|self-portrait of Michi from her Instagram. She is slaying.|
"Pour le beaute feminine" is the tagline for Studio Rezin, based in Brooklyn, and it's perfect. For about a year and a half, this former fashion photographer has been capturing stunning burlesque performers on camera and helping ordinary women find some of the glamour themselves. The clothes and the makeup are important, of course, but what makes a photoshoot a special experience is the amount of attention. I've gotten to play around with a few photographers before but Michi is incredibly attentive and helpful when you're not quite sure if you've got it. And the results take your breath away. Michi's images from our shoot are so warm, rich and luxurious. I saw the photos and almost didn't believe I was seeing myself. For the really bold ladies, Michi will shoot you outdoors in lingerie (!) or in lush fetish-inspired sets.
I talked to Michi about her studio, her inspiration, and more.
Come back later this week for more on my shoot with Studio Rezin.
Why did you leave fashion photography?
I did fashion photography in school and my goal when I first came out here was to do that. It was kind of depressing. Actually, really depressing. There seems to be an unnecessary need to live a certain lifestyle even though you don’t get paid at all or well enough for what you do. The fashion industry runs on internships. Unless you get really lucky or you know someone who helps you get real work.
One of the biggest things was I was surrounded by beautiful women who had nothing but horrible things to say about themselves and each other, which is why I decided to go in this female-empowering direction. It doesn’t matter how much you weigh, how old you are. Every woman really does genuinely have that beauty of their own. I know it sounds totally cliche but it’s definitely true.
|50s taffeta slip|
50s Daniel Greene boudoir slippers
Have you always been interested in retro glamour?
Yeah. I’ve liked it since I was a child. I just had this fascination with film noir. And I just loved how mysterious they were and how they presented themselves was so alluring. In film noir, these women were in control, usually, and the amount of power they showed in the films was really inspiring. I'm drawn to films that feature empowered women, and usually really gorgeous empowered women who can control any given situation. I opened up as I got older to other eras, like 50s glamour, 20s fashion. I would say I primarily like 30s and 40s in terms of personal taste. It’s just so beautiful!
Who are the femmes fatales or designers that most inspire you?
For costume and fashion, Thierry Mugler’s always been one of my favorites. He was all about featuring strong women and slightly retro-inspired fashion. He wasn't appreciated during his time. He himself was into the empowered woman; he would make very heavily corseted silhouettes but strong shoulders and all of his ladies were super powerful in appearance. He used the Amazonian models of the 90s.
My favorite femme fatale is Lauren Bacall. Everything about her. Her husky voice, her presence. She’s so stoic and so beautiful, and very not feminine, but still at the same time very much a woman.
|Studio Rezin Femme Fatale series|
Where else do you get your inspiration from?
I’m really into the concept of dominatrixes. I guess in practice, unfortunately, they’re not as empowered as much as I really wish they would be. It’s a man’s fantasy. The man says what he wants to do and how much he wants to do. Some people might disagree with me. But at least in theory, a beautiful woman being in complete control in her situation and being in control of the man involved. Usually, in a heterosexual relationship, it’s the complete opposite. I’m also really inspired by 80s high fashion.
I never hear anyone say their into 80s fashion.
Really? I’m so obsessed with it. It’s interesting because they drew a lot from 40s fashion, which is probably why I’m really into it. It’s a more “futuristic” version of the 40s. I’m also fascinated by darker subcultures. Not just people dressing in black but a very experienced worldview. They usually tend to be a little less giddy about life and I really appreciate that sort of realism.
What is it like working with people who aren’t really comfortable in front of the camera?
Those are some of the most amazing shoots in many cases because they [the subjects] don’t realize what they’d look like in a scenario like this. People just idolize models. And I know this is frequently said nowadays but it’s true--models look like that because of the amazing light on set, the makeup artist they use, the wardrobe. When you see them from day to day, they just kind of look normal. They’re beautiful but they don’t look nearly as glam; that’s the process. So when these normal women glam themselves up, it’s a big shock and they don’t even realize they can look like that. It’s just really cool seeing and hearing the reactions to the imagery. Though I have to say there are some women who have been so brainwashed into believing that they’re ugly that it’s really hard to connect and have them open their eyes to see they actually look really amazing. Don’t fixate on your rolls. Look at the overall picture.
What’s your process for working with non-models?
They usually have some idea from a picture they’ve seen before or based on an idol of theirs. I think it’s safe to say the women that come to me have an interest in retro glamour. And if not retro glamour, some kind of contemporary glamour, so they can reference imagery and start me off, at least. Usually I go from there and mold it to fit them. For those shoots, we suggest they get hair and makeup. And then from there, we suggest they go shopping to find enhancing garments like lingerie that fits properly. And in those cases I have people I can recommend because I know some really great bra fit people and I know different places to get lingerie, depending on the budget.