The best new addition to my coffee table – Lee Alexander McQueen’s “Love looks not with the eyes.”


There are a lot of books out there of Alexander McQueen’s prolific fashion career, but this one takes the cake.  Photographer Ann Deniau was the only photographer McQueen allowed to photograph him.  This book goes behind the scenes into his world.  Her photography coupled with his designs make you wish that it was a flip book to create the most beautiful movie you’ve ever seen.

Wonderful Machine Interview

Wonderful Machine has a new support page for photographers and producers to find their crew across the country.  The fine people over at WM were nice enough to ask me if I wanted to be featured in an interview for their new launch!  Hot diggity!  Read the interview below.  Please check out Wonderful Machine here!  And here’s their in-depth support page.  For any crew members out there reading this, they are still adding to their support page.  Make sure you contact WM to get yourself listed.

We Support You

Monday January 21st, 2013

by Maria Luci

I’m very excited to announce the long-awaited arrival of the Wonderful Machine Support page. Now you won’t just find great photographers on our site, you’ll also find everyone else needed to produce shoots of any shape or size. From animal wranglers, to prop specialists, to producers and make up artists, we have people in over 20 categories ready to help make your next production a success.

Wonderful Machine Support Page

To kick things off, I got in touch with one of our new members, Courtney Rust, to learn a bit more about her business. From time to time, I’ll be highlighting select members of the support team to help you get to know them better. Below, Courtney and I discuss her job as a prop and wardrobe stylist:

Courtney Rust, Prop & Wardrobe Stylist

Courtney Rust Prop Stylist

How did you become a wardrobe/prop stylist?
I actually started off in the industry as a photo assistant; I have a degree in photography. Within the first month of freelancing, it became clear to me that I didn’t need to be behind the camera. What interested me was how all the elements within the frame worked together to tell a story. With that in mind, photo assisting lead me to production assisting, which then lead me to styling assisting. I knew right away that this was where I belonged and became obsessed with what wardrobe and props have the ability to convey in an image.

What do you like about your job?
I love the research that’s involved with being a stylist. It’s about seeing the nitty-gritty details that will either make or break an image. You could compare it to someone who is a great illustrator. They see lines in the face that someone who can’t draw overlooks. An illustrator knows that a particular line’s characteristic is what defines that person’s face. I approach wardrobe the same way. No matter if I’m doing a fashion spread or an ad campaign, I think about what type of person that model is representing. I accessorize, fit, and create a color palette accordingly.  My research includes everything from people watching, to street style blogs, to watching copious amounts of movies; I can’t get enough of it.

What are some recent projects you’ve worked on?
Recently, I’ve worked on an Omega Magazine cover with Olympian Michael Phelps, shot by Anders Overgaard; an advertisement for Sky TV with photographers, the Wade Brothers, of the television show Chicago Fire; a Lipton Ice Tea campaign with Chicago based photographer Brett Nadal; a Bounty advertorial for Rolling Stone magazine with photographer Brian Kuhlmann; an Advil campaign with photographer Martin Schoeller.

What’s been your most exciting project?
My most exciting project to date was working on a television ad campaign for Nike called “Make this Count,” starring Chicago Bulls player, Luol Deng.  Nike has always been a dream client of mine.  It was a run and gun type of job with a lot of curve balls, which made me feel like I was taking part in a Bravo TV challenge. In the end, everything worked out great and I’m incredibly proud to have that commercial on my website.

What’s your dream assignment?
My dream job is more about my company. Honestly, the type of project isn’t top priority to me. It sounds cheesy, but working with an amazing crew and an inspiring photographer and client is better than working amongst a bunch of jerks on a big-name brand ad campaign in Iceland. A great crew and client can make a advertisement for cold medicine seem exciting and create beautiful results. But of course, I always welcome good company in exotic locations, especially during Chicago winters. Any job where I get to travel to a far away land is always a dream.

Chicago Magazine – Lawmakers Gone Wild – Photography by Taylor Castle

Breaking news!!!  Politicians abuse taxpayers money!!!  Now let’s make a funny picture about it. Sign me up Chicago Magazine.  I’m all over this.

I pulled inspiration from spotting Ted Kennedy eating clam chowdah at Cheers at Logan airport when I used to live in Boston.  I now know that was my money!  But really (even though that is a true story, but not my source of inspiration), this was a fun one for me.  I love telling a good story and I love to sensationalize.  Who better to collaborate with than Chicago based photographer, Taylor Castle?

As you know, politicians have a pretty limited wardrobe.  It’s strictly a navy or black suit, white shirt and either a red or blue tie depending on their party’s affiliation.  The other little touch is the American flag lapel pin.  To make them a political Blago, you need to add little touches of sleaze.  This includes oversized gold watches, pinky rings, class rings, gold buttons, gold chains, etc. (you can’t include of these things or else it would look like Mr. T running for office).  We also wanted decadent food, therefore I sadly had to waste two delicious Maine lobsters I bought for $25 a piece for the sake of art.  Seeing how lobster is my favorite thing ever (I’m a born and breed New Englander), I really felt I took one for the team.

Thank you Megan Lovejoy-Deja from Chicago Magazine and Taylor Castle for making this a memorable shoot!

Why I love Japan

I love everything about Japan.  Everything.  The culture focuses on being courteous, polite, hardworking, and focuses on skilled craftmanship (the food!).  There’s virtually no violent crimes, hardly any theft, and little visible aggression.  It’s simple; treat others like you want to be treated, and treat your environment with respect.  There’s no trash, no pee on the subway bathroom seat, no pushing to get where you need to be, no hostility.  Boring?  Maybe.  But wonderfully peaceful.   My husband and I were lucky enough to revisit last month and made the strong claim that we’d live there in a heart beat.  Go visit if you can.  It’s currently a bargain and there are lots of direct flights from the U.S.

Here’s the other reason (blog/stylist reason) why I love Japan; they care about how they dress.  In my make-believe travel yearbook, I’d vote Tokyo as the best dressed city.  Granted, my travel yearbook has some holes, but I’ve been to a lot of the obvious nominees: London, Rome, Paris, Milan, NYC, LA, Hong Kong, etc.  Japan takes the cake by a long shot.  Like their demeanor, it’s not flashy or in your face.  They simply where quality clothes that fit.  David Sedaris says it best in an interview for Rookie, “What I like about Japanese stuff is that it’s generally not about looking sexy.  It’s good clothing for older people who like having a little secret: special lining inside their pockets, or really big buttons.”  I love that.  It’s so true.  It’s all about detail, cut, and higher quality fabrics.  It’s not a cheap place to shop, but if your Japanese closet is the size of 3 down filled North Face jackets, you become a bit more selective about what you buy and won’t mind paying for it.  As I mentioned many moons ago on this blog before, I don’t think the size of your closet represents how well you dress.  Stacks of ill fitting sale items that you may pull from every other year doesn’t make you a better dresser.  Sticking to a limited plan, painstakingly deciding over wardrobe purchases, and focusing on quality will.  You don’t need a lot, just be smart  about it.  [Disclaimer: You also don’t have to care about fashion.  I completely respect that path too.  This rant is for those of us who do.]

Another super bonus point about visiting Tokyo; it has by far and away the best shopping.  It has it all; low end, high end, and AMAZING vintage stores.  Too bad I only ever travel with a backpack or else I may have lost a mortgage payment.  None-the-less, I poked around for days and got really inspired.  I found that men’s fashion was treated with the same weight as women’s.  In fact, I’d say there are maybe more male stores than female.  Imagine that?  And do you know what the current trend is in Japanese male fashion and has been for a couple of years?  Classic americana.  They all dress like the survivors from the 1993 movie Alive.  Seeing how I got my fashion sense from studying L.L. Bean catalogs when I was little, I can’t get enough of this look. As a tourist, I always feel uncomfortable pointing my camera at locals and shooting them doing everyday things like they’re Mickey and Minnie, therefore I don’t have any images of how great Japanese men dress.  But I did pick up this amazing magazine 3 years ago on my first trip, and again this time around called Free & Easy.

You can find these garments at Japanese chain BEAMS or there’s an insane amount in vintage stores.  Here are some retail photos I took from the trip.

I feel like I can’t make a Tokyo fashion post without mentioned Comme des Garcons.  Rei Kawakubo was inspired by how the bag ladies of NYC androgynous look and how they effortless layered garments.  Voila; one of the most influential design houses was born.  Comme des Garcons didn’t have as big of a presence in the U.S. until recently, when J.Crew decided to do a collaboration with them and sell their everyday line, PLAY.  But when you’re in Tokyo, Rei Kawakubu’s line is everywhere.  Her flagship store in Tokyo feels like a fun house with its insane architecture and little coves filled with the most inventive cuts of fabric you’ll ever see.  Whether or not you’re into fashion, it’s worth checking out for its articulated craziness.

Click on the image below to check out Comme des Garcons.

Here’s a link to the J.Crew line.     J. Crew

Shhh, little secret: save your pennies, you can buy all of these for much less on EBAY.  If you would like to find items in her line in the U.S., visit Barneys and Opening Ceremony (there may be others too).


Two thousand thirteen.

2013 has already been pretty lively; well, at least the last 4 days.  I bought a car, had invasive foot surgery where my BIG toe actually stands a little shorter now, and watched 27 episodes of Homeland.  Shortening of the toe?  No big deal, but 27 episodes of Homeland???  Obvious response would be, that’s too much TV… and there’s only been 24.  I decided to pack a punch by rewatching the last 3 episodes.  The shit is good, scary good.   There really isn’t anything better than getting into an amazing show a couple of seasons after it aired, and rifling through the episodes like you’re on assignment.  I would now like to take the time to thank my foot for never healing properly after an old field hockey injury to give me the opportunity to indulge in yet another reason why this clearly is the golden age of television.

But back to it being 2013, being unable to move and sitting on my ass this week made me think about what lies ahead. 2012 was by far my most successful year thus far in my career.  If I could put my disc man on repeat (90’s!) I certainly would.  The strange thing about the past year was the busier I was with assignments, the fewer ideas I had to share on my blog and the less creative tasks I did on my own.  I could point my finger at being creatively drained, but if I was the equivalent stylist as Carrie is a CIA agent (get in on Homeland, NOW), I’d be spewing out styling chants every night before bed on my blog, I’d be testing for my portfolio the few microseconds I have in a month, and I wouldn’t sigh at standing on my feet for 4 hours after I shopped for 10 to see a band.  Sadly, it shows the most on this blog.  It has turned to posting only a few random jobs, which makes me BbbboooOOOrring.  I’ve been told by people in emails who want to get into styling that The Returnist is one of the few outlets online that gives a little insight to the styling world (Rachel Zoe and Brad Brad World aren’t exactly representative of what goes on).  Yet another reason I need to get back on this internet high horse.

So here it goes, my 2013 goal is to not let being super busy make me mentally lazy.  The weird thing about freelancing is that it’s less taxing to be busy all of the time with projects [insert first world problems joke here].  You have people telling  you where to pour your creative juices all day, everyday, which is mentally easy.  The real gains for me happen when I step outside of that agenda filled box, remember why I got here, and look elsewhere for creative inspiration.   If you truly are passionate about your job and don’t feel that you’re at work when you’re working, there shouldn’t be a box.   That’s my real 2013 resolution; no box, more Carrie.