Learn more about what happened behind the scenes of the shoots you've seen in the B|BT Gallery.
Impromptu 6 APR, 20
In light of all that is going on with COVID-19 globally, MA has been one of the states in the US that hasn't gotten a stay-at-home order. And while we still are very much in quarantine, we have the luxury of moving around at our own risk.
In this spirit a brave few have still been willing to work amidst all the fear about the virus. Ayo of Oba Ayo Ties (IG: @obaayoties) was one of those few and called me to be one with him, as we went into Boston today with photographer Don Claude and fellow model Zeek to shoot. He messaged me only a day before saying that he'd be shooting with Don Claude and wanted me to provide a bit more color to the shoot.
Claudio has become one of my unofficial partners in creation but I had never worked with Ayo in any official capacity. I first met Ayo in college where he and I worked on quite a few fashion shows together. However, at the time I only knew him as a model. It wouldn't be until later when I'd find out that he designs and sews that things would change.
Ayo's designs use an array of traditional west african prints composed into very minimalistic but contemporary takes on their original and cultural uses. Safe to say I have looked forward to working with him for quite a few years now. So, without even considering where, how, why, or any of the other relevant question words I told him that I was down.
We all met in the parking lot of this park and with a duffle full of clothes, a bag full of equipment, and a case full of beads we got to work.
Ayo brought with him not only his clothes but his friend Zeek. A very chic, collected, and cool brother with a head for modeling. The energy amongst the four of us was genuine and very friendly as Claudio kept us on task and productive throughout the two hours we were out there.
In the end and as always some amazing work came out of the experience making today...
...a great day to shoot!
Behind the lens 25 Jan, 20
This was just a day to enjoy being in the studio!
Claudio, the now almost de facto photographer for the brand when Im not behind the camera myself. He recently began his master's program in photography at Mass Art and was looking to shoot more photos of himself. He claimed it was becoming more and more important that people get to know the photographer behind the camera. Naturally, he wanted to feel his best self for the shoot and stand out as much as possible so he employed the accessorizing help of B|BT.
I came in and set a table of options for him to choose from and he would go on to choose a bracelet and two waist chains. One of which he fashioned as a necklace in the photo. (The waist chains will be a part of a collection set to drop later on this year)
For this shoot I was only meant to act as a stylist but as he didn't have anyone to operate the camera for him I ended up assisting the shoot and working the shutter. It was a very quick, productive, and seamless shoot full of energy, good music, and vibes. It just reminded me why I love working with him.
This is Don Claude.
A Pair of veils 4 Jan, 20
Earlier this year I was invited to a masquerade gala by way of the Liberian community in MA of which I am not always a present but very much a proud member! It being a Liberian event I wanted to go dressed traditionally. In my personal life now I have become known for this amongst family and close friends.
However, I didn't want to go to the event and wear a mask. I've never much cared for masks but wanted very much to adhere to the theme. With this, I came up with this pair of veils.
The first, which is The Red Veil from B|BTxRené II worn by our darling Shiro and the newest one made entirely of hematite worn by yours truly.
This became my take on masks for the night and they became an instant and popular topic of discussion throughout the course of the night! I'm truly proud of these designs.
We just may see these again in the near future!
The First Veil|ByTrokon 5 Dec, 19
This piece was actually a Custom|ByTrokon. It was commissioned by a woman from Tampa, FL who saw The Red Veil from the B|BT x René II collection. She messaged me and asked if I could design the veil for her wedding.
It was the first time I had received an inquiry for a job like this and it was an honor to say the least. I took some time to think of what direction I wanted to go in and what exact pieces would take me there. It would end up taking a couple of weeks to assemble all of what I thought were the perfect pieces for this design. Once acquired, the veil itself would then take another 20hrs for me to put together.
Matched only by The Mask (featured in B|BT x René II) I feel that this piece is reflective of some of my best work. It shows not only my current capacity as a craftsman but it symbolizes the reason I got into jewelry to begin with.
However, upon finishing the piece I would need to shoot it considering the client lived out of state. I didn't have plans for a full shoot but I did want a human presence to give her the impression of the character of the piece. I didn't think this could be conveyed on a bust alone. This is where Shiro came in.
Already incredibly beautiful in her own right, she gracefully agreed to shoot the piece in what was an impromptu ask of her. We sat down right in my dining room under a simple area lamp and I set my camera. The photos that came as a result of this I couldn't be more proud of. What was meant to be nothing more than just a fill in for a client to see how a piece wears, turned into what felt like a full fledged shoot. Shiro added such life and character to the piece that honestly couldn't have been replicated. It would have been hard for anyone not to see the brilliance of the piece paired with her charm.
The piece on its own is fantastic, but the piece modeled by her made you want it, and I think that's the point. That's why for the first time a Custom|ByTrokon is being featured on the blog!
Anonymity - B|BT x René III 28 Oct, 19
Considering that this was a shoot nothing like what was intended, it was one of our greater successes; most of that praise going to model Premo!
This shoot was actually arranged by René because he had a very specific vision for the Anonymity collection. There was a place in Lowell called Mill No.5 which he had become very fond of and wanted to host the shoot there. It was an archaic and vintage but intimate space that for some reason would fill you with nostalgia even though you had never been there.
I hadn't visited the space prior to the shoot but once we got there I immediately understood why he wanted to use it. However the energy at the beginning of the day wasn't very high. That day was more relaxed and everyone was very focused and ready to work.
We had three models and two photographers, including myself, scheduled to shoot that day. The first photographer was the now very familiar Don Claud responsible for all of our shoots in past and the second would be a new name to the guild, Yourri, who was brought in by René.
However we would soon find trouble as Premo was the only one of the models who ended up being able to shoot. He offered himself up and took on the collection himself, shooting all three pieces. The attention on him was endless as three photographers shot in their respective tastes, and a handful of other people lended hands and opinions, all to the betterment of the shoot. Premo was pulled, prodded, and adjusted in every which way among the chaos of it all but maintained an entirely cool composure. He was just there to shoot!
But René's vision for the shoot was simple. He wanted all the photographers to shoot the same model, and same pieces, but in their own style. Afterwards we'd be able to look back and see a myriad of perspectives and photographic styles of the same collection. It was an amazing vision, one which Premo made himself completely open to.
In the end we had figured out just how to make a wounded shoot work out to be something greater than what we thought it could be. Great praise is owed to all of the artists who participated in the shoot that day. It truly turned out to be something that was amazing, as I hope can be seen through the final photos themselves. All in all...it was a great day to shoot!
Photosynthesis 28 Sep, 19
This event marked a milestone on the road because in short, it was new. It was only the second time that B|BT has been given the opportunity to be on a runway but the first to have have debuted in front of a room full of people that have never heard of the brand.
Sarah and Gisella (cofounders of HER MUSE Collective) aimed to put together an event to highlight promising new designers from the MA area. All of the designers that they had appear that night were incredibly unique in their own way. No two designers looked the same. In that spirit I think the show did a great job at showing just how diverse the creative community in Boston really is.
Boston's fashion scene however creative and promising is very modest in scale and this event was no exception. The scene was very intimate and the space was designed in such a way that it made you feel like part of the production team. It was humble, but it got the job done and in a big way. I would like to think that all of the designers felt important and appreciated.
After the show we were given opportunity to mingle, network, and share thoughts with the audience that came to see us. This was very different from the way I was used to fashion shows running wherein all the designers leave once the show is over. So in the end this show wasn't only great in showing the creative genius that exists in MA but more importantly the community.
Beads|ByTrokon x René
René and I put together a collection of 3 pieces and entitled it Anonymity. In a very specific way (which will be outlined in a photoshoot soon to come) we tried to convey a message centered around autonomy and self-creation but from the tone of a warning. Each piece is representative of a stage in the deterioration of the self when a person does not "consciously participate" in their life; from school to work and down to fashion.
The purpose for us was not only to create something aesthetically pleasing but that if we could do so and also share a message, we'd have been fulfilled in the event. And the ladies at HER MUSE definitely gave us that opportunity!
B|BT x René Collab ii 7 Sep, 19
Our second collaboration and without a doubt one that outshined its predecessor. René and I teamed up again to bring out some designs like nothing we've ever seen before.
As an artist, you want to outdo yourself with every project. And more recently I’ve been very interested in creating works more conceptual than practical.
My inspiration being that I want to draw a sense of awe that will bring you to ask...”Wow, how did he do that?” This is my attempt to wow you. All of the pieces featured in this collaboration are an attempt to be more conceptual and move into the realm of avant-garde.
When René and I have collaborated in past I created pieces that would adorn his designs. This time around however I was more interested in creating pieces that would accent his designs, but in the negative space on the model’s person. So, wherever he had not created, I would. If he designed high I would deign low. If he covered the chest and neck I would design for the face and head. This is why the pieces worked in such a harmony that couldn't have been planned.
Here you'll find models Olivia, Paige, Mikhala, Imani, and Jacquie. All of which bringing their own flavors and aesthetics to the shoot. Some had more experience than others and some no experience at all but that day we found a sense of community among the handful of us that shot at that humble spot in Lowell that Saturday afternoon.
From the time I arrived and showed the girls the jewelry that they would be wearing with to the time we actually started shooting the entire experience was a blissful one that only could've been possible with a group of people as great as the ones you see here.
Days like that only make you look forward to the next time that you'll be working together.
It was a good day to shoot!
Ateera W. 25 AUG, 19
Brass & Silk
This was my first indoor shoot! So naturally I was a bit more nervous because lighting is even more vital indoors. Not to mention, while still undiscovered, Ateera is a very experienced model.
Unlike the others however, this shoot was a collaborative project between the two of us and Ateera's brainchild. She drew inspiration from the late Whitney Houston's 1985 "Whitney Houston album cover and the rest came naturally.
She bought silk fabrics that she had planned to wrap in a dress like fashion, allowing the fabric to take shape over her body as it fell. I was meant to do what I do best; design the jewelry. And as our colors were all silky in texture and neutral in tone, I wanted to create something a little rougher to balance, if not offset the color way a bit. Hence my choosing brass, and ultimately titling the shoot Brass & Silk.
The day of the shoot there was nothing stopping the creative process. We had already met several times in the weeks prior so we had a good idea of what we wanted. Unsure still to some degree however, Ateera asked me at one point 'What do you want me to do?" I told her that I wanted her to fall into how the silk and jewelry made her feel and to embrace that. I was only there to capture it, and that I did.
That day reminded me why I do this. It was a good day to shoot.
Vlad, who at this time was already a very experienced model, was so comfortable in front of the camera it was hard looking for things for him to do because he’d do them before you asked.
This was the first shoot I had ever worked on. It wasn’t a shoot scheduled specifically for Beads|ByTrokon but by photographer Don Claud (in photos below). He said that he had an idea in mind that'd feature Vlad in a garage scene and that he wanted my beads to add a little more texture to the aesthetic.
I was more than happy to oblige and I had just bought my camera so I brought it and shot behind him as a shadowing photographer. I studied his movements and directing style and saw how he operated on a site with a subject. It was a truly fantastic experience and one that will remain close to my heart forevermore.
I learned a lot that day! And I would go on to use those a lot of those techniques with all the shoots I did for B|BT.
One of my closest friends. I’ve wanted to shoot with her for such a long time. Being home for this winter break finally gave us the opportunity, and what an experience it was. Berlinda has always been known as the shy studious girl. The one who keeps her head down in her books and her aspirations ever forward. But in this shoot she showed a side entirely different.
In the days prior while we were making plans to shoot she tried on the choker for the first time and completely transformed. She said that she felt like a Queen. Her posture straightened, her back tightened, and her chin rose! She became a heightened version of herself in those moments. A version of herself that she admits she didn’t recognize. Ultimately, learning more about herself during the session.
That’s what I wish to capture in these shoots. Not so much the jewelry (they have their own shoots) but rather the effect they have on the wearer.
I believe that in my designing I’m not just making jewelry, but creating doors to characters that exist inside the wearer. Sometimes ones they may have never seen before.
Still only just getting to know each other there was room for nervousness before Jenise and I met up that day; she isn’t a model nor am I a photographer. But what in the beginning seemed like cause for worry quickly became dispelled when we started shooting.
The day was absolutely gorgeous and so was Jenise, and she knew it; we couldn’t have gotten the photos that we did if she hadn’t.
With very little to no direction at all she started to pose in ways that showed she had a relationship with the camera. She was very natural in front of the lens and I only hope that I was able to capture the spirit of the day in these shots. It was a great day to shoot!
This photo I took during an actual shoot in between shots.
During some time while the photographer was working with one of the other models I saw this scene in my head and wanted to capture it. Darryl was wearing a different piece at the time but I wanted him to wear this one instead because I had designed this specifically for him.
The decision to go shirtless was an attempt to free up the piece from competition and give Darryl the chance to just feel it by itself.
At which point I feel it’s true magic came out and so too his poise. It did well for the shot and the piece didn’t look like something he was wearing anymore but like something that was a part of him.