Who is Miccchelina?
Wow…. That’s a tough question (laughs)…without wanting to play at pseudo philosopher, it’s “Cogito ergo sum” by Descartes I think of first. I doubt everything! (laughs) It is precisely this doubt that makes me say I am not only a body but also a free spirit, capable of creating and therefore of contributing to others. Without other people, my existence would have no meaning. Being the daughter of a painter and of a mother in business, these two very opposite personalities have made me become what I am. A complex character perhaps and a little mysterious. Sometimes ambiguous. Who doubts almost everything and questions the meaning of my life and my work. To give you an example: I was born in Paris and grew up in Brussels. I love both cities. However, when I am in Paris, I want to live in Brussels. When I go to Brussels, I want to go back to Paris. But it is this constant questioning that allows me to evolve and to improve my photographs. I am therefore a constant ambiguity. Tiring, no! (laughs) Creating is vital for me to feel that I exist and to express all my complexity. But to bring joy and emotion, too. Without the love of my family and the encouragement of others I could not do what I’m doing today.
One night in Paris is like a year in any other place? (10cc)
Do I agree with the lyrics of the 70’s band? (laughs) By the way, 15 years in Paris make how many nights for me elsewhere? Is your hair greying faster in Paris? Maybe yes, it’s such an ambivalent but sublime city. Although it is quite hectic during the day, in the evening it transforms into an incredibly positive energy. A bit like the Eiffel Tower, grey and sad during the day and shining with a thousand lights at night, Parisians are like that.
French Fries or Quiche Lorraine?
Yum-yum …definitely not quiche. More like French potatoes. I’m a potato fan!
With all due respect, is the Mona Lisa overrated?
I would love to have her in my living room! Is this da Vinci’s mysterious Mona Lisa overrated? Can genius really be rated? I would say no. Although, when I saw the painting for the first time I was surprised by its small size (laughs).
Sexy Eiffel Tower? (Bow Wow Wow)
I find it sexy indeed but also ambivalent! Don’t you think? Without being vulgar, it’s raised like a phallus towards the sky. Representative of a patriarchal era that is truly being challenged today. Does this romanticism still have its place today? But would Paris be as charming without the Eiffel Tower?
Will beauty save the world?
Personally, I would say yes. Look at nature where harmony aesthetic is reigning. Everything is in its place, don’t you think? Beauty, hence harmony, according to me, awakens emotions, transcendence and therefore love. Isn’t that what will save the world?
Fashion is like eating, you shouldn’t stick to the same menu?
“We are what we eat!” In my photography, I obviously have to stick to a minimum of fashion in order to be credible to those I work with. However, rules are made to be bent. That’s what allows me to bring originality and probably my own touch. For example, it’s possible when ordering something from the menu and – as I quite often do in restaurants – to change the proposed side dish. In my art, I do the same. I use fashion, but bypass it in order to make it my own. The most important thing is to stay true to yourself. Fashion trends come and go, so for me, it’s important to create something that lasts.
Style begins where talent ends?
I would have said exactly the opposite: talent begins where style ends. The most significant aspect in my work is to look for simplicity. It’s trying to freeze and to capture a feeling, a desire and to convey the atmosphere to what I aspire at each shooting. I work a lot in natural light, even indoors. And for me the intention and the emotion lead the technique. Moreover, improvisation and spontaneity are also very important during my shoots. I direct my models very little so they bring in something of themselves during the shooting. It is our energy, this relation which will bring more to the image. Then, there is the production of course, where I sometimes change the colorimetry sligthly, crop a photo and accentuate an element to highlight it for example. All these small details make, I think, my style. As for the talent, I let others judge. Anyway, what is important for me is that my photographs are recognizable among those of others. Besides, when you analyze photos of today, many styles, although they are superb, look the same. I find it’s more fun to have something different to propose.
What kind of people are the most difficult to photograph?
Divas! They are personalities apart. Just kidding. Personally, it’s time and not people that can be an obstacle. You have to wait as long as it takes. Each person is unique and has something special to express. And you have to let that energy sink in and try to receive rather than create it.
How do you choose the people you photograph?
I like people who are out of the ordinary and have a special energy. With some you feel like you can photograph their soul, as if their expression tells you more than you see. I try to compose my photo sessions as a story, including a final catharsis where the emotion is brought to the surface. And the eye is there. That’s the moment I’m looking for. And when I choose my models, I feel with whom this will happen. I am hardly ever mistaken.
Where is the excitement in arranged meetings like on a fashion shoot?
I may bore you, but whether the shoot is arranged or not, the excitement is always there. There is all the preparation beforehand that makes the adrenaline level rise little by little until D-day when it explodes. It’s truly the adrenaline that takes over during the shoot!
Is your life full of pictures you didn’t take?
Even if Newton is my first love, I prefer to talk about Lindberg because he changed fashion photography completely. Before him everything was too framed, like a painting and with him everything became natural and really real. Expressions stopped being frozen and became alive. The models were less made up, less artificial, less arranged, less unnatural. But their beauty was elsewhere and we could project ourselves on to the images.
Don’t believe the (media) hype? (Public Enemy)
I think today’s media hype is at its highest level and works, to begin with. Just take a look at Instagram for example and the number of influencers.
Secondly, is it sustainable in the long run? I don’t think so. Instagram will be replaced one day. What will be left then? I’ll let you guess…
Who would you like to spend a whole day with?
With you. (laughs) All kidding aside, I would love to spend a day with Anna Wintour.
What gives you butterflies?
The moment of the shoot and the first selection of photos. I sometimes think, “wow, I did that.” I find the first look at the final result of your shoot is always an amazing moment.
Your goal in life? Art director of Vogue France?
Yes, totally, a dream, to fill the pages of Vogue USA, France, Italy… (laughs) The goal of an artist is the recognition of their work, I think. It’s essential to have this goal in order to evolve. Besides, keeping your work at home without sharing it, wouldn’t change a thing … So, I launch a call to Vogue…
_Uwe Buschmann (copy editing Silvia Strauch)