Crack of Dawn | Cover Story

Photographer: Elo Durand
Fashion Designer: William Drummond
Model: Kaya Saminina @Women Management Paris
Makeup Artist: Karl Sanchez
Hair Stylist: Magalie Kippelen
Fashion Designer: New York Couture
Model: Olya Jay @Crawdfords Models NY

Fine Art being my primary photography background, my main interest has always been to tell stories, long time before even wondering about clothes, make up or any other practical components. When planning a fashion shoot, I always try to focus on the story first and create fictive characters: who they are, what their occupation could be, where they would hang out, etc. Imagining a life for them helps me to consolidate the story.

In this case, I thought about two young and free spirited best friends on their way home after another night out in New York City. Being part of the upper class, they wouldn’t be afraid to show off sometimes. Their arrogance and exuberance is in fact what would make them, them.  

For this editorial I wanted to accentuate the carelessness. With the hair being undone, the makeup slightly imperfect and the attitude drained, it all contributed to this end of the night look. The challenging part was to balance this sublte mix of glamour and grunge, without falling into trashy ambiances. Therefore, we tried to keep the styling as clean and elegant as possible, while remaining true to their characters.

Posing also played an important role in conveying the story. I was pleased to work with models who understood my vision. Having worked as Art Manager for a lifestyle photographer this past year, I learned to appreciate the “undone”, the cheerful and the spur of the moment feel in images. Therefore, for this particular story, I wanted to aim in that direction. Although this was exclusively a fashion shoot where advertising the clothes was still the main objective, I wanted to do it in a spontaneous looking manner, rather than through refined, classic, fashion poses.

I wanted the audience to immediately be able to relate to the characters. This idea influenced several other creative decisions. One of them was choosing familiar locations: the subway, a pizzeria, and the Brooklyn Bridge. These commun places should be contributing to the audience’s reminiscence. 

Another factor was the credibility of the character’s friendship. Working on the closeness was important in order to convey familiarity. The idea was for people to recall of their own college friend, or their current best friend – any person with whom they themselves would have shared experiences with, and made memories together. 

And to be very sincere, a lot of the inspiration in my photography comes from real life observations. Being 21 years old myself, I have experienced the late night into early morning transitions numerous times to be able to convert it into a fashion story. I believe it is important to be able to relate to your subjects. In fact, it makes the whole experience and outcome more convincing.

Although my fashion photography is never a self portrait in any way – leaving that to the fine art world -  I do occasionally pull elements from my own life, should I be stuck in the creative process. In this case, thinking of my own best friend of 10 years helped me to immerse myself in the story.  

Another valuable source of inspiration is simply America. Americans might not realize it, but being originally from Europe, there are so many details to notice and utilize. In fact, I find it facinating how Americans romanticise Europe and vice versa. But in my case I was lucky enough to experience both worlds. Growing up in Switzerland, I was immersed in the rich and diverse culture, the beautiful nature and the high quality of life. And then moving to America 4 years ago, I experienced the fast paced city, the endless opportunities and the great open mindness.

While I love both worlds, there will always remain a fascination for America. In my daily life, I’ve learned to notice details that makes me so fortunate to be able to live in America. In this story, I tried to communicate that american appeal: the subway station, the american flag on the train, the Brooklyn Bridge, the skyscappers, the diner, the oily slice of pizza, the cup of coke, etc. I don’t expect natives to understand, but to outsiders these details come a long way. 

On another note, this project was a lot of fun to complete because I had the chance to work with an amazing team. The makeup artist, Karl Sanchez - also from Europe – was just arriving from San Francisco, where we had met and worked together a few years back, to settle in the Big Apple. Coincidently, Crack of Dawn was our first project together in NYC, which got us both very excited to be reunited and plan further projects together. 

Regarding the hair stylist, Magalie Kippelen, she has also been a friend of mine for a few years. We met during the Tour de France Photo 2014, and were both eager to plan more projects together, but our respective locations did not allow us that privilege for a while. Except when she flew from Barcelona for an entire week to be able to undertake a few artistic ideas of ours. 

To conclude, not only was this editorial a creative fulfilment in terms of utilizing current and various inspirations, but it has also been incredibly fun to be able to team up with long time - and extremely talented - friends.