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Fashion Editorial: Memoirs of Degas

Fashion Editorial: Memoirs of Degas


“A photo is more than just a snapshot of a moment in time. It is a ‘frozen’ feeling, a connection to a past life, an expression of oneself and a reflection of de rigueur. Peel away the hidden visual layers and you’ll discover truths about the photographer and the subject captured behind the lens”: Belinda Matheson, photographer and lover of life.

“Memoirs of Degas” is a collaborative photographic approach to life bringing together shared thoughts and a passion for the mystical, the exquisite, the sublime. It embraces a love of dance, the whimsical, and the eccentric.

When we embarked on this creative collaboration, Valentina and I were inspired by the beauty of ballet – its fluidity, lean bodies and graceful movement. Valentina was drawn to her childhood memories of picture-perfect canvases; pretty ballerinas in leotards and pink tutus. I too took a step back in time and embraced my ‘ballerina’ but discovered we walked a different road, there was a distinct disconnect – I envisaged the same aesthetic but for me, it was from another perspective. I loved Edgar Degas and his wonderful ballet depictions in motion. I was drawn to my French Impressionist and his magical approach to capturing life as he lived in Paris in the late 1800s.

By combining our visions we became the ballet master, employing tightly cropped compositions inviting the viewer into the dancer’s world of the late 19th century while embracing the modernity of the 21st century. Too tempted to stay in the past, we knew we had to break fee and look to the future. Vivienne Westwood’s SS14 collection featuring diaphanous pleated layers entranced me. There was a dirty, grunge appeal that kicked high fashion right in the face dispelling belief that the commonly held definition of ‘beautiful’ was slick hair and pristine makeup.

I love Valentina’s unconventional, avant-garde make-up, which gives a model the futuristic edge and grips us in the ‘now’. It adds rawness to the composition shattering strong-held illusions that beauty is high-street glamour. Another ‘awakening’ element was still necessary to bring my concept to conclusion: British fashion photographer Tim Walker. For more than 10 years his photographs have beguiled and bewitched Vogue readers. He is true to himself. By combining the beauty of Degas, the raw cutting-edge magnificence of Westwood and the theatrical notions of Walker we curated a photographic presence that we prayed would soothe the soul and awaken the senses.

For me, as a creative, it is important to draw on and embrace what I see as well as take from the past to make me a better person. It’s important that my imagination melds with my memory rather than copying what I see. Degas has been a remarkable instrument in my reckoning, but there are also Vivienne and Tim to consider. Vivienne Westwood is one of the leading lights in punk fashion and Tim Walker’s extravagant styling and romantic skew is unmistakably magical and eccentric. The bringing together of these three iconic people has enabled us to go beyond the “out-of-box” and embrace the magical, extravagant, deep, emotional, and theatrical aspects of life.

The location of our photo-shoot was the Powerhouse Museum, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. It was chosen for its rawness, its disconnect, its connection to the land, theater, dance and visual arts. Valentina and I chose the model because of her exemplary attributes – she was the perfect ballerina: long, lean bodied, graceful yet strong.

Valentina is Italian by birth. Based on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, she has acquired certifications in her industry including gaining top marks for make-up expertise working for Rome-based renowned makeup artist Valeria Orlando. Since 2010, Valentina has been working as a professional beauty therapist whilst collaborating with international photographers, models, fashion stylists and designers both in Australia and overseas. Milan Fashion week and Alta Roma photographic assignments, editorials, commercial and look-books are included on her list of achievements.

We chose Katie-Jane Sharpe to be our model because she encapsulates the essence of the Degas ballerina of the 21st century. Following in the footsteps of Cara Delevigne and Candice Swanepoel is her ambition. She shares our vision and love of creativity, fashion and imagination recognizing our passion for the photo-shoot is recognition of this girl’s ambition – she is going to go far. Tarese Klemens: take note of this Australian Fashion Designer. She’s innately creative and each piece she designs is a reflection of her ability to express her inner beauty outwardly.