Miles of MAC

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British born fashion photographer Miles Aldridge and his work for MAC make up, is everything photography should be. Moody. Exciting. Memorable. Miles is a dab hand at manipulating bold, whimsical, dream like photo shoots. His models look like mannequins.

Earlier this month, the V&A Museum held a talk about Miles’s work with MAC make up,  discussing the striking images of some of the best and most theatrical looks to date, which have been documented in the book, MILES OF MAC.

Published by Rizzoli, this is a coffee table worthy book, that celebrates the drama of the make-up artistry of MAC with stunning photographic campaigns by Miles and his collaboration with James Gager, MAC’s Senior Vice President and Group Creative Director.

Marilyn Manson best characterized his work style by describing him as: “A director at heart whose images are anything but portraits of a subject…There is a genius in the very deliberate blankness on the faces of the models that enables a transference of identity. He always draws you into an arrested fetish that seems as forbidden as a little girl’s diary.”

Cyndi Lauper, one of the celebrities who’s added an essay to the book, writes: “I’ve been using MAC since 1986. Russian Red is still the greatest colour lipstick! And how can I live without my taupe shading?”

Let’s look at some of Miles’s work

The book beautifully showcases Miles’s talent, and it becomes evident that one of his artistic influences is the surrealist movie director David Lynch, who has marvelled at Aldridge’s ability to see a “colour-coordinated, graphically pure, hard-edged reality.”

Gager on that subject of drama: “On one level, we hope this book serves as an inspiration for art directors, make up artists, set designers, hairstylists and anyone with an interest in image-making. On another, we hope it shows what can happen when you combine your creative vision with someone else’s.”

He elaborates:”Both Miles and I constantly create scenarios in our heads…little visual vignettes, making up stories…I might be sitting in a restaurant, watching people and quietly being aware of what’s going on. What is she saying to him? What is about to happen? Miles is a magical storyteller and often sketches out concepts in his drawing pad before we both sit down to embellish the scenarios”.

A bit about Miles

The son of noted graphic designer Alan Aldridge, he grew up in a glitzy swirl of British celebrity. John Lennon, Eric Clapton and Elton John were family friends. As a boy, Aldridge and his father sat for a session with royal photographer Lord Snowdon, Queen Elizabeth’s brother-in-law.  With a glossy pedigree and multiple skills as an illustrator and film maker, he was fast-tracked early to shooting covers for British Vogue and then, after emigrating to the U.S., numerous assignments for GQThe New YorkerVogue and The New York Times Magazine. He soon moved on to advertising campaigns for prestigious clients, including Karl Lagerfeld, Armani, Yves Saint Laurent and, of course, MAC Cosmetics, perfecting his style of mixing bold candy-coloured make up and hair design with beautiful, totally aloof models.

Miles and his technicolour worlds have exhilarated the fashion world since the mid 90’s.

This is def a book worth buying, celebrating a decade’s worth of collaboration, including those images thought too extreme to use in the brand’s campaigns. It is a testament to a close friendship between himself and Miles over the course of eight years. The book also features contributions from MAC icons and divas alike, such as Daphne Guinness.

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