Valerie Phillips is a New York-born fashion photographer, currently based in London. She has shot numerous commercial fashion campaigns, editorials, celebrities and musicians. Since 2001, Phillips has published eight limited-edition books, each documenting the authentic and un-precious daily life of a different girl, most recently hi you are beautiful how are you (2015) with Arvida Bÿstrom. Phillip’s forthcoming book, Another Girl Another Planet, is released via Rizzoli, curating her favorite images from the last 15 years. Her work is regularly featured in the New York Times, Daily Telegraph, Nylon, Teen Vogue, Vice, and iD. She has exhibited in New York, Tokyo, London, Berlin, Barcelona and New York.
Stazia Lindes is a London-born, California-raised model and musician. Her father is Dire Straits guitarist Hal Lindes, and she currently plays guitar and sings in the LA-based riot grrrl band The Paranoyds.
Another Girl Another Planet
Another Girl Another Planet is Valerie Phillips’s eighth published book, and her first book published by Rizzoli International. Phillips has selected and curated her best work from her limited edition, self-published books, as well as images from her editorials, advertising and music albums. The book serves as a celebration of personal style and the female spirit, as well as Phillips’ distinguished career so far.
The Only Ones
An English rock band formed in London in 1976 and disbanded in 1982, the Only Ones reformed in 2006 and completed a comeback tour in the UK in 2007. They are associated with punk rock, yet straddle the territory between punk, rock and power-pop, with influences from psychedelic rock.
One day in 2012, I went to the beach with friends completely forgetting I had a casting for Stussy Japan. I turned up in my 1998 s70 Volvo with nasty beach hair, a bit of a sunburn and the wrong outfit, wearing stupid heels I kept in the trunk. When I met Valerie that day, I felt she was really looking at me, but not in the same snobby way I had been tirelessly looked at before. I felt relieved and strangely comfortable. Yes, I was in a bit of a state and did not expect the results of this casting to go well, but as a surprise to me, Valerie saw something. She had me remove the stupid heels and asked me what my room looked like. I’m guessing that when I showed her the pictures of my apartment, she felt the same way I did the first time I went to her treehouse dream home in London: “What a junk collecting freak! She’s a weirdo too! Finally, someone who gets me!” It was love at first sight.
It felt crazy to have someone really believe in me in those early years of my career. Since then, Valerie and I have had some amazing adventures. I feel so lucky to have been a part of her projects. Valerie is someone to look up to: a strong woman who doesn’t take any shit and always stands her ground, even after years of having to please fashion clients. This industry is a madhouse, and you have to hand it to her. She believes in fighting for what makes you special—the stuff that you sometimes feel like you have to hide in order to be accepted. I hope I can be like Valerie when I grow up. She falls in love with the soul—just take a look at how honest her work is.
Stazia Lindes: What’s the oldest picture in Another Girl Another Planet, and what’s the history behind the book?
Valerie Phillips: It’s [named after] my favorite Only Ones song, “Another Girl Another Planet.” The bulk of the book is from the last seven or eight years, but there’s some stuff that’s from 2000, onwards. I didn’t want it to end up being a retrospective. I chose what I really loved. It’s all my favorite pictures; the pictures I felt really connected to. I felt the girls in it, and we made a really amazing bond. I love the memories of those days, those shoots and those adventures.
SL: I was just thinking about how you ended up shooting [Only Ones lead singer Peter Perrett] and it was kind of sad.
VP: Yeah, he was intense. I shot him years ago, and he was kind of in a bad way at the time, but trying to recover. He always had a really serious drug problem, but he was amazing: such a good person with such a good soul. He was so sweet and lovely and seemed very fragile. It’s weird—they made this kickass music that changed my life, and then you’re confronted with this guy at his house, like, “Do you want a cup of tea?” But it was really cool to be able to use that for my title. I was really excited.
“My work is not really documentary
photojournalism, war stuff.
It’s people in their environments and
how they navigate their world.”
— Valerie Phillips
SL: Who gave you your first camera?
VP: My dad. A little point-and-shoot Instamatic with film and a little flash on the top.
SL: How old were you?
VP: Probably eight or nine.
SL: Did you continuously shoot after that?
VP: Not really. It was fun to take pictures of my friends, but I didn’t take it too seriously. I always loved making art and sketchbooks and scrapbooks, and I wanted to have a reason to buy the art equipment to make stuff. I suppose eventually photography became integrated in that.
SL: Where did you grow up?
SL: Are there pictures you took when you were young that you still have?
VP: I took some pictures of my friends, but I was an obsessive skateboarder and music head. I was wrapped up in that and didn’t think about documenting it, annoyingly. There wasn’t such a photographic culture as there is now. I was just doing it rather than, “Wait a minute, let me make sure I take pictures of all of it.”
SL: When you were in high school and developed your tastes, was there a photography style that you had in your head, or certain models or subjects you wanted to shoot?
VP: I was obsessed with gymnastics, especially the Romanians and Russians. There was a certain look that I was completely and utterly obsessed with: gymnasts and and what their lives looked like when they weren’t doing gymnastics.
So I got interested in documenting a certain kind of reality, but with a bit of a twist on it. I never realized until Jason, my boyfriend, pointed out that pretty much all my girls look this way, which was somehow formulated by what those gymnasts looked like, their physicality and what they wore. My work is not really documentary photojournalism, war stuff. It’s people in their environments and how they navigate their world. I also started loving to see bands and photograph bands, so that’s what I did. And that’s how I started professionally.