Known for confrontational, often very explicit bondage-themed images, Japanese photographer Nobuyoshi Araki has long been a favorite of Saint Laurent designer Anthony Vaccarello. While Araki’s fetishistic photography has often been described as shocking, its larger purpose is to expose the hypocrisy of conservative mores—something Vaccarello says also applies to the work of Yves Saint Laurent, as well as to his own. “I’ve always loved the side of Araki that’s extremely free,” he says. “He’s not working out of oppression or concern for how others see him. He does what he wants, and there’s poetry in that freedom. Monsieur Saint Laurent never explicitly looked to shock either. He just worked in the context of a bland, bourgeois, and uniform society.” Several months ago, while on a trip to Tokyo, Vaccarello summoned the nerve to approach the septuagenarian photographer. “I told myself it was now or never to work with him,” Vaccarello says. “He was really enthusiastic. It all came together very quickly.” The shoot took two hours, and the set was closed off to everyone except Araki, his assistant, Vaccarello, and the model Anja Rubik. Here, an exclusive look at the collaboration.
Photographs ©Nobuyoshi Araki/Courtesy of Taka Ishii Gallery