ESME VIE

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The elevator doors opened onto the fifth floor of the historic Rafael Hotel in Paris, most notably the place where Grace Kelly & Jacqueline Kennedy called home, and there sat this beautiful woman in a blush colored dress with an explosion of satin roses cascading over her shoulder like a vision of what women looked like so many decades ago. The woman was designer Julia Voitenko and like what all modern women battle with, she was searching for a wifi signal. Not knowing who she was at that moment of meeting did not stop me from showering her with compliments and inquiring about every detail before me. When she realized I was there to see her collection, was the moment I realized the collection I was about to see was hers and into the suite we went.

She walked me through the idea of the “new wardrobe” for the modern day woman where she needs only own a few pieces that can be mixed and matched to create a variety of classic looks, one in which Julia describes as “beauty made to wear”. Pulling inspiration from the 50s and 60s the silhouettes remain timeless and flattering to all body types while being hand constructed in Italy from the most prestigious Italian silk {something we know a thing or two about}.

In suite fit for a Princess, overlooking that dreamy view of Paris, I fell in love with ESME VIE and her idea of dressing for ladies.

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Paris Time

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For the past 4 years we’ve have the greatest pleasure of enjoying Paris in the fall. First with Esteé Lauder, then for MAC Cosmetics, following with Ralph Lauren and this past trip with CHANEL. I feel so fortunate to be able to shoot for clients who see the magic in this city of lights as much as we do. After work we always stay as long as possible to eat, drink, shop, get inspired and take epic long walks in the enjoyment of life. I’m happy to have french friends and favorite restaurants. I adore how things never seem to change here- the same woman sells me my favorite chocolates, the same waitress serves us that day’s seasonal dish, though this year her english is much better… which kind of makes me sad. Then there is always the thrill of discovering something new. The rooftop of the Raphael Hotel was enchanting. Dinner on the terrace of Monsieur Bleu with this sparkling view was so elegant. And the home stores where on. point. this time.

Standing under the watchful eye of time I looked out over Paris thought about the years that have passed and how one day I’ll look back on this time in my life and say… “now wasn’t that just magical.”

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Boulevard Chanel

A couple of days before we left for Paris we got a call from Chanel. “Karl would like a few photographers to participate in the show, and Kevin, since you’re already filming from the riser, would you be interested?” Sweats nervously.

“Of course, as long as it’s not public humiliation.” Assured this was not the case, I arrived at Paris’ Grand Palais at 6am for rehearsals, along with a handful of other photographers and waited for instructions. A very French stage director walked the models through a mock protest,  led by an enthusiastic Cara Delevingne, which would close the show. The photographers would run out from the sides to “cover” the protest and do our best not to trip over ourselves and each other while running backwards.

Everything went off without a hitch. The models rebelled and disregarded the prescribed protest chant in favor of their own. No one tripped, and it was all an unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime, Parisian morning on Boulevard Chanel.

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Metiers d’Art Ateliers LESAGE & LEMARIÉ

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Recently I had the greatest pleasure of photographing one of the most beautiful, rare, masterpieces made by man- haute couture fashion. I knew it would be special, and it was, but in person it was breathtaking so much more than my preconceived notions had allowed my imagination to believe.

Now here we are in Paris and Chanel has invited me on a tour of where couture begins at their ateliers Lesage & Lemarié in Pantin, a suburb of Paris. These two famed workshops have been recused by Chanel to preserve their specialized  embroidery, feather, millinery, flower & couture skills.  From floor to ceiling archived boxes starting in the 1800s of pattern samples for precious embroidery for houses like Chanel, Valentino, and Dior, it goes without saying they are the best in the world. Thumbing through the archives I felt the free inhibitions of the designers, the almost child-like magic in design possibility as seen through color, texture, and pattern. This is not about what is popular for the masses, it is about an idea, it is about art, emotion, beauty and technical skill.

In a moment of humor, they had me try my hand at making a simple embroidery flower which then gave me an even greater appreciation for the skills and volume these artists work at. We looked through the archive of Chanel camellias, and then visited the room where every single flower is created by hand where at least 16 petals and one hour of work goes into creating one. Here  at Lemarié they hand make all the CHANEL camellias, around 40,000 a year.

I was so moved by the attention to detail and just shear human energy put into one single piece making the value greater than anything created any other way. I see now why couture is so special which is far beyond material quality, but artisan skill and above all… time.

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