Running successful photoshoots in Lockdown – Richard Clayton (Creative Director)
All the best photoshoots are busy, buzzy and bustling, with a whole crew animatedly prepping, tweaking, composing and discussing each shot to ensure it delivers the best execution of the creative vision. The creative drive behind the shots comes from this buzz on set, and our challenge has been to maintain the energy, even when the team is working from kitchen tables and spare bedrooms rather than gathered together and able to directly interact.
With the current restrictions likely to persist, for the foreseeable future we will need to have as few individuals as possible physically present at any shoot, and whilst art directing remotely is certainly a new skill we now have under our belt, the shift in how we approach each shoot starts from the moment we receive the brief.
We need to ensure that, in spite of people doing their jobs remotely, there is just as much collaboration, energy and excitement from everyone involved, or we risk following the brief, but not adding that extra dimension of creativity that makes a shoot a real success. The whole team has got to be clear from the get-go on their role and responsibility, whether they’re on screen or in the room. Everyone must be comfortable to speak up with any concerns and sharing new ideas is always welcome. Whichever way the message is delivered to us, we will always be listening.
Why? Because the truth about shoots is that things change. They always do, even with the best laid plans there is always a need to adapt quickly. Whether a set up just isn’t working, a prop hasn’t turned up or a better idea evolves on the day, we need to make decisions quickly and confidently without fear of straying from ‘the plan’. This is where Whatsapp groups and Facetime have been invaluable, with clients giving considered and thorough feedback literally in seconds as if personally in attendance.
Whilst there are many aspects of remote working that we can’t wait to be rid of, the learnings from these remote shoots will be something we will take forward long after the current restrictions have been lifted and we can thankfully return to studios across the country. The guiding principles that we have established will still hold true, and dare we say it, our creative output will be higher quality than ever.
To demonstrate the point, here are three examples of shoots we’ve undertaken under two lockdowns here – and we hope you’ll agree they are every bit as good as when shot in ‘normal’ times. Swipe to see the photos above or download the PDF from the link above.
Today marks the second time Raf Simons showed a women’s collection for his own brand, in addition to menswear. Last season’s presentation was served with the text “Welcome Home Children of the Revolution” — with that in mind, our anticipation for the FW21/22 show was built around the question: What follows next in the RS revolution?
Before the show arrived, we were given some loaded, teasing terminology for inspiration: “DEVOTION,” “DICHOTOMY,” “ALLEGIANCE”, “EQUANIMITY,” “SYNCHRONICITY,” and “ATRAXIA,” a greek word meaning a state of freedom from emotional disturbance and anxiety.
If anything, a future riffing off these ideas sounds optimistic, but the clothes presented depicted a more complicated utopia for the knitwear-wearing androgynes of the RS cult.
FW21/22 was introduced with a prototypical soundtrack from the Raf Simons archives: seminal German electronic band Kraftwerk. So far, pretty familiar. This feeling is furthered by a return of key elements from Raf Simons’ oeuvre – polo necks, button-downs, workwear shirts – presented in a wash of red, blue, pink, chartreuse, turquoise, and sunflower yellow. The knitwear felt like pure “raf,” too, rendered in large and comforting shapes with a wide wale stitch, exposed raw hems, and a new “R.SIMONS” label just below the neck. There was also a throwback to Simons’ legendary FW02 “Virginia Creeper” show via a reference to Nebraska on a few of the sleeves.
Talks of “old vs new” have been on Simons’s mind for a while now. In a Q&A with his Prada co-creative director Miuccia Prada, Simons said “Every designer wants to be new. But I think when you are in it for a long time, let’s say a few decades, it’s important to be able to refresh your own body of work.”
While there’s plenty here to appeal to the die-hard Raf Simons crowd, there is indeed some newness, some of which gets pretty morbid. Check out our favorite key pieces from the Raf Simons FW21/22 collection below.
The collection was imbued with a lingering skeleton motif, appearing as an enlarged print on hoodies and conceptualized as a bracelet clasped around the arm of oversized shirts, and bolting together sleeve openings. The overall effect is one of a skeleton urgently needing our attention, but for what?
N.b. If this piece doesn’t show up on a virtual red carpet via famed-skeleton print enthusiast Phoebe Bridgers, then what was any of this even for?
The lone dangly earring is the fashion accessory that just won’t quit. A frequent go-to for Lil Nas X, Harry Styles, and Odell Beckham Jr, a singular pink “R” earring can be very effective if executed correctly. The heart charms as rings are a nice touch too.
This is where the collection gets modern. A big white shirt is a veritable WFH staple. The smart collar provides Zoom-appropriate coverage from the waist-up, and then you can style it however you want down below: sweatpants, slides, underwear, or whatever’s available. Maybe a blanket from his “History of my World” collection?
More bonnets? Miu Miu made a case for cozy knitted headwear in it’s mountainside FW21 presentation, and Raf Simons offers slightly more severe, sausage-casing option in green, black, and pink.
The Raf Simons blazer with the sleeve rolled up is an ’80s inspired style tip. But when layered with a neon/gray knitted gauntlet underneath, printed with “DEVOTION” on the silk patch, it takes the look into the 2021 and beyond.
The key fabric of the new collection is the quilted jackets, landing well below the hip with an exaggerated sleeve and unstructured shoulder. The insulating materials wrap around the body like a blanket or shawl with a new “R.SIMONS” tag poking egregiously out from the back.
Jonathan Anderson’s latest Eye/Loewe/Nature collection has arrived at MATCHESFASHION, alongside a vibrant campaign starring The Crown and God’s Own Country star, Josh O’Connor. Shot in the Baja California Desert in Mexico, the Gray Sorrenti-shot visual speaks to our collective desire for adventure following a year of restricted movement, and sees the British actor put the workwear-led pieces to practical use in a series of action-packedhellip;
When it comes to footwear of unparalleled elegance, you can’t get more iconic than Manolo Blahnik. In this FRONTPAGE interview (taken from the new issue of HIGHStyle), the legendary designer opens up for a conversation covering just about everything.
You’ll never fully understand footwear, or the category’s enduring power as a luxury signifier, without fully comprehending the grande impact Manolo Blahnik has had on everything we wear on our feet.
Over the past four decades, the Spanish designer’s petite treasures have been displayed in every major department store, worn by every celebrity, and have been on the runways of the buzziest brands, from Vetements to Oscar de la Renta. Blahnik single handedly pioneered footwear into the luxury realm, long before the space became the growing multi-billion dollar industry it represents today. To many influential fashion insiders, he’s considered the best shoe-maker of the 20th and 21st centuries. And then pop culture that got a hold of him.
In Jay-Z’s 2002 hit song “Bonnie and Clyde” ft. Beyoncé, Jay raps about his girl wearing “Manolo Blahnik Timbs.” The designer shoes were also the obvious choice of footwear for RuPaul, whose pair of Manolos — yes, they’ve become a noun — would let the famed drag queen “party tonight” as mentioned at the end of the fourth verse of the performer’s hit dance single “Click Clack (Make Dat Money).”
Blahnik and his bright colored pumps, stilettos, and ballerinas, reached global stardom to the extent that they’ve been worn and name dropped by Tina Fey on Saturday Night Live; in the musical Kinky Boots; in E.L. James’ Fifty Shades trilogy; in Weird Al Jankovic’ original song “Close, But No Cigar;” in Japanese high school teen drama Hana Yori Dango; and in — who can forget — “Einmal um die Welt,” an Austrian chart-topping tune by German rapper Cro. Aunt Lydia wears a pair of five-inch stilettos in Chapter 20 of Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments, while for Nelly and P. Diddy, Manolos serve as a set up for a rhyme in their 2003 tune “Shake Ya Tailfeather.” But most of all they’ve become synonymous with being Carrie Bradshaw’s utmost favorite shoes of all time in every season of Sex and the City.
As if Blahnik — now 78 — ever cared about the folly cultural endorsements anyway. “I don’t even know why [they mention it]. I actually never follow that. The only one I follow is Rihanna,” he tells me of his past collaborator over a ninety-minute phone call that he’s dialed into from his historical house in Bath, far from the English nation’s capital where he settled in 1969.
Along with now legendary friends like David Hockney, Paloma Picasso, and Eric Boman, Blahnik made up West London’s creative scene in the 1970s. Following his own path, Blahnik started designing footwear, after Diana Vreeland, the legendary editor-in-chief of American Vogue, told him he should seriously consider making shoes.
In 1971, he developed his inaugural shoe for the runway show of Ossie Clark, a close friend and one of the most prominent British fashion designers at the time. A standalone boutique in London’s wealthy Chelsea neighborhood followed, where he would host and design personalized Manolos for Bianca Jagger, Rupert Everett, and Anna Wintour.
Everything else followed. Footwear collections for Izaac Mizrahi, Calvin Klein, and Marc Jacobs upon his expansion in the US, indirectly being part of an Oscar win for best costume design in 2007 for Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette (for which he created the footwear), and directly netting three CFDA Awards.
And Blahnik is never done. 30,000 designs on and the first thing he plans to do after Britain’s lockdown is travel to his manufacturers in Italy, where he tells me his team regularly tells him to pack up, long after working hours.
“[Work] is what I spent my time with during lockdown,” he says. “Sometimes I love everything and sometimes I hate everything. But this time, I know that some of the shoes I’ve done are the best I’ve done in many, many moons.”
Here, we speak to the avant-garde, larger than life footwear legend about everything that’s on his mind, and more.
“I totally belong to another generation, but somehow I’m able to capture people in their twenties and thirties with my work, which is what I started to do. I try to portray my youth insistently in my shoes.”
“My own factory, which is based an hour and a half outside of Milan, does a bit of everything. There’s new blood in [Milan] now. People with new ideas, not something that’s rehashed from what other designers have done. People like Demna and [Guram] Gvasalia at Vetements. They’ve been able to popularize their name and it’s expensive. [Although the Gvasalias] are new blood in the industry and you need that.”
“I did a few collaborations with Rihanna. She’s a very clever woman. I don’t know what she does now.”
“My dogs are my real true love, exquisite animals. I love cats as well. I love any animal, but I was born with a dog, or when I was about four months old. It was a German teckel, my mother brought it from Prague, it was the most beautiful dog. They’re my second nature. My happiest time in England was when I had my dogs.”
“I didn’t even think about doing shoes. I had a lot of Notting Hill friends at the time like Eric Boman and Peter Schlesinger who lived nearby, and singer Bryan Ferry, so I did shoes for them. They really liked what I did. At the time I was very much into American students in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s. They would be in red, white or dark brown. There was also an Italian look, not a gigolo look like John Travolta.”
“Converse back in the day used to be elegant. I don’t like what’s going on now. You have shoes like Converse; alas, less touched up. They’re different. I won’t mention names but all those designer [sneakers] that are around now are monstrosities that you pay a fortune for, like £2,000. It needs to change. I think what people want now are shoes that you don’t have to pay attention to, but are just beautifully made and might have a wonderful color or material.”
“Seeing those wonderful women who used to go to Milan to browse and buy [proper] shoes, in the mid-1990s and the turn of the century, [they] started wearing those terrible sport shoes. I found it quite horrible. It’s this lack of respect for people. Maybe I’m sticking to my old ideas of what’s polite, but I hate to see someone who’s very elegant [wearing sneakers]. Even seeing important political figures with open shirts where the hair is coming out, I find it so offensive.”
“In January last year, I went to Paris to open a shop at Palais Royal, which is my favorite place in the world, and the young somehow still dressed up. In London, I [still] see fantastic well-dressed young people, but they’re not [always] comfortable with it. Although I notice that people are getting away from these smelly [sport] shoes again. This is a group of young people who are making [dress shoes] modern again.”
“I’m not mad about that. I’m from another generation. I don’t like disposable shoes. I like those that you can keep for a long time and that last. If they start looking funny, you can send them to the shoe repair.”
“Alain Delon is one of the most fantastic actors. I saw him quite a few years ago in Paris and he was sitting at a table. I went to him and said ‘Mr. Delon bla bla.’ I never do that to anybody! He was with his wife and kids. He was someone who wasn’t really chic, but when he went to Italy, he took up this Italian look and converted into himself. You have to see this wonderful movie by René Clément starring Delon called Plein Soleil or Purple Noon in English. Call Amazon, you can get it. I talk about Alain Delon because those were the type of shoes I did at the time, yachting shoes, shoes for walking. Not the heavy nonsense that came later on in the 1960s with platforms and things like that. I never liked those.”
“I think sandals are very chic. I used to hate them because in Geneva, people in sandals used to be hairy people. Now I’ve changed my mind. Sandals are so elegant. Americans always look clean and groomed. They have pedicures. But in Europe it’s awful. People in flip flops with hairy feet. That’s not my thing.”
“I’ll go to my factory with my niece and the time goes by. I’ll start at 8:00 [in the morning] till 10:30 [at night] and I see people getting tired and I need to stop, because I have no sense of time when I’m working. This is part of my job that I enjoy endlessly. To tell you the truth, I would rather be very small. What I do isn’t based in novelty, I only do things that remind me of my youth.”
“I only like two brands nowadays who make beautiful shoes and objects in the world: Hermès and Church’s. For leather and fashion, I like timeless things. I think the seasonal nature of fashion has to change though, I don’t think that people from now on will be working that way. Things that last a long time is what I really want now.”
“I can’t wait to have my bloody shop open in New York. Just opposite men’s Hermès on Madison. It’s the first time in my career that I’m in a location that’s commercial. If we’re lucky we’ll open in April or May. New York is always going to be New York. Somehow Americans have this incredible tradition of going out and buying no matter what, unless it’s something like now with lockdown. But I love the American spirit, I understand how they function quite well as I’ve spent much time there. Americans are like a phoenix, they manage to [come back] from anything.”
“Marc Jacobs is wonderful. I did two collaborations with him when he was young in New York. It was fun. I think it was the 1980s or 1990s. I’ve always worked well with American designers. He’s [always] understood what’s happening in America. With [Louis Vuitton] he did it in France, but I don’t think people appreciated it there. The atmosphere that Marc Jacobs created was utmost fantastic.”
“I adore Grace Wales Bonner. She has a pure sense of what she believes in, she does. It’s extraordinary. You can see her pieces have a life and will last a long time. You don’t forget those pieces. In a strange way this flair reminds me of Tina Chow when she used to come to me for shoes. She collected the most fantastic Poiret and most divine Issey Miyake. She would wear a Chanel dress from Karl, and then she converted into herself. That’s what I call style. And Grace has got that same kind of certainty of what she wants. She’s one of the designers who’s going to be incredible.”
“Going to the movies is my religion. When I was younger, I used to go to Electric Cinema in Notting Hill in London like three times a week. It was like an addiction to me. Now I don’t go to movies as I don’t have the time. Everything has also been dissipated. Everybody is streaming things.”
“In Mid-Century America and Europe, everything was so beautiful. Between the two World Wars, people invested in two things: their houses and their clothes. It’s a different period now, but I would love to be able to capture this thing again in my work, thoughts, and in life.”
Experience the full story and others in HIGHStyle, a print magazine by Highsnobiety available on newsstands and the Highsnobiety shop now.
NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins has been sharing some incredible photos from the window seat of Resilience, a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft.
Hopkins was selected by NASA as an astronaut in 2009. The Missouri native is currently serving as Commander on the Crew-1 SpaceX Crew Dragon, named Resilience, which launched November 15, 2020. It is the first post-certification mission of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft – the second crewed flight for that vehicle – and his second long duration mission aboard the International Space Station. He is also serving as Flight Engineer on the International Space Station for Expedition 64.
Previously, Hopkins was member of the Expedition 37/38 crew and has logged 166 days in space. Below you will find some amazing photos from space that he took on board Resilience. Follow him on Twitter for more space updates!