Photographer Ronan McKenzie and Acne Studios’ newly-appointed creative editor Isabella Burley speak to AnOther about the label’s latest project, which stars Vinca Petersen, Rhea Dillon, and more
London-based multihyphenate Ronan Mckenzie – a trailblazing photographer, curator, founder of fashion brand Selasi and creative space HOME – has joined forces with Acne Studios on a stripped-back series of portraits celebrating London’s creative community.
Marking the launch of the label’s new personalised scarf style, the Vernon – which invites wearers to emblazon their initials on each unique piece, alongside symbols of “love, positivity and inclusivity”, like the heart or the yin-yang – the campaign stars a cross-generational cast of creative forces based in the capital, which include NTS founder Femi Adeyemi, visual artist Rhea Dillon, model Bibi Abdulkadir, gymnast Jesuslina Baah-Williams, and cult 90s photographer Vinca Petersen.
Reflecting the collection’s personal nature, McKenzie’s portraits are beautifully simple, honing in on each person as an individual. “The approach for the campaign was to let the cast speak for themselves,“ she tells AnOther. “Each of the people we photographed within this piece have distinctly different backgrounds, stories, interests and perspectives, so capturing them in a way which allows them the space to breathe reveals much about each of them, without having to say too much at all.”
The campaign was brought to life under the guiding hand of Acne Studios’ newly-appointed creative editor, Isabella Burley, who has also worked on inspiring visuals with rising creative stars like Norwegian artist Maria Pasenau and Dutch photographer Liv Liberg since joining the Stockholm-based label in September. “Celebrating creatives has always been at the heart of the Acne Studios and that comes deeply from Jonny Johansson, the founder and creative director, who has instilled it since the beginning,” the former editor-in-chief of Dazed and Climax Books founder tells AnOther.
For McKenzie, the shoot was an opportunity to come together with both new faces and people she has collaborated with over the years, such as model Abdulkadir and young gymnast Baah-Williams, who she first met on the set of a music video when she was just 3-years-old. “It’s such a special relationship being able to continue collaborating with the same people, as we both continue to grow and develop,” the photographer says. “I was proud to have photographed Femi – someone I’ve known since the very beginning of my career and am hugely inspired by.”
“The cast were so fun to shoot,” adds Burley. “A lot were friends of myself and Ronan’s – others people we had admired for a long time but never met like the artist Vina Petersen or Femi from NTS. We liked the idea of creating a dialogue between a cross-generational mix of creatives, artists or students who have different backgrounds and different cultural touch points but somehow feel connected. There was something really special about that on set.”
This warm spirit of collaboration was felt by both Burley and McKenzie across the project. “The openness, freedom and clarity in creative point of view was appreciated from the offset,” says McKenzie. “It was without a doubt my favourite project of the year.”
The new Vernon scarf and personalisation service will be available in all Acne Studios stores worldwide and on acnestudios.com from 4 November.