures and shapes is built in, so he can focus on the subject.
Each animal came with a huge entourage of owners, groomers, and breeders, while the human models came solo, walking onto set ready for make-up and direction. The lights that Platon used for the shoot frightened the dogs, making them more anxious than normal. It forced the models to interact with the animals, putting their energy into calming them rather than posing. In doing so, these beautiful experts let their guards down giving Platon a look into the people behind the famous faces. “Afterwards [the models] came up to me and said, ‘I’ve never been on a shoot like this. Where I was asked my opinion or given any control,’” Platon remembers. What we see is a symbiosis rather than a constructed look. That instinct to care and cooperate was the point, but the serendipity is that a technical feature forced the proof of the thesis.
One of the most amazing aspects of the shoot is how beautifully the styling matches up with the breeds of dogs. Charlotte Stockdale was the Fashion Director on this shoot, someone Platon has the utmost respect for. “She is a true artist,” Platon says. “Someone who I can trust one hundred percent.” Using looks from Maison Martin Margiela, Versace, and many others, they created a true correlation between the highest fashion and the promise of spontaneity. By shaping such harmony the images do not garishly show off brand names, instead underscore the idea that the connections between us are not about what’s in our DNA. Instead it’s about who we share this world with, regardless of their shape.