Every once in a while, one’s road leads to Malibu, California… Right?!
Given the opportunity to assist the Director of Styling at Stage, Robert Mitchell, on the Malibu shoot for our May and June books, which also included the swim May Look Book , the zen master wannabe inside me calmly leaped for joy at the notion of not only working with Robert (duh!), but also working on the coast of California, where the Pacific Ocean’s infinite surplus of negative ions, nature’s food for the soul, awaited. But I digress…
Upon arriving at our sweet boutique hotel located within the rustic beauty of the Santa Monica Mountains, we took a moment to appreciate the quiet beauty of our surroundings, clean fresh air, and eclectically chic lobby decor… then we dropped off our bags and hit the ground running.
But there was no time to linger. It was off to the Merch Room where Caroline Liang, Senior Art Director at Stage, and Robert wasted no time in delving into the pre-shoot organizing, prepping and scheduling madness. I of course was bringing up the rear.
I must mention that prior to our arrival at our location and this step in the process, the planning for this shoot actually started weeks before at our Stage corporate headquarters in Houston. Days of meetings, making selections, editing selections, booking talent, propping looks, styling out looks, reviewing looks, approving looks, packing looks for travel, traveling, scouting locations, loading merch, unloading merch, prepping merch… all took place before the first image was captured. It takes a herculean effort of many talented people on our Stage team to create and produce the amazing print and digital pieces for your perusal and shopping experience. The goal is to always provide the most updated, on trend, visually pleasing looks that you’ll want and love for your wardrobe. In short, our ultimate goal is to please you, our customer!
As you can see, there is no limit to our commitment, as my boss Robert, leaves no stone unturned when it comes to creating the perfect look for each and every shot in our books. By delicately HAND washing every Nautica and Chaps woven shirt the night before shoot day, then letting them dry naturally, Robert is able to achieve just the right feel and look of comfort one would want from a casual shirt. This is just one example of how much thought and effort goes into the styling of every piece of merchandise.
The newest handbags, accessories, and shoes are carefully chosen to complete each look in an effort to reflect seasonal trends, and fashion forecasts. We do the homework for you so all you have to do is enjoy the shopping experience and know we’ve got you covered.
With shirts dried and merch prepped, it’s time to load the MoHo (motor home) for our day’s shoot. Robert patiently awaits the arrival of Hugs who provides the latest and greatest in RV accommodations for location wardrobe and dressing room needs. By the way, he actually hugs… a lot.
Ok, we are locked and loaded and ready for action…
My post for the next couple of days…
A quick selfie for grins. 🙂
After the completion of our shot list, day one was deemed a successfully productive one, with beautiful light and beautiful models!
Then it was back to the hotel to plan and prep for the rest of the week’s shoot. There were still looks to fine-tune, schedules to coordinate, images to select, the usual… That we were working alongside nature didn’t hurt!
We did manage to squeeze in some healthy California grub.
Robert loved his tomato bisque. Sublime!
Perhaps Caroline should have ordered the bisque.
Our next location was in Los Angeles at the photo studio compound of L.A. fashion photographer, Larry Bartholomew. It was a delightful combination of workspace and outdoor lounging, and absolutely perfect for a day of in-studio shots. Here our lovely model catches some sun between changes.
In case you didn’t notice the shiny Airstream trailer, I’ll point it out. With perfectly appointed retro furnishings, it functioned as social venue, make-shift office space, and a monumental reference to L.A. 50’s aesthetic. It was perfect!
Here in the Airstream “office,” Sarah Raskin, Senior Media Producer along with her assistant Chris, work out the details for the next day’s schedule.
Back in the adjoining studio where “quaint” is an understatement, the crew awaited the next model to arrive on set. Photographer, Larry is seated in the center with Robert checking the shot list. His bag of styling tricks at the bottom of the stairs is always close by. Trust me when I say, if you need it he’s got it and WILL make it work!
While Caroline observes the action on set, she must also monitor every captured image while her technical guru, Daniel seated to her left, tracks each image to make sure they are named correctly and exported into the proper folder. It’s all very glamorous…
Kidding aside it is perhaps the most important part of the process. Because if the image can’t be found, it doesn’t exist, and if it doesn’t exist, then yikes. All that work… Later when Caroline returns to the hotel, she will make her selections before the next day. No rest for the art director!
And yet… guess who was waiting on the crew the next day…
Now it’s off to the beach for the remainder of the shoot.
Our next location was an extraordinary architectural masterpiece built on the beach in Malibu. Caroline discovered it through her research and scouting of homes in the area. What a serendipitous find!
Appropriately named, Sandcastle House, this architectural wonder was designed by the influential Southern California architect and maverick, Harry Gesner. This beach house is one of many important modern houses and buildings he would design throughout his prolific career, with the Getty Museum being among them. Early in his life, he was influenced and mentored by Frank Lloyd Wright before striking out on his own, always finding a way to invoke the influence of a site’s natural surroundings and his own unique life experiences as an environmentalist, visionary, and surfer.
These exterior views of the beach house face the ocean. Perfect for whale watching!
As if on cue, from this circular wall of windows… a whale sighting!
This historic beach house, furnished with mid-century pieces and priceless works of art, was our location headquarters for the rest of the shoot. Having been an art major in college, I was totally agog to be in the midst of such incredibly important works of art and architectural royalty.
Setting up our wardrobe area in the library of priceless books was a treat. I chose to steam the merch by the open door so as not to damage the books, not realizing I had positioned myself to absorb the soothing sound of waves crashing onto the beach. At a particular moment while steaming, I felt a profound sense of gratitude for my job and this opportunity. I would not have wanted to be anywhere else on earth. It was the negative ions I tell you…
With spectacular views in every direction, the Sandcastle House and surrounding grounds were the perfect stage for creating beautiful images of casual summer, swim, and athletic wear.
Incorporating the natural landscape and ornamental creations specific the location contributed a special kind of look and feel that could only be found in Malibu.
Again, utilizing the rustically designed natural archway as a backdrop, our three models in Jessica Simpson enjoyed a brief stroll .
Caroline and Robert monitored each capture to ensure the shot had the right look and adhered to both concept and layout. Little details…
Getting the back detail of this Jessica Simpson top was crucial to showing a very important part of the design.
And… more fun exterior shots around the house.
With another of Harry Gesner’s creations, the famous Wave House serving as the backdrop, our models in Hobie swimwear enjoyed posing for the last shot, marking the end of a beautifully sublime day in Malibu AND another successful shoot!
That’s a wrap!
Back at the hotel for our final evening by the fire, we toasted to a job well done, to Malibu, and of course to Stage!