Tag Archives: gown

The Romantic world of Michelle Hébert

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Recently I was at an Everlane dinner with my friend Caroline {pictured here} to launch their new very cute boatneck shirts. Caroline and I were talking about our next shoot together and that we should do something totally different from the Everlane campaign photos she’s all over the web in.

I’ve been photographing her for years now, there is just something about her face I love. Plus she is an amazing jewelry designer, an all around great human being, and a really fun time.  At that same time my friend Bess, who is an incredible floral designer {she does the Vanity Fair Oscar Party!} was coming in from L.A. and wanted to collaborate on something like our previous shoots. She recently met this L.A. based fashion designer Michelle Hébert and sent me some images of her dresses which I found insanely dark and romantic. So Bess brought the gowns and flowers, Caroline brought her beautiful face, makeup artist Eddie Hernandez used all rose scented Chantecaille products and together we brought the gowns to life.

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Once the pieces were on the body we could really see the creativity of the designs. What’s crazy is that this designer is 24 and self taught! Obviously one day she will be winning Oscars for costume design or working for one of her favorite fashion houses such as Alexander McQueen.  I had to know more about this girl out in L.A. hand sewing fantasies in her parents garage so I interviewed her to see what is in her mind that makes these moments.

Describe the idea behind this flower, lace and tulle designed dress:

Michelle Hébert: One of my early pieces and a design created to pay homage to the late Alexander McQueen. It almost felt collaborative as I set out to use symbols we both admired such as flowers, but to take that and design something that was my own. Materials: Lace, Flower Appliqués, Chiffon, Beads, and Tulle. 

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Who is your muse, who is the woman you are designing for?

- My muse is a women who is beautiful in a quiet way. She appreciates what others would dismiss. She does not demand nor expect attention, but possesses humility & goodness attracts it. 

Your clothes are incredibly romantic, is this intentional or something that comes from within you? Why design romantic gowns? What is your story concerning that?

- I’ve come to learn that I’m a person who feels quite deeply. I would say my style and many designs came naturally to me from within. I’ve realized I struggle when I force myself to create, let alone purposefully portray a look or emulate a trend. I’ve always been either very passionate about something, or neutral and uninterested. As a child I once had a unrequited crush on just one boy that lasted 5 years! And once I found Fashion Design to be my medium of choice, it’s been a 14 year long love of mine. I am a dreamer and I do easily romanticize and fantasize of things that are impractical or not of this world. 

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Describe the idea behind this red dress design:

This piece was meant to embody pure fire. I see fire as unpredictable in its movement with flames not always well contained. It’s raw and inconsistent which came through when I was illustrating, then eventually while creating this piece. Materials: Distressed Chiffon, Acrylic Paint, Netting, Wire, and Adhesives. 

Where do you source your materials?

- For fabric I go to the Downtown Los Angeles Fabric District, for everything else a Hardware store and the internet! However… on occasion I’ve gone right outside my front door to find materials. I once made a dress of twigs and spent a few days collecting all the sticks I could in the neighborhood near my parents home. I received many silent stares as I walked around in my pajamas collecting twigs in a grocery bag.

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You make each of your dresses by hand, correct? How long does it take to make something like the red dress?

- Yes, each evening/art design has been a labor of love which can sometimes take at minimum 12 hours, but normally 30 – 60+. There is lots of strategic planning, basic construction, and hand sewing involved.

Where does your vision come from?

- It’s difficult to track as sometimes I’m sitting around just paying attention to my thoughts and *BAM!* Ideas overwhelm me. Or it will be at complete random when I least expect it such as while staring at a spackled wall or stain seeing shapes and patterns. One thing I can say for certain is back when I was a young teen, rather than searching for music I would spend hours looking through magazines or surfing the internet staring at pictures of designs and art. I accumulated 4 computer folders with 300+ saved images in each of them and hoarded many torn out editorials. I sometimes feel that this was necessary for me to build a catalog of design possibilities in my head, as well as realize what has already been done so that I can strive to innovate opposed to duplicate.

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Tell me about the white and gold dress below:

This piece was made for a presentation at the Music Center of Los Angeles in honor of the ballet “Les Nuits” (Based on 1001 Arabian Nights), and was semi inspired by what people covet most as many themes within the tales tended to center around grandiose desires and wealth. Materials: Chiffon, Netting, Wire, Adhesives, and Gold Foil.

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Favorite materials to work with?

- I have a soft spot for chiffon, the seductive and mysterious quality of lace, I love the light airiness of netting, if I ever chose a heavy fabric it’s normally dull satin, and I have the most fun when I use strange materials such as plastics, wire, adhesives, and paint.

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Your pieces are very haunting, where is your mind when you are designing? 

- It’s hard to say myself, I tend to work a lot off of my mood and feelings while knowingly being drawn to life, imperfection, fragility, struggle, transformation, creation, growth, decay, and lastly the subtly disturbing. I design in a way that when an idea strikes me, it’s truly like lightning, It gives me chills. What I create must resonate somewhere deep down I haven’t fully understood.

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Tell me about this black feathered gown:

I wanted to create a piece that appeared seamless with the wearer an example of my attempt was with the sleeves. I was trying to make model seem as if feathers were growing out of her skin. Materials: Pheasant Feathers, Synthetic Matted Fur, Netting, and Adhesives.

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I asked Michelle to fill in the blanks:

My favorite artist is… The Earth! It’s masterpiece being the many surroundings and life that sits atop it.  

The best way I express myself is…. Visually.

I am most inspired by… emotion.

An ideal day for me is…. stress free with those I adore while eating ice cream.

Beauty to me is… the imperfect and unconventional. 

I wish people appreciated more… of what happens behind the curtain, not just what’s at face value.

I wish more women…. were in positions of influence.

2015 for me will be… pivotal.

 I am most passionate about… people, life.

I am happiest when…. I’m surrounded by “good”. Good people, good events, good places.. and most importantly good food.

Love is… that warm secure feeling when all seems right.

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Peak behind the scenes here!

Caroline Ventura models gowns by Michelle Hébert || Floral designs by Bess Wyrick || Makeup by Eddie Hernandez for Chantecaille

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Chanel Haute Couture

I had never photographed couture before, but I had dreamed about it for years, ever since my first meeting with CHANEL. To see, to touch, to photograph something so special, so one of a kind, would become one of my greatest honors. I think every great photographer has their first “couture story”…the pieces are so rare that couture comes with quite a bit of fuss.

Coming straight from the runway in Paris, the fall 2014 Chanel Haute Couture collection visited New York for two days. I could have the pieces from 7pm to midnight at our studio which took three guys and two guards to carry up. The garments lived up to all my ideas of what haute couture is: immaculate quality, so intricate you could get lost in the details…fascinating aspects to the construction, just layers upon layers of depth and design. It is, quite simply, wearing art. Photographs will never capture the way the beauty feels in person, it’s like seeing a photo of a Botticelli painting online and standing in front of one in Florence. It brought tears to my eyes.

So what is haute couture?…

Haute couture, meaning “high fashion”, can be traced back as early as the 1700s at the court of Marie Antoinette, but the father of haute couture was Charles Frederick Worth, the man who changed the public perception of dressmakers from laborers to artists. At his atelier, he would create a living portfolio, a display of his work on models from which clients could choose a piece for themselves.

From this foundation, many couture fashion houses were born – so many that the term “haute couture” is actually defined and protected by a committee in the French government who have certain criteria in order for a fashion house to meet the haute couture standard. At the beginning of the twentieth century, there were well over a hundred houses considered haute couture, now there are only around a dozen.

Chanel is one of those legendary haute couture houses. Beginning in the 1920s, Coco Chanel revolutionized the fashion scene by ignoring typical fashion standards – creating a false bust and hips, using corsets to narrow the waist – in favor of fashion that allowed for women’s comfort while creating a new kind of polished style. As Coco continued to design until her death in 1971, Chanel became well known for creating fluid, effortless pieces that oozed glamour and sophistication. Today, under the vision of Karl Lagerfeld, Chanel continues to set the bar for the haute couture side of the fashion industry… to say the least.

So here we are, on an early autumn night at our studio, the windows are open with the distant sounds of New York city flowing in as stylist Kelly Framel is dressing our model, actress & artist India Salvor Menuez and I am standing on set ready to go to another world- one in which only Chanel can take me.

Clothing & High Jewelry by Chanel Couture // Modeled by India Salvor Menuez // Styled by Kelly Framel //  Makeup by Christine Cherbonnier // Hair by Joseph DiMaggio // Manicure by Angel Williams //  Concrete Mural by Mr Perswall for Wallpaperdirect

All things CHANEL here

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Meet Jasmine Poulton

JasminePoulton__02 Yesterday we played out one of my personal fantasies of glamour and fashion high atop the city skyline in a Mandarin Oriental suite with our British Wilhelmina model Jasmine Poulton. We were talking about dreams, the way so  many come to New York to find them or fulfill them. I asked Jasmine about her own life, what brought her to our city, a place where it seems everyone is from somewhere, and how she ended up on this beautiful fall day in front of my lens…

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New York is a city of dreams…my New York dream is….

Leaving every other weekend.

When I model I….

 Act.

The reason I moved to New York is…

To be free.

I am most inspired by…

 Nature, music, love, a mind’s endless ideas.

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Fashion is…

More than what’s current.

Women are…

One of nature’s greatest beauties & powers.

Continue reading…

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Mandarin Oriental Dreams

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High atop Manhattan’s skyline, overlooking Central Park and the Hudson River sits the proud Mandarin Oriental, glittering in the golden setting sun of an early autumn day. I love New York this time of year, I love the fantasy of glamour, a world where fashion, culture, business and design all collide into spectacular moments. When I was young and I dreamed of New York it was always like this – overlooking that powerful skyline that still mesmerizes me, in diamonds and designer gowns. Here, model and artist Jasmine Poulton brings my dreams to life in the Mandarin Oriental’s Oriental Suite in Donna Karan‘s very special 30th anniversary fall 2014 collection (remember when I took you backstage) and Chopard diamonds from the high jewelry collection

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