Sherri Jessee, NAHA 13 Editorial Stylist of the Year
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The New Gatsby

Sherri Jessee reveals how her two-year project to win Editorial Stylist of the Year paid off in NAHA gold.

While Sherri Jessee's blog and interviews about her stunning collection are ubiquitous on the Internet, HOT editor Jeryl E. Spear digs deeper to bring forth a fresh and compelling recounting of Jessee's journey to NAHA victory.

November/December 2013 Find in
November/December 2013

Winning Strategy

While Sherri Jessee’s blog and interviews about her stunning collection are ubiquitous on the Internet, HOT editor Jeryl E. Spear digs deeper to bring forth a fresh and compelling recounting of Jessee’s journey to NAHA victory.

Planning makes perfect, especially if you’re indie stylist Sherri Jessee, whose ultimate goal is to become a sought-after editorial stylist. “I love doing salon clients and always envision myself as a dedicated educator, but photo shoots are what I love to do most,” she explains. “To reach my goal, I continue to invest in this area of my career with all of my heart and soul, not to mention my pocketbook.

Model Ely Turrietta poses for a lighting check on the set of The New Gatsby.

“Helen Oppenheim, one of my most treasured mentors, was the fi rst to suggest that I create a photo shoot based on the new movie, The Great Gatsby, which, at that time, was in the middle of production. I liked the idea immediately, as the story focuses on the wealthiest echelon of America during the Roaring Twenties when flappers, newfound prosperity, and excess ruled the day.

To authenticate my photo shoot, I spent a lot of time researching this period of history, including visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, where I became so inspired by editorial stylist Julien d’Ys Roaring Twenties hair creations, which were part of the Met’s “American Woman” exhibit. I also read the F. Scott Fitzgerald novel and watched the ’74 movie version starring Mia Farrow and Robert Redford. Pouring over art books of this era was also invaluable in terms of immersing myself in the culture of the times. Ultimately, all of my research not only allowed me to understand the nuances of the fashions, but also sharpened my creativity to modernize the looks without losing the overall mood of the fi lms or the era. The result of my research is The New Gatsby, which was timed with Baz Luhrmann’s 3-D rendition of The Great Gatsby, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan, to make it more relevant and desirable to the consumer media.”

Getting Published

Model Ely Turrietta poses for a lighting check on the set of The New Gatsby.

NAHA rules specify that for collections to be eligible for the Editorial Stylist of the Year competition, they must already be published in a consumer magazine. “This dictates that you have to think and work ahead,” notes Jessee.

“While we were preparing for the shoot, I researched different magazines that I wanted to see my work featured in and accepted unsolicited submissions. As soon as the shoot was complete, I interviewed PR agencies in New York to find out which one had the best ability to not only present, but also persuade editors to use The New Gatsby in an upcoming issue. The agency that I chose also reworked my bio to give it better consumer cred and refined the story behind my collection. As a result, I was actually published in several magazines throughout the world, including a 10-page article in KURV, an incredible Australian magazine that focuses on beauty, fashion, culture, art, and style.”

Gathering the Right Team

Recruiting the right “dream team” gave Sherri Jessee the best chance for creating a winning photo shoot.

The New Gatsby team (clockwise): Front: David Maderich Back: David Widjaja, Sherri Jessee, Roberto Ligresti, and Bobby Warden

Sherri Jessee has been extremely busy doing photo shoots for the past several years: so much so, in fact, that her body of work has grown at an astonishing rate.

Aside from having her collections published in nearly 100 countries on six continents, Jessee’s dedication to this area of her career has allowed her to develop special relationships with photographers, makeup artists, fashion stylists, and models.

“It’s all about relationships in the beauty and fashion worlds,” Jessee agrees. “I chose talented individuals who were not only able to deliver what I envisioned, but also willing to invest their professional passions in the project to make it even better than what I had in mind. Photographer Roberto Ligresti was so amazing in terms of his conceptual direction and ability to exceed my expectations; makeup artist David Maderich delivered exquisite period makeup with very modern twists; and the late fashion stylist David Widjaja assembled the most amazing wardrobe—Prada, Valentino and Missoni to name just three designer brands—and gave invaluable input throughout the entire process. It truly became a labor of love for all of us—a key element in creating the most amazing collection possible.”

“In one of our images, we paid tribute to the 1974 The Great Gatsby film.” Jessee

Creating the Right Location

Because of the grand scope of her shoot, Jessee had to make tough decisions regarding having the right interior and exterior locations.

Should she rent a mansion in Long Island and fi ll it with period furniture? Should she rent a grand suite at the Waldorf Astoria? “I wasn’t sure what to do, but I knew I couldn’t afford to shoot The New Gatsby in an authentic setting,” says Jessee.

“What we ultimately did was scour the Internet in search of appropriate backgrounds and then did the actual photo shoot using a green screen. It was the fi rst shoot that Roberto had ever done using this technique. He did his research and a lot of testing before our actual shoot day; the results definitely refl ect his hard work and dedication!”

[Note: A green screen is a special effects technique and material that allows photographers to shoot in a studio and then add backgrounds to images.]

“I styled the models’ hair (left-hand side) for some images and used full wigs or partial pieces for others. In this shot, I colored and curled the model’s natural hair and then attached a heavy, blunt bang to complete the look.” Jessee
The New Gatsby was a big shoot for all of us, which dictated that everyone be extremely organized. I prepared and then brought this chronology of shots (sans the models’ images) to the studio and carefully followed it all day. It kept the styles flowing in a smooth and logical manner, which freed me up to be as creative as possible.” Sherri Jessee


“For the model on the right-hand side, I cut and styled a human-hair wig and then tried it on myself and took pictures from every angle to ensure that it fit properly (mannequin heads are smaller than human heads).” Jessee
“While The New Gatsby definitely mirrors the mood of The Great Gatsby movies, our fashion stylist, David Widjaja, was very clear about not using props. ‘Our shoot may be inspired by the movie,’ he told me, ‘but we need to stay focused. This isn’t a theatrical production; it’s a fashion shoot.’ Like so many other things that he said and did during our time together, he was absolutely right.” Jessee   

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