Casting Is About Character - How To Style A Menswear Shoot With Simon Chilvers

Fashion Jan 6
Ahead of London Collections Men, Elite joined forces with online luxury retailer MATCHESFASHION.COM for a special collaboration. Matching six new faces with six of the best of British designers. Simon Chilvers, Style Director at MATCHESFASHION.COM, shared how he styled the shoot and what he's looking forward to at the men's fashion shows.

See more images from the collaboration with our interviews with the models here.

How did you style this shoot?

All shoots start with a conversation with the photographer - Paul Gore in this incidence. Basically, we sit down and talk about mood, lighting, casting and clothes. The idea here was to strip things back putting the clothes at the centre. This idea is hopefully strengthened by having each model wearing only one designer. Jack wears stand-collar raw-edge blazer and harness short-sleeved cotton-blend shirt, both by Alexander McQueen.

In your role as a stylist, how important is the model?

What the model brings to a shoot totally makes or breaks it. Sometimes this is to do with the way a model moves their body. Other times it's how their character works with the clothes. Character is a really big part of the casting process for me. Especially for location work when you're trying to tell a story. There is no science to what makes a good model but obviously they need to bring something to the shoot, good energy is a basic requirement, but ultimately it should be a collaboration. Making good pictures is about teamwork. The best models are usually those who are open and interested in what they're doing. It's not enough to turn up and look pretty. Mees wears logo-patch bomber jacket and knee-length shorts, both by Astrid Andersen.

How did you select the designers to include for this collaboration?

First and foremost, we wanted to show the strength of diversity on show during LCM, and the fact that this diversity is reflected in the MATCHESFASHION.COM men's edit. Each label represented brings something different to the story and more importantly to the menswear scene as a whole. London produces exciting, innovative, unique fashion alongside Savile Row level tailoring - it's a totally unique style combination. It is also still very much the city to discover the new.  Simon wears patch-pocket cashmere jacket, lace cotton-poplin shirt and lace-trim tuxedo trousers, all by Burberry Prorsum.

How did you match the boys with the looks?

With casting there is a lot that comes down to pure instinct. Paul and I went through the outfits and the model's portfolios and talked about who should wear what. It came together pretty quickly. Sometimes on the day of a shoot you might change something when you see the clothes on the body or in context of a set but in this case it was pretty much as we'd planned. The only exception was the hair which we worked with Alexander Soltermann on during the day – I find it always helps to see the model in the clothes before making definitive choices about grooming and hair. I hadn't worked with any of these models before but I thought they were all very individual, all had interesting attributes, which was exactly what we'd hoped for when we'd cast them. Finnlay wears boat-neck T-shirt by J.W. Anderson.

What do you look forward to about LCM?

Seeing what the emerging brands like Craig Green or JW Anderson or Astrid Andersen are going to do next. Watching the upcoming names in action, such as Grace Wales Bonner, Pieter and Cottweiler. Obviously, Burberry and Alexander McQueen are big shows and are both so quintessentially British that we're always going to want to see what they're proposing for the season. They also put on showy-shows. But the presentations are just one aspect. You're looking at what people at the events are wearing. You're taking in soundtracks. Having conversations with colleagues from all over the world. Working out where certain trends are going. Probably, the biggest privilege though, is going backstage and hearing the designers explaining their ideas while also trying to grab a quick up close look at their latest designs before they're efficiently packed away by the dressers. Jack wears stand-collar raw-edge blazer, harness short-sleeved cotton-blend shirt, raw-edge tailored trousers and quilted low-top leather trainers, all by Alexander McQueen.

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