For this Man About Town fashion editorial, photographer Michelle Genevieve Gonzales was eager to create a thought-provoking narrative centred around the idea of a small town kid with an affinity for a gothic clothing, exploring the intrigue and idealism that such a marriage can evoke.
It is important to Gonzales that Native Americans and Latinx are given more opportunities to have their voices expressed creatively and this editorial is a fitting example – the title “Cherokee” pays homage to one of the indigenous people of the Southeastern Woodlands in the United States, and is also named after the model – Cherokee Jack.
The power of Gonzales’ images lie in the model’s freedom of expression and an ability to be completely at ease with his choices of style and at ease with his natural habitat, be it harvesting on farm to hiking or swimming in the lake. Be it in merino wool knitwear or relaxed tailoring to a more a classic style of peacoat or fleecewear with beret and neck scarf, Douglas VanLaningham’s styling expertise provides devilish polish, elegance to this rebellious editorial.
Here, Gonzales discusses the journey she embarked on for this to come to fruition.
Can you tell me the inspiration behind this shoot?
The inspiration was a small town kid, in a rural town, with an affinity for a goth aesthetic.
What themes did you want to shine through this shoot?
Naturalism, anti-religion, freedom, fantasy, idealism and being unapologetically yourself.
The marriage of colour and black and white photography
I use my colour and black and white photos as transitional segues for creating or eliciting emotion. A play between nostalgia and the current.
I’ve noticed that there is very little representation of Latinx and Native Americans in the fashion industry. Being a POC myself, I feel that photography is my way of sharing and celebrating these beautiful cultures.
I really love the dichotomy between the classic, modest, small town boy and the wild, rebel, icon. The, “I’ll be who I am and I shouldn’t have to conform“, cowboy identity.
The first hairstyle is of Cherokee with his hair loose. A very classic and free, “boy in a field” look. This then leads, naturally, to a take on the Native American styled braided hair, as Cherokee is Native American. However, both the hairstylist and I only wanted to reference the style without being so obviously on the nose.