THE IT: Anthea Simms, runway photography star

Then and now: Carine Roitfeld, editor-in-chief of Paris Vogue, in the ’80s (left), and last season in New York.

Story by Sara Graham, a Toronto writer and girl-about-town, who recently spent a stylish sojourn in London. Photography courtesy of Anthea Simms.

For better or worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, Anthea Simms has been married to the business of runway photography for almost 30 years. Her images have appeared in countless publications, including ELLE UK and Flare, which was the first magazine to commission her work.

Anthea and I met on a blustery afternoon at the Metropolitan Hotel in London’s Mayfair district. After my delightful discovery that she too owned the Canon G11 camera (which made me feel much better about dropping the substantial sum to buy it), Anthea schooled me as we arranged a snap-happy mini-shoot of our gorgeous Afternoon De-Light tea.

Between bites, Anthea answered a few questions about her career, Carine, and her fascinating experiences as one of the few female runway photographers.

How did you get involved in runway photography?

“I first trained as an illustrator and ended up having a tough time making a living freelancing. So, needing to find a full-time job, I started working for a fashion company. One day a photographer dropped out of an assignment at the last minute and I was given the opportunity to do some shooting…really horrible looking back on it…but it was so fantastic [in that it was] instant, not instant by today’s standards, of course. For me, as an illustrator, by the time it takes to get things done, it was so quick! After that I just kept on going.

[In terms of runway photography] it helps if you love the clothes. When I started, there were some pretty revolutionary designers, and the ’80s was really the beginning of runway madness.”

What was your first experience as a runway photographer?

“The first show was in 1981, before I started doing the whole circuit. It was Betsey Johnson in New York and I shot that in black and white. I think it’s great that I can even remember that. Well, at least it’s a designer that’s still in business, which is quite an achievement.” [laughs]

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