Aigner Journal

"I just want to say that collaborating with this group of women is always incredibly satisfying.
We all love to work hard and make it special and fun. We are all in."

- Stylist, Yael Gitai

The Women Behind Etienne Aigner

Women Call the Shots at the Etienne Aigner Summer ’19 Campaign Photo Shoot
For our distinctive campaign shoots, Etienne Aigner has worked with a powerhouse all-female crew to create beautiful images of Flavia Lucini modeling our newest collections. We asked photographer Danielle St. Laurent, stylist Yael Gitai, and producer Yael Knopf to tell us their stories and describe their visions for our summer ’19 campaign shot on Virginia Key Beach, a barrier island off the coast of Miami. 


 

Danielle St. Laurent, Photographer

How long have you been a professional photographer and how did you break into the competitive fashion business?
I started photo assisting in the late ‘90s. I assisted for waaaay too long, but as is common I think for women, I over prepared. I really didn’t go out on my own until I felt ready for any and all challenges. In some ways, I like that I didn’t venture out until I was absolutely prepared for anything, but sometimes I wish I just went for it, and let myself learn a bit as I went along. 
It’s very much a male dominated field. A lot of people feel better having a man shoot for them, or they think he brings a level of sexiness that maybe a woman photog can’t. I’m really lucky because I have the greatest clients who are supportive regardless of me being a woman, and also because I am a woman. I’m really grateful for that.
My break into the business was that someone just gave me a shot shooting for a catalog called Delia’s. All I needed was an opportunity, because like I said, I was way ready! 
 
How would you describe your aesthetic—what distinguishes your work?
It might not be the sexiest answer, but I’m a work horse, a machine, I deliver. I like to consider the client, of course, who they are and who they want to speak to, I consider the product, the model and the location. I think hard about what is the best way to bring all these ingredients together in a way that feels special and elevated. 
A lot of photographers are known for a specific style, and that’s an important quality to have in this over saturated industry. But I don’t have a formula. I try to recreate the wheel every time. It’s more exciting for me that way. 
Would you say that your perspective as a woman differs from that of a male fashion photographer?
I strive to make pictures of women that I either want to be or want to be friends with. It’s not about idealizing her. It’s about humanizing her while still adoring her. I think that connection I try to find with my model and team makes the shoots more personal. It’s a place I find very easily because 1) I am a woman and 2) I think women are amazing and I love celebrating them. 
 
What was your vision with this shoot—the models, the location, and the products?
Yael Gitai brought such a cool vintage style to the shoot, helping to create a classic woman that I wish I could travel back in time and be. Always chic and cool and unique. Because the model’s style was so complete, I wanted my light and location to feel less done. It should come down to earth because she was going to be very iconic. I wouldn’t want to see that woman in an overly groomed or posh environment. She would be less interesting to me. Instead she was going to her favorite undiscovered beach to be exactly who she wants to be.    
I love the brand Etienne Aigner because as a kid I coveted my mom’s EA bags and shoes.  I really was obsessed. Because of that, for me, the Etienne Aigner brand should always feel timeless, and a bit vintage. Like a memory of the most stylish woman you ever met. 
I just want to say that collaborating with this group of women is always incredibly satisfying. We all love to work hard and make it special and fun. We are all in. We send each other texts and emails getting inspired beforehand. We laugh and sweat a lot. I’m always so grateful and exhausted after these shoots.

Yael Gitai, Stylist

How long have you been a stylist? How did you get into the industry?

I’ve been a stylist for 20 years and I got into it because my mom was a knitwear fashion designer in Berlin and I was surrounded by Vogue magazines since I can remember. I would study each new issue for hours which made me very knowledgeable about fashion and trends over the years.

Describe the Miami shoot—the location, vibe, the models, etc.
We shot my friend, model Flavia Lucini on the beach outside of Miami. The inspiration for this shoot were Slim Aarons’ images from the late ‘60s and the Jacques Tati film, “Mr Hulot’s Holiday.”

What was your vision for the summer ’19 collection shoot?
The EA summer 19 bag/shoe collection features beautiful colors that pop, so I wanted this shoot to be fun and playful with a nod to late ‘60s fashion which was quite quirky. I especially loved the basket weave bags that you can imagine Brigitte Bardot carrying.

How would you describe Etienne Aigner?
I’m in love with the EA heritage and the brand is doing such a great job bringing back their epic ‘60s and ‘70s style yet making their bags and shoes chic and timeless. This company has a beautiful history and I love how that style is translated for modern women. When I think of Etienne Aigner I think of Lauren Hutton or Pam Grier strutting down the street wearing their iconic bags and heels; to me, that’s a look that will forever be chic 

Yael Knopf, Producer

Can you tell us what you do and how you came to produce photography shoots?

I started out as an event producer, producing large corporate and art events such as the Armory Show and the James Beard Awards. My husband decided to go back to school and get his masters in photography in Denmark, where he is from. He started assisting photographers, and I was meeting more and more people in the industry. One of the photographers he was working with regularly, Greg Lotus, asked if I could just produce their shoots, I would be traveling with my husband and making money. I loved the idea. And got hooked.
What appealed to me is the creative intimate relationships we make with a small group of people collaborating and creating a vision together. Being able to come up with an idea, budget and plan how to execute it, execute it together as a team, and then have a photo of what we created, is the most gratifying feeling for me.
 
What does an all-female team bring to a fashion shoot?
I think this is a special group of women with very distinct personalities which is why the group is so successful. Each person runs their own department so well, and we communicate with one another with respect and adoration, so that the execution of the shoot seems to run smoothly each time. We really feel like a solid team, and we celebrate our successes equally.
Describe Danielle’s work.
Danielle’s technical versatility allows her to create images that fuse a favorite classic vintage fantasy with current easy freshness. There’s a touch of elevated aspirational woman mixed with the real girl you want to be or hang out with in her work. She’s very relatable and always delivers images that work with the brand and also speak to cool powerful iconic women.  
She is also a ray of sunshine to work with, she is able to turn a rainy day into a beautiful moment and can work on projects from all points on the fashion/advertising spectrum. I love working with positive people and she brings so much of that energy to the table. 
 
Tell us about the Etienne Aigner summer shoot—the location, vibe, the models. 
The location is an island off Key Biscayne, Florida, a bit less touristy so it’s less manicured—I felt it had a vintage Jamaica vibe. The foliage and nature has been preserved, which made it even more beautiful when combined with the style of wardrobe and product, the props, the stunning timeless model, and of course the creative team working together. It’s hard not to get inspired when we collaborate in a beautiful setting with a crew who really put their hearts into what they do.
 

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