Emma Elwin

Notes from a Swedish stylist

The more you learn, the more you like the good feeling about caring

It’s a cold afternoon in February. I’m being led into a room at the Nobis hotel in Stockholm to interview the photographer Mary McCartney. It’s been a hectic afternoon, but the stress wears off instantly once I’m offered a cup of tea by Mary. She’s dressed in an elegant grey wool sweater and has a calmness to her that wears off. The stress and cold I felt rushing to the hotel is replaced by the ecstatic feeling of talking to a person about something that she’s really passionate about.

How did the collection with KappAhl come about?

– Well, the CEO of KappAhl is very interested in photography, and he had been to an exhibition of mine in Sweden. Then I met him with my agent in London and I think the fact that he knew me as a photographer, and that he knew I was interested in environmental issues, created the idea for this collaboration.

– After that I met with the KappAhl team for lunch and had a really great time. Then they came back to me and said that they where doing a sustainable collection and that they would like for me to come up with the creative idea of the campaign.

– As a photographer you don’t quite know what’s happening next, it’s always a new adventure, which I love. This was a new adventure, since I had never directed a commercial before. I found it quite interesting for a high street brand to take such an interest in sustainable fashion. It seems like that the KappAhl consumers are interested in it as well, which I think is really inspiring. You want more brands doing things like this, really.

Tell us about the inspiration behind the shoot.

– Since the collection is about the environment, and things sustainable, I wanted to come up with something about friendship, companionship and caring. I wanted it to be very warm; it’s very much about people you have in your life who you feel really strongly about; because I thought that kind of love of your friends and your community extends to being a love of the environment. KappAhl seems to be caring a lot about their consumers; knowing them and respecting them. That’s kind of where I started working, so it’s very much about friendship and comradeship.

”That kind of love of your friends and your community extends to being a love of the environment”

What has the creative process been like?

– Kappahl wanted my opinion and my view and they’ve been really good about that, considering they usually do a lot of their stuff inhouse. I went over to the head office twice to meet the designers and to see how the collection was coming along, so I got a visual of who everyone was and kind of what KappAhl stands for. I took that under consideration when making my suggestions.

How was it shooting the collection?

– It was good, actually. I had seen it all in bits and pieces, and when we starting doing the fittings to shoot I was really impressed, it all came together very well.

What’s been the most fun moment of this collaboration?

– I really liked filming. I liked the girl I used as my lead. I knew in my mind how I wanted it to turn out, and she really fulfilled that. All the planning was fine, but when I was actually filming was when I was the most happy. I would definitely consider doing it again, I felt much more comfortable filming than I might have been expected I would.

How have the responses of the collaboration been so far?

– So far so good. I think it’s a good fit and I think we all get along really well, there has not been any big dramas or anything like that. The atmosphere has been very good. I felt that I ddin’t want to overcomplicate it. It’s been a natural process and I have not tried to come up with anything too clever, rather sort of trying to make it nice and about emotion and about people.

Do you have a favorite piece from the collection?

– That shirt dress with the blue pattern is one of my favorite pieces. It’s not that kind of textile I would get bored with. I like blues. The design is flattering, it’s got a nice shape to it but it’s not too tight fitting. I think you’d feel good in it. I like to wear things rather than things wearing me. I think this collection really does that.

What’s your best tip to lead a more sustainable lifestyle?

– I find it very hard to live a sustainable life, actually. I mean, I try to do it but I know I’m not perfect. I just try to be aware of what I do and what impact I have. Trying to have things that I can keep for a long time. And not have things that I’m going to dispose immediately.

– I’m trying to buy fair trade as well. The more you learn about it the more overwhelming it is. Like “oh I bought organic, but I didn’t realize I need to do fair trade as well”. The more you learn, the more you like the good feeling about caring.

1 Comment

Greg: very good interview.ive never been a big fan of photography,but I find her work quite unique. I find a lot of her work very colorful with style and forethought.
May 7, 2015

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