Petra Collins Talks Selena Gomez, 'Fetish' and Brand New Zine

Cindy Ord/Getty Images for The Business of Fashion
Selena Gomez and Petra Collins attend the #BoF500 gala dinner during New York Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2018 at Public Hotel on Sept. 9, 2017 in New York City.  

If you don’t already have a girl crush on Petra Collins, then you’re about to. The Canadian artist-cum-model It girl is so impossibly cool, it’s hard not to be completely enamored by her, her talent, and her achievements—at only 24 years old, by the way—and the enormity of that is even more palpable in person.

It’s why she’s amassed 629 thousand followers (and counting) on Instagram. It’s why she caught the eye of Alessandro Michele, the creative director of Gucci, who cast her to front the luxury brand’s campaigns (one for fall 2016; one for the fragrance Bloom). It’s why when she and her friend-slash-photographer Moni Haworth decided to team up to create a zine (starring Collins in Daisy clothing), fans lined up for autographs and photos during the celebration at Opening Ceremony’s SoHo store. And it’s why Selena Gomez chose her to spearhead her new direction.

Collins’s work has been described as ethereal and dreamy—and while that may be true, it falls short of what her extraordinarily unique vision encapsulates in its entirety. It’s pretty, yes, but it’s also strangely perverse. She’s defiantly feminine (she’s no stranger to controversy, having had her Instagram taken down when she once posted a photo of her bikini bottom with an unshaven bikini line—read her thought-provoking essay on censorship here), unapologetically unconventional, and as a result, a pioneer of sorts. And so when Gomez tapped her to direct her latest music video “Fetish,” Collins did the opposite of what was expected, drawing inspiration from horror films rather than filming a standard over-sexualized music video. 

“I love the video because it shows the very dirty, gross and weird love you can have towards someone,” Collins said to Dazed about “Fetish.” “This is how obsessive some people get and how they release. I’m obsessed with these weird ASMR videos. I think about how our bodies react to sounds and movement.”

This creative push from Collins has almost transformed Gomez. In the same interview with Dazed, Gomez said to Collins: “With the way I grew up, I always felt like there was something inside of me that hadn’t been accessed. I hadn’t had the opportunity or confidence to find it. For so long I felt like I (wasn’t able) to do something like this, not because I don’t want to but because I lack that confidence. You make me feel more confident about the choices I make, like a sister. You help me, you encourage me and validate how I feel in that moment. I wouldn’t have been able to grow into the artist I am right now without you.”

Billboard Style luckily got a few minutes with Collins at the celebration of her zine with Haworth and we asked her about her relationship with Gomez, how they met, and what she hopes to do next.

Congrats on your zine! How did it come about?

Moni is one of my best friends. I’ve been a fan of hers since I was little and she shoots me all the time and we both love Daisy, and we ended up taking photos in Daisy clothing, and that’s literally what happened. She’s amazing. It’s crazy because I had followed her work all through high school and she emailed me one day and we ended up becoming best friends. I became one of her favorite subjects and I love being in front of her lens.

We love your work with Selena Gomez. How did you first meet?

We met because I shot her for Wonderland, and we clicked right away and it’s crazy. We did “Fetish” and now we’re figuring out what to do next.

Selena’s new direction is so different—was that your influence?

It’s really cool. It’s a lot her. She’s sort of never been able to—or not never been able to—but she’s growing up to be a woman and is able to express herself and do what she wants. It’s super empowering.

What’s coming up for you?

I have a Rizzoli book that’s coming out in November, which is really exciting. It’s a retrospective of all my work. It’s so crazy. I did a book called Babe, where I curated all my favorite female artists into one book. But this one will be my work. It’s really wild.

What are you hoping to experiment with next?

I want to be a film director, so hopefully that will be the next thing. I want to direct a feature film. Horror is my main genre.