Born in 1984 in the south-east of France, Thomas grew up with various influences, such as Tadao Ando, Enki Bilal and David Fincher. He discovered photography at the age of 13, thanks to his grandfather's old Konica, and quickly grew to enjoy taking snapshots of his loved ones and capturing the world around him as he explored it on his skateboard.
At the age of 22, after accompanying a portraitist to the Cannes Film Festival, he made up his mind to become a photographer. He mastered the craft by working as Nicolas Guérin's assistant for the following two years. After 15 years as a fashion photographer and portraitist for different brands and magazines, he now devotes all his passion and energy to creating increasingly personal pieces.
"Justine is my partner, we've been a team for 7 years now and the more time we spend together, the more we find we complete each other. Our work is a team effort."
1. The lines are clean
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2. The colours are faintly powdered
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3. The charm of an old-fashioned chic
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THOMAS LAVELLE - JUSTINE NIKOLAIEV
Justine, Thomas, what is your creative process?
Travel! Our respective jobs keep us both immersed in a creative bath throughout the year. So, the first thing we have to do is escape our daily lives! We look for quiet, secluded places, a stark contrast from the hubbub of Paris. It helps us find ourselves and empty our heads to reach our contemplative state. From there on, it's a bit like a treasure hunt. We are looking for places that touch us: a light, a landscape, an atmosphere. We're experts with Google Earth. It helps us find places that pique our curiosity. We study the terrain, how to access it, how the light will fall and when the best time for a portrait or a wide shot will be. Then we start making choices about style and lens, we try to find what we want to express. When all conditions are met and we are in the right place at the right time, all that remains is pressing the shutter. Our personal projects are shot on film, so there's no way of knowing if we captured the shot, but the moment is fulfilling enough in itself. For us, the emotional charge of the moment is definitely a way of life.
Justine, Thomas how would you describe your creative and productive dynamic? Thomas, would you say Justine is your muse?
She's much more than that. Justine is my partner, we've been a team for 7 years now and the more time we spend together, the more we find we complete each other. Our work is a team effort.
Justine, you have been representing Maison Close for a long time. How would you describe Maison Close?
I started working for Maison Close about 8 years ago. So, I've had the chance to discover many collections and create a genuine bond of trust with Nicolas. He was kind enough to show me some of these sketches, before the pieces were even designed, and to fill me in on the stories that provided inspiration for them. With that, I had the opportunity to understand his vision, taming and interpreting it as faithfully as possible. I learned a great deal in the course of our collaboration, growing not just as a model, but as a woman. When I wear Maison Close, it's first and foremost for myself! I feel powerful, like I could take on the world. I feel confident. For every mood and whim, I pick a suitable outfit.
I am touched by their aesthetic, bordering between elegance and sensuality. Maison Close dresses women without disguising them!!
Justine, Thomas, has Maison Close had an impact on your creative process? Justine, Thomas, what is your creative relationship with Maison Close?
Thomas and I have been working together on a project, known as "ARCADIA", for almost six years. It's shot on film, which we cherish as an artistic refuge. It gives us an outlet to express ourselves away from the influence of our daily lives and respective jobs. When we shoot together, we don't want styling to interfere with the meaning of the image. Generally, our goal is timelessness, minimalism. Pieces that can inspire us and help us further our aims! So, naturally, we turned to Maison Close. The "Corps à Corps" collection, the "Pure Tentation" triangle bra and the "La Femme Amazon" collection are some of our greatest classics.
Thomas, film or digital?
Digital technology offers incredible working comfort, so when it comes to team projects with set specifications and a client, digital technology wins hands down.
However, where my personal work is concerned, I am madly in love with film. The chemical processing, the incomparable quality of old optics, the time and commitment required.
Justine, Thomas, you're taking up more and more personal art projects. What is your goal? What are your upcoming projects?
We're nearing the end of six years' work on ARCADIA. It's a time-consuming job, you have to sort through the negatives, select them, scan them, edit them. Our goal would be to release the first edition sometime in the next two years. This is really important to us! Photography exists to be viewed on paper!