Leo Chan owns way more neckties than I do (an impressive feat given that I regularly shoot for a tie designer and have accumulated a respectable collection of my own over the years). So when he turned up at the studio for this portrait assignment a few weeks ago I was not at all surprised when he started unpacking an immaculately curated selection of neckwear alongside some other great pieces from his own wardrobe. Even though we put several of those ties to more prominent use in other portraits that day, it was this sportier and more colorful look that I really ended up loving. There is something about that hard red gelled light coming from camera right and the red warmup jacket that really works for me in the above shot, and the style transitioned nicely to the black and white variation below (and of course I think that the warmup jacket/tie combo is frightfully under-appreciated.)
This production was a long time coming. Leo and I had talked about working on a project together for some time prior to this, but it seemed our scheduling never worked out —thankfully on this assignment the stars aligned correctly and my team and I were able to create several interesting portraits of him.
A range of ties provided by the wonderful Bethany Shorb of Cyberoptix Tie Labs, I plan on getting a few of these designs for myself. I’m a little bit in love with the chartreuse and pink lotus tie.
Our wonderful model; Lauren. Who was a savior on this particular shoot.
Hairstylist April Grigajtis will blow you away.
Lauren Getting her final styling right before stepping in front of the lens.
Molly and Zach – Masters of interpretive dance.
Cyberoptix Tie Labs has long been one of my favorite designers of unique men’s accessories. Bethany Shorb runs one of the largest ecologically friendly and solvent free screen printing shops in the country, making thoughtful and bold statements in the creation of unique neckwear while minimizing any environmental impact in her hometown of Detroit, MI. Outside of her work as lead designer for Cyberoptix, Bethany has also toured the country with her experimental musical project Toybreaker and designed riveting couture fashions outside the accessories market, including the touring wardrobe for Skinny Puppy’s 2004 world tour.
I photographed several of the Cyberoptix Tie Lab designs last year for a designers feature run in an independent alternative fashion magazine. A small series of editorial images were created for the piece using one of Western New York’s most decadent and luxurious restaurants as a backdrop, it was a brilliant location to shoot Bethany’s ties in, awash in rich red velvets, dark woods, and accented with stunning collections of distinct objects ranging from avian taxidermy to a collection of rare vintage spirits. It was the perfect setting to allow some interesting vintage menswear to be infused with the punky edge and darkly intelligent tie designs that Cyberoptix provided. I knew that I had become an instant fan of Bethany’s work when I had decided on the spot to buy several of the ties she had provided for the production rather than returning them to her, most notably Raven and Gasmask, they have since become favorite pieces of my wardrobe.
I was excited when Bethany wanted to use one of the images from the original editorial, after it had initially run, on the Cyberoptix homepage to promote her ExLibris tie. The combination of her tie design laid over part of the image as well as the typography she come together to create an alluring whole, one that I was extremely happy to be a part of, especially given Bethany’s reputation as a young, popular, and passionate designer who is creating stunning yet environmentally responsible garments in a city generally held to be outside of the major fashion markets.