Please accept my sincerest apologies at the lack of blog posts this month- things have been incredibly hectic for me as I've been co-organizing my local hometown's first ever LGBT pride event (which took place the other week and was a rousing success- but more on that later!) and amongst other things I've been preparing to start my Masters degree in Education Psychology (eep!)
But enough with the excuses! Today I'm talking about an amazing photoshoot that I did a couple of weeks ago in Edinburgh. Most people in the UK who are involved in the burlesque/pinup/vintage scene will have heard of the name Gary Crozier before. For those of you who haven't, he's an incredibly skilled photographer and digital artist that specializes in making people into "Broken Dolls" - beautiful images that are enhanced slightly and reminiscent of Margaret Keane's "big eyed waifs" with large eyes and doll-like features.
A beautiful example of Gary's Broken Dolls
I have had the pleasure of working with Gary on a number of occasions; when I was a young student living and working in Edinburgh I used to be employed as a makeup artist for the vintage boutique Miss Dixiebelle's where Gary often comes to shoot several times a year. Never quite gaining the confidence to venture in front of his camera, I instead made up the faces of beautiful women and watched in awe as they were transformed into Broken Dolls - something I have always wanted to experience for myself. (I actually did the lovely Joanne's makeup in the photograph you see above!)
Fast forward a few years to when I've got a little more disposable income, a lot more confidence and I finally decided the time had come- I was going to become one of Gary's Broken Dolls. I phoned up Miss Dixiebelle and spoke to the lovely Emma, paid a £30 deposit to book my slot and I was off! I began planning my outfits straight away, and packed a giant leopard print suitcase full of my favourite clothes.
Lots of goodies ready for photographing!
The day itself arrived quickly and I boarded the train to Edinburgh with a bag full of beautiful things, a clear makeup-less face and my trusty sidekick, my gorgeous Persian cat Lux Interior (I've been dying to get some good photographs of us together for the longest time & this seemed like the perfect occasion!) I arrived at Miss Dixiebelle's Vintage Hair and Beauty Parlour just after 11am and was immediately whisked into the back of their gorgeous shop to look through some Vintage Life and Burlesque Bible magazines for some style inspiration, all whilst Lux was being pampered and preened by my mum and some adoring fans he picked up along our travels!
Lux waiting patiently in the parlour whilst I get my hair and makeup done
So, onto my hair and makeup; I came prepared to this shoot with a clear idea in my mind of what I wanted. My inspiration for this style was Beyonce circa "Dreamgirls" - one of my favourite films. Think huge waves of cascading curls with enough volume to lift off into space, a liberal application of atomic hold hairspray and a bright pop of colour. The lovely hair stylist Ariana set straight to work and left me with the big bouncy coiffure of my dreams, that ended up lasting two full days(!)
In terms of my makeup I wanted something bold. I'm a firm believer that my lips are my best feature and the gorgeous MUA Layla was more than happy to listen to what I wanted and create a dramatic style to suit both of my outfit plans (I of course had to have a costume change at some point throughout the day!) We ended up going for a deep purple hued red lipstick that worked fantastically for both ensembles with a dark smoky eye with a sharp cut crease and a liberal dose of liquid eyeliner. Being a trained makeup artist myself I often find it quite difficult to allow others free reign over my face but I needn't have worried- Layla was a consummate professional and put me right at ease.
After hair and makeup it was time to get dressed - the piece de resistance!
My first look for my Broken Dolls shoot was again slightly inspired by the movie Dreamgirls- I chose to wear a lovely new dress that had yet to receive it's first outing; the Voodoo Vixen Dress in green lame by my vintage repro favourites PinupgirlClothing (Sidenote, for a fantastic in-depth review of this dress please check out the lovely Stina's blog Fatshion Peepshow). This dress fits like an absolute dream, it hugs my curves in all the right places and is definitely a bit of a show stopper! For reference I'm wearing my usual size of 2X and it fits perfectly on my 5'7 size 18 frame.
One of my favourite features of this dress is the unusual crossover bust detail, it's a natural cleavage enhancer and draws the eye right upwards and the shimmery effervescence of the lame is breathtaking- honestly I don't think my low quality phone photographs do this dress justice at all! Another favourite feature here is the asymmetric waterfall skirt - the kicked out pleats across one side of this dress give it a whole new dimension! Rather than being a simple wiggle dress, this dress is a true visual masterpiece and was the perfect choice for some bold Broken Doll photographs with Lux Interior by my side.
Close up details of the show-stopping dress
After I'd shot in this gorgeous gown, it was time for a costume change! I decided to go a bit more risqué with this second look and opted to shoot in just my underwear - something I haven't done a whole lot of! Lots of Gary's Broken Doll models are Burlesque performers and look absolutely phenomenal in their skivvies, so I decided to take my inspiration from them and go for it!
If you've been following this blog for a while you'll probably remember me talking about my body positive journey and how I am often afraid to step outside my comfort zone- well this was no exception! Standing in a shop full of people in your bra and pants is no mean feat but I decided to push my boundaries and really go for it- I was looking to get some sultry and dark atmospheric shots and the outfit I'd chosen to shoot in was perfect.
The underwear set that I decided to wear for my second photograph was a mixture of What Katie Did stockings, the sadly now discontinued Lulu Garter Belt and an old faithful Gossard Plunge Bra. I paired this with some show-stopping Pleaser Bordello high heels (link to purchase here) and I was ready to shoot! I chose to wear this lingerie set as I wanted to show off my tummy tattoo and it also has the added bonus of making me feeling incredibly sexy! I put any body hangups to the side and embraced my inner pinup fantasy.
The actual process of shooting with Gary was an absolute dream. Gary is a total expert and is more than happy to direct you into poses that he thinks will work well for the photographs he's trying to capture whilst listening to your own ideas. He isn't afraid to try out new poses, positions or styles and is incredibly patient and sweet- when we were shooting he even made a joke about Poison Ivy and Lux Interior (any fellow Cramps fan will get the reference!)
So without any further waffling on from me, have a wee look at the beautiful images Gary and I were able to create together! I've ordered a couple of these as prints and can't wait to see them framed and hung up in my house.
If you're ever in need of a wee confidence boost or you're just looking to treat yourself, I'd definitely recommend booking a photoshoot with Gary. He can be contacted through his official website here and for anyone local to Edinburgh he does shoots at Miss Dixiebelle as I've outlined in this post fairly regularly (you can check for updates here).
Becoming a broken doll was such a wonderful experience, I really can't recommend it highly enough! Being primped and pampered in such a lovely place and made to feel like a queen is something that absolutely everyone should experience and I hope that this post has inspired you to release your inner broken doll too.
Until next time darlings,