To the Nines: Julia Chesky

Pleasure in shopping seems like one giant contradiction. All the enjoyment of being a customer can’t just possibly lie in walking away with a purchase. The act of window shopping, displayed as an art, by photographer Julia Chesky shows the other side of retail. Since 2007, Chesky has lurked on the outside of the looking glass, snapping threads on mannequins to be captured on her site Modelizing: The Art of Window Shopping. However, despite shooting from her point of view, Chesky is far from an outsider when it comes to deconstructing fashion. She is as learned about the products on display as the employees doing the decorating for the customer’s viewing pleasure, which is why I tapped her for this installment of To the Nines. Get familiar with her work, which recently caught the eyes of Louis Vuitton and the Twitter-verse. I’m proud to have been photographed by her (via Blackberry) as well. Introducing, Julia Chesky and Biggie (her 7D camera)…

name: Julia Chesky

location: Currently the Lower East Side of Manhattan.

occupation: Photographer.

Alexander McQueen From the Archives: Spring 2008. Photographed by Julia Chesky at Saks Fifth Avenue.

favorite brand:
Actual brand I currently wear and will probably wear until I die, Ralph Lauren. In any label colour–he’s flawless all around, from cheap to high end. Brands I look forward to wearing someday–especially as a chic old lady: Marni, Akris, Etro, Tom Ford, Giambattista Valli, Hermes, more Ralph, Stella McCartney, McQueen. I love incredible tailoring and fabrics.

what song do you think isn’t on Karl Lagerfeld’s iPod?
The man has at least 15 of them, but I imagine he wouldn’t have Diplo’s F/W 2011 Alexander Wang Runway mix. I bet he’s going to try to get it now, because it’s my favorite runway song this season.

what outfit have you wanted to be photographed in?
I’m never in front of a camera, so I’ve never really thought about it. Hopefully it wouldn’t be a “what not to wear” look.

what store’s mannequins inspire your look?
As crazy as it sounds, none of them. I have a really relaxed style that has to be ready to work at all times. Most of the mannequins are in 6-inch heels and $5k dresses, while I opt for button downs, tees, and black skinny jeans with high tops.

have you ever seen a store employee’s personal style reflected in a window display?
Not really, but could you imagine if La Perla/Kiki/Agent P made their staff wear lingerie?

do you observe window displays in NYC’s midtown Diamond District?
Most jewelry stores shut down their displays in the evening when I shoot, so no observations from me. However, H. Stern and Tiffany’s are the only ones brave enough to keep everything out, but Tiffany’s the only one that does anything interesting.

what store knows you by name?
A lot of them, but only because of my photos/remarks and not my spending habits.

describe your photography background in one word:
Parsons? Or obsessive. But it’s not obsessively Parsons.

spring/summer is a season for pop up shops to open in NY. which are you hoping will have an impact this year?
Pop ups mean nothing to me, no displays, never inviting me to the opening–GTFO, you won’t sell anything anyways. Waste of funds.

if you were to shoot a photo essay on your window display work, what would be the theme?
I would do an alphabetical catalogue of my favorite brands/best look of the season in the windows. See how many people are outraged when I choose Celine over Chloe to document. I would also love to make a photo essay of “what the hell is wrong with you _ _ _ _”, but I think the store would be sad. And perhaps one on just gratuitous shoe porn.

the house of chanel, the polo mansion and filene’s basement — brands and retailers with homely titles, what roof would you want over your head?
5th floor of the Ralph Lauren Womens Mansion, it’s incredible–a room for every whim and mood. Overall, the whole space made me cry after I left, I’ve never been moved to tears by a store until then. Ralph Lauren for the win.

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