Best Ofs 2013: Outtakes and behind the look of the issue

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Emily Utne
Yesterday, our Best of the Twin Cities issue hit the streets. This year's edition takes a page from the gorgeous, decadent, art-deco world of the Roaring '20s. Our sources of inspiration included modern re-imaginings of the era (a la Baz Lurhman's upcoming take on The Great Gatsby), as well as iconic folks and films from the period, such as Clara Bow, Coco Chanel, and Metropolis.

The look of the issue is something we typically plan months is advance, and this year was no exception. The process involved research, wrangling of vintage duds, a few photoshoots, and experimentation with watercolors.
See also:
Behind the Scenes: Best of the Twin Cities shoot [SLIDESHOW]
How to go Gatsby for our Best of the Twin Cities party
Top 7 vintage stores in the Twin Cities
City Pages' Best of the Twin Cities party is coming

Once the theme was determined, back in December, the editorial arts department hit the ground running. As usual, research was necessary.

"[Once the theme was determined], I immediately began image searching online for inspiration," says layout editor Emily Utne. "I also delved into the genre by watching movies and TV shows that were based in the '20s. I re-watched Francis Ford Coppola's Great Gatsby, of course, which I hadn't remembered being so dark. Then I watched The Artist and the Boardwalk Empire series, as well as many others."

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Emily Utne
Left to right: A model from the '20s, our model, '20s actress Madge Bellamy
For the cover, we went with a bit of Gatsby glitz mixed with heavy dose of Fritz Lang's iconic 1927 German Expressionist masterpiece, Metropolis.

"The model is actually doing the same pose that the robot that came to life does when she sits upon the throne and all the businessmen gawk and grab at her. I wanted the cover to show that power of 'The Best,'" says Utne. "In our verions, she sits upon her throne with the Wells Fargo building behind her, symbolizing all the wealth and power and the best of the city. Of course, there is a sense of darkness to that as well."

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Left: Metropolis Right: Our cover
Images were staged over two separate photo shoots. Finding clothes from the era -- or items that were era-appropriate -- was a fun challenge.

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Preparing a model at a shoot
"For the first shoot, I pulled pieces from the Guthrie Theater's CostumeRentals, which has over 30,000 costumes. It was very overwhelming. They have handmade costumes that they used in plays, as well as vintage pieces that were donated to them," says Utne. "I also pulled from Via's Vintage, Go Vintage, and Blacklist Vintage. Most of the pieces I pulled were vintage so I had to have extra care as not to damage the fragile garments."

The second shoot, which was styled by Jane Belfry, used mostly new pieces from GH2, June Resale, and Rewind Vintage.

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An outtake from one of our shoots
Though things went smoothly for the most part, as can be expected with most creative processes some ideas didn't work out. Originally, we had planned to illustrate the backgrounds of each image with watercolors and ink drawings.
"I did create several watercolor paintings and ink drawings, but it just didn't work as well as it did in my mind," she says. "My main focus was to achieve the hand-coloring effect that people used in the 1920s before there was color film."

Our solution was to use the power of Photoshop, converting the photographs to black and white and then either erasing the colorless layer or adding color on top. We then added backgrounds that were striking, but not too fake looking.

"I would have loved to shoot all of them on location, but with the never-ending winters here it didn't seem plausible," she jokes.

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Emily Utne
An example of the recoloring effect
Photos by Emily Utne
Styling by Jane Belfry
Amber Rose Hair + Makeup

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