Having been working in design my whole career, I used to wonder if I were making any positive effects with my work. Right from when I began university and had friends who were studying to be nurses, teachers... people wanting to create change and educate, help others. Here I was studying lingerie and corsetry design - how could I possible be doing something that would affect on a deeper level? While working as an employee I still used to question this - to wonder what my place was... and then I went freelance and started this business, along with my other (The Lioness and Her Unicorns). Over the past two years I have the absolute delight of seeing how clothing really can work as a transformational cloak to people. How it can provide more than just a layer of warmth to the wearer.
I've known Joey for around 18 months, and until the day of the shoot I never fully understood what her full time job was. Everyone has friends like that, yeah? people you feel a true friendship connection to, that you spend time drinking or celebrating with, but you don't really know what they spend their working hours doing? I'm sure its not just me. I knew she worked with patients - but seeing her that day, I realised its so much more for her. So much deeper. Its been an amazing process to create with Nush, one I'm truly glad we did.
Joey's outfit was created for her trip to America last year - she went to Burning Man! This much coveted festival was the adventure of dreams for her - she came knowing that she wanted the Annie waistcoat and excited that she would have sparkles. In fact, the first time we met she told me of her love for sparkles <3... I was excited to create for her.
The final outfit consists of:
Annie waistcoat, Jaimee Shorts, dust Mask and Top hat. Each one was altered from my standard design, with us encorporating a mix of pink and blue into the reversible purple and gold sequin colour pallet. As I was making the garments I remember pondering my trip to Burning man the previous year - and just how dusty it is! I didn't want her to struggle with something that could match - being that she was going to such effort to have this costume created, so I added in the matching dust mask for her. The sequin top hat came along as I really felt the outfit had a marching band vibe to it, and again, wanting the costume to be complete and 'Burning Man Ready' I couldn't resist asking if it would be ok to make the matching hat!
I love doing things like that for my clients - really thinking about where they will wear it, what they want to do while wearing it. The day Joey collected her outfit i'll never forget. She jumped and squeeled, cried and laughed. Seeing herself in the mirror looking back was an absolute delight.
The remainder of this blog is going to be Joey and Nush (our photographer) explaining the day from their perspective. If you missed the first post to do with this very special photoshoot, it can be found by clicking HERE. It explains what we were doing, one sunny Spring day in Melbourne last year
Thanks so much for taking the time to read all this, ill be back with the next set of photos very soon
Much Love and Sparkles
Words from Joey
1. Tell us a little about yourself
I am a paradox.
I am energetic, yet lazy.
I am socialable but quiet.
I am confident yet filled with flaws.
I am awkward and unco-ordinated but can be graceful.
I have a silent determination that helps me achieve what I need to.
2. Describe your first outfit: Why did you choose it to reflect the person everyone is used to seeing?
I am a pathology collector who had just came to the shoot straight from work - how better to describe myself. My work entails me to be empathetic, kind and patient.
To give a warm smile to a stranger who may be facing something scary. Even though I believe your job doesn't define who you are, it definitely allows me to showcase the best parts of my personality, the parts that everyone gets to see
3. Describe your second outfit: The process of having it made by Ariane, why you chose to, its design, original inspiration
I have always been drawn to sparkles. People used to call me a magpie growing up because I was always drawn to SHINY things.
This is why I was drawn to Ariane, I had seen the Annie waistcoat and I just HAD to have one. This was the main starting point of my outfit. After sitting down with Ariane and discussing what I wanted from my outfit we came up with the matching top hat and sparkle shorts. I gave Ariane creative freedom with my outfit and what she came up with was absolute perfection. It was like she already knew what I wanted before I had even thought about it. The final piece of the puzzle was when she made the dust mask. Ariane had made a complete amazing outfit, and it was allllll for me!!!
4. How do you feel when you wear your outfit?
I feel giddy! Like I want to uncontrollably laugh for the rest of my life. I feel amazing. I feel like the sparkles of my personality
get to shine on the outside instead of being hidden on the inside. But most importantly, I feel comfortable!!!
5. What was the 'take away' feeling or emotion you had from the shoot day?
I came into the shoot completely exhausted after a long day at work. I left feeling empowered and re-energised. Its amazing what being
in the company of amazing woman who are all wearing Ariane's creations can do for your soul
6. Anything else you would like to comment?
I have never met anyone like Ariane before. She amazes me in every single way. Her professionalism, her beauty, the way she shines like the brightest star in the sky.
The way everyone is drawn to her.
I once stood in front of her feeling very self conscious about my flaws, but with her presence - just her being there - all my flaws just melted away. I have never felt this before with anyone. This is what is so amazing about her garments.
You put them on and all of a sudden you are transformed into the absolute best version of yourself and they allow you to feel like you can take on the world
Words from our photographer, Nush:
But first… As this is my first stab at this, I think I have a few disclaimers that need airing first. I won’t repeat this in all my other observation posts, but it applies to them all. I had shot a couple of the Sparkle Gang members at shows before this day, but I didn’t really know any of them personally. I was kind of left to guess at occupations and personalities, and I had no idea if and in what way my photographs of them would tell me something real. As a photographer, as a bipolar person, as a woman, as a survivor, my lens and my eyes and my edits often have as much to do with me, as with my subjects. It’s a bit of a guessing game, and I’m sure my opinion, and my imagination, often lead me to see things that maybe aren’t there. I try to see heart first. Stupid sentence, but it’s true. So please take these observations with a grain of salt. Sometimes I see pain or joy or I see nothing at all, and all that could be is a lack of sleep, or a front, or a block. People are people, and you can’t assume you’re magically going to capture their soul the second they step in front of your lens. As I mentioned in my introduction, the shoot wasn’t how I wanted it, or where I wanted it, and it didn’t go down the way I had hoped; maybe that resulted in even more grains of salt. I don’t know. These are my observations, that is all. I hope they will be useful in some way. I am blessed to have gotten to know some of the gang better since then. It was my pleasure to shoot with them, and I would do so again whenever, wherever, and in two seconds flat.
Joey's First Outfit
To be honest both Joey’s shoots were quite quick compared to some of the other girls’, but hers’ cut me a little bit. I think she had come in straight from work, a bit later in the day that the others, so of course the lighting was off; one shoot taking place as it was getting dark, the other some time in the night. Just the thought of the camera angles and the editing and lining up the shots was making me feel slightly ill, and having already shot with a lot of the others I was feeling a bit drained. Shoots like this are draining for me, not because of the people involved or the time, but because of my previous (and still stupid) statement about trying to see heart first. How can I get that out of someone? Or many someones? How can I make them feel comfortable when my camera is always between us? How can I let them know they can trust me without blurting it out like a dumbass? It’s not easy to stand in front of a camera and be yourself (that’s why I’m always behind mine), and that was what I was hoping for. Quite a few of the girls had scenarios pre-planned. How they would pose, what they would wear, what their expression was going to be: a lot of it was pre-staged, if you will. Which made my modus operandi all the more complicated. I think that added to why those final edits told me so much less than the ones I’m about to show you. I don’t know how to segue gracefully into this next section so I’ll just show you the pictures, and try not to trip ass first over my own adjectives.
I can’t even imagine what Joey’s day had been like prior to her arrival. I got strength, and competence, and as I got her to play around with medical frou-frou, a feeling of trust that I’m sure the people she works with get from her on the daily. However as I was a little drained, I saw that reflected in her eyes as well; which you would be after a day at work. A few of the girls were talking to her at the time, and I started to catch other things as well.
She was collected, and calm, explaining and discussing things about which I have forgotten. Probably because I started to see something more than post-work drainage (so to speak). I shot this, and it cut me.
I got resignation from this. It started to show up in quite a few frames and it pulled at me like nothing else. It wasn’t an overwhelming emotion per se; not the “I hate my life/job/whatever” kind. It was perfunctory; like she was going through the motions, I thought maybe without even realizing it. Then that too was quashed when I shot these:
Just her face… it made me sad. I don’t know if she was, but that’s what she made me feel. And then this:
This frame just about did me in. This first shoot was probably short because all I could think was: someone please get her some champagne and bring her into the fold of laughter and teasing and happy nonsense going on in the living room. The others were talking to her you see, and so every time we got eye contact I had no time and couldn’t think of a way to engage with her on a lighter, happier level. I got to this point and felt like I couldn’t make her stand there any longer like this. So I didn’t.
Joey's Second Outfit
Joey should always look like this, I reckon. Thankfully that magical day took all the quiet pain I had seen before and melted it away a time. Those magical women, and Ariane’s magical designs, and that embrace of happy nonsense did wonders. When she came back in for part two it was a whole different scenario.
She went right up to that mirror and stared herself straight in the eye. There was that same confidence, and steadfastness as before, but now it was unburdened. There were no studied moves or poses, her hands came up and grabbed at the mask almost immediately, and her eyes were glowing. Smiling back at herself in the most bad-ass way (I remember shooting and thinking she should be on a harley flying down a a coastal road somewhere just owning everything).
And from there we were all swept up in the hilarity and the camaraderie.
And the Romance dress made it perfect.
(Joey wearing the lace Romance dress from my label The Lioness and Her Unicorns)