OCT 05-NOV 11, 2018
An exclusive capsule celebrating the heritage, history and future of MCM.
We pored over—and stepped into—the brand's archives, emerging with an homage to the label and logo that have taken on a life of their own.
Modeled by the indomitable Slick Rick. Shot by the inimitable Sue Kwon.
A look back at MCM's past for proof that they've been iconic since Day Zero.
Photographer Sue Kwon has spent her career documenting the biggest names in hip-hop and the streets of NYC. Now she's added our MCM collab to that mile-long list of accomplishments, and we wasted no time getting her A's to our Q's about her work and world.
This shoot is immaculate! How would you describe the vibe?
The opportunity to work with Slick Rick for this Pop-In has been beyond anything I could’ve imagined. He's a wordsmith with extraordinary storytelling abilities, and this collaboration with Nordstrom and MCM will be another remarkable chapter in his life. I'm excited about creating images that have so many striking elements: visually arresting and OG talent, elegant products and the perfect location, which all combine to create an indelible and whimsical story.
You’ve documented so much of New York life. What makes it such a good subject?
As a second-generation American Korean, I think the basic answer is that NYC truly is diverse and because of that, there will always be something new and unexpected. It's a place where so many people with different backgrounds and cultures can come to live and thus they are also open to the fact that diversity is what makes for a great collective soul. This collective thinking still allows for each person/corner/neighborhood—even if it's only momentary—to also shine its uniqueness.
The list of hip-hop legends you’ve photographed is wild: Biggie, Wu-Tang, Jay-Z, on and on. What’s your secret to a good portrait?
Ha, I don't know if I have THE secret. All I can say is that I hope I approach every person/project equally. I am grateful that any person/subject shares their time in allowing me to photograph them. For me, it's important to respect that person’s willingness and sometimes vulnerability.
Who’s on your list of dream subjects/collaborators?
Barack Obama and Pete Souza. I wish I could document Pete Souza documenting Barack Obama.
Funniest or most surreal shoot experience?
The time I checked my answering machine and there was a message from Adam [Yauch, of the Beastie Boys] asking me if I was interested in flying to Rome in a few hours to photograph the Dalai Lama. I was on another shoot and called him from a payphone to let him know I was—then panicked to make the flight.
What inspired you to start taking photos?
I grew up watching my father documenting family moments with either a camera or Super 8 (always with a big smile). Then I saw a Sebastião Salgado show in Paris about the drought-stricken Sahel Desert and it had a huge impact on me; it was the first time I saw images that were so tragic and poignant, yet I strangely found beautiful. It was horrible, devastating imagery, obviously so very far from where I was, but it made me really think in a different way from what I was taught in school. These images spoke so many profound words to me and showed me how powerful one image could possibly be.
What was on your first roll of film?
I don't recall the exact images but I recollect being proud of this: it was an image of my older brother sitting with drumsticks in hand at his glitter drum set. Sorry, quite boring and not poignant, but it was that or photos of my doll at some beach …
What's your favorite NYC neighborhood and why?
Am I allowed to say all of them? It used to be where I lived, Little Italy, but that has changed so drastically that I rarely go there to shoot. Same with Coney Island: another huge change in landscape but that's life—right?—continuous change. But at least NYC thus far is still a place where people from all over feel comfortable moving, knowing that it's where many cultures can coexist. I've been working in Brownsville for the past year and a half; it's one of the few areas that hasn’t yet seen a Starbucks and to me, that is a great thing.
Misa Hylton's influence can't be overstated. Styling (literally) since the '90s, she's shaped the looks of hip-hop's biggest names—Missy Elliott, Lil' Kim, Mary J. Blige, Beyoncé—and spawned trends on trends. Not only did she create Slick Rick's custom MCM eye patches for our shoot, but she also fielded our questions about her inspirations and inner motivation.
Hip-hop owes so much of its aesthetic to you. What’s been driving you since Day 1?
My drive comes from my desire to create. I’m inspired by music, people and art.
You’re a style visionary, making trends happen instead of following them. How did you stay confident when people were slow to share your vision?
My confidence comes from believing in myself and what I do. I love what I create and I create from the heart. My thoughts and ideas tend to be ahead of their time, which sometimes means the connection with the consumer and my audience takes some time, but once they capture the essence of the style, it’s always long-lasting.
Tons of those trends—including ones you pioneered in the '90s—are still resonating. Any favorites among them?
One of my favorite trends is the colored wigs and hair pieces and how hair is the ultimate accessory. I also love the synergy between sportswear and high-end fashion. It’s so edgy ... Major! Honestly, I love all of it.
You’ve also founded the Misa Hylton Fashion Academy, which trains the next generation of creative leaders. What’s next for the program?
Currently we are scaling an adult program and will offer courses in fashion technology as well as year-round creative courses for younger people ages 8–18. I'm excited to share that our services will not be limited to fashion styling: we'll be teaching accelerated reading, writing, mathematics, social-emotional learning and leadership through the lens of creativity.
Taking fashion risks is scary! Any tips for the timid?
Taking fashion risks takes confidence! Confidence is the pathway to a potential trend. If you don’t believe in your look, no one else will. People are attracted to confidence and authenticity.
Current career highlight:
Creating the custom MCM bustier, panty and motorcycle trench for Beyoncé, which was worn in The Carters' "Ape****" viral video and in national advertisements for Jay-Z and Beyoncé's "Everything Is Love" album.
ONLINE & IN SELECTED STORES
Pop-In@Nordstrom MCM runs from October 5 to November 11 online at Nordstrom.com/POP and in person at the following Nordstrom stores:
South Coast Plaza
New York City
Men's Store NYC
CF Toronto Eaton Centre
CF Pacific Centre