STORY OF THE MONTH: ON SET WITH HERB RITTS, KATE MOSS, AMBER VALLETTA, BRIDGET HALL and FRANCESCA TOLOT
By Sarah Tohl
In a world where one single moment can go viral at the touch of a screen, removing any possibility of becoming a rare, distant memory, we try to recall a life prior to the birth of social media and obsessive file sharing. At Line, we are blessed with legendary makeup artist Francesca Tolot as our Beauty Editor, who has collaborated with an array of talent ranging from classic beauties like Elizabeth Taylor, Cindy Crawford, and Madonna, to photo geniuses like Matthew Rolston, Helmut Newton, and Annie Leibovitz (to name very few). Like stumbling upon a great vintage find, one can only imagine our delight when we discovered Tolot’s treasure trove of behind-the-scenes imagery from iconic shoots that took place prior to our lives exploding with Instagram and Twitter. Please keep in mind that we are in no way knocking present times. We consider ourselves avid users, and borderline addicts of today’s photo sharing culture. However, we couldn’t help but acknowledge the fact that these tangible photographs now making their way into the digital world almost twenty years later, would be web-famous and less unique at this very moment had Tolot been provided the option of Instagramming her images on set back in 1994.
There are many exciting aspects to focus on in regards to the gems we recently dug up, hence the reason behind making this our Story Of The Month. First off, this mid-nineties Vogue editorial was shot by famed photographer Herb Ritts, starring fashion it-girls of past and present, Kate Moss, Amber Valletta, and Bridget Hall. It’s safe to say a majority of us are accustomed to seeing Kate’s face on a daily basis, whether on the billboard of an ad-campaign, the latest cover of a high-fashion magazine, or gracing our television screens in her Rimmel London commercials. Amber Valletta continues to model, but she’s also known for her skills as an actress. She has appeared in a number of films since 2000, but her most notable gig to us Revenge fans was her role as Madeline Stowe’s best friend turned frenemy, Lydia Davis. Finally, Bridget Hall is an example of one of the greatest movements occurring in the fashion industry to date – the return of the supermodel. Designers Jason Wu and Calvin Klein reintroduced the beauty that is Christy Turlington in recent ads, and now, the ultra-skilled Prabal Gurung sheds light on his love for Bridget in his current online campaign.
After coming across our goldmine of vintage photos starring these industry influencers, we sat down with Tolot to learn all about life on set as their extensive careers took off, and the age of modern technology was not merely a factor.
LINE: What inspired these photographs you are sharing?
FRANCESCA: I always liked to capture behind-the-scenes images to hold onto for memories and inspiration. Now, when I’m on set I love to share photos with my friends and followers on Instagram. But back then, I would bring a camera with me to snap photos that I could have as a reminder of a great shoot, and to treasure one of the many wonderful trips I had been on with Herb.
LINE: What was the concept behind this editorial and where did it take place?
FRANCESCA: It was an editorial for US Vogue, titled “Sheer & Shine.” Wardrobe consisted of slips, and the story revolved around the beauty of the beach, with the girls in very natural makeup, reflecting the organic nature of the water and sand. The shoot was on a little island off the coast where we were staying in Anguilla. Each morning we took a boat to location, and then headed back to get together for dinner and leave the island life.
LINE: What was it like working with a young Kate Moss?
FRANCESCA: Young Kate was fun, funny, full of life, confident, entertaining, and very professional. She had gorgeous skin and I loved her freckles. I didn’t have to use much makeup! She was like sunshine, and very refreshing to work with. On this particular shoot she was enjoying her freedom on the beach. She was authentic and comfortable with her self. She did not have to impersonate, pose, or overdo anything. Modeling came very naturally for her. I knew the moment we began shooting that Kate had all the characteristics to become the icon she is today.
LINE: Tell us about working with the man behind the lens, Herb Ritts:
FRANCESCA: He was a friend of mine. We worked together for years and years, and always had a great time together. He was creative, with an amazing sense of style and taste. He truly had an incredible eye, and I loved everything about working with him. He had this ability to bring everyone together on set and make it feel like we were simply a group of friends on vacation. We had a wonderful time creating beautiful images, collaborating on all sorts of ideas and tricks, just doing what we loved. This goes for all of the jobs I did with Herb.
LINE: What can you tell us about Amber Valletta and Bridget Hall?
FRANCESCA: Amber was gorgeous, with amazing eyes and lips. Bridget was also a natural beauty. I love seeing where these girls are today, they are just as stunning as they were back then. I was excited to see Bridget in a recent Rag & Bone ad, and very happy about her Prabal Gurung campaign.
LINE: What were the vibes on set for this shoot?
FRANCESCA: The dynamic between the girls was great. The three of them were friends, young and full of life. There was no negativity or any attitude – they were appreciative, humble and joyful to be around. Herb always created an environment where you didn’t feel like you were working. Everybody was respectful of one another, and that’s how the shoot came together so organically. Nobody was distracted by their personal lives or focused on their cell-phones. We were all enjoying one another’s company, everyone enthusiastic over capturing the magic of the moment.
Photos from the Vogue shoot:
“Sheer and Shine”
Photographer: Herb Ritts
Fashion Editor: Brana Wolf
Hair: Thomas McKiver
Make-Up: Francesca Tolot
Models: Amber Valletta, Bridget Hall and Kate Moss