Behind the scenes for The Shoot: Royal Ambitions

So this is the last shoot for the September issue project I started for fashion month. It is also the shoot that caused me the most amount of grief, because it was one that I just couldn’t quite figure out how to pull off the vision in my head.

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To properly explain my vision you would need to have a look at the editorial this shoot was based off. It’s from Vogue Japan, a fashion magazine that I’d been aware off, but hadn’t ever really popped up on my radar. While researching for this shoot I realised that whoever they got in to be fashion director for that publication is an absolute genius! This shoot was not the only one that really impressed me. But back to the editorial, named Anastasia of the Winter. It stars Lindsey Wixon as Anastasia in regal, Victorian and Russian-inspired outfits outside a winter palace in St. Petersburg in a snow-covered plain. The styling is beyond fantastic and the location is to-die-for and when I first spotted it I knew I wanted to do something like that myself.

The only problem was, it’s not winter, I’m in London and there definitely are no Russian palaces in the area. Now at first this didn’t seem like much of a problem since there are plenty of Victorian structures in London and who needs snow when you’ve got plenty of clouds and some British rain. After all it was all about the Russian-inspired outfits and not the fact that the model was standing in a snow-covered courtyard.

But that seemed to open up problem number two for me. Everything I chose just looked Victorian and not Russian enough. My mum, a woman who’s quite versed in the Russian culture kept sending me over images of Russian women in the traditional attire, but I didn’t want to do the peasant look. I wanted something more regal, but how can you do Russian regal, when the Romanov families just wore couture gowns from Paris? The fact that I also couldn’t find a single image of a Russian member of the royal family in traditional attire threw my idea through a loop.

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So I set this shoot aside as I focused on other ones that needed more of my time, thinking if I gave it a bit of time and let myself mull over it at a later date I wouldn’t know what to do.

That didn’t really happen so when the weekend came around and I was supposed to do the shoot it rained and I secretly felt relieved since I still had no idea how to express my vision for this shoot. The outfits had been gotten, make-up had been planned out and I’d even done my hair up, but the great British weather got in the way once again. I decided to do one last attempt for this shoot in the middle of the week before work, and I decided I’d be very relaxed about it and if it worked out alright, then fantastic and if it didn’t, I’d just let the idea slide.

Originally there were two outfits planned for this shoot, but when I arrived that morning, twenty minutes before dawn and still immersed in the darkness of night, I realised the Royal Albert Hall was not the venue for me and my original first outfit should be discarded. Instead I decided to focus on the second outfit, the one with the Glamorous dress and I would stop trying to add a Russian angle to this shoot. Standing next to the Albert Memorial, I realised this season was all about Victoriana, and I was standing right next to a monument of an icon of that time. Who needs to go to faraway lands for inspiration, when it was literally right next to me, gilded in gold leaf detail and tall statues?

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In the end I decided to go with a royal Victorian vibe for the shoot. This actually worked out quite well as the Glamorous dress was very heavy in gold detail and it looked incredibly rich and expensive. The gold Baroque crown and earrings, modelled after the ones Dolce & Gabbana sent down the runway last season also added to the idea. With the New Look multi-string pearl necklace and wide bow added to this slightly-childish feel of this Victorian outfit.

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This shoot is not one of the best of my shoots, but thankfully it also didn’t turn out to be one of the worst either. All things considered, especially with the problems I had in finalising this vision, I done incredibly well with it and that I am proud off. Although, I haven’t given up on doing a Russian regal shoot; only this time I might focus more on whites and furs and wait until we too get snow. 🙂

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