By those quarantine times, it is more than necessary to highlight talents around us. Let’s enjoy this “break”, their availability, to share together creative visions that inspire us.
ITW 2: MARIE LABARRE / SET & PROPS STYLIST OR “BEHIND THE SCENES”!
“Marie Labarre, set design and props stylist”, that is how she introduces herself. Master piece of the art of photography, her job is barely emphasized. And yet this hidden talent doesn’t lack of talent! Graduated from the Institut St Luc at Tournai, fashion photo stylist, set designer or texture stylist, her diverse competences allow her to collaborate with photographers or artistic directors in the fashion and beauty industries. Chanel, Dior, Diptyque, Lancôme, L’Oréal pro, YST Beauty… for cosmetics; Hermès, Baby Dior, Harpers Bazaar… for fashion, have asked for her talents. Reveal the material, work on the textures, stage the products… Decor and accessories are Marie Labarre’s expressive territory during shooting sessions. Chemist, painter, sculptor, assembler, magician… all those competences are necessary for her, but patience and humility too. A central job, between the backer’s vision and the photographs.
#1 THE ART OF ASSEMBLY
Sophie Chapotat (Artistic Director – 79C Carlin Group): Your role as a set designer brings you to suggest some objects to assembly. It’s often real committed positions. You suggest heteroclite assemblies, shocking materials, chic colours…You have a precise tone in all your suggestions. What is your room for manoeuvre, your space of freedom? Can you tell us more about that?
Marie Labarre (Set & Prop Designer): It all depends on the project. Sometimes the artistic direction during the brief is very precise, the mock-up already validated by picky clients. In those cases I have to respect all the details. For more flexible projects, I can talk with the AD (whatsoever the client or the photographer) and we do mood boards to progress on every possible choices. In that case I am freer to suggest ideas, colours, materials and either my own personal artistic direction or the one that combines my vision and the one of the other AD. But in all the cases, if I am chosen to stage the set, it is because my artistic vision is appreciated.
S.C: How is the shopping going? Do you have a directive line, a pre-defined artistic intention or are you on the initiative of proposals?
M.L: During shoppings, I am often guided by what I find. Sometimes inspiration could be found around a Leroy Merlin corner or at an antique dealer. I like to use objects that have other utilities or free myself from their original senses in order to keep only their colour or their texture. I am always very tied to the artistic direction when I do my choices to keep the coherence of the set.
#2 REVEAL THE MATERIAL
S.C: Texture stylist for the beauty sector; foundations, lipsticks, nail polish… are for you playgrounds where you reveal textures and colours. Do you work with real products or with other similar materials?
M.L: I often work with real materials especially what it’s about lipsticks and foundations. However, as for creams, shampoo and other skin care, I am more in reproducing textures. First of all, it’s in order to have more material because I’m often asked for products launchings and the laboratories are still on the prototyping stage and don’t have enough quantity for a shooting.
S.C: As a texture designer, you suggest effects and surfaces. You break, you spread, and you grind, and overlay materials and colours of the cosmetic products such as a painter. What is your place regarding the impulse of work material of those products? Are you working on them ahead?
M.L: I always ask my clients to receive their products to test them. I use my tools to know which one is going to be the best and then I work the material to stick to the image of the product. A finish “generous and creamy” for a lipstick or a “light and translucent” for the serum of a face care. I am quite free in the interpretation of materials. The more spontaneous is the gesture the stronger the finish is. A trace too much worked is often mannered and not so credible. It’s one of my favorite parts in my job; it’s strangely very relaxing and satisfying.
#3 PLAY WITH THE LIGHT
S.C: In your deep proposals in terms of texture as a set designer, there is a lot of lightness, transparency and fluidity. An elegant sobriety regarding the materials choices reveals the model. Your decors are never heavy. Is that an economic imperative that you have transcended or is that becoming a personal touch, an expertise?
M.L: The economic imperative is yet a factor but not the main one. It encourages me to more creativity and to draw on the reserves not so rich that the light could transcend. My job is often synonymous of waste. I’m trying to use many times the same material, I transform them. I buy and get back second-hand materials, if possible. The material lightness, its malleable aspect attracts me and I am fascinated by the way the light can sculpt the surface.
S.C: You play with contrasts; you play with brut material such as the water… Your decor becomes light. This is an expression that transcends the set design, an experimental posture. Does the experimentation have a dominating place in your room?
M.L: Each new set is the occasion for me to test new things. I love playing with elements, test experiences with materials and light. I am so lucky to be surrounded by curious photographs and players that allow me to put in image my experiences once personal tests have been conclusive.
#4 THE TEAM, THE CLIENT
S.C: The pre prod – You work for top of the range brands with huge expectations, but also with very talented photographers. By your job, you are one the cogs in the image creation. What is your artistic latitude? What are the validation steps and who are your representatives?
M.L: As I previously said, discuss around moodboards is the first step of my work right after the brief. It allows me to define an artistic field, to understand better what the client ask and to have the best answer. This discussion is often led with the Artistic director and the photographer. Then I go shopping or in texture test session. I have my office in the 11th as a place for setting, delivery, experimentation and especially storage.
S.C: THE PROD- You set design must be prepared ahead or is there a creative and collaborative work during the shooting?
M.L: I always prepare my set answering the demand. But it evolves throughout the shooting. I also bring my ideas, tests and researches because it allows making the set evolve, to challenge the creative process.
fashion edito set design
S.C: You are highlighting the “cosmetic” material playing through the texture. You work as a texture stylist evocates the work of some expressionism abstract painters such as Pierre Soulages in France or Jackson Pollock for the US (for the more famous ones). Are you inspired by them?
M.L:Yes I am. Whether from abstract art or pictorial touches of certain painters for my texture finishes. I also let a huge part for spontaneity of the gesture because the material tells me a lot the better way to work on it with easiness and coercions. I have true challenges sometimes with meticulous and precise compositions with brands that have a very graphic artistic direction (such as YSL) but I also like its coercions that encourage me to master the material.
S.C: Arte povera, dadaisme, surrealism… We can see some of them in your suggestions in terms of materials and assemblies… Is that a source of inspiration?
M.L: I am influenced by artists settlements and I use their inspirations to create my owns. Indeed, el Arte Povera, by its first definition (what is to say, using raw materials from the industry and the construction sector) means something to me. Because I like to divert materials from their first use but also because I have a specific sensitiveness for those organic and not so noble materials. The fact that I can sublimate them in my sets allows me a strong contrast with the products I have to highlight.
#6 ANNEXE QUESTIONS
S.C: What does this colour from Carlin evocate for you?
M.L: It reminds me a deckchair hessian on a green grass, the first times we take out the farniente tools at the beginning of spring.
S.C: A colour? A material? A light? What’s your today’s mood?
M.L: My mood right now, quarantine forced, is to make my hands busy with everything around me, transforming my pairs resources. My two latest pleasures: a soup with nettles and a dye from avocado skin made on my grand ma old linen sheets.
Thank you Marie for this inspiring interview.