Behind the Scenes: MA13 Press Shoot
It’s early on Sunday morning and Battersea, South London is being covered in a blanket of snow. Inside TIGI’s Bedhead Studio, the creatively minded are huddled together on lived-in Chesterfield sofas. Wooly hats are on and mugs of warm tea an extension of glove-clad hands. Saskia Reis, Producer and Creative Director for today’s shoot, has brought sandwiches and snacks for everyone to enjoy. “I’m a total people person,” Saskia tells me, in a thick, German accent. “I love to make things work with others”. If that means trawling through the slush to the nearest supermarket and stocking up on cake bars and kettle chips, Saskia’s only too happy to do it.
Today’s agenda involves producing a press photo shoot of ten looks selected to appear at London College of Fashion’s inaugural MA13 catwalk show during London Fashion Week. Saskia, alongside a (rather talented) bunch of LCF alumni, was approached by Doll PR and LCF to produce the shoot back in December and has been busy honing the concept ever since. “We quickly decided to use the MA13 Witch House logo as a main reference throughout the shoot as, from a communications point of view, it’s a very strong image,” Saskia reveals. The logo, which was developed to brand this year’s MA13 season and is used on everything from event invitations to exhibition promotions, has become synonymous with LCF and the team was determined to bring it to life for the photo shoot. Three working designers from the MA Fashion Artefact course were tasked with creating a headpiece that not only personified the logo, but could also be used in conjunction with the looks selected for the catwalk show.
Melissanthi Spei, alongside Annelie Gross and Dagmar Kestner, used the skills developed on their course to collaborate and make the headpiece. “We were being quite literal with the headpiece, because it was important to be very clear that this is the Witch House logo,” she explains. This isn’t to say, however, that the team were restricted by the logo – in fact, it was quite the opposite. “Instead of just making the headpiece flat and one-dimensional, we decided upon making it 3D,” says fellow German, Annelie Gross, who currently works as an Accessories Designer. “What’s important is that the headpiece is flexible; you can wear it in many different ways. You can use it not only on the head, but you can adapt it, perhaps use it as a bag. Not as a functioning bag though, of course,” she laughs.
It is clear that, as the photo shoot goes underway, the spirit of LCF plays a big part in the proceedings. Much of the team including photographer, Roberto Aguilar, his assistant, Panos Damaskinidis and footwear designer, Stephanie Hensley are LCF alumni, and everyone is getting along like a house on fire. “I think [today’s shoot] is highly important,” Saskia comments. “It shows LCF as an institution, and shows what we stand for. The image is what stays with people and this event demonstrates what LCF are doing now. It’s about building an image for our college”.
Since her graduation from MA Fashion Media Production last July, Saskia has pretty much flown the flag for graduate success. After studying for a BA in Journalism (Film and Television) at the Faculty of Communication and Design in Hannover, Saskia needed a clearer sense of direction and LCF, it seems, delivered just that. “It was really hard to find a Masters programme that would meet my needs,” she reflects. “I interned a lot during my BA, and was given some great opportunities. I chose to go for all of those opportunities; to learn more, however I didn’t come out with a clear focus”. After continuously switching between journalism-based and production-based placements, it became clear to Saskia that she might want to forge her own path. “I’m very future-orientated, and I didn’t want to jump back and forth between placements my whole life,” she tells me. “I wanted to build my own platform, which is where the HIMMELREICH* idea evolved”.
Saskia was one of the first batches of graduates in MA Fashion Media Production and is proud to label herself as a Fashion Media Producer. Luckily, however, projects like today’s spring up, giving her the chance to stick her fingers in more than one pie. “I was happy to work as the producer and the creative director,” she grins. “Today is actually the first time I’ve managed a photo shoot in both roles!” If the words of her fellow collaborators are anything to go by, then she’s made a pretty fine job of it. “It’s not on every shoot the producer will bring along food,” says Lisa Boenisch, a PR Events Assistant, who is currently working with Saskia at Schön! magazine. “Saskia’s great at making sure everyone feels comfortable. Melissanthi agrees, “I haven’t worked with Saskia before; it’s really nice and a friendly environment”.
Working in industry, Saskia always returns to the same advice she was given back in the beginning: to be as open and as friendly as possible. Occasional moonwalks and hilarious faces aside, there is one thing Saskia is deadly serious about. “If you are not collaborating you do not belong in the creative industry. To me, the ability to collaborate with others – no matter where you come from – is an absolute basic for what I do”.
Originally posted here, and in Pigeons & Peacocks' printed magazine. Image credit: Josh Brandao.