Sep 4 2014
A guest blog by Helen Lesley MUA.
“I’ve got an interesting job for you,” said Andrew, leaning back in his chair. I had been half listening to him up to that point but now I turned and gave him my full attention.
“Hmm?” I waited.
“Four models in period costume to match four classic and vintage cars dating back to 1931.”
Excited? Of course I was! It sounded like fun. It would take more than a delve through the wardrobe department, although I could think of one or two vintage pieces that would love to come out for a bit of a jaunt. I listened, hungry for more information.
WindmillArt secret location… old country house… courtyard garden… orchard… Cadillac… Studebaker… Bentley… Chevrolet Corvette… cream tea, courtesy of Saracen House (not just a studio but purveyors of fab grub)! It all sounded very intriguing and I couldn’t wait to get started. I’ve been involved in many different types of styling with Andrew over the years but this was possibly the most demanding so far in terms of the number of models and changes involved. Hey ho, I love a challenge and immediately began researching the cars and the eras so that I could be as accurate as possible.
The four models Andrew had in mind were all perfect – Zara Watson, Jen Brook, Faith Obae and Raphaella Macnamara. It was essential that each model was able to do her hair and make-up to a high standard as, although I am a qualified MUA, I wouldn’t have much time on the day for lips, grips and the like. Even without all that, I knew I had my work cut out so how lucky did I feel when Andrew said that Elizabeth Keates had agreed to help me! With her theatrical background, I knew she would be a master (mistress?) of the ‘Quick Change’. She also proved to be a wizard (a witch? No, that doesn’t work) with hair.
My quest for vintage clothes took me far and wide but, oddly enough, some of the pieces I used were almost under my nose in the market town if Louth. Riverhead Theatre has a magical wardrobe department where I spent a happy hour or two, emerging triumphant. My lovely like-minded friend, Pam, lent me some original frocks, hats and shoes dating from the ‘30s to the 40s. I sourced an original 1940s’ tea dress and feather hat in exceptional condition from The Frockery. The gorgeous red ball gown (I think Raphaella might have been tempted to pop this in her handbag if it hadn’t been so big!) also came from this little shop of treasures, as did the ‘20s style dress and jacket worn so elegantly by Zara. The wedding gowns were kindly loaned by The Bridal Boutique of Louth and Jen looked radiant in them. Faith’s attire had to reflect the 1990s; so recent it sounds easy. Not so. I ferreted about in my own photographic/theatrical wardrobe for most of her costumes and accessories and it was quite a while before I was satisfied. I particularly loved the cream two piece trouser suit and she said she felt like Diana Ross in the beaded cocktail dress. Everybody happy ☺.
I am a self-confessed control freak where costume is concerned, whether for the stage or the camera so I try to make sure everyone looks the part on the day. Communication beforehand is just as important though and all the models came well-prepared with the make-up and bits and bobs I had asked them to bring. This makes things so much easier but, of course, there were some things that I had planned to do on the day. One of these things was Zara’s hair which needed 20s’ styling and it transformed her into a latter-day diva. Liz is a whizz (no, I think that’s wiz) with hair and when I pointed to Raphaella and said, “A victory roll would look great with the suit”, she just did it. Marvellous!
The day – and even the weather – was lovely. Next stop: Italy. I have put together the wardrobe for the road trip and the Light, Colour and Passion three-day workshop. Quite different and, this time, it’s the whole kit an’caboodle: make-up, hair and wardrobe styling for a range of different shots from fashion to lifestyle. Gemma Bortolozzo and Zara Watson are the perfect complement and both lots of fun to work with. On the back burner, I have the Paris Fashion workshop bubbling away because I will have to hit the ground running when I get back. Zara Watson, Amber Tutton and Gemma Huh to model. Wow! Can’t wait!
Behind the Scenes photos courtesy of Andrew Griffiths.