Heels & Picks: Burberry and the beach

Jul. 2, 2013 | 1 Comment


BY ERIN SMITH / Special to the Star-Advertiser

Most people think photo shoots are glamorous. There is an aspect of truth to that; hair and makeup teams do you up to take your cute 7 to a smokin’ 8.5, cool clothes abound, stylists fuss over your looks.

I love all this and find it fun — but there is a flip side to photo shoots most people don’t really get to see.

At my last photo shoot a couple of weeks ago in Hawai’i Kai with Maui-based photographer Jessica Pearl, I found myself hanging from a rock cliff, attempting to look fierce and sexy while trying desperately to not get one speck of dirt on the white Burberry trench coat I had on. (It was worth $1,000 and had to be returned to the fashion castle from whence it came, with nary a scuff.)

“Your face looks strained, you have to stop making that face.” said Pearl. I was starting to think we should just have me roll around in the red dirt and get it over with, then have a great looking facial expression while the Burberry coat looked like it came from under a bridge.

The finished product. (Courtesy photo)

The finished product. (Courtesy Jessica Pearl)

I’ve known and worked with Jessica for years. She is extremely talented mand we’ve both been building our businesses at the same time. We also play revolving door, as she moved back from Oahu to Maui just when I did that move in reverse. She always has my back, having shot The Throwdowns and several of my solo press and promo shots.

When it became clear it was time for more photos, she made plans to hop a plane and head to Oahu to shoot me. With a camera. Although sometimes during shoots with me, I’m sure she’d rather have a Colt 45.

When left to my own devices, my outfits for photo shoots are decidedly womanly punk. Pretty, form-fitting dresses, mixed with faux cheetah fur coats and spike-shouldered jackets. Though this is generally my look, it doesn’t always work for some of the events I am hired to sing for. And with all the other facets of entertainment I’ve been getting into lately, I needed photos styled more along the lines of a fashion shoot than a rock shoot. So I called up my friend, Honolulu stylist Tyson Joines, to pull looks for me.

“Here’s the story,” said Joines via text. “You pick four looks, then we head to Ala Moana and pull the looks for you from the stores.”

Picking up clothes at Ala Moana with local stylist Tyson Joines. (Courtesy Erin Smith)

Picking up clothes at Ala Moana with local stylist Tyson Joines. (Courtesy Erin Smith)

Working with a stylist is incredibly helpful, as you have access to all kinds of clothing you would not otherwise be able to get your hands on. They have relationships with stores and are able to get clothes and return them immediately after a shoot. Then it’s up to you, Clumsy McGee, to not wreck the clothing before return.

Before my Ala Moana trip with Tyson, I spent a couple of hours on the phone with Jess, combing through Pinterest and pulling looks. It was one of my first times on Pinterest, because that website seems like a black hole for women. When you put an unending supply of table centers and cake frosting ideas in front of us, we cannot help but to spend three hours planning a fictional party.

As I chose my outfits, as well as the balloon arrangement for my graduation from my Doctorate in Fashionology and Badassness, I realized how difficult it can be to stray from your personal style norms without guidance.

“What a lovely dress”, I would say to myself. “It would look really cool if I paired it with my pink Chucks.”

Wrong. As it turns out, the person whose style I most like to borrow from is Blake Lively. She’s classy, but also a bombshell — and that’s pretty much my jam.

I met Tyson on Monday, June 17, at Ala Moana Center, the home of all things good. And evil. Tyson is a great guy; he’s fun, dedicated to his craft, hard-working and talented. I learned a few things about the world of styling that day: good luck finding a trench coat in Hawai’i in the summer; returning shoes is almost impossible, so forget those rad over-the-knee boots from Aldo; Guess has all kinds of bombshell items I have been overlooking all this time; and people will actually let me leave a store with a Burberry coat.

Jessica Pearl and an assistant at the site of the photo shoot in east Honolulu. (Courtesy Erin Smith)

Jessica Pearl and an assistant at the site of the photo shoot in east Honolulu. (Courtesy Erin Smith)

Flash forward to Tuesday, June 18, the day of the shoot. I’m filling my car with shimmer lotions from Victoria’s Secret and Hawaiian Tropics (I double up those two lotions for double the Beyonce leg shimmer power), heels, hats and snacks. Two of the women at Paul Brown Kailua did my hair and makeup. I’m familiar with that salon, since their spunky renaissance woman, Michelle Umipeg, does my color. I’ve been all about brows lately, so when it came to makeup, we went for the “Kate Upton on the cover of Vogue” look.

I kept saying, “More eyebrows! Gotta have more eyebrows!” Until I realized I looked like Groucho Marx. We dialed it back.

Tyson brought me the clothes, I met with one of my business crew, Jess and her assistant in Hawai’i Kai, and then it was go time. We climbed over a rock wall at a scenic lookout, climbed down carrying $3,000 worth of clothes, camera gear, purses, hats, accessories — and of course, white wine. I had to get changed between looks on the rocks, so I tried my best to keep my booty out of tourists’ ocean photos. Sweeping coastal views with a random booty photobomb is so 2012.

We wrapped the shoot right around sundown, with the wind and waves sweeping the remains of the day off the coast of Hawai’i Kai. In the darkening purple light, I squinted from the harsh glare of my iPhone while trying read a text message from my boyfriend.

“Baby, how did the shoot go? Did you make it out with the Flurberry jacket intact?”

Yes baby, the Flurberry is allllllllright.
Erin Smith is a singer and guitarist who performs as a solo artist and with Maui-based Na Hoku Hanohano Award-nominated band The Throwdowns. Born in Canada, she moved to Hawaii in 2004 and now resides in Kailua. Contact her via e-mail or follow her on Twitter.

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