Oskar Metsavaht is the founder of Brazilian fashion house Osklen. He is known for creating luxury clothing sold across Europe, South America, Japan and the United States. Metsavaht considers himself an artist rather than just a fashion designer and recently created a series of photographs called Ipanema and is the featured artist in Paddle8′s “Oscar Niemeyer in 3D” tribute with Visionaire. Paddle8 had the opportunity to discuss Metsavaht’s photography, brand and influences. Read the Q & A below.
Paddle8: When did you start making photographs? What kind of camera did you shoot these images with?
Oskar Metsavaht: I’ve been shooting since my teenage years. I learned the technique from my father and by photographing art books from my mother’s art history classes. Those were the times where I used to shoot artistically. Later on, I started shooting my surfing and skateboarding trips. In the 80′s and 90′s, I started shooting my mountain expeditions. This past decade, I’ve been shooting things that would inspire my collections. I don’t consider myself a photographer but I think I’m more of a creator who films and shoots photos about things and people that interest me. The photographs from Ipanema beach in Rio de Janeiro are ones that I shot on a Digital Canon EOS 5D. I did shoot one of them however on my old Nikon F2 on film. I mostly do portraits using this camera because I still love shooting with film!
P8: How does your work as a fashion designer relate to your art photography? Do they relate to one another or are they separate endeavors for you?
OM: I see them as separate. People might observe the minimalistic style of my photographs are in a way similar to the aesthetics in my collections. As a fashion designer, I love acting as Art Director for my campaigns but I never actually shoot any of them myself. As I said, I’m not a professional photographer so I work with fashion photographers.
P8: You’ve been recognized many times for your continued commitment to sustainable practices in all aspects of your luxury brand, largely beginning with the new ecologically friendly materials you developed and used in the late 1990’s – does sustainability factor into your art practice as well?
OM: In my opinion, art must be completely free of anything, but sustainability issues must be a commitment of ours and the next generations. I don’t necessarily have sustainability in mind when I’m photographing or working in any other type of art, but these photographs can become a source of inspiration to my collections and then I can create them as sustainably as possible.
P8: How do you choose the subjects of your images (both people and landscapes) from the Ipanema series?
OM: For me, Ipanema has a balance between the opposites of urban versus nature, asphalt versus sand, black versus white. Everything is in balance, it’s a tropical and sensual way of life.
P8: Are there any individuals or movements from art or fashion history that particularly inspire your work as a photographer?
OM: The Impressionists – I think this shows in my photographs. In fashion photography, I like the ‘making-ofs’ and the kind of voyerism of Schatzberg or the audacity of Helmut Newton.
P8: Besides being a beautiful and renowned beach, what does Ipanema mean to you? Does this area have particular importance to your life and career?
OM: Its balanced way of life. I love the simplicity and the sophistication that Ipanema has. In the same day, you can experience the urban modern cosmopolitanism of the city and nature, the more relaxed beach or the forested mountains. You can be at a luau party on the beach and then in a sophisticated dinner party! If you know my elements of style, my collections, and my photographs, then you can see how and why I live here and am inspired by Ipanema.
Check out Oskar Metsavaht’s Ipanema on Paddle8 here.