Fashion and cinemagraphs are a match made in heaven. Take fashion designer and Project Runway star Alexander Pope, whose most recent collection was brought to life by photographer Ylva Erevall for Dark Beauty Magazine using still photos and cinemagraphs. We reached out to Ylva and Alexander to learn a little bit more about the collection, how they executed the shoot and where fashion and technology may head next.
Meet the Designer: Alexander Pope
Alexander Pope is well-known for his appearances on the Lifetime network’s hit show Project Runway, but the designer has also worked both beyond and behind the screen in the fashion industry. Since moving from Los Angeles to New York to pursue fashion design, Alexander jumped into theatrical costuming for Broadway, supported the wardrobe team on Saturday Night Live and fell back into fashion design completely with Project Runway.
Storytelling is at the root of all of Alexander’s work, including the collection shot for Dark Beauty Magazine. “I find myself designing for a woman who changes with each look. So by the time the last look comes out, she’s morphed into something completely different than when she started… and she always becomes something unique, strong and beautiful in an unconventional way.”
Shooting Fashion Cinemagraphs
Ylva not only felt that cinemagraphs would display the sheer materials in Alexander’s garments better, but also found that the motion element aligned with his vision. “When he showed me this headpiece and explained his wish for the strips of fabric to blow in the wind, I immediately thought a cinemagraph would be perfect to fully show off the piece,” Ylva shared.
When asked about his initial reaction to Ylva’s suggestion, Alexander was in awe. “It’s not this aggressive in your face special effects. It grabs your eye, but you really need to focus and pay close attention to the photo before you realize what makes it different. It really engages the viewer and forces [you] to actually look, not just pass over with a glance.”
Ylva was conscious of how both the still photos and cinemagraphs would be used by Dark Beauty Magazine. Since the magazine wanted to share the photos and cinemagraphs in both a square (1:1) and rectangular (16:9) crop, she needed to be particularly mindful about how she framed her shots for both aspect ratios.
She also credited the experienced talent, model Bianca La Bruja, whose expertise allowed her to achieve the seamless blend of photo and video in the above portrait shot. “Bianca took a steady step and leaned a little forward to avoid the earring getting caught on her body,” Ylva described. “Then she took a deep breath and stood as still as she could. We tried both having her shake her head as well as Alexander flipping the earring with his finger to create the motion.”
Ylva had one trick up her sleeve to execute the reflection seen in the earring Bianca wore. “In order to create the lighter to darker reflection in the silver, I had a white reflector on the left side of Bianca.” With this subtle touch, the motion used in the cinemagraph became much more eye-catching.
The Future of Fashion and Technology
Fashion and technology, especially in the last decade, strongly influence one another. From design to functionality to advertising, the way we experience fashion is increasingly dependent on the role of technology. Alexander Pope would agree; in fact, he thinks it’s what’s keeping fashion interesting.
“There aren’t any new things to invent in fashion, except when it comes to technology, technique and textiles. They are what keeps fashion innovative, because let’s face it, how many times can we see a pair of pants and a jacket, or a pencil skirt and a bustier, or a sheath dress or a gown, before we get bored? The gown has been invented already, now lets see what it’s made out of!”
Many interact with fashion through social media; designs and trends are naturally pushed through visual content. Audiences love to tap on images to learn about outfit details, follow fashion brands and engage with influencers and bloggers who embrace fashion as a lifestyle. We were thrilled to hear Alexander’s excitement over how his work was represented in these cinemagraphs; now, he wants to design his upcoming collection with movement in mind. We can’t wait to see it go viral next.