Which NYC neighborhoods have the best style?
Johnny Cirillo: It’s hard to say which is the best. They are each unique in their own way. Some neighborhoods have a more polished vibe while others are more built around art and thrifting geniuses.
Have you observed any pandemic fashion trends to come out of the past two years?
JC: Style is a good reflection of either how we feel or how we want to feel. During the dark days of the pandemic, when there were so many unanswered questions, New Yorkers stayed comfortable with lots of sweats and leisure wear, albeit stylish—it was the way we felt. During the time before the vaccine, when everyone donned a mask, I noticed a lot more risks being taken. Sheer and see-through articles were everywhere. After most people got vaccinated, the colors came out in bundles: bright, vibrant happy colors—a reflection of how we were feeling.
When you make these portraits, do they feel ephemeral or do you plan to archive them to memorialize this moment in fashion history?
JC: I'd like to think that everything I shoot will have some sort of longevity. I’m hoping I can churn out a book every year to cement the styles and trends of NYC.
Tell us about engaging with your subjects. How do you approach them? What were some memorable encounters?
JC: I try to get to a vantage point where I can see down four different directions to maximize my opportunities. When I notice someone, I position myself and lean continuously on my focus button until the subject hits a position or stride where I can rip off a few shots. I’ll stop them with an “Excuse me” and explain the project while asking permission to share, usually as we walk to wherever they are going. There were lots of fun and memorable encounters, but a recent one was photographing Pete Davidson. He was eating pizza outside as I watched countless people come up to him and ask for selfies. He obliged each one of them warmly and took photos with anyone who asked. I just dug his vibe and kindness.
Have you noticed NYC street style informing high-fashion trends, or vice versa?
JC: I noticed corsets making a comeback, then they exploded all over New York Fashion Week this year. I think everyone gets inspired from everyone. You see something and you make it your own, and it evolves into a unique version of something people come to love.