Oh, man. Do I have some loveliness in store for you today. It’s the collaboration between bridal gown designer Tara LaTour and photographer Eliesa Johnson, who just dropped some crazy-wonderful fantastical designs and photo shoot looks on us here in Minneapolis. We are so lucky. Tonight kicks off the unveiling of the Tara LaTour showroom at L’Atelier Bridal—the trunk show continues through the weekend. If I wasn’t already married, I’d be saving my pennies for one of these works of art. You can see the entire collection and beautiful shoot—seriously belongs on the pages of big-time magazines—online. In the meantime, here’s a little Q&A I had with the two creatives on their big vision.
Tara, tell me about your inspiration for this latest collection. What materials did you use?
T: The inspiration for this collection came from the classic childrens’ book Where the Wild Things Are. I love the illustrations in that book; the use of lines and shapes. I am also smitten with the fact that it is not a typical “princess” story, which is what most people would think a bridal collection would be based on. In the collection you can see that we used leaves to create textures in the gowns as well as upside-down crowns and buttons—those details were all inspired by Max’s storyline. We also hand-fringed, hand-dyed, and hand-crinkled certain elements to create another level of detail. And of course, we have the presence of color, which we are known for. I tend to use fabrics that are very textural, including silk herringbone, silk matka, and silk tussah. However, with this collection we really wanted to create something more accessible, so we also included silk failles, satins, and taffetas. And of course, color!
How did the two of you meet/get together on this project?
E: I first met Tara when she was an intern for local designer Joynoelle. Apparently I made some sort of impression on her, because a year later, Tara contacted me to see if I would photograph her senior collection. She was a student at Parsons in NYC at the time and didn’t have much of a budget, but I asked her to send me some photos of her dresses, to see if it would be worth my while. She sent over some iPhone photos and I was in awe of her gowns. I booked my ticket out to NYC and our beautiful collaboration began from there on out.
T: When I was looking for a photographer for my senior thesis, all I could think were two things. 1. I wanted a photographer with roots in Minnesota, as that was what the collection was about. (I learned of Eliesa when working at Joy’s, fell in love with a shoot she did for Metro magazine and immediately developed quite a crush on her work! I couldn’t help but think that she would be the PERFECT person to bring my collection to life through photography.) Secondly, I thought I wouldn’t have a shot in hell for her to shoot my collection, but I emailed her anyway thinking I had nothing to lose. Something must have been in the air because she agreed, and the rest is history! All I can say is that it was kismet!
How did you develop your vision and carry it out?
E: When it comes to photographing campaigns and look books for various clients, I love to wrap my head around the entire concept. After all, my images are shaping the way their product is viewed in their industry and to their consumers. I am also a photographer who is very passionate about branding, so it’s always my goal to create work that is visually stunning and will give life to the brand of the company.
T: I have a very different approach than most when it comes to how my collection is photographed. When shooting with Eliesa, I have total and utter faith. I tell her the concept of the collection and then I really let her lead the way. I am not a photographer and she is brilliant at what she does, so I want to let her have full control to do what she does best. This approach also lets us have fun on set, which we are all for.
Eliesa, can you give a little insight into how you bring a designer’s vision to life on camera?
Our collaboration has always been so great, because she has given me all of the freedom in the world to do what I do best, which is create. I wanted the images to have a sense of innocence and playfulness, while also adding a little darkness. Tara is also a bridal designer, so there is also an element of romance that needs to come into play. After much location scouting and bringing together the perfect team, we also put together the perfect play list—music totally helps bring the perfect vibe to the set while shooting. We also used smoke bombs during the shoot to transform the space into something magical and mysterious!
When will the pieces be available—at the event? Can you provide details about the event?
T: The event is November 7th at 6:30 at L’Atelier salon. Not only is this event launching the brand and the showroom at the salon, but it also kicks off the trunk show, which will take place over the course of the weekend. All gowns from collections past and present will be shown at the event and will be available for purchase at the show. Our brand’s mission is to provide brides with something different, whether it be through design, texture, or color.
A few more thoughts…from Eliesa
I feel like the relationship that Tara and I have together is very unique. As a photographer, I have been a part of shaping her brand since day one and because we have continued to work together, I think that makes each collection stronger and stronger for Tara. We have so much respect for one another as artists, that the collaboration process with her is always a dream. She understands that bringing together the perfect team to execute something extraordinary is absolutely worth it and the hard work is most definitely paying off!
On a side note, I joined Tara and her team at Bridal Market this year in NYC and after seeing the range of wedding dresses available to brides, we are SO lucky to have Tara in our local market! She is really, truly a one-of-a-kind designer who is pushing the limits in fashion, while also creating stunning pieces that are timeless for her brides. We are both very passionate about what we do and I’m so excited to be able to be on this journey with her!
A few more thoughts…from Tara
I am a true believer in following your gut reaction and that from that will come what is meant to be; that is what happened with Eliesa and me. There was just something that brought us together. I am so lucky that we have not only formed an amazing working relationship but have also become friends along the way. There is something magical about sharing a common vision with another artist (as well as someone who laughs at my completely useless jokes)! I could never say enough about this amazing woman!
Here’s a little more info on Eliesa:
Eliesa Johnson is a photographer and entrepreneur, based out of Minneapolis, Minn. She is the face and artist of Eliesa Johnson Photography, which specializes in commercial and editorial work, along with Photogen Inc., which is a luxury wedding photography company. Her work has won awards on both national and local stages and she continues to be published on a regular basis. Check out more of her work at eliesajohnson.com and photogen-inc.com.
Here’s a little more info on Tara:
Tara LaTour is an up-and-coming designer that is making a name for herself with unique bridal gowns that have a fresh point of view. Tara’s gowns can be perfectly described as modern romanticism. She studied at Parsons New School for Design in New York City and graduated with a degree in fashion design in May of 2010. While at Parsons, she quickly created buzz in the industry with her new approach to bridal. The Tara LaTour label was created in January 2011 and has already carved out a name for itself in the bridal industry. You can find features on Tara’s works in such magazines as Brides, Unveiled, The Knot, and was featured on Good Morning America. You can also check out her gowns at taralatour.com.