We sort of expected to see Nigel Barker at the Whitney Eve runway show this morning, since it’s just been announced that he and designer Whitney Port will work together as judges on Britain and Ireland’s Next Top Model this year. But it turns out that Barker has worked with Port (he photographed her campaign) and he’s a legitimate fan of her career.
We spotted chatting with Tyson Beckford this morning before the show started and asked him a few questions about realiy television, why he goes to fashion shows and whether or not Whit has a chance in this business. His answers may surprise you.
You’re known for being such a big part of what was really one of the first major fashion reality television shows, America’s Next Top Model, and since then there have been a lot more shows in that vein to come on the air. Do you think there are too many fashion shows on TV?
I think people are fashion obsessed. It’s something that everybody does in one way or another. Everyone gets dressed in the morning and makes a fashion decision, regardless of whether you think it’s just a uniform or not. It’s still a decision and it says something. I think we’re intrigued by the business. It’s a very elitist exclusive industry that’s been really behind closed doors. So although it’s just coming out now and everyone’s getting to see inside of it, I think that it’s going to be around for a while. There are definitely shows that are better than others, I think, and you’ll see in the longevity of some shows where they appeal to people and people like them and understand them. Some of them I do think are (pause) not as good as others.
As a photographer, what do you look for when you come to shows?
The Whitney Eve collection, I photographed their campaign, and she’s a client of mine. A lot of the shows that I go to, pretty much all of them, actually, are clients of mine, people I photograph or people’s collections that I love and I pull to put in shoots of mine. For me it very much is business even though I’m sort of sitting front row and of doing the celebrity bit, the reality is that I actually only go to shows that are people I work for.
Whitney isn’t a novice, but she’s definitely still in the spring of her career. Where do you think she stands alongside the other young designers who have been in the game as long as she has?
She’s very competent. She knows what she wants, she knows what she likes. And having worked with her and photographed her — and I actually photographed her in her collection for her campaign — and having her talk to the camera, because I did a video as well, of what she thought, why she did it, what was her inspiration, it wasn’t a struggle. She knew exactly what she was about. She knew why she did it. She traveled and researched the fabrics. She actually designed the patterns on the fabrics. All these things are very important. And she understood about what looks good on a woman, because she’s dressing herself. And I think that’s always kind of cool when someone wears their own designs, because it means that they’re not just imagining what would look good on a woman. They’re like, “Actually this is what I want to wear.” My hat goes off to her.
A lot of people chalk her success up to having been on successful reality shows. Having worked with her now that she’s not on TV as much, do you think she has what it takes to have a really successful career as a designer?
You’ll have to tell me that after the end of this show, won’t you?