Saturday 18th March

| BY Jack Moss

Stephen Galloway: Body Language

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“Gisele – dream! Kate – dream! Raquel – dream!” says American choreographer Stephen Galloway over the phone from Los Angeles. They are models, of course. Supermodels. Bündchen. Moss. Zimmermann. And Mr Galloway knows plenty about those. He is, after all, as fashion legend goes, the model whisperer.

Galloway has worked with them all, you see, part of his self-christened role as creative movement director, helping coax their otherworldly forms into the perfect pose for the world’s most celebrated photographers. Photographers who he now counts as loyal collaborators – Inez & Vinoodh, the New York-based image makers, who first made use of his skills on the set of a fashion shoot, Juergen Teller, Nick Knight, David Sims and the many others who have come between.

But Galloway isn’t, or ever has been, a man easily reduced to a single label. Quite frankly, his extra-large talent and electric personality have never allowed for that. Beginning his career at just 17, when he traded small-town Pennsylvania for the German city of Frankfurt to dance under visionary choreographer William Forsythe at the city’s famously progressive ballet company, he has since hurtled between the worlds of fashion, dance and music.

It’s the reason he now counts costume design, art direction, magazine publishing and, if you delve deep enough into the recesses of YouTube, recording artist as some of his many divergent career paths. And as is unsurprising for a man who’s never content with sitting still, for almost 25 years he’s also found time to be the Rolling Stones’ creative adviser – or, as he affectionately calls it: lips and hips instructor for Mr Jagger.

Now, he speaks to us as he, in his words, enters his second act.

JACK MOSS: “So, you’re in Los Angeles right now?”
STEPHEN GALLOWAY: “Yeah, just back in from Europe, where it was a bit of a hit and run. I’m very happy to be back here. I’ve lived most of my adult life in Frankfurt and I still keep my home there, but basically I’m on the road 200 days a year. I guess I’m based between there and here in LA. Oh, and New York and Paris [Laughs.]!”

JM: “LA is definitely warmer than Frankfurt… ”
SG: “Yeah, honestly, I’ve been so moved by the weather. Just driving is so fantastic here – the sun, it’s inspiring.”

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JM: “Looking back over your work, you’ve done so much – choreography, art direction, costume design. You call yourself a creative movement director, but how would you describe what you do?”
SG: “Well, to be perfectly honest, even that whole title is developing. I see what I do as more directorial now. I guess I consider myself a translator – translating ideas between the cinematographer or photographer and the model on a shoot or film. An in-between, you know? It’s always about coming out and figuring out a way to enhance the normally flat image of the fashion photograph.”

JM: “Is working on fashion shoots what you mostly do now?”
SG: “No, I’m still working as a choreographer, a costume designer. I’ve been very fortunate to have these two careers that in some ways have nothing in common, but at the same time have provided me with the perfect split between art and commerce. I would never want to do just one or the other. I was never really a fan of the ‘multi-hyphenate’, but in a strange way it’s kind of become my own true definition of myself. I’m very much a child of that whole MTV, early-’80s music video. Those videos were about fashion and dance, it wasn’t separated.”

JM: “Fashion shows were very performative back then, too.”
SG: “Yeah! It’s funny, I was speaking to a friend recently and we were talking about models for a project and I had to remind him fashion shows used to be 20 minutes long, the models doing four or five exits… ”

JM: “Yeah, and some were even longer than that. Those old Mugler shows were, like, 40 minutes long.”
SG: “Exactly – and you were entertained, because all the models were required to have some form of a personality, some individuality connected to them. When we were looking at the girls, or women, he said, ‘Oh, she’s great,’ but I said, ‘Yeah, but can she sustain it more than seven seconds?’ It used to be that the first exit you got to know the girl, the second exit they were more comfortable and the third they knew exactly what they were doing. But now they don’t get a chance because it’s so fast.”

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JM: “Are there any fashion moments that you remember from growing up?”
SG: “Well, of course those early Mugler shows or early Issey Miyake shows – they left a huge impression on me. Gaultier shows were immense, and I was fortunate to see about four of Alexander McQueen’s presentations before he died, which for me was the pinnacle of all that. And then Helmut Lang in Paris was theatrical in this different way. I didn’t even know what was going on – the clothes were so chic and so minimal. They were hypnotising. I wish people would get back to that. I hate to say it, but now you’re waiting for them to be over before they even start.”

JM: “I think that’s got a lot to do with social media.”
SG: “Yeah, just think how incredible it would be if you could get people to post something of interest, instead of just who’s there or what social-media star was caught outside of the show. I mean, the whole peacocking thing – I didn’t really believe until I saw it. There’s more entertainment outside the shows now.”

JM: “It’s crazy. Those women in front of 100 photographers, pretending to be on their phones for 20 minutes.”
SG: “Yeah, you see them going over this set routine across the street, going back and forth. I mean, it’s kind of theatrically brilliant [Laughs.].”

JM: “But going back to the beginning for a moment – you moved to Europe to dance with the Frankfurt Ballet under William Forsythe when you were just 17. Does that decision still in uence your work now?”
SG: “Oh, most definitely. The greatest education for me was going to the university of life. Moving to Frankfurt in 1985 and working with Bill was the best decision I’ve ever made – a lot of the things I’m doing today stem from that initial step of me moving to Europe, because he really did encourage me to go out and do what I like, to get information from all these different places. He taught me to walk into a room and know the most about everything that’s going on and also the least about what was going on. I really do take that with me in every job I do to this day.”

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JM: “How did you meet William?”
SG: “Well, I originally wanted to work with the Stuttgart Ballet, but they said why don’t you work with William Forsythe in Frankfurt? So I met him and he said, ‘God, you’re so young, shouldn’t you be in college or something?!’ But he said I could work with him and I ended up staying for 30 years. At that time he was a new director and doing so many new things. It was filled with dances from all over the world, so we had this super-cool experimental way of dealing with presenting dance, even though it was a hardcore classical dance company. We still have a strong relationship. It’s incredible.”

JM: “A life-changing relationship, I guess.”
SG: “Yeah, and it’s an ongoing growth – we’re all growing artists. We’re still very thirsty and very hungry for new possibilities. Who can ask for more?”

JM: “And am I right in thinking he encouraged the whole fashion thing?”
SG: “Well, he knew that I had an interest in fashion, because I was always coming to the studios with all the magazines and looking at them during rehearsals. So I think he asked me if I would make the costumes for a piece we were doing for four people, and by the time I’d finished it had turned into a ballet with three acts and 260 costumes. From there they really knew I had a knack for it, so when Issey Miyake came knocking, that collaboration started to develop. I really started to become the in-between man when we worked with designers. That was my introduction to the fashion world, I guess, but at the same time the company was performing in Paris throughout the 1990s, which was a brilliant time creatively. There was always so much going on and, for some bizarre reason – I’ll leave it down to the fashion gods – our two-month residency was always during fashion week.”

JM: “Oh, perfect.”
SG: “Yeah, so everyone from that world would come to see the shows and it ended up becoming a bit of an exchange – I would send out invitations to the designers who had come to see me and in turn they would invite me to their presentations. That’s how that relationship formed. Sometimes I would get great front-row seats and sometimes I’d be…”

Stephen Galloway 4JM: “Standing at the back?”
SG: “Exactly! It kept me a very honest man [Laughs.].”

JM: “And then there were Inez & Vinoodh, of course. How did you start working with them?”
SG: “I just loved them. I had seen an exhibition of theirs and loved it, and they ended up coming to Frankfurt, or to Holland when we were there. They knew of the company, they knew of Bill and somehow we magically always had a fabulous dinner after the show. Then, a year later, I get the call that they were working on Calvin Klein’s relaunch with M/M Paris and Jessica Miller. They asked me to come to New York and said they wanted me to come up with some new kind of weirdness. And you know, I’m always down for weirdness! That’s all you’ve got to say to me and I come running. Those campaigns were kick- ass. Then it just continued from there.”

JM: “How important has that relationship been to you?”
SG: “It’s a very simple story, really. It’s basically two people who I had enormous respect for and they showed me so much loyalty. Because, you know, I’m an added luxury, really. I love working for them, because I know they will be at such a level – you walk out of the studio that day knowing you’ve taken the best photograph you could have taken.”

JM: “How do you work on set? Do you plan? Is it organic or is it different each time?”
SG: “Exactly – it’s different each and every time, and I like it that way. If I know that I’m doing too much, it gets boring and it just becomes another day at a job. And you never know what the person’s carrying, walking into the shoot – where they’re from, whether they’ve just got off a flight. So I still like to approach it like I’ve known them all for ever but I’m meeting them for the first time.”

JM: “You must have so many highlights. Do any models stand out?”
SG: “Yeah, I’m obsessed with working with Kate Moss. I like working with people who really love what they do. She said to me when we first worked together, ‘Jesus Christ, where have you been my whole career?’ That was crazy – I was like, you’ve always been amazing! There’s Gisele – dream! Kate – dream! Raquel – dream! These girls who know what they’re doing.”

JM: “Do you like having your own photograph taken?”
SG: “[Laughs.] I’m terrified! For this I was like, ‘Can it just be an interview please?!’”

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JM: “You need a ‘you’ to be on set with you… ”
SG: “That’s the whole thing! Even with the whole selfie situation, I’m so weird about it. I have better parts of my body than my head [Laughs.].”

JM: “Just go for the body. Talking of which – you’ve famously worked with Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones for more than two decades. How did that come about?”
SG: “After working for them for 20 years, I still haven’t figured out how that connection was made. I think I’m just going to leave it. It’s a mystery – like who killed JFK. I think Mick had seen the company before and was looking for someone who had an understanding of theatre and an understanding of high fashion. I seemed to be that person at the time, and that’s how it started, very easily and very organically, and it still continues to be.”

JM: “That’s when you know you’ve made it, surely?”
SG: “Yeah, to this day I’m like, ‘Oh my God.’ We ran into each other at Liberty Ross’s birthday party recently – it was one of those incredible parties, where if a bomb had dropped on Jimmy [Iovine, Ross’s husband]’s house, there would be no film, no music industry – and he just grabs me and we dance for, like, 30 minutes. Everyone was looking like, ‘Who is that man Mick Jagger is dancing with?!’ But we were dancing like sisters. He taught me how to keep curious and how important it is to never get settled. I feel very blessed to work with him.”

JM: “Are you one of those people who can easily look back on their work?”
SG: “Well, Karl Lagerfeld said something like, ‘Never look back – never look back, always forward.’ But it’s kind of true, you’re always moving on to something new, and I’m incredibly stimulated by all these things. I love all the work that I’ve done, but I don’t necessarily let my past define me.”

JM: “You’ve done so much, but I get the impression there’s always more. Is there one thing that you still desperately want to achieve?”
SG: “It sounds silly, but I keep just wanting to be the best Stephen Galloway I can be. That, for me, says it all. I feel like now it’s the beginning of my second act – I’m just having a great time becoming a really good version of myself and growing with myself. That’s all I can ask for.”

Taken from Issue 45 of 10 Men, FLUID UNIQUE BRAVE, on newsstands now… 

1. Top by Dries Van Noten, trousers by Lanvin 
2. Vintage top talent’s own, necklace by Melba Thorn
3. Suit by Prada 
4. Vintage djellaba talent’s own, shoes by Gucci 
5. Top and trousers by Dries Van Noten 
6. Shirt by Chavret, trousers by Marni, shoes by Newbank 

Photographer Marcelo Krasilcic
Text Jack Moss