Fashion Editor: Janine Metcalfe | Photography by Jeffrey Bosdet
Model: Mikayla Mifsud, Key Model Management
Hair and Makeup: Anya Ellis, Lizbell Agency
Stylist Assistant: Brooklyn Koenig
Shot on location at Cole Island National Historic Site, Colwood, B.C.
Thank you to the Friends of Cole Island.
WHERE ART MEETS FASHION: Behind the scenes at YAM’s fashion shoot.
By Kerry Slavens
Alchemy is a process by which something is transformed in a powerful or mysterious way. And alchemy certainly was at play during our photo shoot for this month’s Style Watch, which brought together YAM’s fashion editor Janine Metcalfe and Director of Photography Jeffrey Bosdet with contemporary Northwest Coast artist Rande Cook.
I was introduced to Rande’s work two years ago at an Art Gallery of Greater Victoria exhibition called Urban Thunderbirds/Ravens in a Material World. What struck me was that instead of featuring his masks as disembodied carvings on gallery walls, Rande brought them to life. While studying in New York, he created a cedar mask with gold inlay and a Louis Vuitton logo on it. Then, accompanied by artist and photographer Luke Marston, Rande wore the mask to Wall Street where he climbed on the famous bull statue, the ultimate symbol of material excess.
An artist of First Nations ancestry from the ‘Namgis tribe of Alert Bay, Rande is shaped not only by tradition but also by artistic forces that compel him to create beyond constraints of the market for traditional Northwest Coast art. “That urge — that need — to push boundaries is how I grow as an artist,” he says. “For me, it’s an absurdity to limit myself to the belief that we can only create in the past. I live in this century and I want to keep my culture alive and growing.”
When I told YAM’s fashion editor Janine Metcalfe about Rande, I could see her wheels of creativity turning. For Janine, fashion is more than clothing on display — it’s a kind of visual poetry. Like Rande, there is depth or subtext to her work. She immediately conjured up visions of models in couture gowns and masks, immersed in nature. Rande offered up three red cedar masks for the YAM shoot: “The Chieftain,” “The Poet” and “The Mystery,” a beaked mask that evokes Raven or Trickster. “This mask was made especially for [this shoot],” he says, “so I said ‘this needs to be strong.’ And nothing is stronger than black.”
For a location, YAM’s Director of Photography Jeffrey Bosdet suggested Cole Island at the head of Esquimalt Harbour, a traditional fishing and lodging spot for local First Nations. In 1860, it became a Royal Navy ammunition depot. Abandoned during WWII, the island later became part of nearby Fort Rodd Hill National Historic Park. Over the years, vandals destroyed much of its infrastructure, so the Friends of Cole Island formed in 2005 to help preserve the site. Of the 16 structures on the island, five still stand. Considering the fashion shoot’s theme “Between Worlds,” Cole Island’s dreamlike atmosphere proved ideal.
In this in-between place, the fashion shoot that emerged is one of our strongest. Janine chose couture gowns that reflect the coastal landscape, from the gleam of sunlight in a tidal pool to the patterns in the sea grass at the powerful place where ocean meets land. Amidst it all, the personas behind Rande’s masks — The Poet, The Chieftain and The Mystery — come alive.