You can catch the project at Dover Street Market, where limited edition prints are now available, or in the current CDG collection, where the Lost Boys have had a considerable influence, and hear what Mottalini had to say about it below.
Can you explain the project a bit? Had he been saving the swatches out of love for CDG or intending to make something from them?
Okay, so Jeffrey W. Miller is a set designer and prop stylist and also my son’s godfather. I photograph interiors and still lives, and Jeffrey and I collaborate pretty regularly on a mix of conceptual still life projects and commissions. Back in the day I paid my dues working as his assistant for years before going off on my own, and I’ve learned a ton from him.
One day, while shooting a project at his apartment in New York City, I discovered a random shoebox at the bottom of his closet that was filled to the brim with fabric swatches. Being somewhat ignorant when it comes to owning fancy clothes, I found it fascinating to learn that those little pieces of fabric represented every single piece of Commes de Garçons clothing Jeffrey had purchased over the span of thirty years. Jeffrey is a CDG fanatic who went on to design this Peter Pan-meets-Basquiat crew of little misfits and the “Lost Boys” were born. And constructed from the very swatches I found in that old box.
Jeffrey never intended to make something from them, he’d just saved them over the years for a more practical purpose. In case any of the pieces needed repairs, the swatches could be used as patches. He basically took these functional little scraps and turned them into something weird.
Had you worked with Jeffrey before?
Jeffrey is like my uncle. We first started working together back when I was a clueless kid, barely able to take care of myself and I had no clue that prop styling was even a thing. Ten plus years later I’m all grown-up and we work on all kinds of photo projects and commissions together.
What made you and Jeffrey go with dolls for the project?
Jeffrey has been very influenced by the mind of Rei Kawakubo over the past thirty-five years and he sees this project as a sort of tribute to her. Some of his touchstones in creating the “Lost Boys” were British Punk, Basquiat, British “Pearly Kings and Queens” and the Japanese practice of boro.
Boro is basically a class of Japanese fabrics that have been patched together, with the aim of making them last longer. And Pearly Kings and Queens are kind of mind blowing to look at...it's basically the practice of wearing full suits of clothes made from thousands of pearly buttons by people trying to raise money for charity in England in the late 1800s…this was their way of drawing attention to themselves and attracting donations.
But to answer your question, I think the fact that we had a somewhat limited supply of swatches ended up influencing Jeffrey to design dolls in a way. There are eighteen Lost Boys in the gang and that’s it––we ran out of swatches.
How are the creatures making their way into CDG collections?
So, the creatures are featured pretty extensively in the new CDG FW19 shirt collection...some are pretty literal representations and others are more abstract, but our little Lost Boys are everywhere in this new collection, which is obviously pretty exciting.
Was it a sentimental project?
I think it was sentimental in that Jeffrey and I both developed a connection to those weird little monsters, Jeffrey in particular. We never named them or anything––unless Jeffrey did in secret!––but we definitely both have our favorites.
Which Lost Boy do you like best and why?
I like the pregnant one the best. I think the pink background sort of takes you by surprise amidst all of the blacks and grays and she’s just cool. Jeffrey loves two of the all black on black ones, as he feels they most directly connect to past CDG designs and aesthetics.
How does this piece relate to your other work?
Well, the connection to my/our other work is mainly the continuation of the collaboration between Jeffrey and I. Whether we’re making trippy double exposures of fruit, photographing super duper fancy jewelry, or documenting handmade little monsters, the projects all relate to one another due to the fact that the same two people are responsible for every last little detail.
Oftentimes, those pictures are just being made on the floors of our respective apartments. The surfaces and backgrounds are often handmade and painted, the light and the overall aesthetic stay pretty consistent, but when it comes to subject matter Jeffrey and I are interested in all manner of things.
Was there anything about the creatures or project that you wanted specifically to capture when you photographed the Lost Boys, or something you want to come across to the viewer?
A lot of our photography utilizes less straightforward compositions and camera angles and techniques, but in the case of the Lost Boys, we thought it was important to photograph them in a very straightforward, sort of heroic manner. These photographs are really intended to be viewed as large prints, so that the viewer can get up close and see every last detail. We wanted to convey each individual Lost Boys’ personality and uniqueness. A limited edition of 40”x50” prints is currently available.