Model Diary: Ellen Von Unwerth Does It Better

There are still some days at this job where everything feels surreal, not yet normalized or rendered unremarkable by me doing it. Tuesday was one of those days, when I shot the Hysteric Glamour campaign with Ellen Von Unwerth. For those of you who don’t know (I didn’t, my mom did), Hysteric Glamour is a Japanese streetwear line. My day began thusly: Jonathan, a camera and production assistant with a taste for experimental films, picked me and the other model, Sophie, up in the city to take us to the Clinton Diner in Queens, home of the famous diner scene in Goodfellas. We arrived to a big production. There was an RV in the parking lot, which housed a delicious breakfast, beverages, plus all the Hysteric Glamour clothes and everyone’s personal belongings. Inside the diner, three adorable children were getting their hair and makeup done, as they were shooting the campaign for the kids’ line. Since they were feigning a birthday party, the restaurant was replete with appropriate props: oversized ice-cream cones and burgers, a piñata, bags of candy, birthday cake–I should have been a child model! I mean, we do get some great catered meals, but these kids walked away with a candy loot comparable only to Halloween.

After the kids finished, and when Sophie and I had our hair and makeup just about done, the entire team moved to the second location: Beauty Bar in Bushwick, a bar that looks like a ’60s hair salon. The major source of inspiration for the shoot was the 1975 movie Shampoo, starring Warren Beatty as a heartthrob hairstylist (the movie was set in ’68). Our sexy shampooer was a model named Fray. Due to Ellen’s signature sexual innuendo (which she does so well), there was a lot of inappropriate use of phallic hairstyling objects, including a flesh-colored curling iron and a well-holstered hairdryer.

The shoot was a lot of fun. Ellen is such a great director that the posing and acting came so easily. As we were wrapping, she told Sophie and myself that she was having a party that night for her Crazy for Eva video launch, and that we had to come. I’ve never worked with such a great photographer who was also so nice and friendly and encouraging. I knew working with Ellen Von Unwerth was going to be a great honor, but the whole experience surpassed my expectations.

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