Friday, 13 April 2012

Postcard From New York - The Shoot and Inspiration

To avoid confusion for non-wedding industry workers the following pictures would be termed a concept, styled or collaborative shoot. This means creating a team of different trades, for eg. photographer, stylist, etc, to create an 'inspiration' shoot. These can take the form of a mock wedding or have more of a fashion editorial feel. At best these can break new ideas and show case genius at worst you want to look away quickly whilst making negative mental notes.

Perhaps my background in the shallow end of design and advertising leads me to expect a clear message and purpose from photo shoot images. Some shoots would seem to be purposeless. My task, as I see it, is to be the 'client' and to set a brief. I could no more 'craft' anything than I could make a dress. So befuddled would I be 'on location' that not one useable image would be produced. A learned friend of mine has described my job as being a curator of  dress collections. I would agree and add that have also hunter-gathered a brilliant team of like minded creatives to realise my ideas without any discernable skill input from me. No 'have-a-go' styling heroics from me.To paraphrase William Morris I struggle to see the point in photos I don't "know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful." This shoot had a purpose commercially - to shout New York Style about the JLM Couture brand - I wanted useful and beautiful...

In my constant search for fresh looks, new brands I came across JLM Couture. To be fair they are hardly niche - they are a big US fashion house with a stable of labels. I wasn't trawling degree shows to discover Tara Keely, I don't want to position myself as Isabella Blow.

I will own up to developing a crush on them as they represent a sleek diffusion of New York supremos Vera Wang and Oscar de la Renta. The dresses at their very best steer a path away from the twisted, ruched and draped poly taffeta bestsellers of the ersatz designers on the mass market. The are pleasingly minimal but with a dose or perfume ad pretty.

To make a large song and dance about how much I like the JLM frocks and bridesmaids dresses I decided to hold a trunk show like no other. A shoot followed by a cocktail partyand fashion show.  In an uber competeitive market, where the world and it's mother are opening a bridal shop, the best way to demonstrate the difference at Miss Bush is to get your attention. To show you why we are different - why we are the 'out of town' Browns.

This shoot is supremely creative. I had my best girls on the case. The reason why I think it works is that it started on the premise of beauty. The three models we have used have been scouted by myself and Carolanne Armstrong. We regularly and mercilessly tease each other about our girl crushes - how we fall in love with women's faces. So despite our heterosexuality our lady loves manage to inform our choices. Jade, Jeni amd Ellie's faces are heavenly. Jade's face is beauty with art and intelligence pouring forth, Jeni's face is that of a sex goddess and Ellie face has the perfect pout and is irresistably youthful.

These faces were in place all the time while thinking about the USP for JLM. It's the New York vibe. The dresses are designed and made in New York - fantastically unusual - the benefit for brides being that the deliveries are great and the service second to none.

My mind became preoccupied with New York women, TV shows, films, music and night life. My first thoughts were Park Avenue Princesses - like the Gossip Girl women, a bit of SATC and Bergdorf blondes; Greenwich village girls all beatniks and Joni Mitchell; Wall Street woman - hard edges and Working Girl 80s style.

My Park Avenue Princess stayed. My Greenwich village Joni Mitchell "We had no money. I made my wedding dress... I walked down the aisle brandishing my daisies" moved to Tribeca and became a bit Olsen twin. Wall Street woman didn't work - Jeni, dammit, is too sexy. A tiny frame with a fine bust meant she looked ok at best, slutty at worst in some of the original concepts. So my mind whirled a bit more - I was still obsessing about suiting and masculine looks with her burningly beautiful face making it feminine. Her look is a fashion smoothie. Jeni is Annie Hall, she is Frank Sinatra crooning wedding standard New York New York, she is Elvis and kd lang. Jeni represents the New York of counter culture, freedom and Pride. Miss Bush brides are not always straight so the ambiguity of the gender roles is interesting layer to the shoot.

The colour scheme - it's all about the Taxi. Yellow, black and grey are Miss Bush's colours deliberately chosen to stand away from the twee-crowd.

Once the models were dressed in my head, the looks briefed. the flowers sourced, the location scouted what did I do then? I walked away.

Juliet McKee is a brilliant photographer - I am not. Amy Plank is a great stylist with unwaivering patience and attention to detail - I am better at the bigger picture. Carolanne and Sharon do great make up and hair - I still do GHDs and Rimmel. Gayle Evans is a flower genius - I don't know my aster from elbow. I know what their considerable strengths are individually but as a team they delivered more than I could have hoped for. Did the girls shout NYC style? You bet your bottom dollar they did...

"Woke up, it was a Chelsea morning
And the first thing that I saw
Was the sun through yellow curtains
And a rainbow on the wall" Joni Mitchell

 "Late last night the screen door slam
And a big yellow taxi took away my old man " Joni Mitchell

"You told me again you preferred handsome men
but for me you would make an exception. " Leonard Cohen

"...I'm waiting for the sun to shine." Travis Bickle, Taxi Driver

"You're a young girl, you should be at home. You should be dressed up, going out with boys, going to school" Travis Bickle, Taxi Driver


Photography Juliet McKee
Make Up Carolanne Armstrong
Hair Sharon Roberts
Styling Amy Plank
Models Jeni Cook, Ellie Cooper, Jade Puttock
Flowers Bloomingayles
Menswear Hugh Harris
Taxi  Taxi RR Elite via Star Car Hire

Jade wears Jim Hejlm Blush Style 1156 from Miss Bush
Ellie wears Tara Keely Style 2052 from Miss Bush
Jeni wears Hugh Harris suit

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