SHOOTING FASHIONS IN JAMAICA
While we were not really fashion photographers, we did get to do some of this kind of work for catalogs, advertising, and for various womens' service magazines. This entry is about a fun-filled trip we did for McCall's Magazine in February and March of1970.
The Jamaican government tourist office offered to cover expenses for the magazine in turn for the publicity of having a leading fashion designer show off his newest creations on their beaches and up in their mountains. That designer was Giorgio di Sant'Angelo, who accompanied my business partner, myself, two models (Zaki and Pia), an editor (Martha Schierer) and a stylist (Marcia) on the one-week expedition. We were flown to Montego Bay on Air Jamaica, where we were met planeside by a government van which took us directly to a secluded beachside house about halfway down the north coast at Rum Jetty, Silver Sands, Duncans. And we never went through customs, which was a relief considering the amount of photo equipment and film we were carrying.
In addition to the van they made available, I rented a dune buggy type vehicle that had no body, just a chassis, engine and seats. This was a lot of fun to drive, especially as the steering wheel was on the right, and the stick shift on the left. The house was a sprawling affair with at least six bedrooms, a huge living room, an outdoor dining patio, and a swimming pool. It also had its own private beach. Sadly, as I was in my Super-8 period, the only pictures that I still have are movies,* and I have yet to figure out how to scan those tiny images. One of the few still images I do have is above on the left, showing me tasting a local product called Red Stripe. It was good.
The star of our production, designer Giorgio di Sant'Angelo (1933-89) was born into the Italian nobility as a count, but was raised in Argentina, educated in Florence and at the Sorbonne in Paris, and came to America in 1962 to work as an animator for Disney. By the mid sixties he moved to New York and began a career as a fashion designer noted for his theatrical styles based on gypsy, ethnic, and other exotic influences. Giorgio was also a fun person to be around.
The photos centered around Giorgio showing the models how to express themselves in tie-dye originals on the beach, by the pool, in a native mountain village, and while riding donkeys on a farm. This took us all over northern Jamaica, well away from the tourist haunts. While all of the people we met were very friendly, there still could have been problems. But not with Errol prresent. This guy was a genuine Rastafarian, and he tagged along as our protector. He also supplied us with a native herb whose name began with a "g" and fashioned a special pipe for me, which I still have. It is shown in the photo on the right.
Our government-supplied beachside house came staffed with a cook and a few maids, and we always took our meals on the patio. Except when we dined out, usually around Port Antonio or Ochos Rios. I also found a nearby grocery store that had a decent supply of drinkable wine, and plenty of tasty Red Stripe beer.
All too soon this dream assignment came to an end and we had to go back to New York.
Finally: Here are some screen shots from the Super 8 movie. They are not very sharp, but fun anyway:
CLICK on images to enlarge. Top left: Zaki, Giorgio, Pia. Top right: Same, on donkey cart, with Jim taking picture. Bottom left: Marcia Robinson of Jamaica Tourist Office on a donkey. The last shot is of Jim Houghton, my business partner.
UPDATE: July 24, 2009: I dug out the reel of Super 8 movies and had it converted to a DVD. What fun to watch us hard at work (and play) 39 years ago! I'll probably post a snippet of video here soon, or at least some still screen shots. Stay tuned.
Interested in photography? Check out my "Assisting Avedon" blog.
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