For those of us longing for our days in the sun, still unable or reluctant to travel overseas to lands where heat and bright light are guaranteed, life in Yorkshire can seem a little overcast. So it was that one gang of Yorkshire creatives decided that, since they could not hit their favourite hot spots, they would create their own with a mood-lifting, joyful, riotously colourful fashion shoot in downtown Leeds
“We were all on the same page,” says Rachel O’Dell, an international fashion and wedding make-up artist based in Horsforth. “Steve said: ‘Everything is so dark, I really need some colour’.”
Steve is Steve Roy Cockram, known professionally as Stevieroy, a portrait and fashion photographer and the owner of Brussels Street Studio in Leeds, which has been purpose-designed for fashion, beauty and product photography. As well as taking his arresting images – his work has been published in Hello Fashion, Grazia, At Home, Wallpaper, Dwell and many of those airline magazines you might find in the flap in front of your cabin seat (ah, those were the days) – Steve also mentors students and working photographers at the studio.
Determined to bring colour back into his world, he gathered together a team of professional fashion creatives: make-up artist Rachel; Bradford-based fashion stylist Trudy Fielding (otherwise known as Trudy Beau, owner of retro fashion store My Vintage Beau); and the two Graces, AKA Grace Butler and Grace M, models with Industry Models, which has branches in Leeds and Manchester.
Trudy put together the fashion side, carefully choosing vibrant, statement clothes and accessories from the SS21 collections of high street favourites Zara and H&M, mixed in with striking pieces from her own My Vintage Beau range of retro one-offs. She specialises in mixing and matching new fashion finds with old, to create truly individual looks.
“Through the pandemic, fashion has been very low key with an emphasis on comfort and loungewear,” she says. “As people have had nowhere to go, there has been a huge lack of creativity. This shoot was a punch of colour to hopefully give consumers ideas to brighten up the rest of the year.”
Make-up was key to capturing the sunshine and the richness. “I really missed travel, and the colours that you see when you are abroad,” says Rachel. “That look on Grace B is quite Moroccan, using colours that you just don’t see in the UK. So it was about the total desire to be travelling again and bring some fun and lightness back into the world.”
That vibrant waterproof primary blue eyeshadow is the hallmark of Danessa Myricks. “She specialises in highly pigmented colour and is renowned for glowy skin. It’s high fashion,” Rachel says, adding: “The lip colour is by Violette French. She spent years trying to perfect the perfect red.”
Make-up, admittedly, has not been at the top of most people’s agenda during the pandemic, but that is set to change. “Some people have completely abandoned it and are rediscovering it,” Rachel says. “Healthiness and glowiness are still a big thing, but there is also a lot more experimentalism and a devil-may-care attitude. There is a huge look back to ’70s and ’80s, but making it our own.”
The models from Industry in Leeds were selected especially to suit the shoot’s theme, says Steve, adding that Grace B is an actor and dancer and Grace M studies international business.
And safety was paramount. “Thankfully, Brussels Street Studio is large enough to adhere to the Government Covid guidelines and distancing measures, and sanitiser stations had been installed throughout the studio, with face masks and gloves supplied to all, as well as daily cleaning with antibacterial and antivirus solutions,” he says.
Playing with bright colour and graphic lines gave the team the boost they needed. Rachel says: “There does seem to be an element of the carefree and fun, with fewer rules and more of whatever brings you joy.”
Photographer: Stevieroy, www.stevieroy.co.uk at Brussels Street Studio Leeds, www.brusselsstreetstudio.com
Styling: Trudy Beau Stylist, Instagram @trudybeaustylist
Hair and make-up, Rachel O’Dell, www.rachelodell.com
Models: Grace B and Grace M from Industry Leeds, www.industrymodels.co.uk.