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Wednesday December 4, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Wednesday December 4, 2013 MYT 9:22:12 AM
by william k. c. kee
Graceful: Model Grace Gao in a turtleneck and coat from Karen Millen, photographed by David Bailey.
To capture its changing style, a British fashion brand roped in legendary lensman David Bailey and four fresh faces.
TALK about a transformation. In adapting a new and edgier look for its campaign, British brand Karen Millen turned to legendary lensman David Bailey.
The result is a striking series of portraits that capture the diverse personalities of four new model faces on the brink of global success. Each girl is wearing the strongest fashion pieces from the Autumn/Winter collection.
The creative concept for the campaign allows the clothes and model to take centre stage. It features four distinctive women: Karlina Caune, Kirsi Pyrhonen, Nur Hellmann and Grace Gao, captured by Bailey.
For the uninitiated, Bailey, 75, has shot some of the most iconic portraits of the last five decades. The British photographer’s early work helped to define and capture the atmosphere of fashionable 1960s London when he made stars of a new generation of models, including Jean Shrimpton and Penelope Tree. Drawing inspiration from Modernism and Pop Art, Bailey injected a sense of movement and immediacy into his work by using a very direct, cropped perspective.
“As a brand, creativity and craftsmanship define Karen Millen,” said Gemma Metheringham, the brand’s chief creative officer.
“Collaborating with Bailey and his incredible ability to capture the beauty of the clothes and the essence of his subjects through evocative portraiture enabled us to tell our story perfectly.”
Metheringham added that while Karen Millen uses couture-inspired techniques within their collections, Bailey is one of the few photographers who still shoots using film.
In an exclusive Q&A with Star2, Metheringham answered more of our queries.
Describe the working experience with David Bailey.
He is iconic within both the fashion industry and as an artist; it was incredibly inspiring to work with him on our new campaign.
How involved was Bailey in the shoot?
Creative collaboration is at the heart of our brand, from working closely in developing unique fabrics with our Italian mills to the design process in our Shoreditch-based atelier. Therefore it was important to us that we worked very closely with Bailey on the shoot and particularly on the selection of the girls. Bailey has been quoted in saying that our campaign creative is “very him”.
What were the criteria in choosing the four models for the campaign?
We really wanted to highlight the fact that Karen Millen is about making luxury accessible to all women. Our look has evolved significantly over the past few years as our international business has grown. We now have stores in over 50 countries. This was an incredible opportunity to highlight the international appeal of the brand and the breadth of our fashion-led product offering.
I notice a diversity in terms of the models’ nationalities, was that intentional?
We selected the girls on the basis of their individual looks and personality. We saw something special and compelling in each of the girls we featured in our campaign, as did Bailey and (stylist) Katy England. Each look was styled to suit the girl, we wanted to celebrate individual style and showcase a contemporary way of dressing.
Can you tell us more about the models?
Where China-born Grace Gao is concerned, her career has taken her from the far East – she has been featured in magazines such as Harper’s Bazaar China and Elle Vietnam – to London for our Autumn/Winter campaign. When asked who she thought is the most beautiful woman of all time, her amiable response was her mother.
Although Latvian-born Karlina Caune is a new face in the modelling world, she was crowned winner of the Ford Supermodel Of The World in 2010. She has been featured in magazine editorials such as British Vogue, French Vogue and W Magazine, and being photographed by Bailey for our campaign was “a big honour”.
Kirsi Pyrhonen, who is Finnish, was discovered as a model at the young age of 13, while shopping with her mum in IKEA. Since then, she has worked far and wide from Mongolia to Georgia and has been featured in Harper’s Bazaar as well as on the cover of the Singapore edition.
Last but not least, there’s Nur Hellman. She was born in Germany and discovered as a model while shopping with a friend in Cologne. She defines her personal style as “elegant, but with a bit of rock ‘n’ roll”.
What are the must-have items from the Fall/Winter collection?
Our signature tuxedo suit, a great soft knit, one of our iconic leather jackets and our perfectly tailored tweed coat.
In your own words, describe the Karen Millen woman.
The Karen Millen woman has both style and substance: she’s feisty, intelligent, urban, sophisticated, confident and international. Her style is strong, self-assured and fashionable.
*The Autumn/Winter collection, now available at Karen Millen stores, is priced from RM225 to RM2,206.
Evolution of a brand
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Lifestyle, Karen Millen, fashion, David Bailey
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