The Model Maison project
Genevieve Welsh. Photo: Cybele Malinowski
Cybele Malinowski's latest project, Model Maison, is an intimate portrayal of the lives of models at home, from Sydney to Los Angeles and Shanghai.
The Sydney native has made her name in music photography and through editorial shoots for such magazines as Yen, Frankie and Cleo.
Malinowski says she wanted to work on something more personal, and began the project with a desire to portray models in their own environment.
“I love interacting with models," she says. "They are transformed so much with styling, hair and make-up, and are true chameleons.”
She says the model's personality is lost in normal fashion photography, so she wanted to focus more on the person.
For each shoot, Malinowski would either arrive with just one hair and make-up artist, or she would do the hair and make-up herself with the model's help.
The clothes were the models' own, and Malinowski says there was a real honesty about the project, “like going to a friend's place and playing dress-ups".
“I always try to approach any shoot being honest and friendly," she says. "We would sit down and talk about it, then two minutes later we're rifling through their bras and undies.
“I think it helps that they are used to baring all and being told what to do, but I always say [to the models] this is as much yours as it is mine. I really want to portray them the way they want to be portrayed.
“Each girl said, 'I've never had this much creative freedom.'”
Most of the models told Malinowski the shoot was their favourite. “It's really the best image of themselves,” she says.
Malinowski knew some of the models from previous projects, but others she only met on the day of the shoot.
“One girl admitted she was quite nervous, and I realised a lot of them would probably be feeling nervous," she says. "They're so used to being projected as someone else; it's never about their actual inner world.”
Malinowski, who describes Model Maison as “a meeting point between fashion, art and realism”, says the project is also a projection of her own fantasies.
“I feel like I'm trying to create the woman I'd want to be, and any photographer projects their fantasy onto the model. I'm just projecting my idealisation of a woman; it's not a sexual thing, but a classical idea of beauty.
"I love strong women and girls who can be funny, and in fashion that can be hidden.”
Malinowski says that before she travels to Los Angeles at the end of February, she has some special photographs she wants to exhibit in Sydney.
“I did a series of shots in Kiev in the Ukraine a year and a half ago, and I've had them in a little treasure chest.”
She says it's time to get them out, and is planning a pop-up exhibition with the Kiev Model Maison photographs that will also be a bit of a launch party for the project.
She says it will be her way of thanking the people who have helped her so far.
“I've depended on a lot of people for this, and I've been really lucky. I hope these photographs can be a testament to the [liveliness] of the models.”
You can see Malinowski's Model Maison blog here.