Wednesday was a full house , bringing in my usual troupe of models as well as some new faces and of course, a few bottles of champagne . I decided to skip fittings and just assign looks on set , I pulled pieces from Topshop , Asos , Rayban , Steve Madden , Hugo Boss , H&M , Bdonnas , Nastygirl , F.O.G. , and Nudie. Sometimes I think the best looks come from those unplanned moments , which happened in several instances on this particular shoot. Shooting on Polaroid is something I’ve really been enjoying and exploring with different lighting, settings, and angles. I can’t wait to finalize all of the shots and get them scanned in and start editing together the banner for this blogs new year reboot. I’ve always been a visual learner but now I’m starting to go outside my usual organized / planned routines and just try things for myself. The past few months have tested me both professionally and personally. What I’ve taken away from these challenges is that I can rise to the occasion , not only professionally but creatively , so much so I’ll be starting a new endeavor this upcoming summer. Who knew so many great things could come from unplanned moments?
Monday was an unusually live one this week , I began the inception for my blog / website’s 2017 banner ( past banners usually consisted of my favorite outtakes from different shoots and were compiled and designed to look like an epic group shot of myself and various muses , you’ve probably seen this concept done with a certain reality television family Christmas card or maybe from a risque movie studio’s annual contract girl poster) . My main collaborator and go to
photographer is now semi retired ( I will be using him when it comes to the digital designing technicalities of this banner though) and I’m just not ready to to take a financial / creative chance with a new photographer yet ( I’m extremely weary of local photographers here which why I don’t work as much as I probably could…but that’s a whole other very long story lol ) . One thing working in the fashion industry in all the major cities has taught me/fostered in me is , thinking fast and finding alternatives , even if it’s at the last minute. Being a Gemini I think also has helped me along the way ( that duality of two minds ) so I decided to get even more creative this year and not only shoot all new looks (as opposed to recycled ones from other shoots) but I was going to shoot them myself! I’ve been secretly moonlighting as a Polaroid
photographer for months ( I shot an accessory editorial for a magazine this past summer all by myself) so I restocked on film ( 3 trips to 3 separate Walmart locations ) , hit up two of my go to models , and secured a shooting location ( a close friend has a great apartment with tall white walls and hardwood floors that gave off my old go to studio’s aesthetic). I pulled looks from several vintage stores , Top Shop , Nasty Gal , Levi’s , Versace , Zara , DKNY . and House of CB. I shot four fun /sexy looks altogether and got some great pictures just on the first package of film , next week I’m shooting additional women’s looks as well as the men’s looks , can’t wait!
Tuesday morning I get a call from Betty , she’s needs my vintage skull ring and vintage leather jacket again. She’s in town doing pickup shots and shooting additional scenes for the music video for her debut single , Pluto . I’ve come to expect the unexpected in all aspects when it comes to Betty . We’re both Gemini’s ( 10 days apart actually) her creative methods contrast to mine when it comes to the technical & planning side of things BUT nevertheless of how we each operate differently ( She’s the ying to my yang ) working with her is always an adventure . I’m still half asleep when she tells me this , I asked when she needed the pieces by , she tells me ” kind of like…Now” . I’m not a morning person AT ALL but in 15 minutes I was out the door and headed to hotel with my ring & jacket riding shotgun , luckily the hotel was about two miles from my place . I get to the room and another surprise answers the suite door , Ashley Domio . Ashley & I had previously worked on Betty’s first set of imaging photos , she’s one of my favorite makeup artists and hair stylists . I’ve ( & Betty) always tried to get Ashley on other projects but our schedules never seemed to match up and I’ve been eagerly awaiting for them to eventually align again. So it was really great to see her and catch up on everything ( I didn’t even realize initially that Betty’s costar , Jason Santore was quietly passed out under a heap of blankets as he had flown in hours earlier ) . We headed back to the bridge from the original shoot for closeups and pickup shots , it seemed even hotter this time ( last time it was pushing 105 degrees) but thankfully the crew wrapped quickly and we were off to the second location , a truck stop off of 288 . I won’t spoil anything regarding this scene but it was insane ( in a good cinematic way) and it really is a testament to the talents of Betty , Jason , Director Q.Guyton and his team , as well as the surprise co-star who I think is definitely going to steal the show in their limited screen time lol , you’ll see . After wrapping at the truck stop we headed to the final location , Studio 713 , a really cool modern multi media property where Betty shot some beauty close ups and dialogue with Jason , the two have really amazing chemistry and take direction exceptionally well , you will be seeing both on the big screen in no time , I guarantee it , they both have it . We wrapped by 11pm and headed back , since I’m not a morning person and didn’t eat all day I was too tired to hit the town with them that night or even answer the phone the next morning to go to breakfast , by time I woke up and returned Betty’s call she was already at her flights gate , heading to film another project which only solidifies more adventures .
After she test shot for a huge international magazine , I scooped up the OG Lyons Girl , Brittany and headed over to Eleanor Tinsley park in downtown Houston for a cool project . A friend ( Myosha Porterie ) of both Brittany and I is opening up her own boutique ( both store front and e-commerce)
and wanted to shoot some promotional material for the upcoming launches , her creative team decided to do a moving editorial as opposed to a traditional shoot which I thought was really enterprising and something that certainly will get a good buzz for ,
For me personal-idol-wise , 2016 has been an extremely heavy year so far. The two people I idolized most , who inspired me in every creative capacity possible ( every shoot I’ve styled or creative directed has some sort of homage to them not to mention all my finals/projects in art school) passed away a little more than two months apart , Vanity & Prince. Their absence left some sort of permanent emptiness inside me , knowing one of the worlds most beautiful women and the most creative musician ( and arguably the most beautiful man) are gone forever is something that stings considering who my generation and the generations after mine have for idols now. There is some comfort in their absence at least in the sense they’re somewhere together now forever , at least I believe so . It still hurts and always will though .
Recently I had taken a break from social media , the ego’s , political opinions , the lack of originality , the booking emails , ect it all was getting to me . I needed to clear my mind after wrapping my last styling assignments for a magazine , I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do next , my go to photographer is retiring , my main muse is semi over the industry , and the I city currently reside in isn’t exactly a city where you can get consistent paid work or meet a lot of genuine creative people who can still uphold professionalism and deadlines . It was just one of those weeks . I finally logged back into my instagram and started looking at some of my favorite people just to see what I missed for the week , I came across an accessory designer with a familiar picture of her and my favorite stylist as I read the caption my heart literally jumped , it was her tribute to him , he had died . I went to his page and the last pic was one I had like before I had deactivated my account but this time all of the new comments just reinforced the sad reality , he was gone . When Vanity and Prince both died , the losses of course felt personal , I grew up in households that were influenced by them and eventually had my own journey’s of inspiration with them but with this particular news it felt extremely personal.I’ve lost two close friends before and there’s this feeling of being emotionally gutted , speechless , and just this internal anger at a life that was abruptly cut short , all of that had hit again.
Back in 09 I had just started at M.I.U. under their FRM program , there weren’t a lot of us back then , this was right on the cusp before social media ,so I was lucky enough to get a crash course in the fashion industry before all the influx of self proclaimed designers , stylists , models , creative directors , ect . It was just a small group of us who genuinely wanted careers in fashion and went about them through networking and honest ambition. It was something that chose us somewhere in life and we all ended up in Miami in our journey. Despite the constant tropical humidity Miami offers, I was always in a vintage biker jacket ( I had a blk and a white but endlessly hunted ebay and thrifts for a red at the time ) and patent leather sneakers , and mostly black attire (some things never changed) , at night I kept my oversized vintage shades on , that was just me or so I thought. One day between classes I came across a blog and it changed me forever. There was another kid out there from Queens in oversized shades , patent leather high tops , and vintage biker jackets ( and he had them not just in blk and white but the coveted red & blue too) and he was always rocking them whether shooting , at an industry event, or traveling like I wanted too. I followed his blog and myspace religiously from that point on , then of course on twitter , ect . I saw him create looks for Miguel ( one of my only modern idols) , Usher’s tour , a collaboration with Android Homme , and even his own line. We eventually crossed paths at an event and as intimidated as I was , he quickly made me feel comfortable and equal in his presence although it was brief it felt like we had knew each other already. Whenever I felt discouraged I would always think back to our special moment and think about his words of encouragement and what it meant to me and what it meant to see him grow and always be his own person , NEVER conforming to seasons or trends like so many do. Like Prince & Vanity another legend leaves us truly ahead of his time. Devastation is kicking in now but so is motivation and endurance to continue doing what I always wanted to do . Leo Velasquez was / is my hero and his legacy will live on through the many many people he inspired including myself. Always let your creative ambition overpower your insecurities. Inspire The Future.
This past week recording artist & honorary Lyons Girl , Betty Idol was in town for hosting duties and to shoot the visuals for her single , Pluto . Coming off of the heals of her controversial first season of Love & Hip Hop : Atlanta , I was really happy to see Betty in her true element , making good music and for herself finally . The song is an ethereal & pop synth summer anthem that fuses a number of genres from hiphop , trance , and even a bit of blue grass . For the video , Betty enlisted director Q.Guyton (fresh from his own starring vehicle , Cold Summer) and model, Jason Santore , as her leading man( the Mickey to her Mallory as the video is a unique ode to the Tarantino classic , Natural Born Killers) . I was lucky to be on set through out the day and although the scorching Texas heat and constant Houston traffic got the best of me near the end of the night , I was really impressed at the level of commitment , creativeness , and drive everyone showed to getting this video made ( my vintage skull ring & biker jacket have cameos too lol) . Betty and Jason had amazing chemistry and took Q’s direction in easily one or two takes. Just from the raw footage I seen during playback , I cannot wait to see the finished product . There is something really special about witnessing someone with true talent and ambition see their visions come to fruition , I feel privileged to have been part of #MissionPluto.
This past Friday I was lucky enough to not only style but creative direct an editorial for the summer reboot issue of COEUS Magazine . This was a sunglasses and accessory showcase editorial , we shot both digital and on polaroid . The shoot features my muse Brittany Fague and the latest model to join Neil Hamil‘s roster , Diana V . The models were decked out in frames from Thom Browne , Rayban , and Dolce & Gabana as well as jewelry from Suze Swan , River Island , Versace , and a local designer , Jcil White , whose decadent and rich pieces stole the show . I also pulled from Asos , Nasty Gal , Paul Smith , Hugo Boss , Tom Ford , and Manolo Blahnick for some of the more fashion driven shots. Due to the weather and other crazy circumstances , the male model booked out of LA , Austin Wilson was unable to make the shoot , I really had been looking forward to working with him but the girls killed it and there is always the December issue . This shoot was awesome and everyone really had great chemistry , We are set to shoot the 2nd half of the editorial on the 20th and I can’t wait !