Many of my Taffetadarlings have inquired whether or not I was going to do a new Kickstarter campaign for my Spring 2013 collection. Well, I decided to skip it this time around and campaign for a photo shoot instead. It's such a massive undertaking to put a collection and runway show together, and since I've done it four times already (with all of your help, of course!), I focused on a small capsule collection this season. I mostly do custom work anyway, so it seemed to make the most sense.
from the new collection
The concept is settled, fabrics purchased (and I must say, they are gorgeous!), sketches complete and samples are on their way! What IS the theme you ask? I always like to concentrate on a particular idea, era or style each season and this time around, I drew inspiration from the Rockabilly world. As with most of my themes, it is something that has been interesting to me for quite a while and it just takes the right timing to pull out the idea and bring it to life -- such an exciting part of the process for a designer!
some fabric from the collection and a model car
Over the last few seasons, I've been following my runway shows with a photo shoot to produce a look book. Why? Well, it's a selling tool. It's tangible. It's permanent. The runway show, while it's pretty much a necessity, is fleeting. Many shows run less than ten minutes and don't always draw the most important people in the industry that designers need to reach. That is due in part to the hectic schedule during Fashion Week with five or six shows overlapping at any given hour, and also because it is definitely a struggle as an emerging designer to fill the seats with the likes of Anna Wintour. But, that is the ultimate goal and I still believe it's achievable!
left: more fabric from the collection / right: vintage Miriam Haskell bolo tie that I bought at a flea market in the 80's - served as inspiration
So, that's where the look book comes into play. These books can be mailed to key store buyers, magazine editors, etc. along with detailed descriptions of the outfits. The pictures are taken in a controlled environment which allows for the lighting to capture details and fabric textures that are often lost on the runway. The books are an absolutely imperative tool when trying to sell not only the garments themselves, but a brand, an image. In addition to the books, I use the pictures on my web site so you can understand how important it is to have these photos.
photo: Shane LaVancher / model: Caitlin Sloat
from last season's shoot
What happens during a typical photo session? I'm not gonna lie -- it's a blast. Of course, it's a lot of work and I don't think I've been involved in a shoot that didn't last at least twelve hours (with a quick lunch break), so it's a long and tedious day. But, there isn't the pressure of a live show and I get to collaborate with seriously talented people who are all helping to make my clothes look the best they can.
photo: Shane LaVancher / model: Julia Kravetz
The team basically consists of the photographer, photographer's assistant (who does a lot of running around, adjusting light, holding up screens, etc.), the model(s), hair stylist, makeup artist and me! So, everybody needs to get paid (except me) and fed. It's the designers responsibility (or whoever arranged the shoot) to pick up the lunch tab. That's okay, I prefer to have everybody happy not hungry!
photo: Shane LaVancher / model: Elicia Perkins
The day begins (earlier than I would like) with me schlepping the samples, shoes, accessories, etc. to the shoot location and I unpack and start steaming. After a coffee, of course. The photographer is there setting up (and this takes a few hours) to get everything arranged just right. We go over the concept again and talk specifics. Prior to the shoot, we will have had at least one meeting to discuss my collection and what I want to portray in the photos.
hair stylist Lucie works her magic
Then, the hair and makeup team arrives and starts to get organized. Shortly thereafter, the model(s) show up and the stylists and artists go to work. Again, I will have sent ideas, pictures, etc. to the hair/makeup team so they can get an idea of the concept and the image that I want to achieve. Usually, they stick some pictures to the mirror for reference during the shoot. But, I also like to let creative people be creative and I'm happy to let them put their own spin on things.
makeup artist Rieko works on model Juila during my Fall 2011 shoot
Most of the work seems to happen in the first three to four hours of the shoot because there is so much preparation. But, once the first outfit is finished, things move along at a fairly nice pace and while it can take some time to nail just the right shot, it's so much fun to watch the process and I'm in awe of the photographer's skills. Sometimes while this is all happening, I see something I hadn't before or think of a new pose that might work -- with so much creativity in one room it's hard not to feel inspired!
photo: Shane LaVancher / model: Caitlin Sloat
Now you know what happens behind-the-scenes and why a look book is necessary in the first place. I hope you've enjoyed today's lesson! LOL. Please consider donating to the campaign so that I can make this shoot happen!! Check out the project on Kickstarter and see what cool little rewards you can get for becoming a sponsor!