Tag Archives: chanel

Play it for CHANEL

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The fashion world is always colliding and collaborating with artists, like two exotic fish constantly swimming around each other in a never-ending dance of inspiration, a black and white yin & yang. When the Chanel Haute Couture Spring 2015 collection came to New York for 48 hours they sent a selection over to our studio for another midnight sitting (after the delicate, one-of-a-kind pieces spent the day in back-to-back appointments with clients, collectors, buyers and press).

Of course, shooting couture on a model would be terribly fun but sometimes I want more of a story… not to mention, the Chanel shoots happen in the middle of New York Fashion Week where every model is busy being sent down the runways multiple times a day.

So we find our own muses.

Last September it was our Botticelli-esque raven, artist India Salvor Menuez on a concrete set piece we created for her, to live like a flower sprouting up between the cracks of distressed urban time. For this sitting, my creative collaborator Kelly Framel, found violinist Margot Moe, already a fixture in the fashion world for her legendary violin riffs over musical partner Mia Moretti’s DJ sets. They’ve brought music from the Lower East Side up to the runways of Fashion Week and into the temple of art by opening for Janet Jackson at the Louvre.

Which brings me back to my point of fashion and art and its never ending dance of inspiration.

So here Margot is, an artist, and there is CHANEL, the most legendary fashion house in the world, a moment of black and white yin and yang tugging and pulling and swirling and and jumping around each other on set like a tangled pair of lovers caught up in the fires of inspiration one never quite able to let the other go.

We sat in the studio in silence and listened to Margot play, the snow falling in a white blanket outside our old industrial windows contrasting with the inky black looks billowing through the set and I thought back to that moment when I was sitting in Coco Chanel’s Paris apartment  last fall, listening to the stories of her intimate dinner parties. She liked interesting people, people who had a story, people who created something and played to their own tune much like Coco herself.

I can’t help but think in another world, she would have been quite pleased to have Margot filling her home and her heart with a soulful tune that would fade out onto the black and white streets of Paris…

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Tell me about some of the current projects you are working on?

I’m in the studio right now recording my solo record, creating a classical music mixtape, and writing an orchestral piece. 

You’re an incredible violinist, how did you get started?

I picked it up when I was four and haven’t put it down since. 

What drew you to the violin? 

It’s a conversation without words.

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The Golden Plumes of 1932

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Gabrielle Chanel believed jewelry had the power to transform oneself and to escape. When looking at these delicate 18K gold feathered pieces by CHANEL remade from her 1932 collection, I thought about those two words: Transform & Escape.

I thought about transforming oneself with our masks into good or evil, into the lightness or darkness, or escaping who we are in our day to day lives with jewelry being the stage we write our script to. Dancers have to be one of the most accomplished groups of people in the art of transforming and taking on roles. While in Paris I met one such dancer, Claire Camille, and wanted to bring this delicate collection of golden plumes, as imagined by Coco, to life and transform into characters so delicate you could imagine they’d simply float away together

Float away together I thought… I love the idea of escaping through jewelry. I have this beautiful gold globe designed by Monica Rich Kosann which I adore. When I wear this piece I escape on a million adventures around the world, discovering beauty beyond imagination and expanding on what limited time my eyes have left to see.

You can easily see how we define ourselves, where jewelry can take our imagination, something LoveGold showcases better than anyone. What does the jewelry you wear transform about you? When you truly want to escape, what pieces do you put on? Do you, too, play characters in the theater of life? On this early autumn day in Paris, here is where we drifted off to like a feather endlessly floating in golden light….

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CHANEL 1932 PLUME~

Earrings // Necklace // Bracelets // Ring

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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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