In the midst of all the routine craziness, I’ve hardly had a free moment to puzzle over the cosmic significance of all the cats that descended on me recently. But here’s a shot.
First off, you can’t imagine what was going through my mind when I heard we were doing a shoot for Hello Kitty, only to find out moments later that Lady Gaga, (of all people!), would be our model. How was I going to blend these totally dissonant images into something coherent and meaningful? I quickly realized I needed to find a way to incorporate Hello Kitty directly into the wardrobe, but it wasn’t going to be an easy thing to do. A week later I found myself standing in a room full of boxes exploding with Hello Kitties—and I had just a few hours to figure out how to turn the stuffed animals into a dress before the most important shot of the day.
I should have sensed that something strange was going on a few days before, when Indrani and I decided we needed to bring out Naomi Campbell's "feline" side. Even though I knew it was Bastille Day in Paris, I rushed across the Atlantic to see if I could find the perfect element to tie together everything I’d been working on—to bring my vision to life. Fortunately, I’d already pulled together a strong collection of fashion from New York, London and Milan, because when I arrived in Paris it was looking more than ever like a museum—everything was closed—except I did find a few amazing accessories by my friend Yazbukey, which later became presents for Gaga to keep.
So I returned to London, reviewed what I had and then added some finishing touches. In the end Indrani decided that the style I chose made Naomi resemble a "wet, radioactive, Egyptian cat."
The "radioactive" part may have been more of a projection—we’d been wondering all day whether the rumors about her temperament were true, and if her claws were going to come out for the shoot.
I want to give my subjects the respect and space to express themselves fully. Naomi is an amazing person to work with because she has such a clear sense of how she wants to present herself. At the same time, a photo shoot has to be a collaboration.