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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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VITA!

Vita_Sidorkina_02

After we wrapped our Hamptons Magazine shoot, we decided to play around on digital and on film with our model muse Vita Sidorkina. There are whispers in the industry that she is the next “it” girl, and it says a lot that she just signed a contact with Victoria Secret PINK. I’ve shot a lot of people through the years from models to artists to friends and business folk so I’ve felt the differences in front of the lens. I do my best to make the sitter feel comfortable, beautiful (or handsome), and safe, even if that means helping them pose down to their pinky toe to get a balanced and aesthetically pleasing shot for both yourself and them. However, sometimes you have someone who truly knows how to move in front of the camera. You start a dance and dialogue together both giving to create. Vita does that and as a photographer, it’s my favorite way to photograph someone. It feels like watching a flower bloom in high speed through your camera box.

This was my favorite shoot from summer: I love the simplicity, I love the styling Kelly did on Vita that she picked up from how some of the “cool” guys in the Hamptons had been wearing their sweaters in the chilly night air, and of course, I LOVE Ralph Lauren which is all she needs to wear out East…

Vita_Sidorkina_03 Vita_Sidorkina_04 Continue reading…

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Part III: Berlin

In the 1950s, my grandfather Beck was stationed in Berlin. Growing up as a child, I was always so fascinated by the old black & white photos of him from this era in this place unlike anything I knew on the country roads of Texas. I’ve always wanted to go and walk in his footsteps, to think of him as a young man, his family so far away, the devastation of war in front of him. We walked from East to West, we studied the differences from old photographs. We wandered the streets of Scheunenviertel and Kurfürstendamm. We had pretzels and beer, schnitzel and sauerkraut and look back in time of a city that changed so much.

Berlin in black and white film photographs Berlin in black and white film photographs Berlin in black and white film photographs     Berlin in black and white film photographs

Continue reading…

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Part II: Paris

A black and white film journey through Paris and the beaches of Normandy.

Paris is so much to me…a constant source of inspiration, of light study, and beauty. When we stepped off the train from London at Gare de Nord, the smell hit me, that same familiar Parisian smell of coffee and cigarettes, and dusty old books in a garden of roses. The hotel, so quaint, with the Eiffel Tower framed between the walls of the street. We sat in cafes and drank wine, watching the people go about their day, their loves, their minds lost in their own thought. I wonder what they are thinking and have I thought that same thing before? We climbed the stairs of Sacre Coeur, danced with the states at the Louvre, and watched the sunset on Pont Neuf. On a poetic day we found ourselves on a train to Normandy, on a walk through the beaches of Omaha in silence, imagining the horror of war, looking up at the fate of too many. I always love Paris – it’s never goodbye but only I’ll see you soon…. and soon I did.

A black and white film journey through Paris and the beaches of Normandy. A black and white film journey through Paris and the beaches of Normandy.

A black and white film journey through Paris and the beaches of Normandy.

A black and white film journey through Paris and the beaches of Normandy. A black and white film journey through Paris and the beaches of Normandy. A black and white film journey through Paris and the beaches of Normandy. Continue reading…

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