JD Williams - I AM campaign - behind the scenes

As promised, here's the inside story behind my recent trip working for JD Williams as a model. Just using the word model conjures up all sorts of emotions in me; disbelief, bemusement, surprise, delight, pride and even a faint sense of ridicule as I don't actually believe that my less than perfect features could make the grade. However, this surely is a good thing to say that you, me, in fact anyone can become a model in this day and age provided you find the right vehicle. 

Talking of vehicles, I swapped boats for planes this summer as I became a jet setter for a few months travelling to and from Manchester for wardrobe fittings, photo shoots and filming of the TV commercial. I expect many of my readers will have had to or still do, commute in this way and I'm sure after the initial buzz it could become blah, but for me it was always an adventure to step away from my small island community and become absorbed into this frenetic pace.

The travel and accommodation is all organised by JD Williams so after a good night's sleep I was collected by my driver along with a few other artists (yes that's what we're referred to) to be delivered to a hotel somewhere in Manchester (that's ignorance not secrecy) which had been turned into operation central for the day. First stop is hair, nails and make-up. The tendency for my hair to be one way on one day and quite another the next, was treated as something to be tamed and calmed down into a repeatable style.

At the previous session we had been fitted for our outfits and from there are created story boards which are used to show hair styles and make up for each model. The processes of hair, nails and make-up multiplied by all of these ladies (at least 13 of us without including the extras) takes hours. There was an ever changing flow of ladies moving around the room, being beautified, giving me a chance to chat to someone new every half an hour or so as we rotated chairs and neighbours.

Gel nails - my first experience of this new fangled procedure.

Irish choreographer Johnnie waits patiently for his charges to be released for the next phase of wardrobe, then moving onto set for a refresher of the dance routine. 

Between the nails shot and this one some twelve hours had elapsed, during which time I had been to wardrobe then chaperoned from hotel to warehouse where my scene for the commercial along with interviews for social media took place. I'd left my camera locked up in wardrobe meaning no more background shots from day one.

Day two and this was a different hotel, the venue for another lot of filming and stills. I gravitated to this corner which had become an impromptu waiting room. I love this crazy idea of a horse as a lamp. By this time I had got into the swing of things and realised that I was to be on call, primed and ready for most of the day, but that there was a lot of waiting involved. I'd brought a book with me and immersed myself in that rather than wonder when my turn would come.

Ladies in waiting.

The production team at the helm, orchestrating every scene until it's perfect.

Andrea's scene in the TV commercial where she appears in that wonderful turquoise lingerie was filmed as a closed set, just being tweaked here.

Watching you, watching me.

Annie and I stepped outside onto the stairwell to capture these dazzling chandeliers.

A dab of blusher here, a tweak of collars there and you're good to go. With cheekbones like those, Claudia needs the minimal of attention to look beautiful.

Decisions, decisions.

Annie and Paulina - "It's time to eat!"

Evon is an absolute natural in front of the camera. Watch out for her in the commercial in that silky orange dress. If you miss it on TV you can always catch it on my earlier post here.

This is where my memory lets me down. This lovely lady whose name I have forgotten (I want to call her Elizabeth, but think I may be just making that up), was the photographer who took the shots of me that you'll see in the Oct issue of Woman and Home. She was full of encouragement, telling me I could be likened to Twiggy or Mary Portas and then once she put round glasses on me, Annie Hall. I relaxed immediately with her, laughing as I do with Polly as she made lots of suggestions for poses. 

End of day two of filming.

Day three was a different day altogether. Only five of us were kept on for this session - Annie, Paulina, Rachel, Savi and myself. Little did we know that we would be announced as the five stars of the I AM campaign when it went live.

Hair, make-up, wardrobe and the photo shoot all took place in the same studio space. Even lunch was served in the same building which all made for a very straight forward day.

Three days of hanging out together had created a bond between the five of us. We feel very at ease together and are now genuinely friends. This, I think, does come across when we're in front of the camera together. We certainly do have great fun.

The editing suite is a fascinating area of a shoot. The photos are processed immediately as the hundreds and hundreds of images flow through the system. It was amazing to see ourselves reproduced for the next phase so quickly.

Another day, another photo shoot and this time I know that my photographer is called Phil. His manner is warm and engaging, plus he plays some great sound tracks during the session.

Yep, that's me throwing some shapes, dancing without a care, call it what you like, but I'm having fun!

That's a wrap!

Some 24 hours later and I was on Truro station, wiping the stardust off my shoulders and heading back home. The day job beckoned, but that was no hardship at all. What felt like a dream lingered on in my head, especially as the campaign sound track had become part of those memories too. The film shoot took place on the 4th July and the TV advert went live on the 20th September. Somehow I managed to keep this wild adventure to myself for those long weeks. 

Anna x


Check me out!

Yay, it's Friday!

My blogging schedule has gone a bit haywire this week, but here I am with today's offering. I have a confession to make about this outfit - I've actually worn this three times in a week! Most unlike me I know, but goodness this new frock from The Finery has captivated me to the point that I really can't see past it. I'm managing to leave a space of a day in between wears, but it's a full-on love affair currently. If you click on the link above you'll see that they have a half price sale on at the moment. The British brand is sleek and stylish with a edge that stops it being too conservative. This is the second dress from this brand that I've bought this summer (see the other here) and I must admit I'm a convert.

I adore the various sizes of check, but also the design of the dress itself is just that little bit quirky which reminds me of a Vivienne Westwood piece. I like the nod to the cold shoulder trend too. Rings are preloved, sunglasses are by Quay Australia and the necklace is by Melissa James Jewellery.

I suppose that the other reason this outfit is an all time favourite of mine is the joy of these red sock boots which add a punch of colour to an otherwise monochrome palette. The black and red preloved ring is a sweet tie in too - oooo how I love these little touches!

As I view the autumn/winter season ahead I have the odd slight moment of panic as I wonder if these boots will last another year. Red boots seem to be a neutral for me, working with so much of my winter wardrobe. It goes without saying that you'll be seeing a lot of these again over the next six months. 

The dress is made from a kind of cheesecloth material meaning no ironing is required. I say that as I may have just happened to leave it sprawled across a chair between wears and it looked fine next time on. I seem to have hit on one of those crazy, hectic times on the home and work front, hence the late post from me today. We are about to have three lots of friends coming to visit the island over the next week, so I'll make my apologies in advance for the erratic timing of my posts - I'll be giving you that insiders view of the JD Williams shoot soon though, I promise!

As I twirl off into the distance I'll wish you a very lovely weekend and hope to catch up with you again soon. My final shot is from the other morning when I was out for my early morning swim. The sun was rising over the Eastern Isles and by the time I reached Green beach the sea looked like liquid gold. These solitary swims are made all the more special by images like this.

Anna x

Life's a ball! - our Style not Age challenge for September

Hello and welcome again to our monthly Style Not Age challenge with my co-conspirators Hilda, Emma and Jacqui.  This month I chose the theme of Life's a Ball, giving us a fine excuse to bring out our ball gowns. I've been angling to introduce my new ball gown for months now, so without further ado here we go...

The gown was a charity shop purchase; a designer piece by Sonia Pena and was an absolute bargain at £25. But more of this later. Let's take a look at my dear blogging friends to see what they made of this month's challenge.

Hilda, sporting a youthful new haircut, is resplendent in a rich green gown with a lace and beading bodice, a theme she has continued with her bead encrusted clutch. See more on her blog Over the Hilda.

Emma's stunning dress is actually her wedding gown. Lady in Red comes to mind as the soundtrack for this beautiful lady. Join Emma on her blog, Style Splash to see more of this exquisite creation.

Sleek and elegant is how Jacqui has played it in her black gown with diamante trim. Lots of sparkles and fabulous heels complete this chic ensemble. Jacqui's blog Mummabstylish is where you'll catch up with the rest of her story.

The story of this dress starts in April this year when I came across it in a charity shop in Penzance. I tried it on, fell in love with it, but had a real issue with transporting it. I was on my way to Harrogate on business and didn't have the space in my suitcase to carry it all the way there and back. 

Fast forward to June when Steve and I went to Penzance together and as we were walking down the main street I told him about his wonderful dress I'd seen some months before. By that time we were standing in front of the shop and I told him to wait as I just wanted to check in case it was still there. Yay, it was and surely was destined to be mine! Steve said it's a dress that needs to be taken on a cruise...

The colour, the embroidery, the beading, the style, the fit - all make this a dream of a gown. 

I decided to bring out my orange nail polish for this special frock adding my green amethyst bracelet and citron rings to finish the look.

So let's talk about the setting for my photo shoot shall we? As you can see, it was blowing an absolute gale on the only day I had available so rather than trying to hide from the wind Steve and I decided to embrace the conditions. 

A dramatic gown deserves a dramatic backdrop don't you think? We are on the rocky headland at the North End of the island overlooking the neighbouring island of Bryher with the raging Atlantic beyond.

We used the ruin building of King Charles Castle as our location. Steve kept guard as I changed out of jeans and cosy coat into my dress, amidst gusts of wind that whipped scarves, hangers and plastic dress cover skywards. Steve darted about as I hopped from foot to foot into dainty heels totally unfit for the surroundings. It was an absolute hoot. Cold? I can't say I had time to notice.

These pretty satin shoes are my much loved Primark specials, gold heels and all for £5!

We had one or two spectators at this stage, but being ever the professionals we just pretended that this was a totally normal thing and just carried on.

The castle acted as a vantage point protecting the north channel from attack and dates back to the 1500's. I've gathered together lots of shots in and around the building and plan to put them into a stand alone post for those of you who might like to see more of my island paradise, to follow soon.

Thanks for joining us for this month's feature. Jacqui has cleverly added links in her post taking you to all of our previous challenges so do pop over to see those when you get a moment. In the meantime, do have a lovely week!

Anna x

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