I hadn’t given much thought to the effects of photo styling until pretty recently. I also hadn’t understood concretely what editorials were – where a brand tries to tell a story with the objects it’s selling. There are stylists for the products and for the props that help create context and lighting that sells a mood. I know that this is the most effective kind of marketing for me: when I can envision something as part of a perfectly curated lifestyle, it gives me comfort and promises to alleviate some of my anxiety. Styling is powerful. Seeing an object isolated on a minimal background gives you an idea of what the object itself looks like, but there aren’t usually other items for scale or to help you imagine how you might use this object. For instance, Need Supply has wonderful editorials, but most of their products use commercial photography and are set against white or greige backgrounds that leave a lot to the imagination.
The first time I really lost my shit over styling was reading Gather Journal. I saw food styled like models; food depicted, not like something out of a glossy magazine such as Bon Appetite, but something reminiscent of old cookbooks from the 1960s–1970s meets porn from the same era. I mean, the first issue I read was “The 1970s,” so that could have had something to do with it. But in general, Gather Journal presents food like still-lives by the Dutch Masters: deep dark shadows; saturated jewel tones, part glossy and part softly smudged. The food stylists took already decadent looking menu courses that were artfully plated and poured and surrounded them by colored lighting, props, and many layers of textures. It brought the food to another level and placed it firmly in the gestalt of whatever the particular thesis of the issue was, in this case the dawn of a new kind of decadent, over-the-top pop culture represented by disco, sex, and David Bowie.
Madeleine Pope’s Cosmic Twin jewelry line launched a new collection today called “So Real” and it is fantastically minimal with interesting details. My particular favorites are the “Source” cuff and “Linked” bracelet, the “Connection” and “Thing 2” earrings, “Cuff” ring, “Memphis” collar, and “So Real” collar pin. The styling for the look book was incredible and played off the minimal/BDSM hardness of some of the jewelry using soft colorful lighting in yellows and oranges, props such as pink candles and flowers styled with 1980s mannequin heads and hands. The two main models were sisters who mirrored each other; each wore futuristic feminine clothes such as iridescent coats and sweatshirts over pleated turtlenecks in rose and shimmery black and gunmetal. The look book evoked feelings of warmth, light, softness, and excitement through its femininity and mystic futurism. I found myself longing to inhabit that world where people were unapologetically soft, strong, and dreamy at the same time.