When a fashion shoot lands on the pages of a magazine or newspaper, it aims to look effortless. Everything is supposed to come together perfectly, to capture a moment, a feeling, a style. The hardwork, time and effort that goes into the handful of photographs that make it to print is obscured. But the fun, laughter, energy and creativity should remain. This week's shoot with The Whitepepper was nothing if not fun – it's what the brand is all about, and that playful energy spilled over into the shoot. So here's how it all came together…
The Whitepepper’s London office is seriously cool. It’s mid-afternoon by the time I get there: after stumbling out of Bethnal Green tube station and a half hour walk, glued to Googlemaps, I eventually give up on technology and just follow the canal. This leads me straight to the showroom, which nestles under the arch of a bridge. It’s light and airy, all exposed yellow brick, and clean modern interiors. As I push through the swing doors, I’m greeted by ‘Be My Baby’. The Ronettes are the clincher – this is my kind of place.
Four years ago, The Whitepepper was a Tumblr street style blog, with a focus on vintage looks. Flicking through this season’s collection on the rails in the showroom, it’s clear how far the brand has come. The vintage influence is still there in the cut and shape of some of the pieces, but the colours and patterns are more modern: bold, playful, irreverent.
What I’m looking at are The Whitepepper’s Autumn and Winter collections. The former is an experiment in modern nostalgia: whimsical shirts, bags and jumpsuits, kooky details, and soft nursery colours, with pops of something brighter. Everything is slightly distorted away from the childhood roots that the collection suggests, with the end product playfully surreal. For Winter the modern becomes futuristic, with spacey patterns and textured fabrics. Nothing takes itself too seriously – the stars and rockets that emblazon jackets and dresses are playfully drawn, echoing the cheerful colours and playful shapes.
I had the freedom to choose the pieces I wanted for the shoot – cue an hour or so of flitting around the showroom, comparing colours, shapes and styles. I wanted to choose the pieces that would appeal to Cambridge students, and to take inspiration from the collision of the modern and traditional that we all experience here on a daily basis. This desire was behind the location of the shoot. Murray Edwards is hardly modern – but in comparison to the older colleges, it feels forward-looking, providing a different model of what Cambridge is or can be like. The gardens, with their bright colours and stunning art, seemed the perfect backdrop for the colourful, eccentric world of The Whitepepper.
By the evening I was back on the train to Cambridge, trundling a suitcase of clothes behind me. And at a frighteningly early hour the next morning, I headed up the hill for the shoot. 8am isn't the ideal time to inspire joyfulness amongst student models, but I wanted the shoot to be as fun as possible. The clothes helped a lot. I chatted to the models about wh they wanted to wear: everyone had a favourite look. Next it was time for make-up – our wonderful make up artist had browsed through the Whitepepper's collection for inspiration, and based her looks on the brand's style. Sleek hair, and bold colour pops on the lips of some of our models, contrasted with the nude make up she chose for others. Everything about this shoot needed to be personal.
Once you've started taking pictures, a fashion shoot just gets better and better – it takes a while for everyone to relax, and then ideas start getting thrown around, and everything gets going. Stylists, photographer and models all contribute – suddenly someone spots a particular colour in the foliage that would work wonderfully with this dress, or a slant of soft light that would compliment a model's features perfectly. There's energy and enthusiasm, and it becomes infectious.
This shoot was for me everything that I love about fashion – full of smiles, laughter, experimentation, and gorgeous clothes. The Whitepepper’s pieces seem to be irresistibly fun. In their cut, pattern, and colours they’re a bold statement: but they’re also surprsingly flexible, working with all sorts of other styles, to inject a flash of warmth, positivity, and humour into an outfit. And midway through a term at Cambridge, who doesn't need that?
All of the clothes feature in the shoot are available online at www.thewhitepepper.com