The photographer’s new book, ‘1994,’ features iconic, never-before-seen images
Drew Jarrett wasn’t supposed to be a photographer. In the early 90s, he was living in a West London flat with Mario Sorrenti and Glen Luchford, as a recent W magazine article explores, and Sorrenti and Luchford hadn’t hit their peak yet. Jarrett was a hair stylist working on his roommate’s shoots, but it wasn’t long before he realized he cared more about photography than hair.
“The transition was a natural thing for me,” Jarrett told W. “I got bored. It just felt that it wasn’t a creative challenge anymore for me, and I started taking pictures of my family, kids, friends, and then models and crew I was working with.”
What resulted were photos in a style that wasn’t popular in fashion yet — street photography that felt off-kilter, glamorous in its grit and realness. Using a Rolleiflex, a Pentax Spotmatic, and a “broken” Pentacon Six, Jarrett tagged along on his friends’ shoots and captured the shots other photographers didn’t get.
W writes that he “chopped up his contact sheets and began collaging them into a rough book filled with street photography and impromptu portraits—loose compositions of Corinne Day and Melanie Ward on the beach at Camber Sands in East Sussex, England, or tumbling through the corridors of the Gramercy Park Hotel in New York.” Jarrett photocopied the original book to intentionally degrade the quality or “messed up vibe” as he describes. By 1994, he felt the project was complete enough to distribute and got Sorrenti to christen it. But, at that time, attempts to get it published failed because publishers didn’t understand his style.
It was earlier this year when he was working on a book about model Guinevere Van Seenus that he pulled out some of his old pages, which became his book 1994. The nostalgia of the images grabs the attention of even the most hardened fashion folks. A young Kate Moss struts down a sidewalk in a 10-gallon hat and sequined pants. Another image shows a sweaty Stella Tennant doing her best Debbie Harry impression.
Since 1994, things have changed and that sort of “smash-and-grab” street photography has been de rigueur for a minute now. But, somehow, Jarrett’s photos feel new, and he attributes that to, essentially, staying the same. “My vision consistently spans decades with not too much changing in my approach or results.”