GREATEST: Cosmo Webber
The London-based photographer takes us behind-the-scenes of the new MCQ Foam campaign.
Relaunched in September 2020, Alexander McQueen sibling brand MCQ continues its radical approach to fashion with FOAM. Rather than treating the year as the traditional Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter collections, MCQ breaks up the year into two cycles and regularly releases Icons to better respond to consumers’ behaviors. Each Icon is a labor of collaboration between MCQ and a number of contributors from a wide range of disciplines. The Icons are packed with references to some of the most significant subcultures from around the world and always have a story to tell. For the last iteration of Cycle I, the FOAM Icon explores the contradictions found in human existence and spins the codes of workwear with unexpected silhouettes. Fabrics clash, prints are reminiscent of the construction world and transparent panels reveal hardware elements. As always, every piece can be found on the MCQ blockchain and further explored at MYMCQ.COM.
For this Icon, London’s unique artistic scene took center stage in the FOAM campaign. Art directed by artist Sang Woo Kim and photographed by Cosmo Webber, the campaign explores a shift of perspective, turning street iconography into art. Discarded items found in London were reimagined as art pieces by Sang Woo Kim and a cast of eclectic characters including Flohio—one of the UK’s most singular rappers—posed in front of Webber’s lens. We caught up with the photographer to learn more about the concept behind the campaign.
Can you tell us how your collaboration with MCQ started?
I was approached by MCQ towards the end of 2019 to work on the FOAM Icon collection. They explained the concept for MCQ’s rebranding and the idea behind the collaborators, like myself, and I was excited to collaborate with fellow collaborator, model and artist Sang [Woo Kim] and the rest of the team.
With Kim as the art director for that campaign, can you tell us more about the concept of the shoot and how it relates to FOAM?
Some of the keywords for this project were ‘contradiction,' ‘industrial' and ‘construction,’ so we took these as a starting point. The main link to FOAM is the materials used by Sang and Louis in the sculptures as each piece was inspired by those keywords and made from a combination of raw, industrial materials. When Sang and I were scouting a location to shoot the campaign we looked back at the idea of ‘contradiction’ and how we could best incorporate that into the shoot. By choosing a gallery space and then having DIY-type sculptures added in, it really highlighted the works and brought the meaning of ‘contradiction’ to life.
The campaign stars an interesting cast of characters, including South-London rapper Flohio. Considering your proximity to music, how was it working with her?
I’ve worked with Flo on a number of projects before and it was really fun working with her on this one. She brings an amazing vibe and atmosphere to the set. Her energy is great to have while shooting.
You're known for shooting primarily musicians. What are the main differences between photographing that industry and a fashion campaign?
I don’t think there is much difference between shooting musicians and fashion campaigns. When you’re shooting musicians you’re really trying to capture their character and vibe, but when you’re shooting fashion you’re trying to connect with the garments more and make for an interesting angle. Obviously there are some differences such as the scale of the shoot, but with any [project], my aim is to get the most out of the subject and let them really express themselves.
With any [project], my aim is to get the most out of the subject and let them really express themselves.
How did you get into shooting within the music industry in the first place?
I love live music and taking photos at live events, so I used to find any way possible to get into shows and parties to photograph them. I always had a camera on me no matter what. I eventually built relationships and trust with different artists and it just evolved from there.
Going back a step further, what drew you to photography and can you describe how you approach the art form?
I’ve always been fascinated with images for as long as I can remember; I have bad dyslexia so words were never really for me! The idea of being able to capture significant moments and create my own stories through images instead of words is what drew me towards photography originally. Now as I branch out to directing, it's allowing me to create, tell stories and develop ideas even further. I have a very run-and-gun approach to the art form and believe you can create an amazing image anywhere. You don’t need massive budgets for excessive equipment and big teams to create a raw, powerful image with character.
I’ve always been fascinated with images for as long as I can remember; I have bad dyslexia so words were never really for me!
What are some of our favorite pieces from the collection?
The collection is amazing and there are so many pieces to choose from, but the outerwear stuff would be my favorite. There are loads of great jackets—they were probably my favorite to photograph too!
Interview: Eric Hervillard
Photography: Courtesy of MCQ/Cosmo Webber