To call the timeline of sporadic happenings that brought Claire Rosen and Lleah Rea together anything other than serendipitous would be an under statement.
When Lleah Rea stumbled upon Claire’s website she causally expressed to her co-worker how she wished her own designs could be captured with such innovative style; the co-worker was Natalie Krim, who immediately put the two in contact.
Within minutes of their first phone conversation, Claire realized she had photographed one of Lleah’s designs the week prior during a shoot for hat-designer Ryan Wilde. Claire and Lleah marveled at the coincidence as a contagious creative energy ignited these two fanatical artists.
Coming off the hype of having Beyonce wear her lingerie-bodysuit for a GQ Cover, Lleah wanted to create a series of images to launch her website. Impressed by the talented emerging designers aesthetic and talent, Claire accepted.
Lleah had just finished a commissioned, hand-made ‘one-of-a-kind’ series of burlesques costumes for an Atlantic City Burlesque Show that were to be shipped out that coming Monday. Being that it was Wednesday evening, they would be held to a tight deadline, but when imagining a fantastical world of elegant, sexy burlesque dancers the whimsical two-some rose to the challenge. The visual-perfectionists wanted to construct a “timeless” feel of luxury and elegance.
With only 4 days and no budget, they hit the ground running. Lleah focused on finishing her collection while Claire worked out the logistics. Utilizing late nights, a string of flavors, and manifesting an image of beauty the two artists finally met on at 7:00 am Sunday morning. Claire with flowing mermaid hair and Lleah with a cleanly shaved head; they were quick friends.
The team of beauticians consisted of Chris Rivera, Jessica Calvache and Nicole Fabre for Bangz Salon and Spa and Quinntin for make up. Each model was given a “mood board” of images to inspire their character. With her alluring sex appeal and flawlessly structured face, Gina Antoniello drew inspiration from Sofia Loren and Bridget Bardot. The fun loving “Betty Page” type was played by Hazel Honeysuckle, a professional burlesque dancer. Kelsey Tangel channelled her fiery redheaded lineage to transcend the role of a “Jessica Rabbit” type.
Utilizing the back door to an abandon nightclub, the team carefully stepped around stray lights, tarnished furniture and dusty corners, while walking through a pitch-black room towards the set, constructed by Tom Pisano. The scuffed up floors were framed by a black backdrop and circling light bulbs below. With the addition of sultry music, the stage was set.
Hazel shared some classical burlesque moves and spoke about the importance of being playfully sexy. Claire kept the scene fresh, inspiring movement, intensity and thoughtfulness of her models. Lleah ran back and forth between the studio and set styling over thirteen one-of-a-kind looks. The models switched around shoes, accessories and howls of laughter through out the 4 hour shoot.
The images showcase a spectrum of emotions by the flashy dancers. When capturing moments of fun-loving dancing, Rosen included the “stage” lights, fog and exposed brick, creating a sense of space and performance. This is countered by glimpses of deep contemplation where the models’ sequins and glowing skin pops against the barren foreground, giving the illusion they are alone in thought.
Claire wanted each frozen silhouette to express a new dimension of character, just as Lleah needed each design to invoke a unique dancer. Their attention to detail, fluid communication, stylistic-focus and desire to produce excellence, made for a wonderful collaboration. Claire and Lleah will dance with each other again.
To see the images, visit www.clairerosenphoto.com
Written by Kelsey Tangel
Behind the Scenes Photos Courtesy of Natalie Krim