New exhibition of Robert Fairer’s behind-the-scenes photos celebrates runway glory in person

Robert, I have to say that looking at your pictures, fashion seems to be a lot more fun when you were shooting it than it is today.

Oh yes! Things have changed. I think I stopped around 2010 and then have been back and forth every now and then since with Tom Ford, Balmain and a few other houses who have continued to want to work with me. Now, I just got back to it a bit with Fendi and Kim Jones. Working with Fendi is a bit like before, because there are no other behind-the-scenes photographers, just me. They also use some of the older models so it feels like a reunion which is kinda wonderful too. It’s a sweet reintroduction into the backstage world.

How did it feel to go through your archives?

It reminded me of so many memories and moments. When we started printing stuff for books, we achieved so much in the photographs, like, “Oh my God, look at that little white mouse in the girl’s hair at the Dior Couture show! It’s amazing to rediscover what’s in clothes, texture, stitching and makeup. I mean, Pat McGrath, what a genius! Seeing these enlarged, larger-than-life photos, there’s another level of discovering things in there. It was the most wonderful and joyful experience.

When I took these photos, it was a very busy time in my life. I ran everywhere, I shot all the shows for a period of six weeks. I was sending the film to England, so I didn’t really get to see a lot of what I shot. Vanessa was touching up, sorting the contact sheets and transparencies.

When I came back from those six weeks on the road, seven days a week shooting from seven in the morning until 11 or 12 in the evening, I was exhausted! I would come back to a nice curated image archive and watch. Most of the time I was relieved that everything was on display and that there was no problem, the camera did not break. I’d take a really quick peek and see some favorites, then Vogue could call and ask for pictures and I would have to dive in, lean over a table and look at the pictures in the light box.

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