Petra Collins is a fashion muse who brings her magnetic and powerful vision of femininity to everything she does. From her steamy retro shoots to her erotic book Fairy Tales with Alexa Demie to her brand I’m Sorry, the 28-year-old Toronto-based feminist artist is a winner.
Between the aesthetics of Sofia Coppola’s Virgin Suicides and Alessandro Michele’s seventies art direction, there’s Petra. This Canadian has been known to the art world for a good ten years. Born in 1992 to a Canadian father and a Hungarian mother, Petra Collins picked up a 35mm film camera at the age of 15 and never left it.
Considering that traditional high school wasn’t really her thing, going to art school at the age of 16 turned out to be a brilliant idea. At the same time, she became an assistant to underground photographer Richard Kern, famous for his provocative erotic photographs. Finally, she went to New York to try her luck, film in hand.
And the Big Apple is good. Her identity and her high-flying activism are affirmed. In 2013, she designed the “period tee” for American Apparel. A hairy and bloody female sex that shakes things up. Her feminist awareness grew when she launched the platform The Ardorous. Here, women are invited to present their work around the female body by breaking stereotypes and norms. A great success.
Since the start of her career in 2010, Petra Collins has signed a multitude of editorials in major magazines, from Vogue to Numéro, including a recent cover of Billie Eilish for Rolling Stones. In 2017, she shot Frank Ocean’s portrait for Berlin’s underground magazine 032C. While modelling, Petra became the face of the Gucci SS16 campaign. The following year, she went behind the camera for the Italian fashion house to direct a dreamlike eyewear campaign. And all this is just a few lines on her prodigious curriculum vitae. When it comes to directing music videos, it’s artists like Selena Gomez, Lil Yachty and Cardi B who call on her services.
Last year, she decided to take on the role of artistic director of her own brand: I’m Sorry. Her collections are distributed exclusively on the luxury e-commerce site SSENSE. The first drop released in September 2020? Colourful outfits sprinkled with manga graphics designed by Migo, hoodies, pyjamas and sexy lingerie-inspired pieces such as lace bodysuits. All in a palette of pastel pinks, greens and blues and a few neon touches.
This homewear paraphernalia unveiled in the middle of the pandemic oscillates between the fairy-tale teenage universe that Petra cherishes so much and her vision of the sexual freedom of women. While Dua Lipa or Charli XCX embrace this collection, the second drop released in April is also unanimous. It’s impossible not to fall for the crop tops, mini skirts and jewellery inspired by the 2000s.
Another recent unclassifiable event, the Canadian is publishing her third photo book. The book will be published in October by Rizzoli. After Discharge in 2014 and Coming of Age in 2017, which retraced in images her intimate passage from adolescence to adulthood, Petra Collins unveils Fairy Tales. She joins forces with Euphoria powerhouse Alexa Demie, who takes on the form of a mermaid, witch, fairy, elf or fallen angel for this collection of erotic and fantastical short stories written by both young women. Inspired by the great classics of the Grimm brothers, Charles Perrault and Hans Christian Andersen, the book sounds like an ode to the childhood fascination for fairy tales while anchoring it in a contemporary era where women’s sexuality is anything but a taboo. A collaboration that is already emblematic.