The setting for this styled shoot will transport you to your childhood of dressing up, with all the magic that entailed – hours whiled away in a whimsical daydream, floating around being your most glamorous and adorned self.
The shoot also has something Tim Walker about it, what with the out-of-kilter perspective of larger than life toys and props compared to the smaller models draped around them.
It’s a perfect storyboard to display the beauty of Jan Knibbs’s garments and accessories and bring to life their magic.
The Story of the Shoot by Jan Knibbs
I’m a multi award winning designer specialising in couture embroidery, and I first came across the photographer Danniella Jaine on Model Mayhem. There was something magical about her images that made me want to work with her so I invited her to our old house (which is now a large holiday let, sleeping up to 20 and perfect for vintage hen parties!) to collaborate on a photo shoot.
Together we came up with the concept for a shoot inspired by the idea of two girls discovering their old dressing up box. We used some of my bridal designs, including a dress that won the embroidery category in the British Bridal Awards and an outfit that came second in the international Hand and Lock Prize for Embroidery inspired by a chance meeting between Marie Antoinette and Barbarella, along with other designs and accessories from my collection that are perfect for dressing up on and offstage!
As luck would have it, we were in the process of redecorating our drawing room, so this provided the perfect blank canvas to create our set. Danniella and I both share a passion for the Pre-Raphaelites and anything vintage and we used various props from around the house to style our shoot, including a French armoire and a Victorian dolls house.
We invited two models – Galina Thomas and Olivia Harriet-Smith, who has since become my muse and favourite model. We also invited Thea MacDonald from Purrfect Artistry to do the hair and make-up. Somehow it all just worked beautifully and we created one of my favourite photo shoots, which just portrays my vision of slightly whimsical, vintage inspired dresses, which are perfect for vintage, fairytale or bohemian weddings.
It has been my long held dream to bring this vision together in the form of an atelier/showroom and vintage inspired concept boutique, and I am finally able to realise this dream…
I have found the perfect premises in the artisan area of Cheltenham known as The Suffolks and have invited a few hand picked designers who share my ethos of “something old…something new” to join me, including the milliner Gemma Sangwine. I have also sourced a curated eclectic mix of old and new curios, including French brocante finds to create an Aladdin’s cave of beautiful objects that will appeal to all.
…and by Danniella Jaine
And beneath the disremembered, we found our old toy box from the attic where Dad used to put away all our things we had forgotten about. Amongst the bric-a-brac was our little dressing up box with all the odd pieces of clutter we’d salvaged from Grandmother’s house.
As with many of my stories, ‘Toy Box’ was inspired by my childhood memories. This particular story is about my grandmother’s house and all the bric-a-brac that could be found there. Odd pieces of clutter I’d use as accessories would fascinate me for hours while I played at her vintage dresser. I thought she had some extraordinary things, both intricate and unusual.
This was the first time I’d worked with Jan, and she was kind enough to invite me into her beautiful home at Cedars House. The décor was traditional and very thought out. Jan is most certainly creative in all that she does. I felt a sort of nostalgia as I wandered from room to room with all the bric-a-brac that could be found there. Jan creates some extraordinary things, both intricate and unusual. I appreciated the delicacy of all the little trinkets she had made, the odd bits of old lace that she’d collected. The tiny details embroidered onto the garments and the touch of fine silk.
The idea was that the girls had rediscovered the treasures from their past, which they proceeded to play with like they did when they were little. I used mirrors to reflect images of pictures of little girls to symbolise past childhood memories. The mood of the shoot feels melancholy, I imagine everything there to be a little dusty. I wanted the pictures to have a ghostly feel, almost like old Pre-Raphaelite paintings of women who tell stories without speaking.
All garments and accessories – something old…something new by Jan Knibbs
Photographer – Danniella Jaine
Hair and make-up – Purrfect Artistry
Models – Olivia Harriet-Smith and Galina Thomas
Venue – Cedars House
Shop – Atelier 19