Exclusive: The Inside Story of Martin Parr’s Gucci Book

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WORLD (The Price of Love) by Martin ParrCourtesy of Gucci

Speaking to AnOther, the British photographer discusses his new photobook, WORLD (The Price of Love), and how he feels about the medium of fashion photography

In 1993, New Order released the single World (The Price of Love). Its accompanying music video, filmed in Cannes, France, consists of four steadicam shots which travel from sea to Croisette, past the locale’s affluent guests at play, and into the lobby of the famed Carlton Hotel. From this, Gucci take the name of their new photobook, WORLD (The Price of Love), made up of images by British photographer Martin Parr of the very same beach club and hotel, two-and-a-half decades on. 

Drafted in by the fashion house to capture their Cruise 2019 lookbook on the famed stretch of French Riviera, Parr’s incidental photographs of the Croisette and its holidaymakers made for a logical series in their own right, now collated in the limited-edition book alongside stills from the original New Order video. The seafront is, after all, familiar ground for Parr, who has returned to the beach on numerous occasions throughout his career. (His 1985 series The Last Resort, which documented the seaside resort of New Brighton on the Wirrall Peninsula, is often considered his breakout; since, he has photographed beaches from Japan to Brazil.)

“I love the beach. People are there, they’re relaxed, they’re themselves,” Parr tells AnOther. “The way people act on beaches is different throughout the whole world. If you go to a beach in Brazil – which I did this week – people wear virtually nothing; if you go to India, people swimming, especially the women, they’re basically swimming full dressed. I love the quirks and the differences between the way people adopt the seaside throughout the world.”

Cannes, and its memorable promenade, proved particularly photogenic, much down to the monied clientele, captured in all their walnut-hued glory by Parr’s signature ring-flash lens. “What it is, especially with Cannes, you found rich old ladies who immediately got into the shoot... It was a gift really,” Parr says. “We didn’t have to look hard to find people that fitted in perfectly in the Gucci world. I really like photographing older people. That’s who’s buying fashion. You see the young people thin as rakes who are modelling it, but usually those young thin people aren’t the people that buy it.” 

WORLD (This is Love) marks the latest in a series of big-name fashion commissions for the photographer: alongside numerous projects with Gucci, including photographing their watch collection in a series entitled #TimetoParr, he recently shot the season’s collections among New York’s tourist spots for the August 2018 issue of American Vogue

“The irony is I’ve been doing [fashion photography] for 30 years, just quietly getting on with it and then suddenly it’s taken off,” Parr says. “I think with the attitude of Alessandro Michele, we’re trying to get away from the glamour, make it look more authentic. This trend for the real, the authentic, is of course right up my street. Suddenly, the fashion people are more aligned with me, rather than the other way around.”

World (The Price of Love) is out now, available in Gucci Garden, Florence, Dover Street Market worldwide, the Gucci Wooster Bookshop, New York and online.