• 9.19.14   We Are The Rhoads Slows Down with Dockers

    Trends are for the young. The hype machine finds what’s hot, packages it, sells it and moves on. It’s a great system, but it’s not for everyone. When We Are The Rhoads dove into their campaign for Dockers they found a style that was a little more classic, a little calmer. Dockers, while still being stylish, isn’t about chasing trends. The look that The Rhoads were going for was about something else: “Grace. Being effortlessly cool. Staying relevant but still grounded and the wearer knows who he is,” explains Sarah Rhoads, half of the photographer duo. When describing the guy that wears Dockers, Chris Rhoads says, “They have a unique perspective on things, but they’re also far enough into life that they’re dialed in. They know what they like, they know what they don’t like and they’re okay with that.” They’ve gone beyond taking inventory and searching for identity. They find greater joys, deeper passions, and stronger relationships with themselves and those around them. The campaign with Dockers is a little different from what We Are The Rhoads has been doing recently. Usually they’re out in the field, running around with cameras in hand, capturing fleeting moments before they’re lost to time. The Dockers campaign, like the style of the brand, had more space to find the perfect pace. “It’s nice to slow down sometimes,” says Chris. “It allows us to focus on moment driven portraiture, which is something we really love,” adds Sarah. The luxury of time permits the careful balance of image, personality, and energy. What we get as the viewer is a world that is full of confidence and composure. These men don’t feel the need to express who they are, they already know. “It’s always a fun thing when you can have quiet and cool, effortless moments,” says Chris. It’s hard to not see the perfect pairing between Dockers and We Are The Rhoads. Whether it’s a faster paced, higher energy photo essay, or a campaign as cool and poised as the looks with Dockers, The Rhoads have presented their signature style that is effortlessly theirs and comes with no apology.
  • 9.23.14   How Kareem Black Throws a Party

    If you’re familiar with Kareem Black’s ongoing series FeelsGoodLetsGo, you know he has a unique ability to elicit spontaneity on a level that is arrestingly intimate. It wasn’t any different for his latest shoot with Steve Madden featuring Kylie and Kendall Jenner. The last time he shot for Steve Madden, both Jenners were in front of his camera as well. But this time they had some experience behind them and the results were a little different. The Jenner sisters are experts when it comes to their public images. “They are used to having cameras on them, they are media trained,” Kareem explains. “We knew each other, we knew what we were trying to do. They kind of got my vibe, and I got theirs. And it was super cool.” It doesn’t hurt that the media storm around these girls helps to relax them in front of the lens. And Kendall is pursuing a career in modeling, taking it seriously as a job. They’re pros. The other half of making sure the shoot is as successful as possible is building trust with the Jenner girls. It was their second shoot together, and after seeing the results of the first campaign they knew they were in safe hands with Kareem. “We’re building up this trust between us. I think that trust is super, super important. Especially if you’re like them. They don’t want to be caught in off moments,” he says. It’s understandable. The voracious press is hungry for moments that could shed unsavory light for a manufactured story. But after working with Kareem, they knew that wasn’t going to happen. “They gave me latitude to be a lot more spontaneous, a lot more kinetic,” Kareem says. There’s a balance between the trust and the spontaneity. Kareem tries to keep that balance in place by having a simple philosophy in his shoots. “I want to have a really fun vibe on set, I just don’t want it to be stressful,” he explains. It’s not brain surgery. “My mom’s a doctor and she heals people for a living. We’re taking pictures. I want the vibe to be super light.” The feeling on set ends up similar to the parties that Kareem stalks for FeelsGoodLetsGo, which was partly the goal. That party atmosphere makes for an authentic good time that cannot be faked. “I want people to have a good time. If people are actually having a good time, I think it comes through,” he explains. The party vibe on set was so strong that it kind of turned into a real party. The shoot was on Kareem’s birthday. “Kylie and Kendall ended up singing me ‘Happy Birthday.’ I felt like the President of the United States. It was insane.” And that playful insanity shows up in the images, just like Kareem said they would.
  • 9.22.14   Gary Baseman x Coach Spring 2015

    Gary Baseman’s style is signature and unique to him and him alone. When Gary works, he operates from a world other than our own. His creations live by different rules, not only physiologically, but also in terms of energy and focus. He constructs an emotional environment around what he does, and invites us into that world. Most recently, his show “The Door is Always Open” at The Skirball Center literally invited the viewer into Gary Baseman’s home to reach a better understanding of who he is and what he does. That’s why it’s such a revelation for Gary to be working with Coach for their Spring/Summer 2015 collection. Normally we step into Gary’s world, but this time he’s coming into ours. What Gary has put together for Coach and us is a series of monsters that visit the apparel. They mostly stopover on the front of knits, but also present themselves for inspection as the pattern for two airy chiffon dresses, and on the faces of bags from the accessories collection. Since their sojourn outside the world of Basemen is so rare, it puts us a little off balance in both expectation and results. “Is that really Gary Baseman?” we’re forced to ask. It is without a question. One of his monsters is even woven into the material of the show stopping pull over.Gary names all of his monsters, a testament to how personally he takes each piece and moment. One of his favorites, featured as a print on a knit is Lou. Gary explains that, “I named him after the amazing troubadour, Lou Reed, who saved my life on many occasions with his singing and lyrics.” Lou holds an umbrella that looks remarkably like his own head. It is a mirror of the self into form, and how just one small example of how deeply Gary reaches into his own experience to tell a larger story.Upon Coach’s debut of their collaboration with Gary, there was a strong response. InStyle remarked that “something was a little eerie about the scene,” during the Coach show, calling Gary’s monsters, “adorably scary critters.” Meanwhile, Kyle Fitzpatrick of The Fox is Black called the presentation of Gary’s work, “a seamless and quaint and quirky effect that takes Baseman’s creations and transforms them from art objects or cartoons to these high fashion objects of intrigue.”
  • 9.17.14   Amy Taylor Keeps Her Head On

    One of the first things you’ll notice when checking out Amy Taylor’s latest story for DuJour is that none of the models have heads. They’re all artfully hidden away. This is pretty standard for Jean-Pacôme Dedieu, the photographer that shot the piece. “He does a lot of work like this,” Amy explains. It’s an unexpected move to provoke response and contextualize the fashion in a way that is surprising and arresting. It’s a surprise to the viewer, but it was even surprising to Amy the day they shot it. First, none of the models had hair or make up done, since they wouldn’t be seen. “That may have made it a little bit challenging since it wasn’t as easy to envision what it was going to look like in the final product,” she explains. Not only were the untouched models a little surprising, but everything on set was grey. Yes, all those vibrant, beautiful colors in the images were added after the shoot. Of course she built the grey set herself, and chose all those grey balloons, but she and the photographer knew they’d be changing the colors in post production. They just didn’t know what colors they would be. That meant that she had to design around nearly infinite possibilities. There was an element of inherent mystery that Amy was working with. She did what she could to anticipate the photographer’s future choices. “It was challenging to get props and different materials to work for everything. And I didn’t know what colors things were going to be changed to,” she says. At one point on set, they even considered keeping everything grey. They just weren’t sure until post production started. So, when the final products came out, with huge differences in color, it was fun for Amy. “Man that really makes it so much more vibrant and fun,” she thought upon seeing the final product. “I liked them in the grey, but it’s a totally different feeling.” Jean-Pacôme Dedieu pulled out different colors from different looks to cover seamless color stories that are totally eye catching. Not only did Amy get a new color experience with this shoot, she also got a sort of new signature. The small racecar they used has followed Amy around for other shoots. We can't wait to see where she rolls off to next!
  • 9.16.14   Chrissie Macdonald Constructs Consumer Confidence

    CGI is incredible. Literally anything is possible by painting pixels on a screen. Any reality can be synthetically manufactured, but that kind of unbridled creation is not always what you want. When AT&T and BBDO conceptualized their latest campaign, they could have gone anywhere to create any world or image they could imagine but they came to Chrissie Macdonald who would sculpt something in the real world. Where CGI is about trickery and fooling the eye into believing what it sees is real, Chrissie works in paper craft, so everything you see is tangible and real. Using cut paper, Chrissie created the images completely by hand, and then photographer John Short shot them in the studio. Finally, they added a few retouched enhancements. Those minor enhancements add an extra level to the feeling of the images. Chrissie explains that it "does give them a sense of hyper-reality although once viewed closer up, the paper textures and slight imperfections are visible." Imperfections are inherent in anything that is handmade, and even if they're not registered consciously, the eye does perceive them and incorporate them into the experience of the image. It gives a tangible feeling to the pieces making them accessible and fosters affinity. That minor perception of reality is important, especially for this campaign. At a time when digital cloud storage is under a microscope, the consumer is hyper aware of confidence and security. This is a time when form helps tell the story. The tangibility of Chrissie’s work roots it in the real world, while also adding an extra level to the production of the image. “I enjoy the physical process of creating the objects and positioning them on set to achieve the most effective composition,” says Chrissie. Even if it makes for long nights.  Working on a tight deadline meant that Chrissie and her team had to construct all the images in a protracted timeline, but that’s okay when you surround yourself with the right people. “It was really fun working with my assistants who are so funny and upbeat,” she says. “They always keep things cheerful even when you're up against it in the wee early hours.” Her assistants weren’t the only wonderful people to work with. “There was a lot to get done in the time due to my process so there were some long nights but John, the Creative Director from BBDO was always quick to respond and really positive,” she says. That kind of creative, collaborative relationship is crucial when working on pieces as labor intensive as fully constructed cut paper images. Setting up everything around her, including wonderful people and flawless techniques, Chrissie was able to construct her complex and provocative images that told the story in a way that no other style could have.
  • 9.17.14   Zach Gold Shows Us What We Were Missing

    Just this week, The Brooklyn Museum opened their show “Killer Heels” sponsored by W Magazine. The show includes hundreds of vintage and reconstructed high heels that span the entire history of the famed accessory, as well as six fashion videos by Steven Klein, Nick Knight, Zach Gold, Rashaad Newsome, Ghada Amer, and Reza Farkhondeh. Though this show only just opened, Zach Gold has been working on the project for years. When the idea first came to him he approached the Brooklyn Museum to foster the project, and has been involved in the conception, artist selection, and completion of “Killer Heels.” The results of which are, according to The New York Times, unparalleled: “Killer Heels is among the most gorgeous and meticulously organized shows mounted by the Brooklyn Museum in some years.” “Fashion has historically been communicated as still images,” Zach explains. “But fashion is so much more about the creation of a fantasy space, people in motion, and clothes meant to be worn and seen in motion. These films have the abstract ability to create fairytale.” By choosing a collective focus, like the high heel, all of these artists had the same central idea to play off of. A through line that connected them all. However, it’s really about pushing the edges of what audiences have come to expect from fashion films. “This could really be a return to what fashion photography was: this incredible collaborative playground where stylists and designers and people like me can explore the fantasy landscape that fashion makes available and creates fresh experiences for the audience,” Zach says. Zach compares the experience of the fashion video to the music video. Prior to “Video Killed the Radio Star” fans only listened to the music and accepted the experience from one of five senses. When music videos hit the scene in the early 80s, suddenly music lovers had a revolutionary way to interact with songs for a more complete sensory experience. “I lived through that as a teenager and it was a revelation,” Zach says. “Music videos shifted the whole communication. It changed the message. It created new worlds and universes in three and a half minutes.” That participation is exactly what Zach is eliciting with his work in “Killer Heels.”  Zach is careful to not put a pin in defining exactly what he and the other artists are doing with their work. He doesn’t want to constrain the possibilities into named boxes and a bound future. Instead, he’d prefer to step back and see where it goes. “The general idea is to keep this as a playground for people who work, think and see in this way, and to avoid what happened with the rigid form of a thirty second commercial,” Zach says. That way the fairytales keep spinning. It transcends story and goes directly into the experience of consuming fashion in a fundamentally more exciting way.  Like that first music video, Zach is working to force us to see the layers behind what we normally see. “That was a big part of where I came from and those are my influences,” he says about growing up watching those videos that changed everything. “So to have that chance to do that with fashion is really a gift.”
  • 9.18.14   Serial Cut Divulges the Secrets of the Yellow Pages

    Cities are puzzles. To the experienced inhabitant a city is home, and they know the secrets of their city – where to find the right restaurant, an unknown outside lounge, or the best tailors. YP, “the even-more-powerful Yellow Pages,” has always unlocked the secrets of cities and towns for generations, and as we move to mobile technology and seeing the world through our handheld devices, YP is right there with us. They’ve put their encyclopedia of information, plus a number of additional product features, into an app that provides utility and convenience for their users, allowing consumers to get through their to-do list. One of many ways the brand is manifesting how YP can help people do just about anything is with an ad takeover of the Grand Central Terminal in New York City, featuring artwork by Serial Cut. The YP app offers an immense amount of power for the user. It can help the user see a city in a totally new way or maybe even help them build a rocket to the moon. Focusing on the big questions like “Can the YP app help you get to the moon?” or “Can the YP app help you upgrade your commute?” allowed Serial Cut’s illustrations to come to life. It’s a whimsical, detailed look at how every day items can turn into totally different tools once you activate them for other uses.  Through the lens of YP Can Do That, the city opens itself and becomes a manageable, tangible place, accessible to any user. This idea isn’t a simple one to communicate visually. “This project - to show NYC the power of the YP app - was one of those concepts that we knew would be visually stunning,” says Brad Kayal, Senior Art Director at barrettSF who contracted Serial Cut for the collaboration. “We knew pretty quickly that the team at Serial Cut understood the warmer, more human CG style we wanted and they worked with us day-in-and-day-out creating these amazing mini-experiences that, for the first time in a flat medium, helped us really communicate all the amazing things that YP can help you do.”
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