Behind the Scenes

Celebrating collaboration in JAN the Journal Volume 9

As we started compiling the pages of the labour of love we call JAN the Journal Volume 9, there were a few themes that emerged above others. One of those themes is nature, and reconnecting with the beauty of earth and our surroundings, something I’m trying to do more of in my day to day life. Another theme was that of collaboration, connecting and working with peers and friends from our industry who are as passionate about creating something special as we are. One of the Journal pieces that embodies both of these pillars is a bright and colourful fashion piece ‘A New Age of Decadence and the Timeless Inspiration of Potpourri’, conceptualised and styled by our creative director Alwijn Burger, which brings together design, jewellery and art inspired by the natural world.

In celebration of this piece, and the Journal’s release, I caught up with some of our creative partners to discuss how the final product came to be. First up was the incredibly talented photographer Aart Verrips who in a reverse maneuver to me, went from being a chef to a photographer, and has since worked with the likes of Thebe Magugu, Rich Mnisi and Lukhanyo Mdingi, not to mention a long list of prestigious media titles and brands.

Aart, something we have in common is having worked in both photography and the culinary world, how did your career change come about?

When I was studying pastry in France I started to get into photography and when I came back to South Africa to work as a chef I started exploring it a bit more on the side. When I left cheffing this career just felt like it happened naturally and I started in video before moving into still photography.

What was your vision for the ‘A New Age of Decadence’ shoot?

My vision was to take whatever Alwijn and the JAN team had in mind and make it our own collaboration, so working with classic lines but pushing the boundaries and exploring the unknown.

Potpourri, which was used as an inspiration for the shoot, includes taking a host of different elements and making them work cohesively for an end product. How does that align with what you do as a photographer?

It can be difficult but I luckily get placed in shoots and situations where I can have a say in things. So if I see that something is too busy I’ll intervene and say, “ok, let’s tone it down.” I love busy things and shots but it needs to be done right as well, and especially with beauty shots I think less is more. That’s what we did so beautifully here, you have some craziness in the shoot but also some really beautiful moments with the silhouettes we’ve created with the lights in the studio, and the garments as well. For example, the shot of the model in the cocoon was such a beautiful, surreal, still moment.

Recent trends have seen people abandon dainty, simplistic pieces in favour of bolder colours and designs, with echoes of showstopping pieces from the 70s and 80s. How did you incorporate these in the shoot while making the shots have a timeless feel to them?

It’s about art direction crossed with how you position and style the model with your lights. I’m always looking for these still moments where they engage with the camera with their eyes. So you have a sense of them looking at you when you look at the image, not just looking at the photographer, there’s a sense of connection. That’s what I do whenever I try to shoot a really beautiful portrait. I think this project was a really beautiful portrait series that we created.

The story and shoot was so influenced by nature and florals, how have these played into your work as well?

I’m usually hesitant to use florals because things can get cheesy very fast but if it’s done right, and we did it right here, it can look incredible. I’m also very excited about what the new floral trends are. One of my favourite images from the shoot is one where the branch covers the model’s eyes because it’s clean and precise and has some floral moments, but the star of the shot is the beautiful earring.

Speaking of earrings. Another collaborator we worked with was bespoke, hand-crafted jewellery brand Charles Greig who provided jewellery for the shoot. I caught up with Charles Greig Brand Manager/Ambassador Gerhard Leuchtenberger to talk about the stunning pieces featured.

Gerhard, this shoot drew so heavily from nature and floral inspirations, how do these Charles Greig pieces suit that creative direction?

You’ll notice that bees are a big part of any of this collection, designed by Christopher Greig, and have featured time and time again in our pieces. Each one is handmade and hand engraved, which makes each piece remarkable, and we wanted to feature them because bees work in close harmony with nature. If you think about it, Mother Nature is the best designer out there. If you start looking closely at flowers and beautiful natural colour combinations, that’s what we wanted to feature in these pieces.

How do these pieces align with the theme of potpourri and combining different creative elements to make something special?

We have our own workshop and the beauty of this is that we can see through the entire process from start to finish. For example, in one of the designs the flower features a mother of pearl that was specifically polished for this design. We work with unbelievable stones like emerald, rubies, tsavorite and rubellite, among others, to create something beautiful.

What makes Charles Greig jewellery a timeless investment?

No one does earrings like we do. If I look at these pieces they transcend time, we continue to develop our designs by updating things like our bee motifs but in doing so we also honour our history. Our gems and stones are of such a high quality they can become beloved heirlooms.

Creative Direction and Styling
ALWIJN BURGER | @theblomboy

AART VERRIPS | @aart.verrips

Model Wears 

Diamonds and Fine Jewellery
CHARLES GREIG | @charles_greig_jewellers

JAIMEE MACKENZIE | @jaimeemackenzie

Hair and Make-up
ALICE COLORITI | @alicecoloriti