We are big 'fans' (get it?) of Christine Hahn's work, so we were overjoyed when she asked us to work with her on the magazine shoot. We pinched ourselves when the call sheet arrived with all the pertinent information about the time and the place and the team Christine had assembled. Although we had heard about the reincarnation of parts of the Brooklyn Navy Yard as photo studios, we were going to see it for ourselves. (Fun fact: Valerie's dad was in the Navy during WWII, and as we lived a short distance from the Navy Yard, Valerie got to visit in her youth, when it was off limits to civilians. Ah, memory lane!) An added bonus: Christina included the Dumpling Diva, Marja Samsom, in the shoot.
As promised, here's our behind-the-scenes coverage! We were told we'd have two costume changes. The outfits were all black, white or red, which simplified our task enormously, but we still had to prepare for every eventuality, so we brought all sorts of contingency items and oodles of accessories, in case the most obvious choices didn't work out. Almost everything on the table in the front is a contingency accessory, not an item of clothing. Let it not be said that we were not prepared! On the rack, you can see the two Chromat 'cages' we wore. The other Chromat items had not yet been brought out for us to drool over. You can also see the white kimono with a pattern of black polka dots that Valerie brought from her collection.
It was definitely three ring, if not exactly a circus. Everyone had a job to do, and everything had to be done simultaneously in the interests of time. We were astounded at how fast and efficient everyone was. As Jean had her make-up done, set artist Max Wittert was hard at work painting the first set.
Here is Valerie in the white Chromat 'cage' and white long sleeved dress (found for her by master finder/organizer Morgan - more on Morgan below). Hair styling was courtesy of Isaac Davidsson, who not only made us look glam, but was also great at putting us both at ease.
Jean chose a similar but longer and wider version of the cage -- in black, of course!
Rest assured that the dramatic ebony and ivory Chromat cages and futuristic helmets by Heidi Lee didn't cramp our style. In fact, they inspired our own little "robot dance"! We were asked to pose - not to dance - but the fabulous outlandish designs got to us. The clothing made us do it!
Christine is very shy in front of the camera, but a powerhouse behind it. All her photos went directly from her camera to a huge screen, where they were blown up to a size where every detail could be easily seen. On the right side of this picture of us on the screen (not visible here) are smaller versions of probably the previous twenty or thirty thumbnail pictures that the viewer can click on at will for a fast review. Great organizational equipment. We're wearing Heidi Lee grid helmets with our Chromat cages.
Just a few feet away from us were a dozen or so photos that Christine had taped to the wall for inspiration. Here are just a few of them. We don't have to tell you that we both became a bit obsessed with the hat in the upper left corner, do we?
After Max had painted each of the backdrops and Christine was working her magic, Max sketched to relax. We loved his drawing of Jean in the cage.
We also got to play with and wear some amazing accessories. Valerie had fun with these Venetian mask-like sunglasses, matching them to some of the other Chromat marvels Morgan brought. The frames are called "Frankie". That Lady Gaga has been photographed wearing them comes as no surprise. You MUST check out the website for the glasses made by a-morir. The frames are unique, creative and adventurous. They will knock you out!
Jean modeled Heidi Lee's so-called 'cone bra' fascinator, the inspiration for which was Jean Paul Gaultier's velvet cone bra dress, made famous by Madonna. She combined it with the most amazing red Chromat shoulder cages.
Speaking of accessories, the exaggerated frames on these a-morir cat-eye sunglasses were perfect for Jean. She's wearing all of her own clothes with the glasses, including an origami turban by Amy Downs.
Here is a shot of Max hard at work, painting free hand an entire wall and floor for one of the shots, inspired by Valerie's kimono.
As you can see from the results, the effect is dazzling! Valerie looked amazing in her polka dot kimono and Heidi Lee cocktail parasol hat against the backdrop of Max's inspired handiwork! (Some of you will say 'hey, that's not the correct way to wear a kimono.' Yes, we know that. We just liked the material and the pattern.)
Marja got to wear a witty pair of a-morir's bright white fur-framed "Liam" sunglasses (named for Liam Howlett from the band "outside of a rave")! They were the perfect accessory for a modern sheath dress with an exaggerated shoulder.
From the front, the dress looks minimalist, but you need the rear view to appreciate the real shoulder action: the way in which the multi-layered collar cascades down the back is an unexpected delight.
And check out the shoes Marja wore. Although we were soooo glad neither of us had to wear them (heels, you know), she wore them like a queen. Not everyone has a problem with heights!
In no time at all, and again freehand, Max created another backdrop just for Marja, who modeled a black oversized boxy coat, with her black and white striped chef apron and shorts, with those black and white high heels. She is wearing a pair of a-morir "Armstrong" glasses (named for Tim Armstrong, of "Operation Ivy" and later "Rancid") to which the hat is actually attached. The black muslin fedora is hand trimmed in Swarovski Elements crystals and is attached by a chain to the hand pave'd frames.
Valerie borrowed Jean's Jean Paul Gaultier top and black tunic and red necklace to wear with her own silver and black gladiator sandals and her own earrings, rings and bracelet, adding the Chromat epaulets and peplum as a backdrop for the a-morir "Frankie" glasses.
Jean wore her Junya Watanabe for Puma coat; H&M leggings; Happy Feet red and white polka dot socks; vintage bakelite and plastic rings, earrings, bracelets and glasses; and her customized Dankso clogs. The red heart-shaped fan (clasped in prayer below and unfurled in the opening photograph) is from Lynn Dell's Off-Broadway Boutique.
Morgan started organizing to take everything back where it came from. As stylist, Morgan was in charge of gathering all the clothes, putting them out, making sure everything was accounted for (security at the entrance was super strict!), and finding whatever was needed at really short notice. Valerie had a black dress to go under the kimono, and when it was decided a white dress would be better, Morgan found one on the premises. (The premises are fully equipped for just such an emergency.) A jack-of-all-trades, Morgan also conducted the interviews and wrote the article that accompanies the photographs.
The mood on the set was a wonderful combination of fun and efficiency. When we wrapped ahead of schedule, everyone breathed a sigh of relief, and we all congratulated each other on a job well done. Max and Christine couldn't resist ending on a hilarious note with some of the wonderful accessories Morgan put together. Max is wearing the "Jett Silver" frame (named for Joan Jett) and Christine wears the "Frankie".
And the next day, we went back to our respective offices, kinda sorta like Cinderalla after the ball.