Fashion meets art: an interview with photographer Kristina Makeeva
Moscow’s Kristina Makeeva, the photographer responsible for our dreamy cover, explains how her Simple Magic Things series merges ethereal gowns and exotic landscapes.
Kristina Makeeva picked up a camera when she was 16 and hasn’t put it down since. The Russian photographer with fairytale flair came to the world’s attention with a series that showcased the wintry beauty of her snow-dusted home town, Moscow, but it is her images that blend fashion and travel that have become her signature.
Each one in the series matches fabulous, flowing designer dresses with extraordinary natural landscapes and monuments; a dress in shades of pink and purple fans out in ribbons against Cappadocia’s dramatic chimneys at dusk; a sundress blends into a field of scarlet poppies and purple delphinium in Crimea. Her eye for colour and texture transforms her work from photos to art, which is precisely how she considers the dresses worn by her models.
“To make a beautiful dress is an art. I treat fashion as an art,” she says. There’s no one way that she sources the gowns for her shoots, however.
“Dresses come to me in different ways. Sometimes they are from my wardrobe, sometimes they are from dress rental services, or provided by designers or made to order. And sometimes it’s just a piece of fabric that is wrapped around the model.
“There are no restrictions, no favourite designers. There is only beauty, and it does not matter where it comes from. I like to show that magic is always present in our life; it only needs to be seen.
Kristina’s Simple Magic Things series takes simplicity – “balls, bubbles, sunlight, mirrors, smoke, sparkles, a cat, a cup of tea” – and elevates them with composition and colour. Whether she is capturing the mesmerising patterns within the frozen depths of Lake Baikal, or cover star Vera Brezhneva in some of Paris’s most beautiful locations, the vision is the same. Her subjects, animate and inanimate alike, seem to reside in the realm of the ethereal.
Kristina has even made an Instastar of her ginger cat, Kotleta (or Cutlet, in English), photographing the obliging feline in headdresses and sunglasses, surrounded by bubbles, on a Moscow ice pond and even posing with a nervous-looking mouse.
When we asked Kristina about the techniques she uses to achieve her fairytale effects, she demurs. “I am often asked for lessons [about the post-production process], but I always say that I don’t see the point. I don’t do anything unusual, nothing that everyone doesn’t already know about.” To prove her point, Kristina has even created six Adobe Lightroom editing presets enabling anyone to replicate her style.
Her whimsical aesthetic has garnered quite a following on Instagram – 437,000 as of December 2017 – and it was through an international social media meet in the Maldives that she met Lera Borodina, the Ukrainian founder of high-end dress rental service, Oh My Look!.
Lera was looking to mark the opening of her first showroom in Russia with a photo shoot that brought to life every feminine dream. Naturally, Kristina, with her dreamy vision, was the perfect choice, and Paris the only destination. “Paris is the dream of every woman,” Kristina enthuses. “And women’s dreams are the main theme of Oh My Look!”
With more than 3000 dresses to choose from, the results of the shoot range from light and playful to grand and elegant. Singer-actor Vera Brezhneva glows in the Paris sunrise, seemingly about to float away with the oversized balloons she holds. The team visited 11 locations over two days of shooting, while Vera changed dresses 12 times.
In front of the Louvre and Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, Vera is serene in a blue Isabel Garcia gown, and sophisticated perched on one of Daniel Buren’s columns before Palais-Royal in a feather-adorned dress by Rimma Shanoyan. Pastels seem to bring out the playful side of an Oh My Look! girl, as in a tiered Mania confection photographed on the roof of Hôtel Duquesne Eiffel, and Helenber’s pink silk dress fanned out in front of the gold gates of Palais-Royal.
The most magnificent is surely the ruffle-collared black gown by Russian atelier Rasario that stars on our cover. Located in Palais Garnier, the home of the Paris Opera Ballet, the touch of silver in the fabric amplifies the magic of the location, illuminated by grand carved candelabras.
“This is a chic dress that suits absolutely everyone and makes every girl a princess,” explains Kristina. “That’s what we wanted to achieve by photographing [Vera] in the regal interiors of this historic opera house.” It’s the fairytale escape we all need from time to time.
This article appeared in volume 28 of Signature Luxury Travel & Style. To subscribe to the latest issue, click here.