While we can’t (yet) time travel to the iconic Aspen of the 1950s through the 1980s, Gray Malin’s stunning new photography collection, created in partnership with The Little Nell, seemingly accomplishes that very feat. Inspired by the photo albums of his globe-trotting grandparents, fine art photographer Malin wanted to create images that recall the ski holidays of yesteryear imbued with Aspen’s luxe aesthetic. The resultant 29 photos, several of which are on view at the Nell through February, have a dreamy throwback quality that’s instantly relatable to those of us who love living and vacationing in ski towns.
Other than two at the Nell, one at Cloud Nine, and another at the airport, all of the photos were shot at various locations on Aspen Mountain using locals as models.
“I want to make work that inspires other people in the simplest way,” says Malin, who was in town from LA with his family for a late January opening reception. “For me, that’s through travel and picking destinations people love. My images take them to the places or bring back fond, fond memories.”
The artist, known for his aerial images—shot the “old-fashioned way” by hanging out of helicopters—has come to know Aspen over the years while shooting a previous collection of bird’s-eye-perspective photos, scouting for the Nell collaboration, and visiting for weddings and vacations.
“When it came to this project, the timing was incredible,” says Malin, who enjoys shooting work that will look good in people’s homes. “I had been imagining a vintage ski project, and there is such an organic relationship between my audience and Aspen.”
Malin and his team of two dozen received unfettered access to people and places thanks to the partnership with The Little Nell. From transporting the models, getting gear in place, sourcing nostalgic outfits, and borrowing props—like a 1950s Porsche, vintage luggage, and even a Bernese Mountain dog—this accessibility made the sheer scope of the production more manageable.
Malin says it usually takes about eight months to go from a shoot to a finished series. This time, however, he shot the images in December and unveiled them on January 28 for the Nell’s ongoing 30th anniversary celebration, the fastest turnaround he’s ever done.
“With every collaboration project I’ve done,” he says, “I’ll only do it if there’s a mutual and authentic connection. Shooting at places that mean something to people, like hotels, brings up such fond feelings of connection.”
You can see the instantly iconic results for yourself in the Living Room at the Little Nell. Signed and numbered limited-edition prints from the collection, known as Gray Malin in Aspen, are available at the hotel’s boutique and through Malin’s own website. And like many a conscientious Aspenite, the photographer has embraced the spirit of giving; 10 percent of the website sales will be donated to climate-change advocacy nonprofit Protect Our Winters.