29 posts tagged "Steven Klein"
Designers design. Photographers photograph. Models model. That much—in broad strokes, at least—is clear. But what about the artists, technicians, and industry insiders, often unpublicized and underappreciated, who help to get clothes and accessories made and shown? Call them Behind-the-Scenesters: people who shape our experience of fashion but never take a bow on the catwalk or strike a pose for the camera. Without them—from patternmakers to production designers—the show wouldn’t go on. And in our recurring series, Style.com sits down with a few of these pros to find out, basically, what they do.
“Style,” as Jean Cocteau said, “is a simple way of saying complicated things.” And so it might be said that stylist Mel Ottenberg’s job is to find that simple way of saying something complicated. A button undone, a cuff rolled just so, the particular way a particular belt is slung over a particular dress: A good stylist makes these kinds of choices seem inevitable, and uses them to impart heaps of information about fashion, about the vibe on the street and the mood of the nation, and about how to look, now. “You’re kind of a medium,” explains Ottenberg, who is, among many other gigs, the fashion editor for Purple and the stylist for Adam Kimmel and Opening Ceremony (below). “You’re doing your own appropriation of this ‘thing,’ that’s how you bring the style into it. That’s hard to talk about, and it’s pretty much subliminal,” he adds. “I don’t want the style to be noticed, per se. I just want the kid who’s reading the magazine to think, wow, that looks great.” Here, Ottenberg talks to Style.com about his big break(s), his atypical days, and how a little fear can be a very good thing.
So, Mel: In one sentence, what do you do?
Well, on a good day, I’m the glue that holds everything together. Let’s say I’m on a shoot: I get the hair and the makeup going, I get the clothes together, looking right, and I’m there the whole way working with the photographer and the model. There’s a ton of collaboration involved. But fundamentally, I’m there to help make it work. Keep things going, keep things on point.
How did you get into styling?
Growing up, I was super, super-obsessed with fashion. I’d pick up copies of Vogue and Interview and pore over every word. And I started going to clubs at a young age, too, so I began dressing up and seeing fashion and glamour from that angle. Then, after I graduated from RISD, I moved to New York City and started working for some designers. The thing was, as much as I loved design and respected the process of putting a collection together, I didn’t like being hunkered down creating one thing for six months. And I tended to see images more than clothing, if that makes sense. But I wasn’t sure what to do with that until, completely by chance, I was asked to style a friend for The Face.
No doubt by now you’ve already read plenty about Fashion’s Night Out and have your itinerary firmly in place, but this little bit of news might persuade you to update your plans: Naomi Campbell will be in residence at Dolce & Gabbana’s Madison Avenue store on Friday night, signing limited-edition 25th anniversary T-shirts designed by the duo and featuring photographs of her taken by the world’s top photographers. (Proceeds from the $200 tees go to Campbell’s charity Fashion for Relief.) Below, Naomi discusses a few of her favorite lensmen (Bruce Weber, Steven Klein, and David LaChapelle, included) in this exclusive video sneak peek. “She’s an icon, not a model,” the designers said. Those who agree will be glad to hear that 14 models representing Campbell’s looks throughout the years will be performing a dance routine with the icon herself, choreographed by Lady Gaga’s go-to choreographer, Laurie Ann Gibson, whom we expect knows a thing or two about divas.
Designers design. Photographers photograph. Models model. That much—in broad strokes, at least—is clear. But what about the artists, technicians, and industry insiders, often unpublicized and underappreciated, who help to get clothes and accessories made and shown? Call them Behind-the-Scenesters: people who shape our experience of fashion but never take a bow on the catwalk or strike a pose for the camera. Without them—from pattern-makers to production designers—the show wouldn’t go on. And in a new series, Style.com sits down with a few of these pros to find out, basically, what they do.
Mary Howard is the set designer on virtually every key fashion photographer’s speed dial. She’s the consummate background professional, literally—she creates the mise-en-scène of a shoot. Howard (left works regularly with Steven Meisel, Annie Leibovitz, and Steven Klein, among others, and her sets range as widely as her collaborators’ styles. She does dazzlingly elaborate (Leibovitz’s 2008 Wizard of Oz shoot starring Keira Knightley), and she can make a set virtually invisible, too (Meisel’s Spring ’10 Prada campaign.) On any given day, you can find Howard mottling the gray backdrop at a studio shoot or packing up a selection of Art Deco lamps headed off on location. Here, she talks to Style.com about working with the masters, how much stuff is too much stuff, and learning when to leave the bobby pins in.
So, Mary: In one sentence, what do you do?
I call myself a set designer for print. Could be editorial, could be ads. In movies, they call someone like me a production designer; in fashion, the name “set designer” has stuck but it doesn’t entirely describe the job. There’s a lot of art direction involved; it’s not just about picking out a rug. But I guess if I have to boil down my job description to one sentence, I’d say—I create the world around the girl. I don’t have anything to do with the model, but I shape the physical environment that surrounds her and help the photographer and the stylist and everyone else involved with the shoot tell the right story and make the girl pop.
Why do you think the fashion industry has shied away from the title “production designer”?
I think some of it has to do with the fact that this is still an emerging field. It barely existed when I moved to New York; it wasn’t until recently that my studio even began getting credits in magazine. I work quite a bit with Grace Coddington at Vogue, and she’ll tell stories about sending her assistants out to just, you know, grab a chair. Or the photographer would send his assistant out to pick up props.
How did you get into set design?
I grew up in New Orleans, and after I got my MFA, I went back down there to build Mardi Gras floats. Then I came to New York City and built floats for the Macy’s parade. I was always making things—I’d make props for Saturday Night Live, for instance. Eventually I began working with a set designer—this was about 20 years ago, and it’s possible that she was the only one. We began working with Richard Avedon, and that led to other photographers and editors seeking us out. Then I went out on my own. Honestly, I feel like a grandma in this field.
What’s an average workday like for you?
I think that, like a lot of people in fashion, I do what I do because there isn’t really “an average day.” There are days on set, and there are prep days that involve a lot of thinking or researching or pounding the pavement looking at stuff. So there’s a routine, but the work itself is so dependent on the assignment—if I’m working with Annie, her process is totally different from, say, Steven Meisel’s process. Continue Reading “Behind-The-Scenesters: Mary Howard” »
Mugler Pursues Pugh, Alexander Wang Buys (And Not On The Lower East Side), Steven Klein Talks “Alejandro,” And More…
Is this the new face of Thierry Mugler? Rumors are swirling that Gareth Pugh (pictured) will be tapped to head the French label, though no official announcement has been made yet. [WWD]
Alexander Wang bought a new, $2 million Tribeca apartment with a history of fashionable tenants: Its previous owner was Holly Brubach, a former style editor at The New York Times. [NYO via Racked]
Steven Klein says he agreed to direct Lady Gaga’s “Alejandro” video because her show “felt like performance art in the nineties. And I had not seen anything like that in a while.” Good to know. Also of note: The scene where she eats rosary beads represents “the desire to take in the holy.” Amen! [Fashionologie]
And meet the newest winners of England’s NEWGEN sponsorship: David Koma, Holly Fulton, Mary Katrantzou, Louise Gray, and Joanna Sykes. [Vogue U.K.]
End of an era, sign #1,359,007: Maria Luisa Poumaillou is set to shut her eponymous Paris boutique on the rue Rouget to focus on her fashion editor position at Printemps department store and the new e-commerce boutique she’ll launch on thecorner.com. [WWD]
Gaga stylist Nicola Formichetti painstakingly details the fashion credits for the new, Steven Klein-shot video for “Alejandro.” Now you know just who to call to order your custom, goggled headpiece. [Nicola Formichetti via Racked]
Did London stop calling? English designer Jenny Packham, known for her glamorous gowns, has announced she’ll show in New York for the upcoming season. [Vogue U.K.]
And please meet five of the best-looking bloggers in the business: male models Cesar Casier, Sen Mitsuji, Lyle Lodwick, Noma Han, and Frey Mudd. [Refinery29]