The trio shot beautiful imagery for the latest Lonely campaign, and we got to ask them a few questions about it.
How did you chose who to shoot?
Petra Collins: We shot ourselves, each other and our friends. It was a liberating experience to be shot and shoot each other in lingerie, because our imperfections were on full display, which was awesome.
Was there a particular concept behind the shoot?
Petra: I guess we just wanted to make it super intimate, to explore our relationships to our own bodies, to each others bodies and to the environment.
You guys are all friends, how do you think that changes the dynamic of a shoot?
Petra: It’s the only way I shoot. I like to surround myself with my friends and peers and I think that’s what always gets the best results.
What did you shoot on?
Petra: A Yashica FX-3000
Is lingerie important to you?
Mayan Toledano: I have more underwear than any other item of clothing—I own maybe 200 pairs. Sometimes I’ll embroider them, sometimes I’ll print or draw on them and some have faded period stains that never washed off. They’re like a diary, I keep memories through them. I still own a pair of purple undies that I had on the night I first stayed with my first boyfriend. Lingerie is the closest thing to our bodies and that’s what makes it so personal.
Tell us about the girls you shot, why are they special to you?
Mayan: We picked girls who we met along the way and who inspire us. We shot an actress, an artist, a designer and a journalist—each one was different and special in her own way. It was cool to meet new people and hear their personal stories, and since we shot in their homes the feeling was super intimate right away. We got to see what the girls are really like, what they do, what they feel comfortable wearing and how they look at themselves in the mirror. When we wear lingerie at home we wear it primarily for ourselves, so it felt really special when the girls invited us into that world.
You didn’t shoot models. Why is it important to you to feature different female bodies?
Mayan: Representation is so important to all of us, and seeing diversity of body types is so rare, especially in lingerie imagery. Lonely gave us the freedom to cast girls and shoot each other without having to worry about the extreme beauty standards out there. Beauty is everywhere, but it is definitely not just what’s being fed to us by the media. We’re all beautiful with our stretchmarks, freckles, cellulite and all the other bits we are taught to hate about ourselves. The only reason we see these as flaws is because we somehow believe the images we see every day, the ones that show models who have been Photoshopped to such a degree that nothing is real anymore. When we start loving ourselves with our “flaws”, we can stop judging others for having them. I think self love is the first step in acceptance and support. It’s something we dealt with a lot on this project because we were both modeling and shooting. We all have our bad days where we feel more self-conscious, but the greatest thing about working with Zara and Petra is that we’re all so close, we feel comfortable and relaxed with each other, there’s no judgment whatsoever. They are both so beautiful to me because I value who they are.
What is the dynamic like when you’re working with your best friends?
Mayan: We get really hyper. We each get excited over different things and follow each other’s instincts, which is amazing. I feel so safe and creative with my best friends, the whole shoot never once felt like work. It was just us doing what we do—chilling, taking photos, laughing and screaming at each other.
Lonely is a brand that supports a healthy, natural body image, how did you aim to communicate that, aside from not using models?
Mayan: When we take photos of other girls or each other we approach it in a way that is super soft and stress free. The atmosphere on set is very similar to the photos; it’s personal and close and I think the photos communicate that feeling. I’d rather see a girl feeling comfortable and loving herself, wearing what she herself picked, rather than dictating how everything is going to look. The Lonely Girls Project is so important because it features different genders, ethnicities and body types. It is personal and real and I think more women can relate to it. We still have a long way to go before we all feel represented, but Lonely is one of the only brands currently taking a leap towards change.
Where do you shop for lingerie?
Mayan: My mom still buys underwear for me. I never go into lingerie stores because I personally don’t feel like they’re designed for me. From campaign to product it’s made to appeal to men more than it is about female empowerment. but the products are only for women—it’s kinda crazy. If I wear a bra I prefer ones from Lonely because they aren’t padded. What are padded bras about? We all have different shapes and sizes and those to me are like wearing a shield.
What was the idea behind the Lonely campaign?
Zara Mirkin: In my mind it was an extension of the Lonely Girls Project we started a few years ago. It was about initiating a change from lingerie imagery being made for the male gaze, to finally being for females—with real woman wearing underwear in their natural habitats—showing all their so-called imperfections.
Tell us about your personal relationship to lingerie.
Zara: I never thought about it much until I started working for Lonely five years ago. Until then I only ever wore basic cotton underwear that I’d hold onto for years—no matter how stained or ripped they got, or how weird the memories they conjured. I remember when I was 18 my boyfriend made a pattern from a pair of knickers I had left at his house, he made me cotton undies that he wrote his name on with a pen after watching The Virgin Suicides and seeing the character Lux Lisbon write Trip’s name on hers.
Starting the Lonely Girls Project changed how I looked at lingerie, because it gave me the experience of learning about the women I was shooting and their relationships with their bodies. Lingerie can be really powerful. It can tell stories and can reflect, or alter, what mood you’re in.
Tell us about the girls in the shoot…
Zara: They are all clever, kind, strong, hard working, beautiful and humble. It is always so important to me that I can have an interesting conversation and walk away having been inspired when shooting someone. Because we have the power to decide who we shoot I feel like the responsibility is on us to feature those who other woman can relate to and be inspired by. I know what we are doing is small in comparison to all the photos out there of fake, Photoshopped, unrealistic female bodies, but we can still make a difference.
What is like working with Mayan and Petra:
I feel so lucky and grateful that I get to work with my best friends all the time, mostly because it never feels like work. We do our best work together, because we push and inspire each other, while having so much fun and making each other laugh—or maybe laughing at each other…
Why has Lonely made such an impact?
I think a huge part of Lonely’s success has come from the Lonely Girls Project. Finally a lingerie label was photographing woman of all ages, sizes, ethnicities and careers, and from different parts of the world. With no make up and no Photoshop . Women want to look at woman they can relate to, those who look like them. These images were shot by women, for women—showing stretchmarks, hair, cellulite dimples and veins.
How do you chose lingerie?
Most of my underwear is still the same old, faded, stretched and stained cotton pieces… but now I own tons of Lonely because they make stuff that is beautiful and feels nice to wear.