Read Time 4 minutes
Get to know: Petra Collins
It’s time to take a deep-dive into the Canadian artist who set the visual agenda for a generation of young women, through her work which puts the female gaze front and centre. Let’s get to know.
Collins often utilises a soft and pastel colour palette in her photographs. This choice of colours, as well as her use of soft focus and intentional blurring, contributes to the dreamlike and ethereal quality of her images, creating a sense of nostalgia and innocence, emphasising emotions and atmospheres over sharp details
She embraces a nostalgic aesthetic, drawing inspiration from vintage and retro styles. This gives to a sense of timelessness in her work, blurring the boundaries between past and present.
The era of the girl
You know how, like, everything has a ribbon on it right now? We’re well and truly in the era of the girl, with girly aesthetics being served up in fashion, interiors and even food [girl dinner, anyone?] Well, Petra Collins did it first. Her oeuvre has been a study in female adolescence and has challenged the male gaze, bringing the overtly feminine to the fore.
Ladies & gentleman … her
Collins’ combination of inimitable dreamy editorial aesthetic and enviable commissions [hello Gucci, hello music videos for Olivia Rodrigo and Selena Gomez], PLUS the fact that she herself is achingly cool and fit, have made her into something of an It-Girl, which is super awesome for a visual artist. She even gets cast in runway shows, walking Miu Miu, Blumarine, and Courrèges this year alone.
Many have tried to imitate her style, few have got it quite right. But, loved as she is, her career hasn’t always been a bed of roses. In 2013 an illustration of a masturbating, menstruating women [with pubes, god forbid] caused uproar when it was used on a t-shirt design in collaboration with American Apparel. When the headlines rolled in, Collins said she just ‘laughed really hard’.
Ahh the good old days. Before -core and -sleaze, there was Tumblr, the blogging site that pioneered some of the internet’s greatest aesthetic trends. It was through Tumblr that Petra Collins first found acclaim, her signature aesthetic spreading like wildfire through the site before hitting the mainstream.
All photography by Petra Collins.