Digital FeaturesLa Vie de ChâteauJulien Boudet
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Julien Boudet


Photo by Cory Vanderploeg

Photography Julien Boudet Stylist Vanille Verloës Styling Assistance Elisabeth Texeira, Elvira Tiaou Models Fatou, Jason Harderwijk, Edoardo Delle Piane Clothing All vintage Lacoste pieces, from my personal archives collection and from KrshtClub Location Château de Fourdrain Camera Leica S (Typ 007), Summicron-S 100 f/2 ASPH., Vario-Elmar-S 30-90 f/5.6 ASPH.

Fashion photographer Julien Boudet has been a fan of Lacoste sportswear since his teens. The French label with the legendary crocodile emblem was founded in 1933 by tennis icon René Lacoste and his collaborator, André Gillier. Over the years, Boudet has built up an impressive collection of vintage Lacoste pieces – which recently took centre stage in a feature shot at the Château de Fourdrain.

Here the photographer talks about his sources of inspiration, the importance of choosing the right models, and how he transferred the dandy spirit of the 1930s to the modern day.

The models in this series are wearing Lacoste, one of the most famous French labels in the world. How would you describe its spirit, and how did you transpose it into a more contemporary context?
I have always been a big fan of Lacoste, especially their vintage stuff, even as a teenager. In high school I always wanted to wear it, but it was very expensive. I had a strong desire to have that crocodile on my chest, so when I started to make some money of my own, I began buying Lacoste pieces – and I still do. I feel that the original spirit of Lacoste was to strive to be the best at what you do, and by wearing this brand you kind of commit to this mindset. I really do have this winning obsession in everything I do, so this is definitely something I see reflected in the spirit of the brand.

What prompted you to create this project?
I love the history of the brand, its heritage, its logo… This editorial was not commissioned by the brand at all, even though I am in contact with them for other projects. This shoot is part of an ongoing series centred around vintage Lacoste that I’ve been working on for years, with the same stylist, Vanille Verloes, in different parts of the world (Spain, France, Hong Kong, Switzerland…). This time, due to Covid-19, we could not travel very far, so I decided to shoot the series in a castle near Paris.

The series seems like a homage to a classic, aristocratic lifestyle of elegant attire and ambitious sportsmanship. What can you tell us about the storyline, and the featured models?
The plot was very much about recreating the vintage lookbooks that Lacoste was making back in the day: it was all very chic, sporty and luxurious. However, they’d only use white models at the time, so I decided to shoot black models instead; their look really matched the mood of this shoot, so it all made sense to me. The two main models are good friends of mine. I’ve worked with each of them separately on many occasions, and I always wanted to shoot them together, as I knew they’d look really good together. So I asked them if they were interested, and they both agreed. The third model (the taller one) is a new face that a model agent showed me a few days before the shoot, and I added him to the cast at the last minute because I thought he would bring something fresh to the shoot. 

How important is your choice of model for your work, and what traits are you looking for?
A strong model is essential to creating great images. I think the qualities of a good model are very subjective, but for me it takes a few things to make a great model. Firstly, an interesting face, whether it’s pretty, unique or edgy. Secondly, a good connection between the photographer and the model. And last but not least, an understanding of how to look good on camera, how to pose, even if it’s just by looking natural and not awkward in front of the camera. A good model should come across as comfortable and confident, no matter what.

What are the advantages of working in nature versus shooting in a studio?
The first advantage is that I am more comfortable being outdoors than indoors, and I am not talking specifically about photography. I generally love being outside. The overall vibe is much more relaxed outdoors compared to an indoor space, so everyone tends to be more chilled out - it’s very difficult to work with models if they aren’t feeling good, or if they are too stressed.

What did you like about the Leica S and the lenses you used?
For this series I worked with the Leica S (Type 007), using the 100mm and the 30-90mm lens.The camera is really impressive, fast and easy to use. The colours are very different from my SL. It was a great fit for this production because of all the colourful outfits we shot, and it perfectly translated the vibe of the shoot into pictures. The 100mm lens is incredible for portraits, and I used it a lot on this shoot. It’s also amazing for capturing details on the outfits - one of my signature shots.

How do you imagine your visual style might evolve over time?
I think I will keep pushing what I am doing right now, and experiment with other media and techniques. However, the overall vision should remain the same. I’ve already found my direction, so it should all come together, even as my visual language continues to evolve. I am starting to shoot more videos, for instance, which is something I want to build on in the next few years. This is probably going to be my next step, but I am still thinking about how to best approach it. I’ll find my own way to do it.