What I used:
2. Opal plug, ebay
3. Shattered quartz plug £5.99 urbanpiercingshop
4. Floral scale pendant by Richard Ayres
5. Scale bracelet by Richard Ayres
This year I had the pleasure of being invited to show my collection at LFW. I only found out that I got through a week or so before the event so I decided to do the Avalonia show, featuring the Opulence and Chimera collections, just in a slightly different format that at the Alternative and burlesque fair.
Unfortunately we didn’t have the opportunity to dress the stage this time, and with the limited rehearsal time is was lucky that I re-wrote the choreography to go with a different shaped stage on the journey down.
The dressing room was crowded with models and collections but the other teams were helpful and we found space to put our stuff and even electricity to do some simple hair. Kudos to my amazing MUAs, Laura Wilson and Tabitha Adams, for managing to do make up in the abysmal lighting conditions!
I was pleased with the show in general and received a lot of positive feedback.
Show pics by Daffyd Owen
Models as they appear in the photos: Asphazia, Helene Atsuko, Kerry Wheeler, Whiplash, Sapphire Black, Anna Swiczeniuk , Harlotte Wolderland, Ruby True, Vex Ashley, Boo Elizabeth, Biomechanina, Mam’zelle Maz.
I was lucky enough to have 2 features in this months rebelicious magazine, issue #8.
One was an editorial, featuring products from my label, Eustratia styled with different items from my wardrobe. I think some people still have a very set idea of how latex should be worn so I tried to demonstrate that it can be mixed with clothing of different styles and textures.
The second feature was a model spotlight with an interview and a few pictures from my shoot with Beverly Ann photography that I edited with pastel colours.
The writing is a bit small on the images so I’ve copy and pasted the interview here for anyone who would like to read it.
What inspired you to start modelling?
Images have always been a source of great inspiration for me. I enjoy looking at creative imagery and I guess my love of modelling started from looking at pictures and seeing a theme that I wanted to interpret or a story I wanted to tell. Styling also plays a big part for me. A lot of my shoots are mostly about an outfit I wanted to put together and the setting I thought it should be worn in. I like creating characters in my pictures. I think people are crystals with many facets and it’s interesting to see how they can be transformed through images with the air of art and fashion.
What have been some of your favourite photoshoots so far?
I love many of the shoots I’ve been involved in but the ones that stand out most for me are not the ones that turned out the most attractive pictures of me, but the ones were I felt a whole new environment was created or a certain feel was communicated through the picture as a whole. I like a bit of fantasy in my images, even if the subject is something as simple as sitting on a bed.
Some examples of shoots that have really fulfilled these are: Firstly, the wonderland shoot I did for my label Eustratia with Toria Brightside, modelling alongside my friend Sapphire Black. I knew everyone involved in this shoot personally so they indulged my crazy idea of driving to the woods and carrying furniture down a long, nettle ridden path so we could arrange it around this specific tree that I had discovered a week earlier. I love the images because I really get the feel that we live under a tree and wear latex every day. Secondly, the shoots I did with Jennifer Byron in my house. My house is not very big or glamorous and wouldn’t normally be suitable for photoshoots but I think we made it work. The first set we did was in the living room and I covered the floor with leaves and twigs to create and inside-outside kind of feel and the second one was in my bedroom, just as it was but using some interesting angles. What I like the most about the images is that they have a certain every-day quality, as well as something a bit different that makes them special. This is how I want to think of my every day life. Lastly, I think the white medical suspension shoot I did for Valentinafetishdoll.com is worth a mention. I was covered head to toe in white latex and wearing ballet shoes, the room was also all white with a medical look and I was suspended from the ceiling by chains attached to cuffs. There was a toy-like, surreal quality to it that came across in the pictures. It was as if I was a doll in my little environment, light and able to pose in positions that normally wouldn’t be possible.
As well as modelling, you also run your own latex company Eustratia. How did that begin?
I’ve wanted to be a fashion designer since I was 8 and have my own company since I was 18. I originally thought I would finish university and get a job for a while first but while I was there I realized I could only have the job that I wanted if I created it for myself. Latex clothing had always intrigued me since I didn’t know how to make it and after trying out a few samples I decided to make half of my final collection in latex. I latex used parts of that to form my Dyad collection, the first collection I released under Eustratia.
What are your thoughts on the ever-growing popularity of latex clothing?
I like the fact that latex is becoming more popular and more people are being introduced to it, it would be nice to see it free of taboos and being worn in all sorts of places. I did feel it was more special before though. I keep seeing new latex designers popping up without noticing much diversity in the type or style of products available. This fact, along with the visible imperfections on some of the garments I’ve seen online leads me to believe that a lot of them haven’t put much thought into starting a business. I’d like to urge anyone new to latex fashion to do research of their own before purchasing an item.
How would you describe your own personal style? Are there any makeup/beauty products that you can’t live without?
I would describe my style as quirky and fashion-aware with dark undertones. I change my style slightly every couple of months depending on what new elements of fashion I’m experimenting with.
At the moment my top accessories are headbands and statement earrings. Also I can’t live without my babyliss wave envy styler, tarte mineral face powder, NARS highlighter and Rimmel waterproof gel eyeliner.
With the modeling industry growing constantly, what’s your personal view on the ‘alternative modeling’ scene as we know it?
I feel the alt modeling scene has changed a lot in the last 10 years. Alternative models in general are a lot more popular now and almost every photographer is happy to have some sort of alt work in their portfolio. This is great because there is a lot more high quality work around and alt models can get the publicity and recognition they deserve. It has also caused more of a cross-over between alternative and fashion photography which is probably my favourite thing about it.
I have also noticed a rise in new models complaining about designers not lending them items for photoshoots or not replying quickly enough, and would like to add that a few years ago someone who wanted to start modelling had to buy their own wardrobe. This plethora of young designers that are happy to lend their items to anyone who fits their vision in exchange for photos is a new thing. I think collaborations are great and it’s nice to see everyone working together and reaping the rewards but it’s important for everyone to respect each other so it can keep on happening.
Are there any designers/photographers/other models that you would love to collaborate with one day?
There are so many talented people around it would be impossible to list them all but some people who I would love to collaborate with one day (and whose work you should check out) are: Tim Walker, Eugenio Recuenco, Kirsty Micthell , Rachel Freire, Rik Owens, Junko Mizuno, Stuntkid, bitching and junkfood, Audrey Kitching, Charlotte Free, Adrej Pejic .
Where do you hope to be in 5 years?
In 5 years I expect to have stopped modelling and be focusing mainly on my fashion label. I have plans to expand and offer a variety of different products. I would normally say that I hope to have a store of my own but in the current economic climate I don’t know if that’s a bit overconfident.
As a sideline, I might concentrate more on my illustrations or take up photography as well as continuing to work on my blog, aestheticcontradiction.com.
What advice would you give to anyone that may be thinking about becoming a professional model?
Being a professional model is hard and living exclusively off modelling is even harder. Most models I know have a different job at least 2 days a week. You should get into modelling because you love it, not because you expect to make money.
Like all creative professions it requires a lot of extra work and sacrifices. It helps to know a bit about trends in photography and fashion so you can help produce something current. Have a look at what other people are producing but don’t get caught up in it. Look after your skin and body, I’m not saying you need to be stick thin, especially in the alternative industry but a toned body always photographs better. Study and memorise poses. A lot of new models don’t have variety in their poses. I understand feeling self-conscious when you try out something new but no photographer likes looking through 100s of pictures of you pulling virtually the same pose/expression. You either have to take a lot of chances, or try things out in the mirror and remember what looked good. Taking inspiration from others is also helpful but remember, different people suit different things! Just because “Mosh” looks good doing something, it doesn’t mean you do. Keep a look out for wardrobe that you could use in a shoot, even if you usually work with a stylist. Learn how to do basic hair and make up, there might not always be an MUAH available. Make sure you have good shoes. No one ever mentions this when they give model tips but shoes can make or break a photo. It isn’t that expensive to buy nice shoes nowadays so make sure you have a few statement pairs that go with all the usual styles you shoot and try and keep them as clean as possible if you also wear them out.
Attitude wise, it’s good to be professional and polite but don’t take it overboard by being too serious or quiet. Everyone I’ve ever shot with enjoyed having a chat and some fun while shooting, regardless of the level they were at.
I would say it’s good to know what you want from a shoot and have your own ideas that you can suggest but don’t be too precious about them. Ask people if they’d like to collaborate but don’t expect all of them to reply. Hassling people for replies or not replying quickly enough will never work in your favour. Don’t be afraid of rejection. The fact that you’re not right for a specific project/brand does not mean that you’re not beautiful/a good model. Being good at self-promotion is always a bonus. Let’s face it, the more people know about your work, the more work you’re going to get. There are lots of debates about the right way/ amount for models to promote themselves but I’m just going to say do what you feel comfortable with and try not to compare yourself to others.
Those of you who have been following my blog for while will have seen the unicorn inspiration board that I posted last year. I’ve been wanting to do a dark unicorn shoot for a while now and have finally managed to arrange it with photographer Jamie Mahon, who’s dark aesthetic should fit the theme perfectly.
I gathered my initial inspiration on a board and I’m excited to see how the ideas evolve from there.
If you haven’t seen a lot of Beverly’s work around yet, I’m sure you will do in the near future. She is a promising young photographer with a clear vision, who also creates props to enhance her concept. I always admire photographers who like to be involved in more than just taking pictures, they are usually edgier with bigger ideas (which in turn means they might like to work with me on some of my big ideas).
For this shoot she had made these oversised demon hands which looked great combined with some black paint that she also applied herself. I love how the image below turned out and the black eyes were such a nice touch.
I was also given permission to edit some of the images from our shoot. I did one set with light pastel colours which I’m holding back until after its publication next month and an other which I can show you now.
I started off by just doing a beauty retouch and cleaning up a few things.
After editing the photos as you see them above, I wanted to add something extra. I experimented a few times by making the background darker or adding some clouds but neither of these worked for me. I then remembered that I had wanted to produce a set of images with my own illustrations over the top of them for a while and these would be perfect.I did a bit of online research to find some examples that might inspire me. I have posted some on tumblr.
I have been working on some illustrations for an upcoming t-shirt line recently and most of my illustrations feature faces and insects. There were already faces in these images so I decided to draw insects, mainly moths, butterflies and dragonflies. I also added a couple of other natural and dark themes I felt were relevant.
What I really liked about this is that the drawings didn’t have to be great to look effective. Most of them were just quick doodles but they really transformed the feel of the images. I tried quite a lot of different things as it was my first attempt at something like this but I will definitely be doing more in the future and may produce some more concise sets with a preset theme. In these images the illustrations were drawn separately and applied onto the pictures using photoshop but I would also like to try printing the pictures out and painting on them as well as drawing electronically.
If anyone else tries something similar (or does any sort of work combining photography and illustration) I’d love to see!
I’ve been wanting to start a new feature that focuses on photography that inspires me for a while and I wasn’t sure if it should focus on editorials or photographers. I first decided to go for editorials so I could feature my favourite photographers more than once but then realised that some of them don’t actually shoot editorials so it will, in some cases, just be collections of images that appeal to me and fit together in some way.
Tim Walker is probably my favourite photographer of all time, so I decided to start the feature with his recent editorial for issue 7 of LOVE magazine, out last month. The editorial is entitled “the origin of monsters” and features Kristen McMenamy shot with giant insect-related props and wearing armour (two themes that I have been working with recently), exquisitely styled by Katie Grand.
I wanted to plan a shoot to better showcase some of the accessories from the Chimera collection and had an idea for a demon series. Though not totally related to the inspiration for the collection, I felt like the concept would work well with specific pieces in mind.
I had a few different ideas about what the demon would look like and a few different types of make up in mind that I thought would be appropriate for the shoot so I decided to do a series showcasing the different styles. This gave me the opportunity to try out most of my styling ideas and create a gradual light to dark effect in the images.
I shot the set with Jennifer Byron as the final part of our accessories project as I thought we needed a set with darker thematology, most of what we have previously shot has been quite light and colourful. All chainmail components were created by Richard Ayres.
With regards to the editing, I wanted to make sure it looked different to the other sets Jenni and I have collaborated on so I thought of making the characters look statue/gargoyle-like with a stone/marble-like texture. I think Jenni did a great job with the editing and the texture in the background really ads to the images.
For the last two images, I used a hair-piece that I made as part of my Halloween outfit for TG. There has been some interest in the hair piece so I’m going to include a brief tutorial for anyone who would like to make something similar. To save making this too long, I’ve decided to put it in a separate post, here.
Personally, I am most pleased with my hair for the first two looks as its an unusual look for me. I have seen similar styles in a few magazines recently and was waiting for the opportunity to try something like that for myself. The look was achived with gel and white hair spray. I have found white hair spray to be very effective at making roots look better during shoots in general.
First image- nutmail cuff, nutmail cross (chainmail chain), organic lace bustier.
Second image- studded cross necklace, O-harness, studded cross gloves, crystal spike pasties.
Third image- inverted cross necklace, nutmail choker, O-harness (back to front), trophy pasties (black latexlace).
Forth image- shield necklace, chimera bra, chain garter (on forehead)
All items can be purchased from http://www.eustratia.co.uk (If you can’t find the item you are looking for please get in touch via the order form and we will do our best to help)
I recently launched the new Eustratia latex/chainmail fusion collection, Chimera. The collection was produced in collaboration with chainmail and metal jewellery designer, Richard Ayres. The name was chosen to reflect the combination of two, very different materials.
The theme of the collection revolves around medieval military and knights while still adhering to aspects of current silhouettes and trends.
Images and retouching: David Richardson
models: Victoria B, Biomechanina and Elle Beth
MUA: Mercedes and Sarah Jane Ellis
We also did a bit of a concept shoot before we got kicked off our chosen location!
Items from this collection are now available to purchase on the online store!
All chainmail components were hand made down to each individual link by my partner, Richard Ayres. He is also happy to take on orders for custom and bespoke items so feel free to email email@example.com with any ideas or questions. His collection of metal jewellery and accessories will also be added to the online store very soon.
It was a bit of a rush to get the whole collection made and shot before I left for clothes show live and I ended up waiting to launch till I got back and was able to add items to the shop. I’m quite happy with the way everything turned out given the circumstance, special thanks to David for all his help and support!
Close up shots of the accessories coming soon, along with some more perspex.
For updates, please check the facebook page.
This month I was selected to feature in Bella Morte magazine’s Alt girls issue, available to purchase here. They chose a set of photos I shot a while ago, in Chester with Gareth Hickey. There were a few hundred entries and only 20 girls were featured which makes me feel quite good.
They chose a set of photos I shot a while ago, in Chester with Gareth Hickey and gave me a double page spread, which you can view below.
On Sunday we shot the editorial for the “Eustratia” feature in Alt fashion magazine. The weather turned out to be more rainy than initially anticipated, (not really a surprise in this part of the country) so we ended up in a bit of a predicament regarding the most appropriate shoot location. Toria was promoting an event at Bird’s yard later in the day and the owner was nice enough to let us shoot in the courtyard at the back of the shop as it had a covered section to minimise the rain-damage. With its old Chesterfield sofa, fake grass carpet and multiple degenerated urban backdrops it proved to be the perfect location! So far I am really pleased with what I’ve seen of the images, the magazine has to be published before we release any of them but here are some behind the scenes shots taken with my camera to give you an idea of the styling.
I especially love the chainmail components pf these outfits which are made by Richard Ayres.
I would also like to say a huge thanks to Beth for getting up and being part of the shoot at such short notice!
After the shoot we headed back to Toria’s to pack up and then back to Bird’s yard for the party. I first heard about the shop at a charity fashion show that was also organised by Toria a few weeks ago in Chester. We paired their vintage clothes with my latex accessories for the show.
I also had a stall…
…and Amber wore a pink dress that would have made any fairy tale princess green with envy.
Anyway, non of this had suggested anything more than that Bird’s yard was a vintage shop in Leeds. When we got there I realised that it was actually an amazing concept store/indoor market hybrid with all kinds of treasure dotted around several different shops. They also feature independent designers who can choose between renting a shelf or a booth to display a selection of their products. This sounds like a really interesting opportunity to me, particularly as each designer spends one day a month working in the shop. I would hate to have a job as a shop-assistant but having a “meet the designer” day at a shop where my products are stocked and getting a change to interact with and get feedback from customers actually appeals on so many levels. More news about this when I have time to sort it out properly.
The rest of the party involved free food and drink, discovering new designers and silliness.
If you’d like to know more about Bird’s yard, check out their site! http://www.birdsyard.co.uk/