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Anyone who’s so much as interacted with me – much more, know me – would know that I have the tendency to pepper conversations with a particular F-word: “fashion” (what did you think it was?). Another that frequently pops up? “Female”, not only because of my job, but also because, while I’ve never proclaimed myself a feminist, I’ve always felt strongly for the influence of the fairer sex – something Gucci model/muse/frequent artistic collaborator Petra Collins would certainly have at least a thing or two to say about.

Just 24, the Toronto-born, New York-based Collins has been riveting both the fashion and art worlds since she was a teenager with her instantly recognisable, dreamy photographs and films of young women. One of her most ardent – and famous – fans is Gucci’s Alessandro Michele who, since plucking her to walk in the brand’s Fall Winter 2016 show, has roped her in to star in campaigns and projects; shoot them; and also become an ambassadress of sorts. (If there’s a big Gucci event, she’s usually there, alongside other Michele muses like Dakota Johnson and Hari Nef.)

It was at the launch of the exhibition trilogy “A Magazine Curated By Alessandro Michele” in Hong Kong in March where I met the willowy blonde for the first time. Featuring her family in their native homeland of Hungary, dressed in a mix of Gucci and local traditional costumes, her images formed the core of the four-day-long showcase, a collaboration between the Paris-based independent publication A Magazine Curated By and Gucci’s creative honcho.

GucciCollins’ images for the “A Magazine Curated By Alessandro Michele” exhibition featured her family in their native Hungary, dressed in a mix of Gucci and native costumes

In an exclusive one-on-one interview a day after opening night, she told me about how her creative signature – nostalgia-tinged photos of girls that have ranged from her sister to Tavi Gevinson – came about: “I was always sort of sad and felt that there was something missing in the way young women are represented, so I wanted to create images that sort of made a new world.”

I asked if she thinks that women make better fashion photographers than men. Her earnest reply: “Women are usually the subject of photographs. When you have all this imagery of a certain gender that’s not created by it, it creates a disconnect in how (this gender) is represented. It’s been for a long time that they’ve been represented as objects and subjects. They’ve been sexualised and dehumanised. I think it’s important to have someone behind the camera who understands what and who they’re shooting.”

So who better for a round of what we refer to internally as “The Female Questionnaire”, a Q&A about and inspired by all things female? (The first person to have underwent it: Victoria’s Secret angel Adriana Lima, who might be world’s apart from Collins, but is a modern feminist in her own right. You can watch the video here.)

Gucci“My Family Series” by Petra Collins, from the “A Magazine Curated By Alessandro Michele” exhibition


The female who inspires you most is…
“My sister. She is 22 and her name is Anna. She is a ballet teacher and she inspires me because she is such a strong woman. What she does in her work is try change the way dance is taught to children. She wants it to be a positive experience (as) the ballet world can be so cruel. She goes to the National Ballet School of Canada, which is sort of rough for her because a lot of (its teaching methods are) very traditional. She wants to make ballet and dance inclusive because it’s such an important thing for young people and children to do growing up – it teaches you how to move your body; about spatial awareness. It’s also something really fun, and she wants to turn it into that.”

The female you’re most obsessed with in fashion is… “Old ’70s Cher. The first thing that comes to mind is her in a gorgeous rhinestone dress.”

Your favourite female artist is… “Lauren Greenfield. She does both film and photo. Her book that I really looked at is called Girl Culture from the ’90s, so she was a big influence on me. Also the way that she creates documentaries – there is no bias in them. It’s so crazy to see her movie Queen of Versailles (2012). It’s one of my favourites because the characters really told the story.”

GucciCollins’ continued the same nostalgic vein for Gucci’s Spring Summer 2017 eye wear campaign, which also starred her two young cousins

Your favourite female superhero… “I feel like there aren’t many too good female superheroes, which is kind of sad, so I would say none.”

Your favourite female singer or group that you never tire of listening to is…Rihanna.”

Your female anthem of choice is… “Probably a Rihanna song as well. Actually I also love Nina Simone’s Do What You’ve Got To Do.”

GucciA still from Collins’ Gucci Spring Summer 2017 eye wear campaign


Every female should watch…
Miss Representation (2011). It’s an old documentary (by American filmmaker/actress Jennifer Siebel Newsom that looked at how the mainstream media under-represents women), but I feel that it’s important for women in media. It’s a big eye opener.”

Every female should read…The Bell Jar for me was like my teenage book, but it’s not so relevant now. I think as a young woman, it’s a good book.”

Every female should own… “Whatever they want. They shouldn’t feel forced to buy anything to make themselves feel better.”

GucciA still from Collins’ Gucci Spring Summer 2017 eye wear campaign


Female is…
“Power.”

 

Like this? Feed your fix of cool women and Gucci with Yoyo Cao’s 10 Best Gucci Moments; get some fashion inspiration from Wonder Woman; and liberate your style with Tiffany & Co’s versatile Hardwear collection.