With a background in fine art, Gabrielle Kannemeyer‘s styling can be likened to the creation of a beautiful multi-faceted painting. Using lines, texture, shapes and colour she creates individual pieces that are mesmerizing in detail and striking in overall effect. These artworks are built up with layering or juxtaposition, creating a synthesis of carefully considered and balanced elements.
She told us about her approach to styling: “I’ve always been happy to work with my hands with different materials – it feels very natural to work with clothing as it’s a medium that is very sculptural on and off the body. It’s easy for me to look at pieces of sewn together fabric and have the functional aspect of it be blurred. I enjoy taking clothing and exploring different characteristics of the garments – functionality, textures, colour, movement and also the other, emotive side of things – the part of wearing a garment that makes you feel a particular thing.”
Noting the politics surrounding the body and the way it is clothed, and the fact that this often mirrors the societies we inhabit, Gabrielle reflects that “Clothing our bodies how we desire provides both structure and relief from structure whenever we need it. There are thousands of people who dictate what the body ‘needs’ in order to function well regarding how it’s dressed.” While her exploration of these ideas and themes began quite recently, she plans to continue challenging or distorting them through her work in a way that’s playful, but packed with intention.
Gabrielle’s work really brings styling to the foreground of the image, making the clothing a focal point. Interested in aesthetic transitions, she loves the constantly changing environment of the fashion industry. For this feature we’re highlighting at a few projects that reflect her diverse aesthetic.
Firstly, there’s the vivid African Odyssey editorial she styled for Wanted Magazine. As the name suggests, the shoot captures a sense of the epic, dramatically lit to create striking silhouettes against an African sky. Symbols of traditional African dress are reimagined in the image of Haute Africa: branded t-shirts and jackets are contrasted with vibrant patterns and headgear. Photographed by Kevin Mackintosh, the images reflect an intersection of localism and globalism, with a mash up of cultural references – oil drums and a poitjie pot set against high fashion. The theme of wandering or voyaging, reflected in the empty landscape of the backdrop, the piles of trunks and the bus stop enhances this ‘in between’ space of Africa’s new and evolving image.
Photography: Keving Mackintosh | Set design: Daryl McGregor | Styling: Gabrielle Kannemeyer | Hair and make-up: Lucyanne Botham @ One League | Photo assistant: Sacha Specker | Digi tech: Travys Owen | Set assistant: Mark Davis | Fashion assistants: Neville Sleigh and Jade Scully | Post production: Graeme Bulcraig at Touch Digital London | Models: Adau Mornyeng at Base and Daniel P at Loys
In a shoot for Vman, the male section of NYC-based V Magazine, Gabrielle worked with photographer Betina du Toit to create a series of soft, romantic images that somewhat defy traditional notions of manliness. The atmosphere conveys a nostalgia for simpler times and lines; the sculpted faces of the young men are echoed in the structured contours of the outfits. Gabrielle uses layers of nudes and neutrals, sometimes adding textures and patterns to draw the eye. She was inspired by the colour palette of Betina’s existing work, using brown and camel to continue the colour “narrative” she says is present in Betina’s images.
Gabrielle has been exploring alternative silhouettes on men, so when Betina asked her to work on the shoot, she jumped at the chance. Plus, it’s not every day that one gets to dress 7 of the most beautiful boys in the country. By mixing knits and strongly collared coats and with polo necks and hawaiian shirts, she manages to give the classic, timeless looks an interesting edge.
Photographer: Betina du Toit | Styling: Gabrielle Kannemeyer | Models: Luke Volker and Nicholas Carney (BOSS), Johannes Westerveld, Phillip Obermeyer, Daniel Malan, Guy Mackinnon-Little | Photo assistants: Udo Schuster and Julia Campbell-Gillies | Styling assistant: Neville Sleigh
Lastly we’re looking at Gabrielle’s collage art, created in Photoshop by combining looks she’s styled and locations she’s photographed herself. “Over the past couple of months I have accumulated loads, and I mean loads, of images of great places and beautiful people, which made me realise that I have a hard time letting go of images,” she told Superbalist. Merging these in the form of digital collage makes for something interesting and often quite surreal, while freeing up some space on her hard-drive. Gabrielle deliberately leaves behind rough edges, unfinished bits and blatant clone marks when creating her dreamscapes, saying, “I’m very interested in construction and deconstruction in fashion, garments and the photograph.”
Keep an eye out for more of Gabrielle’s recent styling projects on the site soon; campaign images for Lukhanyo Mdingi and Rich Mnisi as well as Petite Noir’s new music video. For more of her work, find her on tumblr, Twitter and Instagram.