Insiders meets Sylvia Farago and talks Grace Jones, growing up and glamorous Goths
Producing a shoot in the eerie hours of the morning with a naked Grace Jones and the famously dark film director, Chris Cunningham might seem a terrifying prospect to most people. But not for Canadian-born, London-based fashion producer, Sylvia Farago. For her last cover shoot for Dazed & Confused where she had been photo director for 7 years; Farago commissioned a series of ineffably strange and disturbingly powerful images of Jones shot by her friend, Cunningham. Recalls Farago, “We were waiting in her house in Battersea for over five hours. Then she turned up at 3am as if it was in the middle of the day and started playing her album for five hours straight and just sung along to it!”
"The editorial shoots are the most fun – it’s where we get to be immature"
It was all in a days work for Farago for whom the power of an unforgettable image remains undimmed after all these years. Moving from the wilds of Canada to London, Farago started off documenting the gigs she went to before falling in with Jefferson Hack’s crew, first at his motor magazine, Intersection then Dazed shortly thereafter. Working at first under the tutelage of then photographic director, Emma Reeves (currently creative director at MOCAtv) Farago would come to understand what it means to put together a strong picture. “Emma was really inspirational – she used to take me out to galleries all the time and buy me books. She told me if you like a picture you need to stand by it and you need to fight for it.” Besides Cunningham, Farago would push to work with art photographers like Ryan McGinley, Roe Ethridge and Todd Selby, people she still collaborates with today. After the Grace Jones art issue came out in the fall of 2008, Farago took a detour to work as creative producer for Burberry before launching her own business 2 years ago – “I just needed a change in scenery. And also I had just turned 30, I really thought that working for a youth culture magazine, my time would be coming to an end anyway.”
Now she’s her own boss with an illustrious list of blue chip clients including Lane Crawford, Gucci, Topshop and photographers like Nick Knight, Collier Schorr, Ben Toms and Glen Luchford. “The funny thing is I never worked for another producer. So I don’t really know how other people produce essentially – it’s something that came naturally to me.” The nature of the job could see her juggling conference calls in three different time zones at the same time to sourcing albino snakes for a Japanese Vogue shoot with Sean & Seng or setting a car on fire for Mert & Marcus. “The editorial shoots are the most fun – it’s where we get to be immature,” she smiles, “We are lucky we get to do the most ridiculous things.” If it all gets too much for Farago, there’s always her adorable beagle, Henry at her Dalston home and her teenage obsessions in comics and punk music which she’s carried through till today. In fact, with her poker straight hair and chic, all-black outfit, she resembles a glamorous Goth, a description she's not likely to argue with. She laughs, “I describe my style as grown-up teenager. My teenage years very much moulded who I am today. And I still listen to the same music – a lot of Big Black, Dead Kennedys, obscure random noise bands from Japan. Even though I do go to all these fashion events or I go to fashion shows, I still always stay true to who I am.”
Text by Kin Woo