The brochures that drop through our doors (that we want), the glossy magazines, the terrible magazines, the brochures that drop through our doors (that we don’t want) – nearly all of them will contain images taken on photoshoots.
Over the years I’ve been on both sides of the camera. There are shoots that I’ve appeared in – always great fun – and shoots that I’ve styled. Either way shoot days are always amazing – so much energy and so many idea fizzing around, new people to meet and their experiences to chat about. Photographers, make-up artists and models always have interesting tales to tell.
Orwell + Austen new collection – the rail of dreams!
Just before I went away, I was contacted by Jess, the founder of Orwell + Austen and she asked me if I would like to style their new lookbook. Would I ever?! Orwell + Austin make the coolest cashmere sweaters which I have coveted for a long time now. With only a small window of opportunity to prep before going away, Jess and I chatted, I took a brief from her and then I shopped – ninja style.
Ivy in the red “LOVE sweater”
A few days before the shoot a call sheet goes out, with details of all of those involved, timings and questions about dietary requirements. On one shoot (not this one) I met a lovely model who was a strict vegan. Well, until 3pm, when she had low blood sugar and only a hob nob would do.
Jess had decided right from the first time that she saw Ivy on “Britain’s Next Top Model” that she would like her to model in the shoot. Ivy was utterly beautiful and absolutely lovely with it and both she and Monet, Jess’ other choice of model, were the ultimate professionals.
Monet in the “Striped Sleeve” sweater
As the lookbook was going to feature no more than a slight hint of what was being worn on the bottom half, shoes weren’t necessary. It was chilly though, so the girls wore socks and at times had a heater blowing on their feet. Jessie, the Make Up Artist, was always on hand to touch up the models’ hair and make-up if necessary and you can see her brushes in the bottom left of this shot.
Ivy in “Ca Plane Pour Moi”
My role on the day was to dash between the shoot area and where the next model was getting changed, line the outfits up, steam the jumpers, check the outfits for aesthetics and styling once in front of the camera and deal with those pesky things such as loose threads or sticky out pockets – as well as liaising with Jess and the photographer Jake, Jess’ brother. It was a real family affair!
Ivy in “Je M’eleve”
I didn’t manage to capture all of the sweaters that we shot on the day but this one comes in the most beautiful green with pale blue writing, which had to be one of my favourites. I feel a green moment coming on. It’s not a colour that I’ve worn hugely over the years but it’s starting to have a real appeal to me now.
Jess wanted some texture to the background, without detracting from the sweaters, which were the stars of the show. These frames were made and fitted with line upon line of thread, which photographed really well. I think that it’s fair to say that Jake did a fair bit of hoiking around of sets and frames on the day, just to get everything into position. Luckily no limbs were broken in the taking of these photographs.
Monet in “Baby Bowie”
The sweaters come in a variety of colours and they will be available later this month. Do keep your eyes open on the Orwell + Austen site and I’ll give you the heads up once there’s an official date. There are so many gorgeous colours and styles to chooses from that I think that the difficulty will be knowing which one to choose. Jess has a real way with colour, and colour combinations, which are just so appealing.
Ivy in the Gold “Baby Bowie”
When I’m styling a shoot, or an individual, I like to include a couple of wild cards. Nothing too off the wall but something which maybe pushes the boundaries a little. We gave the vinyl trousers that I’d taken along a go and they photographed so well that, despite initial reservations, they passed the test. Ivy vouched for their comfort too. I think that we always think vinyl will be sweaty but these are really soft inside.
Monet in “Baby Bowie”
“Bowie” features quite a lot in Jess’ designs, as does colour and quirky touches. There’s a whole array of slogans, strategically placed stripes and small details. Jess showed me how she goes about designing on her Ipad and it’s really great to see the designs in their most raw form.
Ivy in “Bowie”
I love the colour combination in the sweater above. Blue with green, or green with blue, were some of my favourites. I can’t quite believe that I’m saying that of myself. What’s happened to my love of pink? Oooh and does anyone recognise the trousers?!
Monet in “Bowie”
Lunch is always a really big thing on shoot days. I really wanted to take a photograph of the lunch as it was spectacular – but then I thought that people might think that I was slightly odd. We were at Big Sky Studios in London and the home made chocolate cake, the salads and the healthy “looking” food were another highlight of the day. Plus shoot days can be long so it’s good to sit down with everyone, have a proper chat, and get to know people.
Ivy in “Sporty”
This is a new design of Jess’. I’m not sure that it will ultimately be called “Sporty” but that title worked well on the day for purposes of identification. The navy with the pink and taupe were such a classic combination but the design of the jumper makes it feel really fresh and modern. It’s also a great choice for those who prefer something a little less bright.
Ivy in light grey “Striped Sleeves”
The aim of the photoshoot was primarily to show the sweaters at their best (obviously) but also to demonstrate how they could be worn. The brand is quite playful, not too high fashion but not plain classics either. So we used a combination of suit style trousers, silky joggers, velvet and silver pleated skirts, bright colours, checks and camouflage prints, as well as jeans, on the bottom half. So many different styles work well as a backdrop to these sweaters.
Monet in navy “Striped Sleeves”
There’s no getting away from the fact that cashmere has a higher price point than merino, lambswool or sweaters that are made from man made fabrics. But they do feel amazing against the skin and they are incredibly soft. Combined with a great design, for me they are worth the investment and if you love them, they will love you back. But I totally appreciate that considered purchases need to be just that.
Ivy in “Atomic”
This shot wouldn’t ever make it to a final cut but I really love how informal – and slightly out of focus – it is. Plus I love these two colours together. If people look at the combination and go “That’s not for me, I would prefer to wear it with black, navy or grey” then that’s great. But if it gives someone an idea for a less obvious choice, or if it sparks their imagination to try something slightly different, then that’s great too.
Monet in “Atomic”
I realised, particularly for the purposes of this shoot, that there’s a benefit to being as old as I am! Over the years I have, ahem, “acquired” quite a few colourful pieces of clothing, and accessories, plus the odd pair of jeans, which suited the brief for this shoot.
Ivy in “Starburst”
I can see someone wearing this jumper when they need to kick some ass in a meeting. It’s a real “Pow-wow, high kick, I mean business” type of graphic. That’s how I see it anyway – but you may see it very differently. And that’s the great thing about these sweaters – they can appeal to your mood on any given day. And for Mother’s Day, what better present than the one below?! (Even if it is on advance order?)
Monet in “Love”
This “Love” jumper comes in several different colours. It was probably the trickiest to photograph but it will be one of the loveliest to wear.
How things were shaping up
From time to time the images were arranged on the screen, just to see how they were shaping up. This won’t be the final look by far but it’s really good to get a flavour of things as they progress. Watch this space for more details as the lookbook is finalised and for the launch date for the collection.