Anna Bauer Makes Backstage Public

Tonight at the New Museum, New York-based photographer Anna Bauer unveils her new book, Anna Bauer Backstage (Angelika). The book presents a compilation of Bauer’s most intimate images of industry insiders and backstage collaborators, taken behind the runway over the past four years. They run from a stately portrait of Karl Lagerfeld in 2007 to a stocking-encased Raquel Zimmermann.

We recently sat down with Bauer to talk about the origins of the project, the intricacies of backstage culture, and the craziest, most memorable moments of the journey to Backstage.

SIMPSON: Tell me a little bit of the story of how it came about.

BAUER: It came about through this little newspaper—I shouldn’t say little—that’s being done in London professionally called The Daily. It was called The Daily Rubbish back then. We needed Polaroids because we were putting them on the board. All the images were from backstage and we would post them and they ended up in the newspaper the next morning. The first image was Agyness Deyn. And then I became friends with all the crazy, eccentric photographers.

SIMPSON: What was the craziest thing that has happened?

BAUER: The photographers Sean Cunningham and Luca were fighting. I think one of them broke a rib, actually. They were just doing that for fun, just wasting time because nobody was about to shoot. And I think one of them—there’s a lot of fighting. I mean, that’s the interesting part that I kind of like, but you don’t see in most pictures—it’s so busy and such a mess; the photographers are always fighting each other, as well.

SIMPSON: So, when you were getting started, was there moment where—

BAUER: The project became more serious? The first image of it being more serious was not Agyness, but Eugene and Martin—Eugene Souleiman and Martin. That was when Sean Cunningham, the crazy photographer, was like, “you have to photograph these guys.  They’re really cool.”  That’s kind of when it became more than model project for the newspaper.

SIMPSON: Was there anyone you were afraid or intimidated to shoot?

BAUER: Yeah, some of the bigger designers, definitely.  The first big one I shot was Raf Simmons.  That’s pretty much one of the biggest ones, but he was super nice.

SIMPSON: Is there anyone that caught you by surprise?  Or anything about the experience of capturing this that really—

BAUER:  In the end, I loved taking Lagerfeld’s portrait.  The picture has a small presence in it.  He’s very professional.

SIMPSON: And what was the most fun part? What did you love about the process?

BAUER: Fun shows? I always love Galliano’s shows. I always love Prada—I don’t know why. And I love that, sometimes, the locations are amazing for the Paris shows. Givenchy’s just like this huge, beautiful, old…I don’t even know what it is—school or something? It’s almost like a sports field but inside. What’s also fun about my experience is that we’ve been traveling with one of the photographers. He drives from London to Milan, from Milan to Paris, from Paris to London.

SIMPSON: So it’s like this road trip where you go to all of the different fashion weeks.

BAUER: We rent an apartment together in Paris.  We all stay in the same hotel in Milan Paris.  There’s a lot of yelling!

SIMPSON: Total chaos.

BAUER:  Also, a really important thing about this project is that even though I did them on my own, I didn’t really do them on my own. First of all, all the other photographers helped me. Then the hair and make-up people would sneak me in to shows.  Model bookers would get the girls to come over.

SIMPSON: I love this concept of this starting as a trangressive—sneaking in with all of these people helping and collaborating, and then becoming a part of it.

BAUER: And then I was official. It’s been definitely an adventure.