In the creative world of fashion, collaboration can help to portray a strong message and showcase several angles of a project in the works. This is precisely what personal shopper and Paris native, Séverine Baraldi and photographer/artist from Brooklyn, Ehren Joseph are doing in their newest project, by advocating for women empowerment.
The two creatives worked together to style a model and curate content via a photoshoot, to help bring a newer, more realistic image of women in modern society. Baraldi said, “I am looking to explore empowered femininity and what it means to be a woman in modern society, without losing yourself in it. It can be so easy to forget who you are, overwhelmed by the daily routine and what society wants from you.”
Baraldi and Joseph’s goal with this shoot was to change the narrative from what women should wear to what women can wear. The styling of their shoot is far less “conventional,” focusing on only one model and laying clothing and pieces in ways that might not initially seem to fit together, but in the end, create an empowering story. According to Baraldi, “style is an extension of identity” and sharing her vision of style with people is important to her because it can help people get past their “mental fences” and bring out the fabulous person that they are. “My idea is to always overcome negative perceptions of women like what you should wear’ and ‘what you can wear,” stated Baraldi, and this notion spans further than just what women wear day-to-day.
A perfect example of Baraldi’s attempt to overcome these negative perceptions of women is how women dress in the workplace.
“As a fashion consultant, I disagree with the concept that work outfits should be boring and strict —wherever you work — as long as you respect some simple rules. Being feminine doesn’t mean that you have to look sexy, and feeling sexy in your outfit shouldn’t be outrageous. The most important thing is to stay who you are and to not be afraid to show your identity to the world,” said Baraldi.
Having worked several years in the fashion industry, working with top luxury designers and now, being a personal stylist and shopper in Denver, Baraldi continues to work to advocate for women through her styling in addition to creating editorial shoots, like this one, to depict her beliefs about women in fashion, work and society. “Since I started my own fashion consulting business eight months ago, I have started creating editorial shoots to help market my vision and show how I think women can mix and match vintage and high-end clothing,” Baraldi said, continuing to instill the idea that women can wear what they want and style pieces however they’d like, both in and out of work.
As for the photos specifically, both Baraldi and Joseph wanted to experiment with how to wear a variety of outfits with no color at all and still feel empowered, hence the strictly black and white photos. The stylist claims that the biggest difficulty of a black and white shooting is to pick outfits that will pop, not wanting every photo to look exactly the same. She went on to say,
“I am watching women every day on the street or in magazines wearing strong colors as a statement, whether wearing strong colors makes them feel fun and different or because it’s simply a form of expression. But, by shooting in black and white I needed to focus more on the style, cut, textures, layers and attitude in order to prove that colors are great, but they don’t say everything about the style.”
Viewers are then able to focus more on the stylization of the pieces and what feelings the model is emoting in them, rather than what the actual clothing items are, what fabric they’re made of, or what the cut and color of the clothing are supposed to represent. As a result, the focus is more on the feeling or message that is being portrayed. This ideal is also believed by Joseph, which shines through in the style of his photography, specifically in this shoot. Joseph stated,
“My images are about a search for dignity, revealing the real person and creating openness for them to shine. The concept or clothing, makeup, and hairstyling are simply vehicles toward creating a successful image. For me, there are two types of pictures: one where the photographer projects onto the scene objectifying their subject, and another where they allow the scene to reveal itself. It’s the difference between commerce and authenticity, between glossy perfection and soul-shine. Certainly, I don’t achieve this in every picture, but it’s that search for honesty, to find what is beyond age, beauty, clothing and social status that hopefully sets my images apart.”
“My purpose was to empower the model through the styling that will give her the right attitude,” said Baraldi. The right attitude shows when one feels confident in what they wear, concluding that colors and styles of clothing aren’t what particularly matter, but more so how comfortable they make someone feel in their own skin. “Your style is your inner silent language and it speaks for itself.” Baraldi noted this as a crucial part of the photoshoot and her partnership with Joseph.
Women’s attire in the workplace is more so an example Baraldi likes to use because it tends to be a place where women are limited in terms of what they “can” and “should” wear. Baraldi elaborates,
“My point when discussing women in the workplace — what they should wear, as in, what the company recommends for its dress code, versus what they can wear, like what fits them and what reflects who they are — both perpetuate the idea that women feel the need to hide part of themselves to succeed in different environments. Although everyone needs to follow some rules, of course, I just don’t think that asking people to hide or play a role (style-wise) is the right way.”
Women, especially in their place of work, work endlessly to represent themselves appropriately, but there has been a clear disconnect between women’s skills and abilities and how they are reflected in the clothing they choose to wear. Baraldi exclaimed, “If you work hard you should be appreciated and evaluated on those terms only. Wearing what you like and feel comfortable in can help confidence and do a better job!” This statement and project as a whole between the two creative artists depict an important message but also shows that fashion and style should be fun and for self-expression — a form of self-expression that is not limited to societal beliefs.
All photography by Ehren Joseph
Styling by Severine Baraldi
Model: Gabriella Granato
Makeup: Sameera Ahmed
Hair: Grace Martin
Jewelry provided by Orly Marcel