Nick Knight on the origin of 'One in Ten'
I wanted to photograph women who've had single mastectomies, double mastectomies or reconstructive surgery by showing them as being strong and sexy. So I decided that the pictures should have some kind of sexual connotation, to be titillating, if that's the word.
'I've addressed issues like size and age in fashion photography, and for some time I'd thought I should add breast cancer. The fact that Charlotte (Knight's wife) had a breast cancer scare 18 months ago jolted me into doing something about it. One in ten women, or so I'm told, have breast cancer at some time in their lives. When I had to confront it with Charlotte, it seemed so negative, so overwhelming, because you always think: "It'll happen to someone else."'
'I wanted to photograph women who've had single mastectomies, double mastectomies or reconstructive surgery by showing them as being strong and sexy. So I decided that the pictures should have some kind of sexual connotation, to be titillating, if that's the word. Katy (England, the stylist on the shoot) showed me a book of portraits by Irina Ionesco. They're very sexual and, in fashion terms, right for the moment. If we'd been doing a fashion story, we'd have wanted to shoot it like that. We just happened to be doing a breast cancer fashion story.'
'We used all the tricks to make the women look sexy. Darkness, mystery, laces and veils, so you're always looking through something. The breasts are secondary, you don't notice them immediately. In the pictures of Nikki Umbertti, you can just see a glint of her nipple, which is actually fairly amazing, because it's tattooed onto her breast. I wanted the images to be unsettling so I thought of using props which were politically incorrect. I asked some of the women to hold a knife. Looking at Miranda Vicente with a knife, I had to ask myself whether my response would have been different if she hadn't had breast surgery.'
'There are twenty prints of each women going from darkness to light, and more than one portrait of each one, so you have a sense of the women emerging. I want people to look at the first portrait and see the woman in a very sexual way. But with the second portrait, she should turn the tables on them by making them feel, not like the voyeur, the one who's looking, but the one who's being looked at.'
Alice Rawsthorn is the architecture critic of the Financial Times and former editorial director of SHOWstudio.com