Let’s take a look at some of the visionaries working behind the scenes in the fashion world and bringing glamorous concepts to life with their amazing talents in our list of New Wave creatives.
1. Carin Backoff, Photographer
How did you get your start in photography?
I took my first photography class when I was 16. In college, I thought I’d move to Hollywood. I made a skateboarding video for my final project in my first film class, got a D, quit the program, and signed up for photography instead. I met so many cool people in the darkroom, talking about doing it as a career; I was like, yeah, that’s what I’m going to do.
What was your big break?
Katie Grand gave me the most incredible, dream-come-true opportunity to shoot Selena Gomez for LOVE. Katie changed my life. I am so beyond grateful to her.
What’s your visual style?
Intimate, playful, colorful.
2. Jordan Barrett, Photographer
Hails From Byron Bay, Australia
Big Break Booked his first modeling job in Tokyo at age 17; signed with IMG at age 18
Follower Count 1.1M
Latest Skill The budding photog shot a 2018 Paper cover
Modeled For Where should we start?
3. Sophie Elgort, Photographer
Did you always aspire to be a photographer?
I always did photography for fun; I’d ask my friends to dress up for me and took their pictures from a super young age. But it wasn’t until friends of mine started a fashion brand right when I finished college and asked me to shoot for them that I thought of it as something I could really do as more than just a hobby.
What’s your favorite type of image to shoot?
I love shooting images where it’s more like shooting a film, even if I’m taking stills—when the people I’m photographing are moving around and being themselves, and I’m capturing moments as they go. It’s not so posed. I feel I really can capture personality like this.
You grew up around fashion shoots with your dad, photographer arthur elgort. What was your favorite childhood memory on set?
With Cindy Crawford in Cheyenne, Wyoming, doing pictures at the rodeo for Vogue Italia. My dad tells me that Cindy would take me everywhere with her, and then people didn’t bother her for too long. I still love the rodeo and country music to this day, and those images are some of my favorites.
Who’s on your bucket list to shoot?
Speaking of Cindy, I would love to shoot with Kaia Gerber—bring it full circle!
4. Jordan Foster, Stylist
Hails From Los Angeles
Education Posh Choate Rosemary Hall boarding school in Connecticut; University of Colorado-Boulder
Has Worked With Lily Aldridge, Ashley Graham, Karlie Kloss, Karolina Kurkova, Joan Smalls, Candice Swanepoel, Kate Upton
Career Pre-Styling Brief stint in the music industry
Ongoing Gig She’s a partner at La Marque, the consultancy firm founded by longtime Vogue alums Meredith Melling and Valerie Macaulay.
5. Ade Samuel, Stylist
Hails From The Bronx; of Nigerian descent
Education Buffalo State College; interned at Teen Vogue and W, and worked for stylists Cher Coulter and Simone Harouche
Clientele Big Sean, Michael B. Jordan, Letitia Wright, Usher, Justine Skye
Big Break Her first solo project, styling Yara Shahidi for an Essence cover
Word Smith She coined the term “Black Girl Magic”
Glossy Cameos Vogue, Teen Vogue, W, Glamour, CR
Side Hustle An eponymous shoe line, launched in 2016
6. Tyler Mitchell, Photographer
Hails from Marietta, an Atlanta suburb
Big break Hand-picked by Beyoncé to shoot her fourth Vogue cover, for the September 2018 issue
History-making claims to fame Mitchell was the first black photographer to ever shoot a Vogue cover in the glossy’s 125-year history, and the third-youngest lensman to do so, after Irving Penn and David Bailey.
Education NYU. He credits a short horror film, made in his parents’ home, with scoring him admission.
Fashion clients Converse, Marc Jacobs
Self-representation Used Instagram, not an agent, to build his portfolio and attract clients
Early inspo Spike Jonze’s skateboarding videos
7. Alexander Saladrigas, Photographer
What’s the highlight of your career so far?
It was a real honor to give Alek Wek her first solo Vogue [Ukraine] cover in 2018.
Dream subject to shoot?
Arthur Elgort, especially his work for American Vogue in the early ’90s.
Who gave you your big break?
Vogue Ukraine, because they gave me the opportunity to shoot my first Vogue cover.
8. Sasha Siem, Muscian
Tell us about your musical training!
I played the piano and cello as a child and didn’t enjoy practicing very much, so I started playing around, creating songs. My first song was a setting of Maya Angelou’s “Caged Bird.” My teachers noticed my enthusiasm for songwriting and encouraged me to study composition. I ended up going deep into the study of music, and taking commissions from establishment institutions, like the Royal Opera House and London Symphony. I loved the experience, but after a while I felt an emptiness. I realized I was missing song. I came back to songwriting, and am about to release my third album.
How did you develop your style?
A lot of experimenting, messing up, failing, and staying faithful to my truest voice in each moment. I’m growing all the time. My style is hopefully an expression of that.
What inspired your new single, “Holey Wholly Holy”?
The song is about hope. It reminds us that no matter how damaged we may feel or what darkness we’ve experienced, a part of us is untouched, whole, holy, even. We can heal our way back to enjoying wholeness.
Any upcoming performances planned?
I’m doing a series of “showups” in unexpected venues around the globe. We’ve done Shinjuku Square in Tokyo, a roof in the center of Jerusalem, and the bank, literally, of the River Thames in London with a choir…at dawn!
9. Rowan Papier, Photographer
Who inspires you?
Tim Walker, David LaChapelle, and Mario Testino; also, Michelangelo and Salvador Dalí.
What’s your visual style?
Celebratory, romantic, evolving.
What’s on your bucket list, shoot-wise?
A Vogue cover. To work with Versace. A humanitarian project. Anyone of strong cultural significance or positive impact.
10. Justine Foord, Retoucher
How did you get started in the industry?
I grew up in the countryside of Kent, what we call the Garden of England. I knew from a young age that I needed to go somewhere that my creative spirit could thrive. I had an insatiable drive, and I was determined to follow my instinct. At 17, I packed my bags and fled to London. I was accepted into the School of Visual and Performing Arts, City of Westminster, in London. I knew the city had such a revolutionary history for fashion and art, and that it was the perfect place for me to start developing my portfolio and establish my signature and voice as an artist. I met Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott, the legendary photographic duo, whilst retouching for Metro Studios in London, and it was love at first sight. We recognized each other’s artistic spirits and began our colorful journey together. It was the beginning of our careers—we grew together.
Tell us about the scope of your work.
I look at retouching through the lens of being an artist; I believe this sets me apart. It’s my gift, an insight that connects me with some of the most creative influencers in our industry. The work we create has developed many iconic campaigns, and even masterpieces in permanent collections in museums, including my own personal artwork. As both a commercial retoucher and an artist, I look for the equilibrium between expressionism and consumerism. There’s this sense that the images we produce now are almost like fast food—do we remember the burger we ate, or the chain? My commercial work is a collaboration between myself, the photographer, and ultimately the magazine or brand. As a retoucher, a project is not unlike a painting—the artist could use acrylics, oils, pastels, watercolors, or charcoal to depict an individual or scene that exists within their imagination. Retouching itself is an art form that is misunderstood, and often receives bad press. Simply, our desire is to bring out the best of our visions.
What does it mean to be a retouching expert in 2019?
Acceleration: Put your foot on the gas and buckle up, babe. There’s a sense that we’re running a sprint and not a marathon anymore. With the explosion of social media, it’s all about content and what’s trending. There’s an oversaturation of imagery in the world. Ironically, magazines and the new generation of photographers desire the old-school art of hand-retouching and photography, though with today’s speed and sense of computerized technology. Everything needs to be ready very fast, though at what cost? We seem to live in a disposable world.
Tell us a little bit about your art.
As an artist, it’s about being a freedom fighter, a dream maker, and breaking the mold to express oneself. My art allows me to share my personal journey, and let out my pleasure and pain. I walk my path and put my life into my pictures. My traveling exhibition, “Candela,” is a series of my signature mixed-media paintings on photography. It was first exhibited in the Galería Espacio BRUT, Madrid in 2014, then the Fototeca de Cuba museum, with support of the U.K. and U.S. embassies. I became the first solo British female artist to showcase work in Cuba in modern times.
You have an incredible eye for color. When did you realize this special talent?
Growing up in rainy and gray England, I always had a thirst for color to brighten up life. When you see a blue sky, it makes you smile, while a gray sky makes you feel sad. If you apply color theory to everyday life, it makes you a happier person. Also, my mother, Caroline, was a gifted ballerina, so I believe there was an artistic sensibility that perhaps was passed down to me.
What’s your favorite part of your job?
My vision of color. It gives me the most pleasure in the work that I produce.
Tell us about a recent project you’ve loved lately!
We’ve been working on photos for a skincare product that Beyoncé uses while she’s on tour. I get great pleasure from all my projects.
11. Rob Smith, Retailer
How’d you conceive your store, the Phluid Project?
After 30 years in retail at Macy’s, Nike, Victoria’s Secret, and more, I decided to quit my job, put on a backpack, and embrace a global trip. My intention was to honor my individual freedoms and ambitions, without the constraints of a traditional professional environment. While I was away, tapping into my passions, I realized I wanted to create a gender-neutral shopping experience.
How did you know that the store was working?
A space like ours is important in today’s climate — the intersection of retail, café, and community space is the future of retail. Phluid allows and encourages community, not just browsing and buying. We’ve found, through market research, experiment, and feedback, that this combination is what many desire and feel was missing in the retail landscape.
What are your plans to expand the brand?
The plan for 2019 is focused on digital and wholesale growth. Our intention is to replicate online the success of Phluid’s store model.
12. Kat Irlin, Photographer
Hails From St. Petersburg, Russia
Big Break Shooting for Tiffany & Co.
Follower Count 1.5M
Education Graduated with a degree in finance before fully pursuing photography
Clientele Chanel, Dior, Louis Vuitton, Tiffany & Co., Barneys, and Adidas