Friday, October 28, 2016

Tim Christian .. the VULKAN interview

Currently in the world of fashion, especially when it comes to advertising and editorial, there seems to be an age issue that surely comes off as ill-conceived, self-defeating and possibly even discriminatory. In the men’s area, it is apparent that stylists, editors, photographers, casting directors and even designers prefer cookie cutter boys, not men, BOYS, as the ideal customer or image for their coveted and ubiquitous prestige brands. 
Brandon Jameson photo.. click to enlarge

Those who sit in power need to take note and not summarily dismiss the possibility that they are sending out the wrong message to a well-heeled audience. There is a grave disconnect! Do you think that a hedgie, a CEO or any man past his 20s relates to prepubescent looking muscled or anorexic looking boys with bow legs and greasy hair? Think about who can afford and who can only aspire.
Mark Bruce photo.. click to enlarge

Tim Christian is of indeterminate age, like somewhere between 35 and death, whereas the Stepford boys can’t be more than 25 and it doesn’t take a genius to see it; marinate that in your mind for a bit. 
Dietmar Kohl photo.. click to enlarge

Tim Christian is ever the storyteller, the actor, the one man show or the provocateur, via head shot or full body, he has something to communicate to the viewer. The ultimate result lays with the photographer, designer and stylist to convey their message of the moment through his image ... click!
He is youthful without looking foolish, he is debonair when called upon to be, in this sort of sexy Euro way and he is lithe and well-built enough to carry off almost any look. Tim owns a visual presence that reads as a sort of “bucking the trend” rocker, which might be the antidote to what ails the industry. He is here to signal a change in the winds. 
Mark Bruce photo.. click to enlarge

So, it is my opinion that Tim Christian has something to say of the world he inhabits and he is saying it to VULKAN. He speaks from the most credible standpoint which includes not being in the 18 to 25 age bracket or a sliver fox. You’ll find him enlightening and engaging in that he has a message about being Tim Christian. So in his own words: 
Brandon Jameson photo.. click to enlarge

Jeffrey Felner: What is your internal driver ... what fuels your ambition?
Tim Christian: I’ve had a few careers since college, and in each of those situations I was working like a dog (most of the time) to help other people achieve their goals. There’s a lot of satisfaction to be gained from stepping outside myself and doing something for someone else. I hope that I’ve helped people succeed in life. When I came to a turning point a year ago, it gave me an opportunity to be proactive about what the next half might be. It showed me, unexpectedly, that there IS a second act in life. And I don’t want to waste it. I want to take risks. I want to do things and go places and meet people I might never have before and to have fun. I’m lucky to have a support system. I have to make them proud, too.
Jef Heuerque photo.. click to enlarge

JF; Can you explain why this mission is so important to you and what you hope to achieve by fulfilling this career? Do you consider yourself a trailblazer?
TC: In my world there have been a lot of firsts: first college graduate, first born, first time . . . My hard reset comes with a lot of responsibility, as well as opportunity, because it’s a first. Creative vocations come easily for young people, I think, because experimentation and freedom are celebrated when we’re starting out but to be in the middle of life and leap off a cliff probably seems crazy. And being my age can be considered trailblazing. Or nuts. Or just taking a risk. If I succeed, it’ll be real. It’ll be worth the risk. 
Gregory Prescott  photo.. click to enlarge

JF: Do you feel that your acting has contributed to your ease in front of the camera and why? What do you do to prep yourself for a shoot? Mentally? Physically?
TC: Acting and acting training are tremendously helpful to modeling. My first photoshoots felt static, and I didn’t have a good understanding of the dynamism of still photography. Learning to bring out the characters within me has made all the difference between standing in front of the camera, and BEING in front of the camera. Preparation always starts with communication, concept, and collaboration. I try never to go into a shoot without understanding what the photographer and I will create TOGETHER. That way there are no surprises. I like to have a goal, and establish parameters that will facilitate creative play. And if I’m really planning ahead, I get plenty of sleep and LOTS of exercise for a few days before, so I’m LOOKING my best.
Omar Sandoval  photo.. click to enlarge

JF: If you could invite any 5 people to dinner who would they be and why?
TC: I have always adored creative people. My mother has long held the belief that I am a frustrated artist in search of a medium. Perhaps my medium is me. She’s always the first on my list because she knows me far better than I can ever hope to know myself. And after two glasses of wine, she can chat with ANYONE. A close friend is a scientist and an artist and he has a wonderfully creative mind which is always full of questions and opinions that cannot be found in the proverbial box. People who work with their hands inspire serious admiration especially finish carpenters … maybe it’s biblical. I’ve worked with a guy here in LA who builds decks, fences and gates. He used to be a chef. And he’s Italian. Good with his hands . . . My oldest friend lives here in LA; we finished college a year apart, and both migrated into civilization at about the same time. We’re both married now, working and life gets busy and so I’d love to have him to dinner more often. Finally, there’s someone on my family tree I would love to meet, assuming all the rules of physics can be broken for an evening. The first woman in my family known to have been born in California, around 1880, was a Native American. She fell in love with a less than loyal Caucasian man, and got pregnant. He could ill afford to marry a Native American, let alone support a mixed-race child but she fought for herself and her child, and went down a rabbit hole in the courts to prove his paternity. There were death threats, armed guards, a Winchester rifle remains, this woman must have been somebody special and had she failed I wouldn’t be here. I’m betting she’d be a fantastic 
Mary Andrade photo.. click to enlarge

JF: Do you have a mentor, style icon or inspiration that comes to mind every day and why that person or idea?
TC: I spend my fair share of time on social media, and I try to look and look and look at images. It’s exciting to see a little of the diversity of the world reflected in pictures. I’m not the only “old” guy out there, working hard and trying to be a success. In that sense I’m really following in the footsteps of other men, and women, who’ve started a bit of a revolution. What comes to mind, every day, is that I AM responsible for making this work. And no one can inspire me more than that.
Gregory Prescott  photo.. click to enlarge

JF: If you could choose any collaboration and/or collaboration, who and what would it be and why?
TC: The thing I’m enjoying most on this new adventure is collaboration. I’ve worked with creative people for many years, but now I’m a participant rather than a facilitator. My respect for what photographers, stylists, and hair and makeup artists bring to the table is off the charts. I can’t do anything on camera without partners. There are so many people out there with cameras . . . And I keep my eye on a few people, especially here in LA. There’s something intimate about the work people do here, I think because we have space. .. especially domestic space and the light here can be spectacular. One of my favorite artists is Luke Austin-Paglialonga. He creates very intimate images that transcend both art and fashion. Of course you can’t talk about fashion photography today without honoring Matthias Vries-McGrath. Besides the spectacle of his work, there is always a sense of fun. And he pushes and pushes at the boundaries to keep things really fresh.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Meet ODAY SHAKAR .. on the cusp

Rare are the days, or even moments, that these eyes and brain find something that pique my fashion interest. What is even rarer is that a show will allow you the time to digest what has quickly paraded down a runway. I was lucky enough to be invited to the Oday Shakar showroom for an up close and personal view of the collection as well as meet the man responsible for the design. The collection is what might be called modern yet rooted in the past by extracting only the finest details and aura of those times. Translation ... Modern, urbane, classic not boring and finally elegant.
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The collection exceeded my expectations as no matter how close you sit at that show you never quite see the clothes as they need to be seen. What intrigued me so much is that that many of the pieces had the distinct flavor of something that was familiar to me. What I am trying to say is that the clothes reminded me of when discerning women owned beautifully made, elegant and glamorous gowns or cocktail dresses that were worn for gala occasions as well as special nights out. Please do not misconstrue my words and think this is some retread retro revival collection but instead this is a collection and a designer who was prescient in revitalizing what was once considered to be chic, tasteful and de rigeur for those who set the standards for being well dressed. Simply said, the collection smarts of times when we had real tastemakers and trend setters with independent taste, breeding and marriages to sustain those titles and not the faux tasteful of today. Most importantly is that there are women who still desperately want to look beautiful while being dressed appropriately!
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With all that said, Oday Shakar is on the precipice of his global launch which will take place at the MODA OPERANDI MEWS in London beginning on October 24. (Sorry for the short notice). The collection will be available during a 14 day trunk show at that location and on October 21, the collection will go live on their website as well. So, I was lucky to catch up with this young man on the cusp of what we hope to be a long future in the world of fashion.
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Jeffrey Felner: If you could invite any 5 people to dinner, who would they be and why?

Oday Shakar: Queen Rania because I really would love to hear her thoughts on the future of the Middle East.  Deepak Chopra, I would love his input on fulfilling my destiny and dreams. Madonna because she rocks.  Shakira, she has accomplished so much in her young life and still seems grounded. She’s also the youngest UN Ambassador!  Valentino, hoping he would share some stories about his amazing life and career as a designer. 

JF: Do you have a mentor or style icon that constantly inspires you? Who and why have you chosen them?

OS: Halston’s designs inspire me. He created designs that were breathtaking, effortless and timeless but always original. I keep that in mind when I design.
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JF: If you could select any 3 people to dress, who would they be and why?

OS: 1. Beyonce because I respect her artistry and she is the best at what she does. 2. Shakira because her style and esthetic is very much in the same world as mine. She is half Lebanese and she appeals to the world. 3. Emma Stone because she exudes confidence and class 

JF: When designing, who do you see as your ideal customer and why have you focused on her?

OS: My ideal customers are the women who are close to me in my everyday life. They are classy yet edgy, sexy, cultured and bold and they want options and looks that are different yet functional and wearable.
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JF: If you could choose any collaborator on a new project, who would that be and why that project?

OS: Christian Louboutin, I would love to design and create shoes someday, what fun would it be to collaborate with the red sole man himself?

Monday, October 17, 2016

Alexi Lubomirski .. THE INTERVIEW

Doing what I do affords me many intangible assets; some of them being self- gratification, access to authors, designers, genuine influencers and some of the greatest fashion and fashion related books that ever come to print.

This interview was posted almost 2 years ago upon release of Alexi Lubomirski's book Diverse Beauty but since then, Alexi has most recently been enjoying some extraordinary new attention caused by being named photographer of the year by The Daily Front Row  and of course his appointment as the official photographer for the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. In case you were wondering what else and who else Aexi works with then you need to know he has become an established name within the fashion industry with an impressive client list like Harpers Bazaar US, Harpers Bazaar UK, Vogue Mexico, Vogue Germany, Vogue Russia, Vogue Spain, Vogue Korea, Vogue China, Vogue Nippon, Men’s Vogue China, Numero Tokyo, W Korea, GQ USA and Allure.
He has also become a favorite with celebrities such as Beyoncé, Charlize Theron, Gwyneth Paltrow, Natalie Portman, Jennifer Lopez, Selma Hayek, Katy Perry, Sarah Jessica Parker, Jennifer Aniston, Julia Roberts, Nicole Kidman and Scarlett Johansson

As far as access, let's speak of the books that are offered to me for review and in turn the access that is can happen when an author actually finds me to thank me for said review. Furthering the point or possibly increasing my gratification is that these moments offer me the chance of forging a new friendship so many people who i might never have come inn contact with.
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So, with all this in mind, today is to honor a new friend whose name is Alexi Lubomirski. Not only is he a celebrated photographer but he is also an accomplished author, father, and husband, humanitarian and now a newly found friend. It is a rare find to meet people who are as gracious and forthcoming as he, let alone one who has achieved notoriety but has not lost sight of being a human being who walks among us; in other words he is humble, self-deprecating and genuinely generous on all levels.

So, it was my great honor that he consented to speak to me on this occasion which serves as a celebration of his oeuvre which now includes his latest book DIVERSE BEAUTY which was released in October 2016. 
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Jeffrey Felner: Will you share one of most memorable assignments, projects or collaborators and tell us what and why?

Alexi Lubomirski:  I love the challenges of shooting different characters every day. One day you get to shoot a model and you can create any character you want.  The next day you shoot an actress who has more boundaries involved with the shoot, whether it is because they don’t want to be shown in a certain way, or they have insecurities, or they have zero time to give you.  Sometimes though, they give you something that you could not plan for and this is when it gets fun.  Shooting Lupita Nyong’o was one such subject.  We had set the lights and the props.  We had each shot planned out and we had a certain time limit.  Then she comes on set and rather than just “slotting in” to the pre prepared shot, she came on set and blasted all that was planned out of the water with her presence.  She has such a radiance that you almost don’t need anything to “help” her in the shot.  She dances, she has an incredible smile, there is a natural ease to her.  Those are the shoots where it is just 100% pleasure and not work. 
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JF: If you could invite any 5 people to dinner who would they be and why?

AL: Firstly I can’t do a dinner with more than 4 people, so someone would have to drop!  Anymore than 4 people and it becomes a larger group of small talk rather than in smaller group of in depth conversation. In truth, I always prefer a one on one! I am terribly antisocial outside of work hours and always prefer to be with my wife and sons, but if I am forced to go out, then I try to get as in depth as possible in to that new person’s life and what they do and why… I try to learn as much as possible about that person.

So in order to learn something, and be as nosy as possible into each of their lives, my choices would be: 1-My paternal grandfather.  I never met him and he was the last link to the polish part of my ancestry and everything the title stood for.  Every description about him, from various people, always describes him as an elegant, charming, patriotic, gentleman and someone who was the very definition of what a prince should be. 2-An “in the field” representative of the charity Concern Worldwide.  I am an ambassador for Concern and when I have talked to people who have been in the field, you are massively inspired to do more.  It puts your entire existence into perspective. The job we do the life we live, the things we worry about. 3- Dr. Shefali Tsabary who is the author of The Conscious Parent. I am a spiritual self-help junkie, and this plus the impossible task of trying to be a good parent, would make for an interesting chat with her. 4-Nelson Mandela as when I was growing up in Botswana during apartheid and Nelson Mandela was always spoken about.  Having survived such hardship and hatred, and then be able to come out on the other side with love and understanding is something that I would love to delve into.
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JF: With the new book just out how will that affect your future work and do you have another book on the back burner?

AL: I am hoping that this book will be just one more “tap - tap” on people’s head to remember to push the diversity factor in fashion.  I believe that the more people see fashionable and aspirational images of a more diverse range of beauty, that it will just become the norm.  Rather than having to do a “Black Issue” or an “Asian issue”, hopefully we will start to see magazines representing what we see around us, which is a constant, glorious, textured tapestry of differing looks and colors.  So hopefully my future work will reflect this change.

I have about 3 projects going at one time, not necessarily to do with photography.  About 3 years ago, I came to the conclusion that if you are a “creative” then you should allow inspiration to manifest itself in any creative manner that fits.  You shouldn’t handcuff yourself to your “professional title”, be it photographer, writer or painter.  If I, as a photographer am inspired by something that I cannot translate to its full potential via photography, and then I try to allow it to come out in whatever way seems best.  That is how my first written book came about in 2014.  That being said, I have always written poetry and if I ever have the guts to share those poems, maybe that will be my next book!
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JF: Do you have a professional bucket list and will and you share and explain?

AL: People always ask me this question and I always bore them with the same answer.  There is no particular person that I have an aching desire to shoot.  The only thing I hope is that sustainability and responsible manufacturing continue to grow in the industry and that I am able to use my photography to help that grow.
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JF: Would you care to comment on the current state of the media or fashion in general when it comes to appeal; who is the intended audience? Agree or disagree and why?

AL: I think in the last year or two everything has changed. Budgets that were set aside for a campaign of 12 images for a whole season are now being ripped apart and sent into 10 different directions, be it for Instagram videos, YouTube channel, Facebook etc. and then the image tally also goes up 3 fold in order to have constant new content for all media channels.

The public’s appetite for content is insatiable and if you are not present in some manner on practically a daily basis, you are out of sight and out of mind.

 One has to move with the times and get on board with this changing landscape. I was dragged kicking and screaming 4 years ago into the social media world, but quickly realized how important a role it is for any aspect of the industry. I now have a YouTube channel which has tutorials, behind the scenes and other projects on there, along side all the other media channels.  In order to survive and thrive in this industry you have to have more of a brand mentality. 

As to whether I like it or not, I see it as an exciting new challenge, as well as adding more outlets for being creative. So yes J

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JF: Do you have any style mentors or mentors in general who influence your work on a daily basis and why them?

AL: When I assisted Testino, he said to me that as a photographer, one had to find one’s “woman”.  What is her style, her personality, her character? Who she is will determine your voice as a fashion photographer.  So in terms of my style mentor, my wife Giada is my “woman”.  She is Cuban Italian, grew up in Rome, speaks Italian, Spanish and English and has a very international outlook.  She has amazing taste and individual style, a fashion lover who is simultaneously an advocate for sustainability in fashion and environmental awareness. She has an understated elegance and grace to her that is effortless plus a romantic side and an easy, luminous smile.  If that wasn’t enough, she is gorgeous inside and out! So she really inspired me in terms of who my “woman” was to be in my work.  Added to this and as cheesy as it sounds, I think that when you marry, you want to be the best version of yourself for that person.  This in turn made me a better person at work and allowed me to find my voice in terms of what I wanted to shoot, how I wanted to shoot it and how I wanted to be perceived on set.