A group of young creatives, clad in Cruise, are redefining the Parisian artist archetype.
This article originally appeared in the pages of V110, pre-order the issue now on newsstands November 9.
In the city of Paris, there is a wave of change underway: a movement of young innovators breathing new life into a space long characterized by its history more than its present. Friends, lovers, and something in between, these artists are coming together to reimagine the city’s underground.
“We met here in Paris about a year ago in the Brioni show,” grins Iana, a Ukranian model based mainly in New York, from the bar at the Hôtel Grand Amour in Paris’s 10th arrondissement. “We became friends.” Iana and Nikita are from opposite ends of the Ukraine, but fashion and Paris have brought them together. “I work as a stylist in the Ukraine for two very different brands,” says Nikita. “In Paris, I stay with my brother. We’re working on a project—it’s a secret.” Iana plans to go to school someday, but for now, she writes scripts in between time spent surfing and modeling gigs. “When you’re so disconnected, you can’t do anything but read or write,” Iana muses. “I’m really interested in writing about people and describing characters. I read a lot of autobiographies: You get to learn someone’s story, and at the same time, when you’re writing, you can change someone’s story.”
Another group of friends in the same scene, Jo and Franziska are both artists who dabble in fashion and other mediums. “I’m a model and I went to fashion school a few years ago, so now I make clothes,” says Jo from her home in the French countryside. “They’re made-to-order, complicated articles with a lot of embroidery, inspired by metal music and nature.” She spends part of her time “in the middle of the forest” and the rest in the Paris suburbs. She also works with the artist Julien Carreyn. “It’s mostly nude modeling, but sometimes I do the makeup and the set design,” she explains. Franziska, a Paris-based Viennese artist, does styling and casting, and recently started her own band. “It’s actually really fucking fun,” says the artist, who looks to German punk (“English punk is a bit rough for me—the Sex Pistols are just too gross”) for the soul behind her sound. “I’m a very emotional person,” she reflects. “I’m using my voice in a punk-y way. I’ve never been proud of my own work until now.”
If you talk to Apollinaria, she says she never sleeps. “I’m working on three exhibitions now. I’m doing sculpture, installations, videos, ceramics, marble,” she says. Born in Moscow to a French father and Russian mother, Apollinaria moved to Paris four years ago for artistic freedom. “Growing up in an artistic family in Moscow, it was politically complicated, but we always had artists at our place—big costume parties,” she recalls. “I’m quite used to dressing up with friends and living a little mythology of our own.” Today, her work centers on concepts of space: the stories we create for ourselves and how mundane environments can be transformed. “A wooden children’s tree house—it’s just a simple tree with a house, but for children, it’s a castle,” she offers. When it comes to the Parisian art world, Apollinaria sees room for more concrete transformation: “Paris is changing,” she says. “It was a little dead before, but now, there’s a new energy. There are young people coming from Europe, Asia, Russia, America. We found a gallery in the center next to [the Centre] Pompidou and we’re doing whatever we want in there: shoots, videos, exhibitions. The first exhibition was with all friends: It was about mermaids.”
Growing up in Paris’s 9th arrondissement, Lukas and Angèle lived just blocks away from each other. They also both come from film families: Lukas’s father is a set designer and his mother is an actress and model, while Angèle’s father is an actor and her mother is a filmmaker. Despite their proximity and commonalities, they met by chance. “We met in a bar, with no friends in common,” reflects Angèle. They felt an instant connection, and today the couple lives together in Pigalle, working in tandem and on solo projects. “I have two movies this year,” explains Lukas, who starred in Larry Clark’s druggy skate film The Smell of Us and cites Jim Jarmusch as inspiration. “I’ll spend the next month writing music in the countryside.” The music is grunge-influenced, Elliott Smith-style confessional folk. As for Angèle, a literature student, “I’m in a movie, too—it’s going to be my first main role,” she says. “It’s about an anorexic girl who is in a hospital for young girls who are not feeling good with their bodies. She meets another girl and they escape together. It’s dark.” In the future, the couple wants to act in a film together: “a beautiful movie with a director who is not famous now, but will be,” enthuses Angèle. “We’ll see. We go with the flow.”