Courtesy Photo.

“It’s there, for everyone to access, 24 hours a day.” This is how photographer Rankin described his open-air exhibition held in Milan during fashion week and running through Sept. 27. A series of images lined up along Via Montenapoleone, in Milan’s tony district, for the viewing pleasure of shoppers and tourists. Called “Outside In,” the public exhibit displayed energetic portraits of models included in white boxes, all infused with Rankin’s signature playful sense of humor.

“I like the idea that people can walk around and look at [the images],” Rankin said. “Also I’ve always wanted to do a project on people outside the fashion shows, I think they are really interesting, so I wanted to do something that was kind of fun and celebratory.”

Promoted by the Montenapoleone Association, which represents 140 luxury brands, each box conveyed a different personality and showcased different looks of prominent Italian brands, including Roberto Cavalli and Dsquared2.

“I took about 20 pictures of all Italian designers and then I realized that I didn’t have my personality in there as much as I wanted, so I did some headshots and that’s how it came around,” Rankin explained. The photographer created the images expressly for the occasion, underscoring how he loves “creating new work for a project, I don’t really love showing old work all the time because I’m still shooting and I shoot everyday.”

Rankin also pointed out how the fashion industry in general is very elitist, which is the reason why he wanted to embark on a public project. He also explained how he “never felt part” of the industry but always stayed borderline. “I have always seen myself as kind of on the periphery of fashion: I’m not like in it, but I’m not, not in it. I like to dip my toe,” Rankin said.

Asked about the differences between the English and Italian fashion industries, the photographer noted a more enthusiastic approach toward new designers in London whereas there’s a bit of cynicism regarding people succeeding in Milan. “I think [the Italian fashion industry] is changing and that people like Massimo [Giorgetti] of MSGM are changing things,” he explained, adding that “there’s a lot of young designers that are doing as interesting things as in London, but in London this is celebrated and in [Milan] is not celebrated enough, probably.”

The Dazed & Confused magazine co-founder also shared his upcoming projects, including a couple of new books and the launch of a new fragrance, called “S & X,” which will be available globally starting from December.