A few weeks ago a rather lovely fashion shoot dropped into Amelia’s Magazine inbox. A collaboration from the photographer Paul Cassidy, post production artist Cristina Duran, Make-up by Jillian Cassidy and Stylist and star Silvia.
The entirely vintage shoot expresses the dramatic romanticism of Grey Gardens and the personal idiosyncrasies of the stylist. Shot for the majority in Paul’s living room, the beautifully coloured photographs develop (through the relation between house activity and the outfit it requires) the homage to two characters of fashion: Big and Little Edie.
When approaching the subject of Grey Gardens it became clear to Paul and Cristina that Silvia would have to be the stylist, realising “as the concept developed…that an actual model wouldn’t be able to pull it off and that Silvia was perfect… As Silvia is, well, Silvia and they are her own clothes.”
In Grey Gardens, the subplot revolves around Little Edie’s rebellion towards her isolated existence is her outfits. After being introduced to the documentary by a friend, Cristina and Paul “became fascinated by the characters” Despite never watching it fully and Cristina only once, the two creatives built an “interior set without referring to the film too much. Most of the elements were really already in place, and my (Paul’s) apartment took very little adjusting” in order to be used in the photos.”
The photographs celebrate the whimsical side to fashion, the belief in an ability to create new versions of the self through personally sourced clothing. It is not surprising that Silvia command’s the viewer’s attention, her individuality bathed in the gentle light of the 1970’s. The cold colour hues are perfect compliment to the clothes, attributed no doubt to Cristina’s “particularly strong connection to retro aesthetic and colour. I guess Grey Gardens was a catalyst that brought everything together.”
A strong compositional element of the photographs is the mirroring of colour between the clothes and the environment. In the photograph below the peach colour of the dress references the cloth on the couch, as the blue occurs in the images pinned to the notice boards.
The fashion shoot expresses Paul and Cristina desire for “something a bit mad (in the sense of someone without normal social convention),” Little Edie and Big Edie were certainly considered that for their choice to eschew society. Paul continues to explain what made Silvia the perfect model. “Silvia in person is quite restrained and formal but like most people she has a flamboyant and eccentric side and really it took very little direction to get her to express that in the photos. She was one of the most interesting subjects that I’ve ever worked with in her manner of physical expression and her posing. So I think that there’s an awful lot of Silvia in the photos but there’s also a lot of fabrication and exaggeration in the story telling.”
Discussing the composition Paul mentioned the importance the collective places on storytelling bordering on “truth, untruth or realism and surrealism.” The collaborations’ synergy –evident in the sequence of photographs that illustrate the article – has developed from a mutual “deep focus on character,” expressed through the model’s ability to convey the concept of the piece through the position of her body within the camera’s frame or choice of garment to illustrate her occupying activity.
Whilst the aim of the photoshoot might not have been to directly encourage people to be thrifty when buying clothes, it cannot help but do so. Whilst thrifty shopping might not new in Madrid or the rest of Europe, what is missing is beautifully constructed fashion shoots celebrating this. As Paul mentions “second-hand clothes are always popular when there’s little money about. You find this strange mixture of a generation of young people that have dressed themselves between H&M and second-hand clothes shops. Both are cheap options and the vintage clothes can give personality and quality to the generic chain store brands.”
Little Edie would be proud to see the continued celebration of the individual and her sense of creative spirit.
- Grey Gardens at Rich Mix
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- Cristina Sabaiduc: London Fashion Week S/S 2014 Presentation Review
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- London Fashion Week S/S 2011 Catwalk Review: Paul Costelloe