We met with Adam Kimmel when he showed his menswear collection in June 2010. He presents his womenswear SS12 collection at Paris Fashion Week, September 2011.
Adam Kimmel, the New York-based menswear designer, likes to pay tribute to American icons in his collections. For his western-themed spring/summer 2010 collection, Kimmel was inspired by the Marlboro Man imagery by the Chicago-based photographer Jim Krantz, which was rephotographed and enlarged by Richard Prince. Kimmel hired Krantz to make his advertising campaign, and the two of them travelled to Canyonlands National Park in Moab, Utah, to reinterpret the Marlboro Man iconography and give it a new reading.
Adam, why did you want to work with Jim Krantz on your spring/summer 2010 collection?
A.K. : I’d always wanted to do a cowboy collection and when I went out to New Mexico to research it, a lot of the cowboys I met were hot on the style of the Marlboro Man and loved [the American cowboy actor] Roy Rogers. My dream was to work with the Marlboro Man photographer and Neville Wakefield, a curator friend of mine, put Jim and me together. The goal was to appropriate the Marlboro style of masculinity and its iconic images.
How did the western idea develop?
A.K. : Any time I do a collection, I like to reshape things of the past, cite something classical and be inspired by certain silhouettes and fabrics. I wanted to include the Roy Rogers element but it’s too dandy and colourful to stand on its own. So I thought it was important to bring in rough jeans and a kind of cowboy look. The rougher looks – the more ranch-style jeans and corduroys, and the heavy waterproof materials – came from the Marlboro inspirations. I was looking for things that are really rare and special for the details, whether it’s a certain style of smile pockets, or the colour of the piping. I just felt like my friends are drawn to the western style and that it would be incredible to make western shirts and bring that feeling to New York.
You used real cowboys on the shoot. How did they respond to it?
A.K. : Amazing. They really loved the clothes, which was a real high for me and gave me the confidence to take the collection to Paris to sell. It’s a special thing when you’re trying to do Marlboro Man to have Marlboro Men!
You were shooting from sunrise through to sunset. How did your perceptions of the landscape change?
A.K. : It was kind of miraculous to see it all changing so fast. Coupled with how we were working at different times of the day, it felt like different seasons. Jim has incredible intensity; he got so many different shots and moved so fast, like: boom, boom, boom.
Do you have any particularly strong memories of the shoot?
A.K. : Yes, I do actually. We were with Mike, the gentleman with the handlebar moustache, and he really was the Marlboro archetype. Everyone got a real kick out of hanging out with him and wanted their picture taken with the Marlboro Man! One day my brother came over on his way to LA. And it was really funny seeing Mike lighting his own Marlboro Red cigarette and then lighting my brother’s cigarette. Everyone was taking pictures of that.