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.
We were fortunate to have Mr. Halstan Williams in town for a short time – and we had to make the magic happen in only three days.. Photograph by Mr. Chris Loomis
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!
Of course, these two fashion icons were connected and have worked in the past in many projects. I am grateful that Mr. Black allowed us to work with his impeccable collection and happy to know that the synergy between these two had a history. Nothing better than working with the best. Photography by Oscar De las salas at Fashion by Robert Black http://www.fashionbyrobertblack.com
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.)
An oversized pearl/white flower combination necklace and earrings were the ideal match for this very shell-like shaped structured taffeta half-coat with voluminous neck and sleeves. Photography by; My iPhone Fashion by; Fashion by Robert Black http://www.fashionbyrobertblack.com
A very decadent cashmere sweater with very light yellow feather neck appliqué was an idea not to pass up. Photography by; My iPhone Fashion by; Fashion by Robert Black http://www.fashionbyrobertblack.com
This was a must. I decided to pair a turquoise and salmon color necklace that had a Native American look to it with a very ethereal, gauzy, flowy, chiffon organza kaftan with three or four layers of lavender and pale rose, champagne and blush colors undertone layers. It was a perfect match for an ethereal, diaphanous look. During these try-ons, I was still trying to figure our the location, location, location… and I had no idea. Well, the god’s of weather pulled a miracle. (Just wait for the final image below.) A total goddess! Photography; My iPhone Fashion by; Fashion by Robert Black http://www.fashionbyrobertblack.com
This very ivory halter neckline beaded garment was a runner-up, but needed fitting. We tried and tried and tried, but sadly, it never made the cut. Photography; my iPhone Fashion by; Fashion by Robert Black http://www.fashionbyrobertblack.com
This low-waist turquoise, lime green, and aqua sequined garment was a great possibility. I found a very 1920’s vintage hat, but all in all, it started to look too much like a costume from Sherlock Holmes or The Avengers, so we decided that it was a “no go”. Photography; my iPhone Fashion by; Fashion by Robert Black http://fashionbyrobertblack.com
A very ornamented jacket on a heavy Jacquard – circled pattern texture with strategically located mirrored circles – was perfect for a Las Vegas or glam-rocker taste. The final location ended up not being a match for that style, so we discarded the element of ROCK. Not to mention, it is not the soprano’s identity at the moment. Photography; my iPhone Fashion by; Fashion by Robert Black http://www.fashionbyrobertblack.com
I decided to match this very heavy taffeta coverlet with tremendous volume, with a one-of-a-kind overly decorated necklace with a spring flavor. It reminded me somehow the 1980’s VERSACE decadence of color, material and extravagant volume. But we decided not to use it as it was too much contrast with the location we finally picked, plus we had no time! Photography; my iPhone Fashion by; Fashion by Robert Black http://www.fashionbyrobertblack.com
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.
If you take any of these garments out of their element of the Quinceañera, they have other connotation and they carry the appearance of a modern, colorful court garment. And that was the idea behind the bright volume of the dresses. Photography; my iPhone Fashion by; The Crazy Queen
We already knew the location at this point – and I had already seen this dress during a segment for Quinceañeras that I presented to the public via UNIVISION 33 channel in Arizona. This dress was a must for the shoot! Photography; my iPhone Fashion by; The Crazy Queen
As much as I wanted to use this dress as an element on the shoot – I thought the color palette was just too serious and too close to what the eye could associate as a costume or a garment for a soprano. So, to get the same effect, I chose the powerful contrasting color, including the garments from “Fashion by Robert Black” for a sophisticated and ethereal look. Photography; my iPhone Fashion by; The Crazy Queen
I have to post this…now, they have parties for 3-year-olds too. All in all, I love the color contrast and brocade on this little dress. Photography; my iPhone Fashion by; The Crazy Queen
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.
The public was not ready for this. The presentation of these decadent, fantasy, incredibly elaborate designs raised the bar and they were all the talk for a week in the community. When it comes to fashion, everyone always has a pre-conceived idea, and this challenged that standard. Photography; my iPhone Fashion by; The Crazy Queen Location; UNIVISION 33 Studios AZ
Designer Irving De La Cruz has years working in the local community creating these one-of-a-kind garments for girls that want to celebrate their “sweet sixteen” or their “quinceañeras” in style, and boy, his store is always busy. Photography; my iPhone Fashion by; The Crazy Queen Location; UNIVISION 33 Studios AZ
This garment has a very intricate lace and rouge detail on the back, all over a satin bell skirt. Incredible work and it is really only able to be appreciated up-close. This color combo was one of my favorites of this collection. Photography; my iPhone Fashion by; The Crazy Queen Location; UNIVISION Studios 33 AZ
This was a must for the shoot – and now we had to fit Ms. Vivette in it. Photography; my iPhone Fashion by; The Crazy Queen Location; UNIVISION 33 Studios AZ
This was the finale of the taping before heading to studio. Photography; my iPhone Fashion by; The Crazy Queen Location; UNIVISION 33 Studios AZ
I had the honor to introduce the hispanic audience to a departure of ‘usual’ design, and very elaborate Quinceañera garments by Irving De La Cruz. A very special day, full of excitement in the studio. Here I am with four of the models. Photography; Ms. Tania Gonzalez (UNIVISION 33) Fashion by; The Crazy Queen Location; UNIVISION 33 AZ
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:
The morning of the fitting – luckily the garment I wanted actually fit like a glove. It was perfection. Now, we needed accessories and other dresses to compliment the decadent look. Photography; my iPhone Fashion by; The Crazy Queen
Designer Irving De La Cruz pulled this never-before-seen garment from his latest collection, as he said, “Please, it is one of a kind!” We tried it on Anna and indeed it was a hit! This was the finale dress. Fashion by; The Crazy Queen
The addition of the crown was just too much and detracted from the garment – so it was eliminated. The simplicity was the key. We instead opted for a simple head detail. But it was fun to try it on… Photography; my iPhone Fashion by; The Crazy Queen
Here they are: the Soprano “Anna Vivette” and the Designer “Irving De La Cruz” minutes before the shoot. photography; My iPhone Fashion by; The Crazy Queen
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!
MUA & Hair Stylist Ms. Roberta Duran-Koelfgen dubs Soprano Anna Vivette with color base during takes. Photography; my iPhone Fashion by; Robert Black http://www.fashionbyrobertblack.com
A very strong color with very architectural lines and the structure was the perfect background to create a juxtaposition with a diaphanous like garment. Photography; my iPhone Fashion by; Robert Black http://www.fashionbyrobertblack.com
One of my great friends, and aesthetic soul mate, Mr. Chris Loomis was invited to the shoot as photographer. A rare image – he never likes his picture taken. Photography; My iPhone
Not too sure about the whole look (at that moment) Anna Vivette gets ready for her first take. Photography; My iPhone Fashion by; The Crazy Queen
Getting into character, the coloratura soprano gives us a chance for a first picture to create the peaceful persona needed. Nervous and insecure, she still took stage and owned the shoot. Photography; Mr. Chris Loomis for http://www.chrisloomis.com Fashion by; The Crazy Queen
Before getting ready on the first set for a full body photo, Anna Vivette gets these first photos. Photography; Mr. Chris Loomis for http://www.chrisloomis.com Fashion by; The Crazy Queen
Mrs. Roberta Duran-Koelfgen gives a finish touch to the soprano lips before starting photoshoot. Photography; Mr. Chris Loomis for http://www.chrisloomis.com Fashion by; The Crazy Queen
During the shoot, and in silent moments, the soprano started singing in order to ease her nerves and get into character. Lucky for us, we were honored with a free concerto. Photography My iPhone Fashion by; The Crazy Queen
The long hallway with very architectural rhythm was selected as a set for this garment. The idea was consistent – a very strong architectural background, contrasted with either a very ethereal and flowy garment or very decadent, colorful and full of volume piece. Photography; my iPhone Fashion by; The Crazy Queen
Always making sure that all details Mrs. Deihl adjusts the neck piece on the soprano. Photography; My iPhone Fashion by; The Crazy Queen
Halstan and Roberta Duran-Koelfgen compare notes during the photoshoot. Photography; Mr. Chris Loomis for http://www.chrisloomis.com
As one of the frames was getting measured for lighting and distance, I was able to capture this very candid picture of these very artistic ladies. Photography; My iPhone Fashion on Anna by; The Crazy Queen
In between takes and looks, make-up had to be retouched and hair re-adjusted to match the look. Here is a moment of one of the many changes. Photography; My iPhone Fashion on Anna by; Fashion by Robert Black http://fashionbyrobertblack.com
The whole team regrouped to talk about the next few images and looks. Here, make-up is retouched for next series of pictures. Photography; My iPhone Fashion on Anna by; Fashion by Robert Black http://fashionbyrobertblack.com
The real behind-the-scenes – when needed these two professionals are committed enough to even hold a reflector.
Mr. Richard Bruno and Mr. Bob Platt are the owners of the residence where the photoshoot took place. Here they are posing with one of their two dogs and soprano Anna Vivette in-between takes. A special thank you to Richard and Bob for allowing the crew to use your lovely home to execute this fantastic shoot. Photography; My iPhone Fashion on Anna by; Fashion by Robert Black http://fashionbyrobertblack.com
Photographer and videographer Mr. Andrew De Carlo captured key moments during the production. Here I am capturing him, capturing the soprano in-between takes. Photography; My iPhone. Fashion on Anna by; Fashion by Robert Black http://fashionbyrobertblack.com
With a very regal behavior, the dogs sat quietly for the some of the pictures with them. These were perhaps some of the most elegant scenes of the whole shoot. Photography; My iPhone Fashion on Anna by; Fashion by Robert Black http://fashionbyrobertblack.com
Here I am at the end of the production day posing with one of the two dogs and Mrs. Deihl. A four hour shoot end up to be a six hour shoot on site plus six hours of preparation and pick-up. All in all, a very productive day. Photography by; My Iphone
The finale had to have a powerful moment. So this garment was the perfect concept, from the moment I saw it at the designer’s atelier. The idea was nude tones on her cheeks and red lips to pair with the color of the dress. Photography; My iPhone Fashion on Anna by; The Crazy Queen
Lighting was a challenge and always is when you work outdoors. We did the best we could to cover the sun and cover reflections, but all in all, the light actually helped. Photography; My iPhone Fashion on Anna’; The Crazy Queen
The end of the shoot had a moment of character. Before leaving the location, we decided to take this final frame, There was a moment of a new persona. It was the end of the shoot and it was a fun one! Usually, that is the best moment of the entire shoot, as the model passes the intimidation vortex. Photography; My iPhone Fashion by; Robert Black http://fashionbyrobertblack.com
This is perhaps the most editorial of all the looks and all the takes, It has a tremendous modernism value. From the glasses to the attire to the color. It takes your brain back to late 60’s. Photography; My iPhone Fashion by; Robert Black http://fashionbyrobertblack.com
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.
(DISCLAIMER: All ideas, photography, styling and media on this blog photography, written or video are exclusive for the use of Oscar De las salas under www.whatwouldoscardo.com blog. Any use, copy, crop/paste action, or any similarity of this material is strictly prohibited unless authorized by http://www.whatwouldoscardo.comor by Author. All Copy Rights laws for internet or media use are applicable. If you want, need or require any of this material for any reason please contact my agent – Always in style – Oscar.)