UPC Boutique

The New Wave on a T-Shirt

I'm a sucker for the French New Wave, so I was drawn into the world of Babar Khan's dreamy, sexy photography right away. And if I can have it on a t-shirt, even better.

Khan and his dealer Femka Van Buuren teamed up with the wonderful Yorkville boutique UPC to make three limited edition tees featuring the lovely ladies of Khan's work, with a portion of the proceeds going to a Toronto-based charity that offers art lessons to kids.

At the launch party at UPC on Thursday, I chatted with Khan about his inspirations, which include gorgeous sixties icons Jane Birkin and Jean Seberg. "I'm more about the narrative (than strictly fashion photography), although the clothes are included in that," he said. "Fashion at a high level is art."

UPC Boutique

Many of his images--including those on the limited-edition tees--often look like stolen moments, all grainy and gritty, examining women in a moment of reflection, or even a snapshot of a building, bringing a fleeting feeling to something solid.

Khan always looked up to photographers who worked in the reportage style, right there in the milieu. "But I never had the confidence!" he laughs. Instead, Khan said, "I look at the way that I use light. I give a lot less direction, and use the available light to get a basic sense of the location and subject."

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The black-and-white of Khan's photos was a good fit with UPC's own mod space, from their slick black floors to the fluorescent lighting overhead. "We like black and white!" says co-owner Maha Zeibak. "Because that's the focus of the store, so any colour in the clothes is really picked up."

This is but the first of many artist collaborations, according to Zeibak, whether it's doing more limited edition t-shirts or launching a private label. "(Having a store) is a platform that can showcase so many artists," she says. "And it's great to have that platform."

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Photos by Carl W. Heindl


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