Winona Revisits 20 Years of Friendship With Winona Ryder

Before Robert Rich ever met Winona Ryder, he loved an image of her. “It was her Gap ad that Annie Leibovitz shot,” said Rich. “I was so in love with that image. A girlfriend of mine worked at the Gap, and I begged her for it and she would not give it to me.”

More than two decades later, Rich and Ryder have created an archive of their friendship that spans thousands of photos. From the steps of the Met Gala to Ryder’s bathroom floor, Rich has been documenting one of Hollywood’s most famous—and most private—actors one image at a time. Eventually, Rich became the “Shnookie” to her “Shnookums,” as they lovingly refer to each other. “It was kind of surreal, having always admired her,” Rich recently told Vanity Fair. “I had to pinch myself in the beginning.” Now, in collaboration with Francesca Sorrenti, with a foreword by Marc Jacobs, he has assembled a collection of intimate photos that showcase Ryder like never before— through the lens of one of her best friends.

Rich and Ryder’s decades-long friendship began in 1999, when Rich was working his dream job as vice president of public relations of Marc Jacobs stores, and Ryder walked into a store. “I said, ‘I love Girl, Interrupted,’” which had just come out, recalled Rich. “She said, ‘That’s a girls movie.’ And I said, ‘Well, I’m a girls movie kind of guy,’ and the rest is history.”

At the time, Rich’s office at the Marc Jacobs store on Mercer Street became what he calls an “secret clubhouse,” with a rotating door of models and celebrities popping in on any given day, from Kate Moss to Grace Jones to Sofia Coppola (with her famous father, Francis Ford Coppola, in tow). “We’d go down to the basement, past all the racks of clothes,” said Rich. “I had a big room full of samples that I let them play in, and we’d play dress up in my office.” He always had his polaroid camera in arm’s reach to capture the moment, a habit he picked from Keith Haring at the Pop Shop in the eighties, where Rich previously worked.

Just as he had done to his childhood bedroom growing up, Rich plastered his office wall with these polaroids, alongside magazine clippings, posters and anything that would stick. The massive collage became a fixture of his space and the backdrop to so many photos that wound up in the book. “Somebody would come in and if they weren’t on my wall, they would send me a picture,” said Rich. “The wall got layered over 17 years. Layered and layered and layered.”

In advance of Winona’s (IDEA) release, Rich caught up with Vanity Fair to flip through the forthcoming book and discuss capturing friendship in photographs.

Vanity Fair: I recently spoke to your good friend Sofia Coppola about her Archive book. Did you take any inspiration from that while working on yours?

Robert Rich: It’s beautiful. We both always loved collages. She always loved my wall. She put it in one of her books in 2003. It was a book of her favorite images and my office wall was one of them.

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