For this issue, T photographed 27 groups of friends, celebrating the bonds of creative people at a time when the meaning of friendship, and the terms by which we’ve been able to experience it, has been changed by a global pandemic. Documenting these relationships “was not without its challenges,” says T’s creative director, Patrick Li. “To shoot groups around the world during this time requires tremendous coordination.” It was a logistical feat accomplished by T’s photo department, which spent much of the past year vigilantly tracking shutdowns worldwide, following both government and C.D.C. guidelines and organizing shoots as states and countries reopened. Arranging these shoots — which took place over the course of six-and-a-half months (from August 2020 to early March of this year) in Portugal, Spain, Sicily, London, Berlin, São Paulo, New York, Los Angeles, Seoul, and Paris and on Grand Cayman — required hours of planning, and a checklist of previously unheard-of safety measures. The portraits in these pages, then, are proof not only of the endurance and sanctity of friendship but of the stringent precautions required to capture those relationships on camera.
On the Cover, from left: CHLOË SEVIGNY wears an Alexander McQueen dress, $16,000, and belt, $390, alexandermcqueen.com; and Mikimoto necklace, $161,000, (212) 457-4600. NATASHA LYONNE wears a Mugler jacket, $2,390, and bodysuit, price on request, farfetch.com; Brooks Brothers vest, $175, brooksbrothers.com; Vaquera pants, $475, vaquera.nyc; Panconesi earrings, $440, ssense.com; Schiaparelli necklace, price on request, 011-33-1-76-21-62-59; David Webb ring, $21,500, davidwebb.com; and her own necklace (worn underneath).Credit…Photograph by Craig McDean. Styled by Avena GallagherOn the Cover, from left: ANTONIO BANDERAS wears a Prada jacket, $5,600, and shirt, $1,200, prada.com; and his own pants and jewelry. ROSSY DE PALMA wears a Valentino dress, $6,900, (212) 772-6969; Schiaparelli earrings, price on request; and Bottega Veneta shoes, $990, bottegaveneta.com. PEDRO ALMODÓVAR wears his own clothing. PENÉLOPE CRUZ wears a Chanel dress, $6,550, (800) 550-0005; Tiffany & Co. earrings, $2,300, tiffany.com; and her own rings.Credit…Photograph by Carlota Guerrero. Styled by Alicia PadrónOn the Cover, from left: DANIEL KALUUYA, LENA WAITHE, MELINA MATSOUKAS, WILLIAM HAZEL, ALISA REYNOLDS, SHIONA TURINI and CYNTHIA ERIVO.Credit…Photograph by Renee Cox. Styled by Ian BradleyOn the Cover: CATHERINE DENEUVE, BETTY CATROUX and ANTHONY VACCARELLO wear Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello.Credit…Willy Vanderperre
“Basically, you listen to NPR every day,” says T’s photography and video director, Nadia Vellam, of the process, “and you talk to your producers and agencies in different countries. You know that, for example, Emmanuel Macron is making an announcement in two days that could make [a scheduled] shoot not happen.” For most of the shoots, once a date was secured, polymerase chain reaction (P.C.R.) tests were arranged for the subjects and the crew two or three days prior — a negative result was required for entry to set. Masks were also mandatory, to be worn by the crew at all times and by subjects whenever the camera wasn’t clicking. For many of the larger group shots, especially those with working actors and professionals, as with “Friends Who Came Up Together,” featuring the actor Daniel Kaluuya, the stylist Shiona Turini and others, rapid tests were administered on-site by medics in addition to the P.C.R.s — a protocol familiar to casts and crews who spent last year shooting movies or TV shows, and one T followed diligently — providing another level of assurance.
Friends Who Create Together Friends Who Are Muses New Friends Friends Who Are Family Weekend Friends Friends Who Share a Language Best Friends Friends Who Summer Together Old Friends Friends Who Came Up Together Party Friends Friends Who Teach Each Other Friends Who Saw It All Friends Who Inspire Each Other Friends Who Became Adults Together School Friends Clients Who Became Friends Partners, Now Friends Actor Friends Friends Who Cook Together Furry Friends Friends Who Protect One Another Friends Who Make Music Together Hometown Friends Work Friends Mentor/Protégée Friends Friends Who Miss Each Other Friends Who Create Together Friends Who Are Muses New Friends Friends Who Are Family Weekend Friends Friends Who Share a Language Best Friends Friends Who Summer Together Old Friends Friends Who Came Up Together Party Friends Friends Who Teach Each Other Friends Who Saw It All Friends Who Inspire Each Other Friends Who Became Adults Together School Friends Clients Who Became Friends Partners, Now Friends Actor Friends Friends Who Cook Together Furry Friends Friends Who Protect One Another Friends Who Make Music Together Hometown Friends Work Friends Mentor/Protégée Friends Friends Who Miss Each Other
Further minimizing exposure, many of the friend groups documented in this issue either live together or in proximity — that is, they are a part of the same pod: The photographer Nan Goldin and the writer Thora Siemsen, for one, decided at the onset of the pandemic to shelter in place together (“Friends Who Teach Each Other”); the artists Julie Mehretu and Jessica Rankin (“Partners, Now Friends”) did the same. The filmmaker Luca Guadagnino and four of his close friends had just concluded a two-week-long stay in a country house on the Alcamo coast in Italy, where they communed with no one but each other, when they were photographed (“Friends Who Summer Together”), while the artist Hank Willis Thomas was pictured with his wife, daughter and parents (“Friends Who Are Family”). Then there’s the chef Gerardo Gonzalez’s group (“Friends Who Cook Together”), many of whom quarantined together last March on Grand Cayman, where Gonzalez is based. By photographing pods, the issue is again evidence of the unique and unforeseeable ways in which friends have been brought together this year: as a method of survival, a signal of care, a vow of hope.
On the Cover: SALMAN TOOR and DORON LANGBERG wear their own clothing.Credit…Jason SchmidtOn the Cover, from left: RINA SAWAYAMA wears a Moschino Couture gown, price on request, moschino.com. ELTON JOHN wears his own Gucci clothing and his own accessories.Credit…Photograph by Harley Weir. Styled by Robbie SpencerOn the Cover, top, from left: AML AMEEN wears a Zara sweater, $36, and pants, $40, zara.com; Omega watch, price on request, omegawatches.com; and his own shoes and jewelry. CHIKÉ OKONKWO wears an Essentials by Fear of God top, $70, and pants, $90, fearofgod.com; and Nike shoes, $100, nike.com. CYNTHIA ERIVO wears a Prada dress, $1,990, prada.com; R13 boots, $1,690, r13.com; and her own jewelry. Bottom, from left: DAVID OYELOWO wears a Dunhill shirt, $295, and pants, $695, dunhill.com; Mallet shoes, about $245, mallet.com; and his own hat and ring. MALACHI KIRBY wears a Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello shirt, $1,090, and necklace, $375, ysl.com; Emporio Armani pants, $275, armani.com; and Dior Men shoes, $1,050, dior.com. GUGU MBATHA-RAW wears her own clothing and jewelry.Credit…Los Angeles group photograph by Miranda Barnes. London group photograph by Chieska Fortune SmithOn the Cover: AMAUTA M. FIRMINO (far left) wears Maximilian pants, $903, brownsfashion.com; and his own shirt, shoes and socks. JEREMY O. HARRIS (standing) wears a Maximilian jacket, $1,995; Louis Vuitton shirt, about $935, and pants, $1,150, louisvuitton.com; Cartier necklace, $7,750, cartier.com; David Yurman ring, $2,300, davidyurman.com; Sunni Sunni shoes, $550, sunnisunni.com; and stylist’s own headband and socks. SOHINA SIDHU, HUDSON OZ, EM WEINSTEIN and MICHAEL BRESLIN wear their own clothing.Credit…Photograph by Justin French. Styled by Ian Bradley
In addition, most of the photographs were taken outdoors — on a street corner, in a friend’s yard, amid the greenery of London’s Barbican Centre — as another precautionary measure. The photographers deployed other strategies, as well, like the clever positioning of subjects, allowing for distance to be observed between them. Take, for instance, “Weekend Friends”: Perched among the gnarled tree branches of New York’s Fire Island Pines, the group, which includes the artists T.M. Davy and Nicole Eisenman, was arranged in such a way that space itself became a subject: a marker of the time we’re living in. It’s in this photo that human touch also becomes symbolic, with couples posed together in the middle of the frame, intertwining arms or holding hands to denote the closeness of their particular relationship.
And yet, in other images, touch is indicative not of romantic partnership but simply of personal comfort — another force that governed every shoot in this issue — and the unwavering tenderness felt among friends: a hand delicately placed on a shoulder, say, or the resting of one’s head in the lap of another, as the actor Antonio Banderas does, on one of our eight covers, with the actress Rossy de Palma (“Old Friends”), the latter of whom would soon begin filming “Parallel Mothers” with the other friends in this portrait, the actress Penélope Cruz and the director Pedro Almodóvar, who wrote the script during quarantine. “These aren’t strangers,” notes Li. “There’s trust, clearly.” And it’s that sense of trust, combined with a strict observation of Covid-19 rules, that so many of us have lived by for the past year, seeing friends only when it’s safe (and declining to when it isn’t). It’s a testament to the lengths many of us will go for the friendships we treasure most — and, in that, a promise that we are not bound to be forever on our own.
On Cover 3, from left: DANIEL KALUUYA wears a Salvatore Ferragamo coat, $2,800, shirt, $430, and pants, $730, ferragamo.com; Berluti shoes, $2,520, berluti.com; and his own jewelry. LENA WAITHE wears a Kenzo jacket, $1,025, and pants, $760, kenzo.com; John Elliott T-shirt,$98, nordstrom.com; and her own hat, jewelry and shoes. MELINA MATSOUKAS wears a Prada sweatshirt, $2,410, skirt, $3,250, and shoes, price on request; Khiry earrings, $625, khiry.com; and her own rings and anklet. WILLIAM HAZEL wears a Burberry hoodie, $1,320, and overalls, $5,500, us.burberry.com. ALISA REYNOLDS wears an Hermès coat, $10,800, hermes.com; Phlemuns shirt, $275, phlemuns.com; Eileen Fisher pants, $168, nordstrom.com; Jill Platner earrings, $275, and necklace, $8,500, jillplatner.com; and Ugg x Molly Goddard shoes, $420, Dover Street Market New York, (646) 837-7750. SHIONA TURINI wears a Schiaparelli jacket and pants, price on request; Hermès top, $1,100; Darius Jewels necklaces, $10,336 and $13,640, dariusjewels.com; and her own ring and earrings. CYNTHIA ERIVO wears a Loewe top, $3,800, and skirt, $2,100, loewe.com; Giuseppe Zanotti shoes, $795, giuseppezanotti.com; and her own jewelry.