Inspired by Jennie Livingston’s cult documentary ‘Paris is Burning’, that captured the eclectic New York drag ball culture of the 1980s, undergraduate styling entrant Tess Pisani at Isituto Marangoni, created a wealth of imagery for DiveristyNOW 2016. She shows us that every folk has their different stroke.
The Voguing phenomena informed Pisani’s impactful imagery, full of personality, attitude and style. The ballroom is an act of celebration; living out dreams in dark rooms under the spotlight, the empowerment of dance is transformative, holding the potential to elevate yourself from the wall flower to centre stage glitz and glam. In Pisani’s pictures its about owning it. In the words of Gloria Gaynor’s, 1983 hit “I am what I am, I am my own special creation” and we absolutely love that vibe.
Your project Ballroom explores the idea of Voguing, can you tell us about the inspiration behind this?
I had the privilege of meeting Divad Magnifique (Mother of the house of Lady Di), who’s a professional Vogue dancer. He introduced me to Voguing. This led me to the documentary “Paris is Burning”, which gave me inspiration and insight to the culture of Voguing, the people, their background and the community they had developed.
Looks are totally irrelevant to this dance. It’s about an attitude. What overarching qualities did your models have?
It’s all about personality. Each and everyone of them had a striking personality that stood out naturally from the pictures.
Your images convey a sense of self expression, how do you express yourself?
Styling is my tool, my joy and passion. My expression is generated through a mix of people, places and themes.
In what way, would you like fashion to encourage self expression more?
Well, DiversityNOW! is a great example of how to promote individuality and encourage diverse expression.
What role did diversity play in your shoot?
It was the perfect platform to visually express multitude of personal and individual expressions.
Could Vogue benefit from a bit more of Voguing vibe?
Absolutely, although there is a time and a place for everything, breaking stereotypes and conventional representations is the way forward.
Words: Elli Weir
Editor: Debra Bourne
Styling: Tess Pisani
Photography: Clara Giaminardi