Embracing Bowie: The Photoshoot

Or, ‘I think I might always wear suits from now on’.


When I was first approached to be a part of the David Bowie Is exhibition at ACMI, I was mid-plotting with the lovely Anita G Photography about several shoot ideas. Once the exhibition came up, I knew that I didn’t want to promote it with my usual pin up image.  I approached Anita with the idea of using our planned shoot to do an homage to Bowie to link in with my upcoming shows, and being the incredible creative that she is, Anita enthusiastically agreed.  I knew I also wanted to take inspiration from androgynous stars of Old Hollywood such as Marlene Dietrich, and asked the beautiful vintage goddess Marion C. Mellis to come on board as stylist. Together we put together a Bowie mood board that established where we wanted to go with the shoot.


The look was clear in my mind: 1970s Bowie, Thin White Duke, which I later learned was largely inspired by 1930s cabaret characters, so vintage inspiration has come around again! Once I had settled on an image, the amazing Marion and Anita started calling in some friends to help us out.



It started with Anita’s friend Scott, who kindly learnt us his studio space and assisted with lighting on the day of the shoot. Then Marion asked some lovely people to help us out with my wardrobe!

Firstly, we found Carl Navè.  Carl combines the art of bespoke with fashion design and textile expertise, offering a unique made-to-measure fitting experience. We were lucky enough to borrow a beautiful three piece suit, tuxedo shirt, velvet smoking jacket and bow tie from Carl’s collection. Not only does he produce amazing outfits, he was an absolute sweetheart when Marion and I visited his studio! Thanks Carl!


Next, Lord Coconut leant us some amazing accessories. Stocking over 600 individual jewellery pieces and representing over 40 Melbourne and interstate jewellers, artisans and designers, the undeniably unique Lord Coconut is Melbourne’s only retailer, gallery, and online boutique selling contemporary jewellery designed exclusively for men…but luckily they didn’t mind a lady wearing their beautiful cufflinks and lapel pin!


The finishing touch was a beautiful fedora from the team at City Hatters. A renowned and historic Melbourne institution, City Hatters has survived the test of time and the vagaries of fashions and trends for almost a century. It has survived depressions, recessions, good times, bad times, hat times and hatless times.  The team there are delightful, and always more than happy to help!


On the day, the team worked tirelessly to put the shots together.  We consulted Bowie photos, played with lighting, threw around accessories….but the results? I’ll let you take a look!




The shot before the one above was priceless…I had just taken a drag of the cigarette and was making a face of absolute disgust! I looked like a fish! Such glamour here at Ilana Charnelle…



An excellent shot of our accessories from City Hatters and Lord Coconut!


That beautiful antique flask shown above is stylist Marion’s own.  The lingerie is from my personal collection, with stockings by What Katie Did and Rago girdle from Secret Women’s Business


I am over the moon with these shots and they have been received really well both by the team at ACMI (who featured them on their website!) and by fans on my Facebook page.  I think we did a great job at paying homage to Bowie while still maintaining the vintage style I’m known for (I definitely wasn’t going to lose my red lipstick)!  A huge thank you to everyone who contributed to this incredible shoot, the team worked so hard and I feel very privileged to have had so many amazing people involved.  Here are the links again, please check out these fabulous local businesses, all of whom I can vouch for as being amazing at what they do!

PHOTOGRAPHY – Anita G Photography

STYLING – Marion C. Mellis

WARDROBE – Carl Navè

ACCESSORIES – Lord Coconut AND City Hatters


Stay tuned for part two of the Bowie series: the performances!


One response to “Embracing Bowie: The Photoshoot”

  1. […] team to do a Judy Garland tribute for their Hollywood Costumes exhibition), it continued with an amazingly fun photoshoot, and then it was time to work on the […]

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