Home Editorial Fashion Fashion Editorial: My Fair Lady
Fashion Editorial: My Fair Lady

Fashion Editorial: My Fair Lady

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FASHION CREDITS:

  • Photographer: Tammy Deren of Smiley Eyes Photography (www.smileyeyesphotography.ca, www.facebook.com/smileyeyesphotography)
  • Model: Iuliia Sutygina
  • Make up and hair: Mallory Miller of Mallory Miller Makeup Artist
  • Location: The Photographer Studio (www.thephotographerstudio.ca)
  • Wardrobe: designer unknown, supplied by Tammy Deren
  • SetDesign: Tammy Deren
  • Text: Tammy Deren and Michael R. Snyder

For as long as I can remember I’ve felt a deep connection to Audrey Hepburn. Though I love so many of her movies, it’s her portrayal of Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady that speaks loudest to me. Eliza’s scrappy disposition, her perseverance, and commitment to fight for what she wants resonates deeply with me. I never thought I’d have the opportunity to shoot a session centered on My Fair Lady until a costume came my way. With a background in the visual arts and graphic design I find that costumes often serve as the inspiration for my creative photographic processes. I frequently create my own unique costume accessories and props, but in this case the perfect piece presented itself ready made: a professional theatrical costume of Eliza Doolittle’s Ascot Races dress, hat, and umbrella.

While I’ve been unable to trace the providence of the dress, one thing is clear: it was made for the tiniest of actresses. Having run Smiley Eyes Photography (www.smileyeyesphotography.ca) for nearly a decade I’ve had the opportunity to work with some fantastic modeling talent. However, in this case finding the woman who could not only fit the petite dress, but also do credit to the beauty of Audrey Hepburn, was going to be a challenge. Fortunately, I am also the co-owner of The Photographer Studio, Edmonton’s premier studio space. At a recent industry night for an amazingly talented local fashion designer I met Iuliia Sutygina and immediately saw that she embodied the elegance, grace, and personality that Audrey Hepburn brought to the portrayal of Eliza Doolittle.

While I shoot to create art, I don’t believe art happens on it own. Impromptu or spontaneous shots can give magical results, but for me it’s rare. I prefer to carefully plan my sessions to make sure that my artistic vision is fully achieved. For instance, I reviewed stills and video clips from Hepburn’s My Fair Lady, selecting a range that best represented what I wanted to capture. I went through this collection with the model, who practiced to recreate the quintessential Hepburn style. While the hat is absolutely stunning, I see the umbrella as setting the mood for the work. Iuliia didn’t disappoint me, capturing Hepburn’s flair exquisitely. Similarly, when I brought Mallory Miller on board for makeup and hair, I was able to work closely with her to create just the right tonal compositions, reflecting, for example, the coral red of the flowers on the hat in the color of Iuliia’s lips. Set design and staging can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Simple elements are often all that are needed. Again, a careful study was made of studio promotional stills of Audrey Hepburn in the Ascot Races outfit and film footage from the movie. The film version of My Fair Lady played homage to the enormously successful Broadway musical in its choice of staging and set design. Whites, greens, and cream form the backdrop for Hepburn’s elegant white dress in the promotional stills. Wanting to maintain a connection to the past visual elements, but take a modern perspective, I opted for a simple white draped background with sparse accents of greenery. I shot on-site at The Photographer Studio, using studio lighting to fully capture the feel I was after.

I’m never nervous at a shoot; my natural confidence sees me through. Still, given my long appreciation and connection with Eliza Doolittle I found myself worrying, “What if it doesn’t turn out? What if I’m not happy with it?” But my preparation, planning, and the fantastic people I worked with all came together to produce a finished product better than I could have imagined.

I’m never nervous at a shoot; my natural confidence sees me through. Still, given my long appreciation and connection with Eliza Doolittle I found myself worrying, “What if it doesn’t turn out? What if I’m not happy with it?” But my preparation, planning, and the fantastic people I worked with all came together to produce a finished product better than I could have imagined.

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