Created in collaboration with stylist Elle Britt, the photographer’s latest publication Molly is a touching tribute to her friend, the model Molly Hunloke
For the past few years, photographer Chloé Le Drezen has worked on small annual editions of personal work as a way to “take the time to explore new ideas without any pressure”. “It’s a different exercise than working for magazines or clients,” explains Le Drezen. “You’re completely free to do whatever you would like to, without any expectation besides your own.” For her latest zine Molly, created in collaboration with stylist Elle Britt, the photographer chose friend and model Molly Hunloke as the starting point – “her personality, having fun, and ultimately exploring what we could do together as a team.” What unfurls is an intimate ode to Molly and to the depth of beauty, of personality revealed when the creative process is reared by trust.
Working with a friend as subject marks a shift for the photographer who, for previous zines such as XXI Girls, featured models whom she didn’t know prior to the shoot. “When you work with someone you’ve just met, the relationship is different – you have to gain that trust very quickly. You can leave so much out of the picture and just focus on this specific moment,” says Le Drezen. “Working with someone you know quite well unlocks another dimension to the work and that changes the outcome.” Such a mutual trust is significant, as Molly shows: there is a palpable, magical exchange of tenderness and assertiveness in each photograph.
Le Drezen first met Molly, a model and gallery assistant, working on a job with Alexander McQueen. “We don’t have a massive age gap, but looking at Molly as a younger woman, I felt very inspired,” she says of their friendship. “She has a real world of her own and a very intelligent view on her work as a model.” Similarly, Britt and Le Drezen met at work on a music video for Sinead O’Dwyer, and the stylist’s energy “felt right” for such a personal project as Molly.
The result of this collaboration is a series of intimate portraits of Molly through which she is empowered to tell her story. Although the shoot was very low-key – “we didn’t have a ton of equipment nor a fancy studio,” – it’s perhaps this minimalist set that allowed Molly to fill each photograph so completely with what she chose to reveal of her world, her personality. The photographer’s delicate interplay of light and composition gently cradles the subtilties and nuances of this story, and their friendship, within each image. “It’s like writing a book about someone. It holds a story – I hope to some extent there’s a tiny bit of that in our zine.”
Molly will be available exclusively from Claire de Rouen bookstore in London, in a limited edition of 100 copies. Printed on recycled stock print, the zine is a natural progression of Le Drezen’s personal process, which is predominately shot on film and then hand printed. “It’s nice to know that in a world where most of the things we own are produced in massive quantities, that only a handful of people will have this one small object.”
Molly by Chloé Le Drezen is available exclusively from Claire de Rouen, in a limited edition of 100 copies, from February 16.