“It was so surreal,” Petra Collins said Tuesday evening, remembering the first time she held a copy of her photography book “Coming of Age,” from Rizzoli. The 24-year-old artist was honored with a dinner at Nom Wah Tea Parlor in Chinatown by Gucci, for whom she is a campaign face, alongside friends Adwoa Aboah, Tavi Gevinson, Marilyn Minter and Laurie Simmons.
The book, in the works for the past year, is an exploration of femininity and features photos and essays by Collins. Her Wonderland magazine cover photos of Selena Gomez, Kim Kardashian, Zendaya and Rowan Blanchard are included, as is an interview between Collins and Minter.
“I wanted it to be something you could also physically feel, so you feel emotionally held by it, kind of, which is something I’ve always wanted,” Collins said of her desire to have her work in hardcover form. “I think it’s so important because everything is so fleeting and fast, so it’s so nice to have something to physically reflect what going on.”
Being published by a major house like Rizzoli also is significant to Collins. “I also think that for women specifically, and for me as a woman, it’s nice to have my work published. It makes it into reality and…not history, but it makes it important,” she said.
While known for her photography, it was her writing that she is most proud of. “My last essay I did in the book, I was really surprised that I wrote that — like I didn’t realize that I wrote that until someone quoted it back to me,” she said. “It was a nice self-discovery and a nice journey and I’m happy that I was able to write.”
Nom Wah was her choice as well. “It’s a New York staple and I don’t like anything too perfect. It’s kind of rough and, like, dirty — I feel like it’s also very Gucci,” she said. “I love taking old things and molding them and putting new life into them. It’s funny because it’s one of the places that when I moved to New York I was so excited by, because the street is just so pretty.”
Now that the book is finished, Collins is turning to film. “I’m working on some really fun video stuff and I hope to slowly create a feature film,” she said. “I just saw ‘Call Me by Your Name’ and it’s so incredible. I hadn’t seen a movie that was new in so long that really got to me. I haven’t seen human emotion in a lot of movies like that.”
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