I think most people in fashion have a photoshoot that sticks out in the back of their minds- a set of images that stays with them for one reason or another. We may not always know why or how one editorial can affect us more than others, but being the psychology scholar that I am, I decided to do a little bit of what I like to call “shrinking Sara”. It costs less than consulting a professional and it instantly boosts my self esteem because I think it sounds catchy and clever: win, win.
The photoshoot that has stuck with me for the past 5 years is “Paris Je T’aime”- styled by Grace Coddington, photographed by Steven Meisel, and featured in the September 2007 issue of Vogue. There’s nothing I don’t like about this shoot: it was styled by my styling icon, photographed by one of my favorite photographers, there’s 1920′s Parisian fashion- my favorite time period for fashion, there’s soft lighting, and some of my favorite models are featured including Coco Rocha, Gemma Ward, and Caroline Trentini. On this surface, this particular editorial sounds like perfection… but there have been so many like it in the hundreds of magazines I’ve read. Why this shoot?
The answer wasn’t as difficult to uncover as I expected. I thought about the first time I saw the editorial- when it was published: September 2007. I was a senior in high school thinking a lot about the future: debating which schools to apply to and what my career path would be. I had intended to study biochemistry and psychology and become a psychiatrist from a very young age and “shrink” other people for a change. I’ve loved fashion my entire life, and something about this shoot hit me funny; my so-called “career path” that had seemed so concrete suddenly started to become blurry. Long story short, I did study bio-chem and psych for 2 years, but then I stopped. Med school wasn’t my calling.
There’s another “great truth” I discovered while trying to figure out why I related so much to these images. When I arrange the spread from memory, it definitely doesn’t match the way it was printed; I always arrange the photos from outdoors to indoors, then from one person to multiple. Just like drawing a picture that depicts your feelings, a psychological test, my arrangement showed me how isolated I felt from fashion- the career I actually wanted- and how isolated I felt from people (but that’s the territory of a professional).
Psychology can lead to incredible insights if you allow yourself the time to think about why you behave the way you do and like the things you like. This week your challenge is to look at your favorite editorial and ask yourself “why that photoshoot?” I look forward to your responses in the comment section!
Images: sight courtesy of Vogue