I'm a one-man band, a small-time vintage seller trying to establish a business, and my resources and capital amount to pretty much zero. But sometimes friends can surprise you.
One friend of mine - Elizabeth - is a stylist with some seriously impressive credentials, and we had talked about organising a photo shoot of some TinTrunk prime stock for some time. Yesterday, thanks to her, it happened.
There was a pretty vague, bullet-pointed brief about Englishness, eccentricity, awkwardness, unlikely combinations, plus a dash of surrealism and straight-faced humour, and some definite ideas about what to avoid - cosy nostalgia and whimsy, straining for 'authentic' replications of period fashions, chintzy floral teacups, and most of all cupcakes! I'm not a hater by any means, and I'm happy if those aspects of the current vintage trend work for other people, but they just don't work for me.
Elizabeth suggested I prepare a mood board of ideas and inspirations, which ended up being dominated by some of my collection of old photographs. I love the weird tension of self-consciousness and self-display seen in old snapshots and cheap studio portraits, but I was keen to avoid any kind of sepia-toned, slavish recreations. It was more about taking the mood and atmosphere of these anonymous shots and mixing it up with some David Hockney dandyism/Nancy Cunard decadent glamour/gender mix-up playfulness.
We had lots of ideas, but only one short day to shoot as much as we could.
A dear family friend, Helen, agreed to let us use her house and garden as our location. This house was a derelict 18th century farm building that she has, over a period of about 40 years, turned into an exquisite little cottage packed full of fascinating treasures, and surrounded by a lush garden with some surprising features.
Personally, I was happy to outline the brief and inspirations/influences and let Elizabeth and her talented young recruits run with it, and wait to see what happened. But bless their hearts, I was consulted at every step along the way.
Here's Rosa, one of the two intimidatingly lovely models, working my 1960s Pucci skirt with a black and white striped 70s blouse that Elizabeth pulled together (something that would never have occurred to me!), being photographed by the newly graduated Sally Davies. Incidentally, Sally has earned herself a first, and having seen her in action I can understand why.
Sally here is photographing Rosa with Hugh, our male model, who had a deliciously louche appearance - somewhat like a bored, seen-it-all aristrocrat - although he was in fact a very quiet and sweet young man.
I didn't take many photos myself, because I was a little bit preoccupied about looking after all my precious stock. Some of the items we used are very collectable (meaning they have some value) and I personally treat them with the care and scrupulousness of a museum curator since any damage, stains or flaws will reduce their value considerably. I tried to switch off that 'conservationist' voice in my head because it was such a privilege to see them worn and styled so imaginatively. This seemed to work for the duration of the shoot, and I'm so glad I stopped myself from intervening too much!
Helen's rotating summer house, provided a splendid backdrop for Rosa in a 1980s olive green plaid jumpsuit with vintage 1970s Terry de Havilland snakeskin platform shoes, and some bright green gloves that my sister gave me (not for sale, sorry!) Hugh sports some bright yellow trousers that Elizabeth had daringly combined with a 60s tweed women's cape and a bold polka dot tie.
You can also see Elizabeth poised and ready to pounce with a green suede 60s hood, but its anyone's guess as to whether Hugh or Rosa will end up wearing it. Which was one of the best aspects of the shoot - the garments were treated neither reverentially nor conventionally and Elizabeth just went with what seemed to work, based on her highly attuned fashiony instincts.
So here's a sneak preview of some of Sally's shots, and I'll leave it to you to decide if they fulfilled that brief detailed earlier.
Not that it matters anyway. I'm cock-a-hoop about them regardless, and I'm looking forward to exploiting them to the full for the forthcoming TinTrunk website, not to mention flyers, business cards, signs, badges, banners, fridge magnets, coffee mugs, t-shirts, mousemats - blimey, there's so much potential!
My sincere thanks to:
Elizabeth Cardwell/Moss - super duper stylist and all-round organisational talent.
Sally Davies - photographer (she can also style and create garments and is a very accomplished all-rounder in all kinds of fashiony stuff).
Kaye - our makeup artist who worked magic on Rosa for this shoot. Once I find out her full name and any website/online details these will be added here.
Rosa - the beautiful female model - ditto for details.
Hugh - the handsome male model - ditto for details.
Helen - for allowing us all to run amok in her fabulous house and garden.