PARIS — By turning the tables on paparazzi and fans, Lenny Kravitz shoots photographs he describes as “Fellini-esque.”
A selection of images from “Flash,” Kravitz’s book released this spring, are on display at Paris fashion emporium Colette until June 20, capturing the essence of what it’s like to be a rock star who’s constantly in the public eye.
“I discovered his photos this year. I really like what he does. I have been listening to his music for a long time. I bought two prints; I’ll put them in my home,” said Jean-Victor Meyers, Liliane Bettencourt’s grandson.
He was among guests who turned out for the exhibition opening Monday night. Others included Jean-Baptiste Mondino, whom Kravitz describes as his photography mentor, and the stylist Catherine Baba.
“I love it. It’s very William Klein-esque. But very actual, it’s a sign of the times,” said Baba.
Prices range between 900 and 7,700 euros, or $984 and $8,421 at current exchange, for the prints. Signed books published by teNeues are available for sale at Colette, as well as the two black lacquered Leica cameras from the limited edition called Correspondent that Lenny Kravitz, designed through his creative agency Kravitz Design. They are priced at 25 000 euros, or $27,342.
WWD caught up with Kravitz, 51, who sported vintage denim, a vintage Yves Saint Laurent jacket, old native American jewelry from the Fifties and and Hermès ring. The musician, who lives between Paris and the Bahamas, spoke about photography, fashion and being a proud father.
WWD: How did you start this project?
Lenny Kravitz: Initially, I wasn’t trying to do anything other than explore photography. I still want to paint, to do other things. I have always loved photography. Obviously, I have been shot by photographers for 25 years now and worked with the best photographers in the world. I got my camera get together; I was on tour, I decided on my days off and whenever I have time that I am going to explore [photography]. I would go outside but people would start come at me; it was disrupting my shooting. After several days of this happen, I decided to go with the flow because as an artist, we are given what we are given. I decided to turn that into the subject and shoot them. It can be a pain and disruptive; but instead of getting bothered by it, I began to like it. What I see in the photograph, it’s very Fellini-esque to me. When you take the time to see each character. I found it to be very deep and you see how funny, ridiculous, intense, beautiful it can be. After a couple of years of doing these, Jean-Baptiste Mondino — who is one of my favorite photographers and is family to me — saw the photographs and said these pictures should be my first exhibition.
WWD: So Jean-Baptiste Mondino is your mentor?
LK: Absolutely, as far as mentor goes, I have two: Jean-Baptiste Mondino and Mark Seliger, who took time to talk photography with me. Jean-Baptiste very early took on the technology. His style of the late Eighties and Nineties was emulated so much. He set the style. Mark Seliger shoots incredible portraits, beautiful landscapes and reportages; he’s a really well rounded photographer.
WWD: Do you embrace technology?
LK: To some extent, but I don’t go crazy with it. I shoot film and digital; this exhibition is shot on the Leica M9.
WWD: It sounds like you are planning on pursuing photography.
LK: Absolutely. It’s just the beginning.
WWD: And design as well?
LK: I love design. Kravitz Design has been doing incredibly well with residences, hotels, furniture, products — not stores yet, one day, that might happen. We are working on a hotel in Toronto, furniture, a big project in the Bahamas at this huge place Baha Mar, we are doing a private house on the beach and doing the night club there.
WWD: What do you like to wear?
LK: I wear a mix of vintage pieces. I like very much what Hedi [Slimane] is doing. I go to some shows, Saint Laurent mostly.
WWD: What is your daughter Zoë up to?
LK: I can hear Lolawolf [Zoë Kravitz’s band] in the background [the playlist at the Colette event.] That’s cool! She is filming right now in the next “Divergent.” In between movies, she is on tour. She was here doing Afropunk, an alternative black music festival; they had it at [Paris concert hall] the Trianon.
WWD: Have you seen “Mad Max: Fury Road” [the latest film where Zoë appears]?
LK: I saw it the morning it opened. I had a show that in Los Angeles, I got early in the morning and went to the first one in the morning in 3D. Very cool.
WWD: What’s next for you?
LK: I am reading scripts and we’ll see what comes next. Music, I do it pretty much by myself or with one or two people so it’s very small. With films, it’s not about me; it’s about a character, the director’s vision and the script. I like that very much. It takes me away from myself. For now, I am playing all summer in Europe.