Art & Photography / Exclusives

Watch Jacob Lillis and Simone Rocha Talk Flowers and Cars

The prolific image-maker and the fashion designer's coveted photographic collaboration is the subject of an exclusive video and run of limited-edition prints, thanks to new photography platform, Prize Editions

Jacob Lillis and Simone Rocha first met just over five years ago on the pavement outside a popular, perfectly normal east London pub. The outcome of this union, however, turned out to be anything but ordinary, resulting in a deep-rooted friendship and string of evocative photographic collaborations that have come to shape and set the tone for both of their creative practices. “I feel the one person that captures my collections in a pure light is Jacob,” explains Ireland-born Rocha of Lillis' sensitive image-making, adding, “it almost became its own voice”.

Rather than traditionally shooting Rocha’s softly tailored, romantic clothing on the body, Lillis takes a tender yet abstracted approach – which Rocha welcomes, noting that his signature style is “more documentary, which is what Jacob’s really amazing at. I don’t want him to photograph the clothes because it’s not us”. Last year, the duo unveiled their wildly successful Flowers and Cars series, which – in a nutshell – consists of quixotic, tightly cropped photographs of plants and wild flowers that are seemingly 'growing' inside or sprouting from a variety of vehicles. “It started with us just sending images to each other from just walking down the street,” says Lillis. “Instead of a plant growing out of a wall, it was just a hedge in a car. That’s what it looked like to me,” he explains. Rocha recalls that on receiving the messages, she became “just obsessed! I was like, ‘this is everything we’ve ever talked about.”

From a dense tangle of wild English blooms creeping up the rear window of a defunct black Volvo, delicately obscuring light and space, to sprigs of milky-white cow parsley laid bare on a shiny hot bonnet – this unsual culmination of nature and manmade technology somehow precisely surmises the strong, modern romantic sensibility of Simone Rocha’s eponymous label. “Whether it’s a picture of a shoe, or a tree, you can feel Jacob’s presence there in the moment. There’s such sensitivity to it,” says Rocha of the photographs. 

Now, four exquisite photographs from Lillis’ Flowers and Cars series are being brought to light once again thanks to the innovative new London-based platform, Prize Editions, which produces unique volumes of prints from photographers whose progressive imagery straddles the cross-section between fashion and art, but belongs to no particular genre or 'ism'. “Prize allows direct access to the work of an exciting group of contemporary photographers such as Zoe Ghertner, Jack Davison and Jacob Lillis,” affirms its director, Stephen Ledger-Lomas. If that wasn’t enough, this ambitious initiative additionally creates exclusive content with their collaborators to place the work in question within a broader narrative, adding cross-cultural context and emotional depth. The video above, which features Rocha and Lillis in conversation – their presence only felt through a candid spoken dialogue and selected pull quotes which play out over co-ordinating photographs – being a fine example. 

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