The City of Detroit harbors a culture that has its own sense of grittiness paired with the unique and elegant; it is a place where creative minds are finding fertile ground, not despite, but rather because of, the city’s rough edges. One of these is designer/photographer Janna Coumoundouros. In Detroit she has found her calling—and a place and means to break from her everyday real estate and commercial photography and join with other creative forces to formulate photographic statements. Not only does Coumoundouros feature her own dress and jewelry designs for her shoots, she combines her fine arts background in one cohesive art piece, employing her skills for photography, experimental lighting techniques, editing, jewelry, clothing and art direction.
The dress shown here has a skirt made from Inteva automotive interior material. Originally created for the Lawrence Institute of Technology’s Main Event 20, the opening event for the NAIAS Detroit Auto Show, the dress went on to win first prize honors and was showcased at the prestigious Charity Preview ball. The model’s jewelry is made of machine parts and other found materials.
Once having entered the fashion design arena, Coumoundouros went on to create a Samurai-inspired dress, which carried away first place honors in the Samurai Exhibit fashion competition from the world-renowned Detroit Institute of Arts, and was shown in the fashion revue held in the museum’s famed Diego Rivera Court. This coming autumn, her dress designs, jewelry and photography will be the main features of a year-long exhibit at Detroit’s Historical Museum.
Hat designer Rachelle Willnus will also be featured in the exhibit, which will be a comprehensive presentation of Detroit fashion, past and present. Willnus has been producing beautiful one-of-a-kind hats and head pieces for several years for her own company, Derby Hats by Rachelle. She was excited to accept Coumoundouros’ challenge for the “Dark Beauty” fashion shoot: to produce a singularly distinctive piece that was both editorial and avante garde. In her hat designs, Willnus uses high-quality European sinamay, and a wide variety of other materials. Every piece she creates, whether for weddings, Derby, or every day wear is a one of a kind creation.
Make-up for the photos was done by artist Stacey Manual of BOUSIE Makeup. Stacey has 15 years of professional experience working with industry leaders such as MAKE UP FOR EVER, NARS and Too Faced Cosmetics. She has fine-tuned her skills, making her a premiere make up artist. Stacey specializes in exquisite modern make up with pristine complexion. She also has her own line of glosses.
Stunning model Joan Lutz has been modeling in the Detroit area for 3 years. She is also a hair stylist at the Aveda salon, Salon Indigo in Fraser, MI. Lutz did her own hair for this shoot. Also contributing to the shoot is the talented stylist Marv Neal. From the age of 14 he knew that he wanted to style. After years of dressing his friends, it was his younger cousins that started rapping that got him started working on shoots. His ability to combine textures, colors, and unusual combinations of accessories make his Detroit-influenced style a unique addition. Neal plans to eventually move his stylist endeavors to New York City.
Coumoundouros discovered the location and the yellow bench used in “Dark Beauty” while photographing a real estate assignment; although the shot was done in bright sunlight, she formulated the dark and moody atmosphere via special lighting techniques. The black clothing stands in distinct, dramatic contrast with the yellow of the bench and Lutz’s bright red hair and alabaster skin. “Dark Beauty” was a joyous and perfect collaboration of Detroit-inspired artists, coming together in combination of myriad of artistic experiences and creative backgrounds.
- Photography: Janna Coumoundouros, Lilacpop Studio
- Stylist: Marv Neal
- Make-up: Stacey Manual, Bousie
- Text: Nancy Coumoundouros
- Model: Joan Lutz
- Dress Design: Janna Coumoundouros, Lilacpop Studio
- Jewelry: Janna Coumoundouros, Lilacpop Studio
- Hat: Rachelle Willnus, Derby Hats by Rachelle