Average reading time: 10 minutes.
Just as the winter chill started trickling into the corners of the Cape, a beautiful project unfolded in and around Paris.
“It’s about fellowship and the unity of brands which share a common vision, and mission to contribute their strengths and create something grander than one brand could do alone. It’s like fitting all the pieces of a puzzle together to make something larger than the sum of its parts.” – Stephen Van Eeden
Every fashion photoshoot requires a suitable muse, typically clad in designer attire dreamed up by an artist. Tasked with capturing them is a skilled photographer with the eye to illuminate both. What transpires before these final moments, however, are a sequence of events that are essential for the culmination of the final product. Orchestrated by a handpicked individual or team of people, the masterpiece would be incomplete without them.
While the multifaceted project fuelled by creativity and collaboration came to fruition in three days, the inspiration, ideation, planning and preparations started long before.
The inspiration was drawn from Stephen Van Eeden’s first international shoot in New York City in 2019. Here, he joined forces with photographer Du Wayne Denton, videographer Philipp Stuvecke, make-up artist Alicia Buckle and model Janine Tugonon – 1st runner-up at Miss Universe 2012. It resulted in an exceptional project, bringing to light the phenomenal ability that a prominent social figure possesses to shed a unique light on brands.
Three years later (delayed from 2020 to 2022), travels commenced, starting with Fashion Designer and Project Creative Director Stephen Van Eeden, Director of Photography Christine Le Roux and about 150 kilograms of luggage.
Selecting remarkable locations was of paramount importance and while it was no small feat to secure them, the sets ranged from utterly romantic to undeniably iconic. The model for the photoshoot was Namibian beauty, Chanique Rabe – Miss Supranational 2021 and the first woman to bring this international crown home to Africa (not to mention Stephen’s fashion intern in 2020!).
Day one began at the mysterious Chateau de la Houssière – an elegant, exquisitely restored countryside estate located in the heart of Brie region, a quintessential couture backdrop.
From there, the scenic city of Paris played stage to a fiery red gown flaunted on a typical French apartment balcony.
Next, was the Paris Opera, which complemented both the magical dress as well as the glorious architecture.
Early the following morning, the Louvre Pyramid was the perfect place to start the day, the dazzling mirrored reflections beautifully echoing the volume, texture and colour of the crimson dress.
Pont de Bir-Hakeim – a bridge with a beautiful view of the Eiffel Tower – was the next stage for the latest MMXMS high fashion pieces, an innovative collection with strong mixed African and Eastern influences.
This was followed by a Parisian rooftop, a temporary treasure secured after much research and networking.
Come sunset, the team headed straight for the Seine to a sought-after spot near the magical Eiffel to catch it sparkling at dusk.
The final day’s footage was captured in several locations, beginning at the inner courtyard of the Palais Royal at Colonnes de Buren, an enigmatic art installation by Daniel Buren.
Think provocative and bold pieces in a marble monochrome print, paired with striking red Dior lips against gentle yet graphic black and white striped pillars.
Onward they went, first to the bustling Paris Métro and then Avenue Montaigne, followed by a tranquil courtyard in the 1st arrondissement enveloped by chic Parisian cafes.
Then, it was the symbolic Arc de Triomphe’s turn at the western end of the Champs-Élysées, an imposing, silent witness to a luxurious red jumpsuit.
Pont Alexandre III, a deck arch bridge spanning the Seine, along with Petit Palais, housing the City of Paris Museum of Fine Arts, saw the last look – a dramatic black ballgown, accented by regal gold trims in the background that adorn both historical landmarks.
Adorning Chanique was sensational jewellery from Stonz Diamonds and Viljoen Jewellers while Christine’s Atelier Millinery, based in Lekki, Nigeria, produced the most exquisite avant-garde inspired hats – the art of millinery at its finest.
A bejewelled headpiece was envisioned and brought to life by Reliér design – one-of-a-kind accessories handmade by Chantel Wirth.
Handbags, resort wear and eyewear were splendidly sorted by Xyza Savanna and OZBOB EyeART – the former, a design studio focused on slow fashion and interior design, the latter renowned for embellished sunglasses and unforgettable eyewear accessories.
On the coordination front, Katerina Meyvial was assisted by fabulous fashion designer Amberlea Van Vianen, currently based in Toulouse, as well as the Stephen Van Eeden Atelier studio assistants, Aqueelah Mohammed and Annette Grobler. Taking care of all the journey logistics was Lyndill Cilliers from Travel Counsellors – an indispensable part of the travels.
Elevating the entire experience were proudly South African delicacies by Marnella Macaron Artistry and Méthode Cap Classique (MCC) – Simonsig Wine Estate. A French connection, MCC is produced using the same classic process as Champagne which entails creating a second fermentation in the bottle.
Helping to share this enchanting story is Publication Partner ASA MAGAZINE which offers a heady mix of fashion, luxury, and entertainment with an African edge. ASA is led by founder and creative director Reynold Agge, an enigmatic entrepreneur hailing from Edo State, Nigeria.