Best Ofs 2014: Behind the look of the issue

City Pages art director Emily Utne prepares models for the cover shot, right
Yesterday, City Pages' Best of the Twin Cities 2014 hit the streets. Each year, we pick a theme to aesthetically carry through the issue. For this edition, we went with old Hollywood glamor, delving into the fashion of the '40s and '50s, and taking a page from entertainment scenes that include burlesque troupes, bellydancers, iconic songstresses, and fashion magazines.

The look of the issue is something we typically plan many months in advance, and this year was certainly no exception. Along the way, our arts director, Emily Utne, created the look of the issue through research, location scouting, and a whirlwind of photo-shoot preparation that included wrangling vintage duds, experimenting with props, and hauling a giant hairdryer up to our sixth-floor office.

See also:
Best of the Twin Cities 2014: Behind the Trailer [slideshow]

After a few meetings, we settled on the theme of the issue in November. As usual, this was followed by a period of intense research, scouring the internet for inspiration (we found quite a few mesmerizing Tumblrs), perusing vintage fashion magazines, and looking through photography from the era (backstage performer pics by Stanley Kubrick were particularly inspiring -- see below).
Some points of inspiration leading up to the final shoot (right)
"As soon as we all agreed upon old Hollywood glamor, I immediately got excited," says Utne. "From image searching online, flipping through vintage magazines, scouring vintage stores, and hours in the Minnesota History Museum library, I drew inspiration from many sources. I have always been inspired by vintage fashion and magazines, but I hadn't really delved into the 1940s era much before."

Before the photo shoots for the issue were scheduled, we decided to create a short video to promote the issue and our Best Of party.
Photos by Benjamin Carter Grimes
"I researched videos of 1940's burlesque and bellydancers, and drew inspiration from Sahji," she says. "And one of the coolest things I've ever seen is Yvonne DeCarlo, from The Munsters, dancing backwards in this clip from the movie Salome, Where She Danced. I watched the full movie to see the dancing forwards, but it was actually played backwards in the film which is a really trippy scene."

Putting together the shoot for the cover images and inside photography, which references things like the sparkly world of burlesque and variety shows, as well as suburban utopia, was a whole different project, however.

"For the cover, I researched mostly Vogue covers from the '40s and '50s," says Utne. "I wanted the cover to be glamorous with a vintage reference, but bring it into today. And, after a very long winter, I wanted to add the brightness and beauty of spring and fresh flowers."

This involved shoots at the glamorous and historic Music Box Theater, as well as our not-so-glamorous office. Props, clothing, makeup, and lighting all helped to create a look that matches the era. While in the past we've mixed older pieces with retro designs from modern designers, this year we were all in with pieces from the period.
"The clothing is actually all vintage," she says. "Most of it was provided by CostumeRentals  -- which is like heaven if you love vintage -- as well as Via's Vintage, the Vintage Studio, Rewind Vintage, Lula, and Go Vintage. The accessories were a mixture of new and vintage. The statement piece necklaces and earrings are one-of-a-kind creations by Stephanie Lake Design, which I thought fit perfectly with this year's theme."

As usual, we worked through the issue as a team, adding new talents when necessary.

"I was originally planning to style the whole issue myself -- because I love styling and pulling clothing for shoots so much -- but I quickly realized that one person cannot do everything," says Utne. "I was so excited to bring Behtsee Millman on to help style, as well as model. She was so professional and organized and a great seamstress."
We took a page from this Billie Holiday shot for our music section header

Cover credits:

Hair by Charlie Brackney and Brittany Larson.
Makeup by Heath Bryant-Huppert.
Photo by Emily Utne.
Dresses from CostumeRentals. Flowers provided by Spruce Flowers & Home.
(Left to right) On Behtsee: necklace from June; bracelet, earrings, and rings from Via's. On Leah: necklace by Stephanie Lake Designs; earrings and bracelet from Via's; ring and bracelet from June. On Yasmin: necklace by Stephanie Lake Designs. Earrings and bracelet from Via's.
Rings from Rewind.

Arts & Entertainment:
Hair by Charlie Brackney and Brittany Larson. Makeup by Heath Bryant-Huppert. Photo by Emily Utne.
(Left to right): On Leah and Yasmin, clothing and head pieces from CostumeRentals. On Behtsee, green dress from Go Vintage, headdress from Via's Vintage. Necklaces and earrings by Stephanie Lake Designs. Bracelet and ring from Rewind. Gloves from Via's.

Food & Drink:
Pastry from the Salty Tart.
Dress from CostumeRentals.
Hair by Brittany Larson.
Makeup by Heath Bryant-Huppert.
Photo by Emily Utne.

People & Places:
Hair by Charlie Brackney.
Makeup by Heath Bryant-Huppert.
Photo by Emily Utne.
Dress from CostumeRentals. Bracelet and earrings from Stephanie Lake Designs.
Necklaces from Rewind.

Shopping & Services:
Hair by Charlie Brackney and Brittany Larson. Makeup by Heath Bryant-Huppert. Photo by Emily Utne. Necklaces and earrings by Stephanie Lake Designs. Dresses, bracelets, and rings from Via's Vintage. Scarves from Lula. Prada shoes from June Resale. Salon chairs from Prop-It-Up.

Sports & Recreation:
Hair by Brittany Larson. Makeup by Heath Bryant-Huppert. Styling by Behtsee Millman. Photo by Emily Utne. Hat from Rewind. Top is stylist's own. Belt from Lula.
Skirt from the Vintage Studio.

Sponsor Content

Now Trending

From the Vault