Palace celebrate the best of Juergen Teller with new collaboration
The iconic photographer talks to i-D exclusively about his latest work for the London brand.
Photography Juergen Teller
Not many photographers have consistently created diverse, unconventional, iconic, controversial, beautiful, shocking and funny work. But Juergen Teller has. For the last few years one collaboration of note has been his work with Palace, London’s funnest skate brand, shooting their adverts and lookbooks. He’s shot it on the streets of London and Tokyo, in car scrap yards, forests, Baroque palazzos, and with its crew of skaters stacked up on Juergen’s collection of plates.
But over thirty years Juergen has also set and then reset the benchmark for fashion photography (and photography, too) as we know it. He’s shot just about everyone, and for every brand, and created an oeuvre of personal work to rival almost anyone out there. One thing he hasn’t done until now, though, is collaborate on a collection.
Palace called him up and they worked out what images to put on hoodies and tees and bags. It’s a very personal selection of his work, an overview of an incredible career so far, tracing the impact of his approach to image-making and his aesthetic restlessness. There are frogs, football, fags, Kristen McMenamy, a dead dog…
Can you remember how you met Palace?
I met Lev [Tanju] about five years ago. We had dinner and discussed working together. It all came through an introduction from Ben Reardon.
What do you like about Palace?
They are fast and enthusiastic and they work in an unconventional way, quite similar to me.
What keeps you working together?
What makes it very interesting to me is the skaters. I like their attitude, I like how they are, I like how it is not only about the clothes and the business. They never lost their sense of fun and freedom.
You've been collaborating with Palace for a few years now as a photographer, whose idea was it to turn that collaboration towards clothes?
It was Palace’s idea to do this collaboration, it is the first time I have agreed to do a clothing line with a brand.
How easy was it to choose what images to use? Were there many disagreements?
The images and the designs of the items had to be chosen very carefully. I wanted to make it very personal, otherwise what’s the point for me in doing this? Or doing anything? Palace gave me the trust to make it mine and we’re both very excited and happy with the outcome. I wanted to have a few very well known works, very personal works and I wanted to reflect sport, me being a football fan, them being a skateboard brand. And somehow smoking!
Do you like looking back over your old work? Are you very self-critical?
I am very self-critical. I am always re-assessing, looking at new things and re-looking at old work. I am publishing many books and have many exhibitions and I always look to the past to the future and at the present.
What do people get wrong about your work when discussing it?
When they talk about the snapshot, they get it very wrong. Every work that I release is thoroughly considered, pre-planned, executed and well-edited.
Thinking of the Kristen image: do you have an awareness in the moment that an image will become iconic or loved? Does that guide your process at all? What are you looking for when creating an image for yourself?
With the Kristen McMenamy and the Frozen Dead Dog images, yes, I was deeply aware that it was meaningful to me at the moment of taking the picture. For me it is never the point whether something will become iconic or not, some images just become that. However with these two, I felt at the moment that they were very important.
What do you think your biggest success has been? And your biggest failure?
My biggest success is remaining true to myself. My biggest recent failure was Germany losing against England in the Euros 2020.
Now Germany are out, who's going to win the European football championship this year?
As England have Brexited out of the EU I thoroughly hope and pray England will lose against Denmark. Denmark, Spain or Italy, any of those, must win in Wembley. I feel deeply European.
Photography Juergen Teller, all images courtesy Palace