The shoot was for the March 2011 issue of Madame magazine, and it was the most fun, and most challenging to date.
I had worked on a little still-life job with the brilliant and talented 3D illustrator Hattie Newman earlier in the year and really wanted to do a project on a bigger scale and in a fashion context, so we got together and worked up some ideas to present to Madame, who have always embraced the more extravagant ideas of mine.
They chose the dress story, so we set to work designing dresses. We really wanted to create something beautiful from a material that doesn’t normally lend itself to being draped and shaped on a living being, it had to be apparent that it was paper, but not because it looked shit.
For about a week we toiled in the studio creating designs with tissue and brown paper, a real Jack and Jill, seeing what would work and what wouldn’t, a lot more didn’t work than did, paper is not a malleable material, but eventually the idea showed itself to us and we had five dresses and props that we’d make.
After another week prototyping, having a lot of fun mucking about in brown paper, we nervously began making our finals, by far the hardest and most consuming was the papercut peacock dress. 16 panels of intricate papercut seams to attach with nothing showing, all while trying to maintain the bizarre mushroom-like form….
I met with a friend Demetrios Psillos for lunch, now a well known illustrator of beautiful imagery (you can see his work weekly in the Guardian Weekend) – he was once John Galliano’s pattern cutter and print designer. I coaxed him back to the office to have a go at making a dress from A3 sheets that we were stuck on. I was confident he would do a great job, and lo-and-behold, he came up with something fantastic in just over an hour!
Then it came to shoot day, all hands to the deck, paper crazy, paper fun, everyone and their assistant mucked in, so a big thank you to them all for going the extra mile.
The best shoots are always a challenge, time and budget constraints leave you working in your own time late into the small hours and often asking others to do the same, but when you are confident that the results are going to be worth it you muscle through, because it’s always worth it, and it’s always great when a magazine such as Madame lets you indulge your creativity.