“We know what we are, but not what we may be.” – Hamlet
I knew going into our illusionist editorial inspired by Houdini that drilling down to a tight concept was going to be hard. We just had so many ideas. Bartenders juggling cocktails and fire. A married couple role-playing. Trapeze artists and tarot cards. We knew we wanted the production to be luxe and darkly romantic, so we were looking at boutique hotels, possibly with a great pool and maybe doing something by or in the pool. It was the “models in water concept” that finally rang my inspiration bell, and then I remembered reading how Houdini would practice his tricks in the tub. We moved away from hotels to a 100+ year old historical home that Daryl found with a beautifully articulated bathroom containing a vintage, claw-foot white tub and a floor-to-ceiling Parisian-style mirror. Our stage was set.
The best fashion photography comes from the collaboration of production pros and great talent. At soundoff, we’re lucky to have assembled a fantastic team of artists who are focused on both the vision and the details.
We knew we wanted to tell the story of a couple in a fantasy setting in their home, and our models were excited to step into this world.
Additionally, we wanted to bring in a “dark bunny theme” as a nod to the illusionist idol appearing in the soundoff collection. While I was taking a black bunny mask, gluing black jewels to it, and playing with sheer ribbon to turn it into bunny ears and blindfolds, the rest of the team was bringing their inspiration to the production. Daryl was working closely with our stylist, Beth, to get the models into some gorgeous cocktail party gear that worked with the bunny mask to stage the opening of our illusionist story.
A reoccurring motif of the entire production was mirrors, water, and reflective surfaces, all to drive home the illusionist metaphor. I shot the cocktail scenes in front of another giant mirror stained with mercury glass that was filled with shadows and a murky green light.
Then the story moved to showcasing our products from “the illusionist/houdini” offering. We created burnout tees for men and women, and a white-on-white girls’ tee. The printing processes for these garments have subtle qualities so that the illusionist idol on the tees seems to disappear in indirect light. The champagne in the tub was a shout-out to the roaring twenties, as well as the sock bracers that Mike, our male model, was wearing.
At the end of our day we moved to the tub. Mike had a blindfold on, referencing Houdini’s practice of being blindfolded or hooded when he was submerged.
Lastly we staged Tori, our female model, in the water. Beth had picked up this tissue-thin magenta tulle skirt that perfectly matched one of the main colors in our “the illusionist/houdini” icon shirt. It moved languidly in the water and flowed gently around Tori’s body. Allie, our hair and makeup artist (HMUA), had been thrilled with the idea of actually submerging the talent and crafted her hair and makeup with that in mind. Allie framed Tori’s eyes with silvery blue waterproof powder, and she was intent on artfully curling the tendrils of Tori’s hair. I added some bright purple iris blooms, and Ophelia was born.
written by: Bret Grafton
edited by: Suzanne Claussen
photography by: Bret Grafton
stylist: Beth Berlin
hmua: Allie Kunkler
models: Tori and Michael
agency: Factor Chosen (Chicago)