This post recaps one of the most delightful collaborations and one of the most artistic moments of the last few years for me.
It’s been several months since we shot this, but it has not been until now that I have been able to organize the ideas and publish it. (due to contractual marketing production distribution commitments)
On a sunny February afternoon earlier this year, I received a call from my good friend, soprano Ms. Anna Vivette, to join her at a local café and meet one of her friends, a photographer, that she thought I would loved to work with. I knew that Anna had been wanting to work with me to help her to create a style, establish a persona, and imagine an image for her upcoming album.
Prior to this collaboration, her artist and fiancé Mr. Shaharokh Rezvani had designed and painted an image that was the cover of the first album.
I attended the coffee date thinking that it was a simple meet-and-greet, but little did I know, her friend was Mr. Halstan Williams, or better known as simply HALSTAN (a very well-known and established photographer/model/actor/director in Hollywood) and was the counterpart of our meeting. The meeting turned into a connection, and the three of us spoke for about an hour about our common interests, history and pasts, and the reason we were there.
Anna needed a new image and new images for her new release, and she was recruiting a team.
The trigger button in this story? Well, Mr. Halstan had to go back to California after the weekend and we had two days (or less) to create a concept, and envision a look for the location and the stylist – plus we had to coordinate it all within the limited timeframe presented.
What to do? What to do? What to do?…What would Oscar do?
Well, with the talent pool and artist presented, this was easy:
1- Create a theme or a persona.
2- Look for a “style” on time, and inspiration in the past or a valid “concept”.
3- Revisit and investigate.
Located about half a block from where we were meeting in downtown Scottsdale, is the very glamorous store “Fashion by Robert Black” owned by Mr. Robert Black. Earlier that morning, coincidentally, I was selecting garments for two of my clients to attend a ball, and I had spoken with Mr. Black about the changes in our lives and some of our new ventures. So at my meeting with Anna and Halstan, I quickly grabbed my phone, called Robert to see if he was available for a visit – and shared my intentions for the group to see his fantastic collection – and he said, “Of course, Oscar, come by…”.
Another something I did not know was that Mr. Black and Mr. Halstan knew each other and had worked together in the past!
So, while they were comparing notes, talking about the earlier work together and such, I was shaping up in my brain what was needed for this particular shot. How to create and what to bring out of his fantastic selection of vintage labels and delightful garments? I knew color was the theme, but I needed to tone down another rather loud idea I had in mind.
My recollection of all this was that it happened fast. I had to make some quick, but vital decisions, so I picked what I thought would work, at the level of the budget and knowing the style I was looking for for the grand “coloratura”. (I couldn’t shake the images of Ms. Renée Fleming and other performances of sopranos that I’ve have had the enormous pleasure to see live.)
Faced with a wonderful collection of choices, I picked what I thought had connotations of style and presence for a soprano. At this point in time, I had no idea about the location, the theme or even the actual look we wanted to give to the entire shoot.
To give a second look at a more theatrical style, I need something decadent, intense, with volume and intensity. I wanted a design line, an aesthetic that talked about theater! And at the boutique, everything clicked. I knew exactly what was needed.
That “theatrical element needed” would come from the use of utterly designed “Quinceañeras” (sweet sixteen) dresses by the ever-talented “Irving De La Cruz” (A renown Mexican fashion designer) who owns a design atelier for special occasions by the name of “The Crazy Queen“. I had already presented his line to the public via TV segment on UNIVISION 33, the local syndicated spanish-speaking channel. So, I decided that this was another perfect contrasting look for a contemporary soprano.
Weeks before, I had selected models and looks to do a mini-interview with Irving De La Cruz on live TV. To my surprise, the models came to studio fully garmented with lush make-up and decadent jewels. It was a surprise for me to see so much creativity, and a departure from a simple “socialite” white dress used for “debutantes” in South America. This was a new look, a very strong and long departure that resonated for me as “dames of the court” or some sort of royalty. This was my equivalent to the theatrical garment.
That was what came to mind, so I moved on that direction. And here are some of the designs that I had to choose from which we used on the set for the TV shoot.
Just thinking that I have to fit Anna on the morning of the shoot – and just to see if the idea could work – I picked up the phone and called Irving and we drove directly to his store to fit Anna. Yes, we did! And best yet, the two garments I had in mind were available, so we moved in that direction. Here are some images of the fitting:
So…now…how and where was the next question?
Mr. HALSTAN had to go home after the weekend. It was madness trying to find an interior, and environment to match the luscious selections. To pair it all, it would have have been easy to simply choose a very “castle-like” space, a luscious garden or a simple city background.
I voted for the contrary. I wanted a simple, silent, minimal, structured – yet strong and colorful space to contrast with the decadent selection of garments and “accouterments”. To my fortune, my friends Mr. Richard Bruno and Mr. Bob Platt’s residence had exactly what I needed: a simple, very minimal and contemporary home, inspired by modern master architect Ricardo Legorreta’saesthetics.
Modern, massive strong walls, powerful tones, rhythm and proportions of spaces – the perfect match – so, I called it. Lucky enough, they gave us literally five hours to shoot.
The next morning, who would be there? Hair, make-up, all accessories…who? A large crew was needed, but last-minute? How – well, it all worked out.
Hair stylist and make-up artist Ms. Roberta Duran-Koelfgen was called as part of the team, and even with laryngitis, she said she would do it. My co-host Mrs. Irma Diehl was on point to help with styling, hair and make-up back-up (as she has experience in the field). And a back-up photographer Mr. Chris Loomiswas called to collaborate. Also to my surprise, photographer and video Mr. Andrew de Carlo came as well. The dream team was ready!
The four to five hours turned out to be six hours of shooting/taping/makeup/hair/garment changing. The light was changing as a storm was coming into town and the cold air was running rampant on the backyard. We had our soprano in light garments with no heater. We were rushing and running.
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