I just happened to choose the coldest day of the year to shoot 'Madame Papillon'. Though we weren't outside the attic tends to get super freezing because of lack of insulation. Poor Alyssa had to endure the cold attic but she was amazing and pushed through the chills and became the queen of the butterflies. I woke up to -26 degree weather and frost on the kitchen window. I always know when I have a Secret Garden shoot that it's going to be quite a magical day.
The idea of the butterfly queen 'Madame Papillon' was one I had for a very long time. It was very heavily inspired by Alexander McQueens 2011 spring collection designed by Sarah Burton. I have a soft spot for butterflies and when I saw the collection for the first time I was in complete awe. I loved the full butterfly dress which is better know as the "Effie Trinket" dress from Hunger Games.
I wanted to use that dress as an inspiration for the top butterfly armor as I call it. I made similar dresses in the past for editorial shoots with simple butterfly neck pieces so I had some experience, but this one took me quite sometime. I originally wanted to do the entire thing like the McQueen one filled with butterflies however I was unable to source enough butterflies for the entire piece. So I decided to go with colorful feathers to fill in the areas that surrounded the butterflies. I used a mixture of feathered butterflies and real butterfly wings to decorate the piece.
I started it off with some plaster casting that I bought from a local art shop and used my sewing bust as the casting base. I made another armor like piece a few years back as well so I had pretty good knowledge of how to make it work. I'm always happy when I've tried something once and am able to try again but do things a bit better the second time around.
I started off the morning hanging out with my friend and lovely model Alyssa shooting some natural lingerie. I have known Alyssa since 2010 and have had the immense pleasure of photographing with her several times throughout the years. She was one of my first models back in the day. I always have such a special place in my heart for the first few models that I worked with. It's amazing when people take a chance on you when your just starting out. It was wonderful getting to catch up with Alyssa and to get to do two shoots in one day.
Jillian and Katie arrived with their magical make-up and hair kits and wen't straight to work transforming Alyssa into a butterfly lady. I also had the amazing help of my assistant named Jessica Wigmore. She was a great addition to our little team. She helped with shooting some behind the scenes video while I was busy running around like a chicken with it's head cut off trying to get all the last minute details together.
The entire day ran pretty smoothly to my surprise as I always find that when I am doing the big shoots there are some hiccups. I think maybe we are just getting so used to doing these Secret Garden shoots that it's like a routine for us now.
Alyssa sat in front of the floral backdrop with real butterflies in her hair and on her hands. Jillian lit the smoke bomb and the magic happened. Colour bursting everywhere like I had imagined it would look months ago. I still can't believe how much one backdrop can be used over and over again and how many colours are starting to be incorporated into the series.
From day one I knew I wanted the series to be infused with tons and tons of colour and with each new concept the garden world is really beginning to shift and change. It took me ages to source synthetic grass for the garden set but I finally found some and it has been added to the garden.
I was excited to finally get to to add my butterfly queen into the series. I find her and the 'Bee Keeper' to be almost like sisters. The insects of the garden. The garden will soon make a change and shift and I can't wait.
behind the scenes stills from the making of video. Thank to Jessica Wigmore
Some extra exciting news about the series.
I was approached about a month ago to do an interview about Secret Garden after "The Bee Keeper" was chosen as a Daily Deviation on Deviant Art. The interview is with a great organization called DoMoreBeMore. For the month of February they have their "Female Empowerment Movement" which I am thrilled to be a part of. I'm going to do a press blog post soon with some of the great Secret Garden news that's been happening. So I will definitely post the interview link there.
Lastly but not least, the beautiful model in these photos has an amazing blog and I urge you all to check it out and support her: https://www.facebook.com/thewolfandthewardrobeblog
Credits: Model: Alyssa W. Hair by Jillian Di Bernardo, Make-up by Katie Foster, Assistant/video: Jessica Wigmore.