Fred Meylan and Zadig & Voltaire
To celebrate the launch of Zadig & Voltaire’s first monograph book published by Rizzoli, Fred Meylan looks back at his exceptional partnership with the brand. A unique collaboration of over 20 years, in an industry renowned for its frenetic rhythm and perpetuous change.
Fred Meylan has lived many, many lives, and has shot some of the most beautiful women in the world from Christy Turlington to Monica Bellucci, Penelope Cruz, Uma Thurman and Kendall Jenner. The French photographer has established his career over the past 40 years, driven by his strong integrity and passion. He has constantly reinvented himself while remaining true to his eponymous style. Fred Meylan knows exactly who he is: an artist with strong business acumen and contemporary vision.
Fred welcomes us in his studio in the heart of Paris’ 1st arrondissement, an untouched upholsters' workshop dating back to the 18th century. Inside the studio, walls are hung with some of Zadig & Voltaire’s most iconic campaign pictures, captured by the photographer.
Fred Meylan's Studio in Paris' 1st arrondissement
Behind his camera, Meylan played a pivotal role in shaping the brand’s creative image and identity. Fred Meylan and his wife Carol Gerland (who celebrated 34 years of marriage this year), first met Thierry Gillier, the founder of the eponymous French rock-cool brand back in the early 2000s, on a beach in Corsica. “It was an instant connection. At the time Thierry only one had store in Paris, rue du Jour. He was still the very beginning of his journey”, recounts Meylan.
A close friendship ensued between them and soon after this fortuitous encounter, Gillier entrusted Meylan to bring his vision of Zadig & Voltaire, filled with optimism and modernity, to life. Simultaneously, Carol Gerland joined the in-house communications team, where she would soon after take the head of the department.
Thinking back to the team at the time, Meylan recalls “Thierry Gillier is a true visionary, a passionate business man who constantly pushes boundaries and goes against the grain. Cecilia Bönström is incredibly talented, a real designer who knows how to sell her ideas. And Carol Gerland drove the conversations around the Zadig world, she was instrumental in positioning the brand where it is today. We were a close knit team and all carried a shared vision of the brand and it’s creative energy”. Since then, Carol Gerland has founded her own creative agency Studio Respiro, advising leading fashion, beauty and jewellery brands on their creative identity and positioning.
From top left: Thierry Gillier, Cecilia Bönström, Carol Gerland, Fred Meylan.
Through Fred Meylan’s lens, the Zadig & Voltaire girl became synonymous of an effortless rock and roll style. She was unmistakably bold, timeless and always on the go; a true portrayal of youth.
It was Fred Meylan who, in 2008, shot a model on a motorbike wearing nothing but a helmet and a pair of micro shorts. “Emmanuel Brunet, the Art Director at the time, had this vision of a topless girl on a motorcycle, and I believed in it straight away. It captured everything we were trying to say about the Zadig women. Freedom was the message, it was loud and clear: This is Zadig!”, explains Meylan.
Zadig & Voltaire 2008 Campaign
Fast-forward through the 2000s, Fred Meylan went on to shoot some of the most prolific models and artists of our generation, from Bella Hadid to Yvan Attal, Eva Herzigova and Jordan Barrett.
Eva Herzigová and Malgosia Bella
Jordan Barrett and Bella Hadid
Yvan Attal and Edita Vilkevičiūtė
In 2019, when Zadig & Voltaire invited international supermodel Kate Moss to design a leather goods collection, they naturally called upon Meylan to shoot the campaign. With his unmistakable Zadig eye, Kate Moss was transformed into the ultimate Zadig women. "We were all having dinner to celebrate the end of the shoot, and all of a sudden Kate stood up and exclaimed: Fred! Where have you been all my life?! We really had a lot of fun that day", says Meylan.
When asked about his fondest campaign memories, Meylan recalls a very special shoot with supermodel Erin Wasson and Art Director Emmanuel Brunet; “We were shooting a new campaign in a classic Parisian apartment. As we were getting ready to wrap up the shoot, I pulled Erin aside and just asked her to stand in front of a plain white wall. The stylist, Melanie Huynh, quickly handed her a cut out Zadig t-shirt to slip on. She instantly played into the camera, pulled the t-shirt over her head and in a split second, we had the campaign shot. We all knew it. It's the photograph on the book cover. An iconic picture for an iconic moment”, recalls Meylan.
Zadig & Voltaire throughout the years :