Fabien Montique the name behind Off-Whites visual narratives
Capturing an instant of time & making the RAW TRUTH become the trigger of inspiring narratives is what makes Fabien Montique's work uniquely his.
Born in Barbados, the self-taught artist broke the status quo of what was expected of him in his home island to chase his creative dreams. So, he found his true calling in Paris, or as he calls it, "a moveable feast". The results are collabs with giants like Kanye West and Virgil Abloh as a creative consultant/photographer on music, fashion, tour & film projects.
Off-White campaigns, for instance, have that chaotic sense of reality that only the combo of bold leather fits & Montique's vision can bring. His creative connection with Abloh began 6 years ago and continues to explore the intersection of photography and fashion.
Whether or not you already knew his street style aesthetics, WE CAN ENSURE YOU'LL BE INSPIRED by the trajectory of the up&coming creative. Scroll down here 👇.
You’re kind of a self-taught artist who paved the way for his own expertise. How does keeping constant and direct contact with artistic creation nurture that process?
I initially learned photography at a time when, as an art director, I wasn't happy with the images I was given to work with, and I wanted to make my own. The challenge of being self-taught is that you don't necessarily have the opportunities and spaces to have your voice heard at the beginning. You have to create them for yourself until people see you as legitimate. Instagram and the internet have been great in getting my voice out there on the same playing ground as people I look up to. The world provides constant stimulation and new creative opportunities for an artist who wants to venture into new fields.
For me, if a day goes by without doing something related to my work, I feel as though I’ve neglected something vital.
How does youth culture influence your work & what do you want to contribute to that culture?
My photographs are influenced significantly by youth culture. I am attracted to the tribes of the new generation. The diverse bonds that are made. Growing up I missed out on them, so now I am reliving them through my images. My hope is that through my pictures people who are often not celebrated can see someone like themselves.
You come from roots where there aren’t a ton of options for professional creatives. Can you speak to the challenges of creating that process for yourself?
As a child, in Barbados, there weren't many options for what a person could pursue to be considered successful. I took computer science at University because, at the time, that seemed a way out of the traditional options.
But University fizzled quickly once I started traveling and seeing the world, I then knew I wanted to work in fashion, but I didn't know anyone in fashion, art, or any culture-related field.
I left Barbados at 18 with no set plan, just knowing where I wanted to end up. I painted, I did graphic design, web design, art direction, made videos and took photos until it worked.
We need to talk about your Off-White partnership. What is it like to work with a fashion icon like Virgil Abloh and his brand?
I started working on the first collection in 2014 and over the past 6 years, I've worked on a variety of projects from show design to video projects. The challenge was to adapt to the needs of a brand that took only 6 years to become one of the world's most famous names.
I remember for one of our most ambitious projects at the time, we flew to Barcelona to shoot in Mies Van der Rohe. We had total creative liberty, and we decided to feature an all-Black cast. Most importantly, we broke away from the frame of a lookbook, it was more about the creation of a story embedding fashion, architecture, and just simple daily life.
I think our collaboration is a cross-section of commerce and art. Virgil has given me a platform to create at the highest level.
With Off-White I get to realize a lot of my childhood dreams. Experiences I never had. Something as simple as hanging out on the street corner catching up with friends, I have documented as a narrative for the brand.
What would you identify as the defining moment of your career that changed the way you work and your creative attitude?
I can think of three main defining moments when I felt a shift in my work. The first one was when I started shooting for Kanye West, in 2010, it was the turning point when fashion and music portraiture started to collide and affect culture overall.
Then, of course, the collaboration with Virgil, the shoot I mentioned earlier in Barcelona, and all the others that followed.
And eventually, a few years ago, I started my studio in Paris. I wanted to go beyond the role of a photographer and collaborate with a broader team of young creatives to work on runway projects for Paris Fashion week. Since then, I've designed shows for new brands coming to Paris, like Rhude or Casablanca, and shot a fashion documentary for Schiaparelli. It is a way to think beyond the image as a static 2D surface.
Now, I think the next moment that will change the work process, not only for me but for the whole industry, will be to rethink fashion after COVID-19.
To a lot of aspiring young creatives, you’re someone who’s “made it”. Can you share with us a rising artist you admire that we should keep an eye out for?
I don't think someone can have ever "made it" and be done, we're all in a continuous re-creation process. I am still on the road, and we know today, with the COVID crisis and the BLM movement, that we have a lot to rethink.
There are many young creatives that I admire. Kacey Jeffers comes to mind for the nostalgia of his imagery inspired by the Caribbean. I will say to all the young creatives who message me that I believe they've got to love their work to the point that it is all they want to do.
Your work is motivated by the stories of the people you capture. What story do you want to be able to tell in the near future?
In my most recent years as a photographer, I've compiled a lot of personal projects that I never had time to shoot. I've pulled out 2 years of notes during quarantine, to refine and plan them, and they will be my focus until the end of the year. Right now, what's more important for me is to create a photo series that will document the daily life of immigrants that have arrived in Paris over the past years. They've been hit hard by the recent COVID crisis. I think people need to see human narratives.
We can assure we loved putting this Q&A together, Fabien.
F o r F a b i e n ' s i n s i g h t s o n photographing leather, keep an eye out here. & check here for more [𝐦𝐞𝐭𝐜𝐡𝐚 𝐨𝐫𝐢𝐠𝐢𝐧𝐚𝐥𝐬] with uprising creatives from around the 🌍.