Marie Antoinette Inspired
Last Updated: 11-14-2009
This is a concept that I’ve had in the back of my mind for well over a year now. A few Halloweens back I tried on and fell in love with this fantastic blue Marie Antoinette dress. Since it fit so nicely I decided to arrange a shoot to show it off. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do, but I knew I would need big hair, big makeup and a big location to complement the dress. Then I brainstormed a bit further and added big dogs to the equation. For some reason I though it would be interesting to have a queenly figure walking a large dog down a dirty alley. I liked the idea of contrasting the prim and proper royal with something a bit grungy. The idea evolved a bit since then, but I think it was for the better.
After coming up with a concept, it was time to figure out the execution. The photographer — Michael Novak — was an easy pick as I enjoyed working with him on my updated Wonder Woman costume. He was very excited about the concept and offered to help me cast a dog immediately. Originally we were going to use whatever type of big dog we could find. But Michael correctly convinced me that we should stick with a particular breed — great dane. He put out some feelers and found a friend of a friend who owned a black and white spotted dane named Gabe. And we were set!
The makeup artist — Ali Beuning — and I had been wanting to work together for some time so it was a treat to finally sit down and let her go to work on me. Prior to the shoot, I hadn’t had a chance to work with the hair stylist — Liz Downs — or even met her before. But she is someone I can’t wait to work with again because of her enthusiasm and creativity! Liz had a bit of prep work to do for the shoot. Originally I planned on buying a high quality wig and then decking it out with whatever I could find. But again, Michael pointed me in the right direction and convinced me that it would be best to have a hair artist on board. So Liz was brought on a bit late. In a week she managed to buy extensions, bleach them and dye them blue and find all the ornaments for my hair. While this was going on Michael was scouting out locations.
Even with all the preparation most of the work came down to the day of the shoot. You can’t plan out everything ahead of time. The four of us met up at 9:ooam on a Sunday and didn’t even start shooting till 2:00pm. The majority of the time was spent on hair. Liz brought an assistant to aid her, which I didn’t see the need for at first. But once we got moving I realized why she needed a second pair of hands. First, Liz created and inserted a “rat” to mold my hair around and to give it the volume needed. After that, Liz and her assistant began using weave glue to bond human hair to my scalp. Liz used strips of brown,white and blue, in the end tripling the amount of hair on my head. The colors looked great, but sadly I couldn’t leave them in after the shoot since they were glued for a vertical orientation. It just looked like a mess when taken down and thrown in a pony. After creating the “hive” and weaving pieces in and out for effect (around three hours later) Liz began inserting the bought items into my hear. We stuck everything in there we could think of…birds, nests with eggs, feathers, a butterfly, twigs…you name it. The result was quite impressive.
Next up was Ali, who was inspired for the look when I lamented about not being able to find a matching mask for the costume. As a result she decided to instead paint on on my face, keeping the eyes and lips fairly neutral so not to distract from her work.
After hair and makeup the dog and his handlers arrived, and Michael spent some time shooting Gabe against a white background while I changed. The costume was simple enough — white stockings, cream heels, the blue dress and lots of pearls. Once dressed we headed out to the first location and funny enough, I didn’t fit in the car. I had to stick the top of my head out of the sun roof in order to make it down the block. But it worked well enough. The first location we shot was intended to give a more whimsical look — a set of stone stairs down by the Mississippi River. The whole thing was a bit of a spectacle. Total we had over eleven people there aiding in the shoot…
Gabe is a bit older so he was fairly easy to work with. We removed his collar and instead added an ornate chain and charm to match my dress. Overall he was fantastic — sitting and posing when asked. The hidden treat in my hand didn’t hurt.
Gabe got tired quickly because of his age, so we finished up at the first location and moved onto the next. We ended up in a city park with some modern buildings in the background. It was a much more public setting and was fun to watch the faces of those passing by. Another hour passed and Gabe was spent, so we moved onto our final location.
The last location was a grungy alley more in tune with what I had conceived originally. The alley had everything you could want — graffiti, twisted metal, loading docks, fences — all stuff that makes for fun texture in photos. I think although we were all exhausted, this was the most successful area to shoot. We cranked up the music from one of our cars and let loose. We ended up finding some funny signage to use in our photos. One message written in chalk read “I like to ride them hard,” referring to the fact that it was written on the wall of a bike shop. We also took a few pictures near the neon sign for Sex World.
We didn’t finish the shoot till somewhere around 6:00pm, making it one of the longest shoots I’ve ever done. But it was well worth it. Getting out of my dress and taking the hundreds of bobby pins out of my hair felt fantastic. However, because it was so late in the evening on Sunday, the beauty store was closed and I couldn’t get the weave glue remover I needed. Meaning I had to go to work the next day with the blue and blond bits still in. It was amusing.
But it all came out eventually and the photos turned out fantastic. I couldn’t have asked for a better hair stylist, makeup artist and photographer for the project and I think we are all immensely happy with the result!
So that’s what went into creating these photos! I hope you enjoy!
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