Everything — really, everything — has a way of coming back, and Sears-style mall portraits are no exception.

Robbie Augspurger, a Portland-based photographer, unwittingly honed his signature mall portrait studio aesthetic the first time he shot his friend’s acting headshot in 2009. Now, he’s bringing some high kitsch to Balenciaga’s men’s Spring 2018 campaign. Using the dark, cloudy sepia and purple backdrops and fake ficuses of your childhood portraits (or your parents ‘80s glamour shots), Augspurger’s photos show models wearing elevated everyday pieces, kind of resembling beautiful aliens dropped in a Midwestern mall.

Speaking of beautiful things, Augspurger hadn’t heard of Balenciaga when the label contacted him. It was his wife who insisted he respond to their inquiry. “I’m kind of embarrassed that I haven’t heard about Balenciaga,” the photographer told Vogue. “I think part of why they are into it is because I’m an outsider in the industry and it isn’t what people are used to seeing from a fashion house, like this style of portraiture, but it makes me feel a little sheepish to admit that. It’s a good story though.”

 

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