They say that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. But what about two of them? Laëtitia and Gino Mannessier are siblings, but they couldn’t live a more different lifestyle: one the one hand, she works as a stylist in London, a buzzy, stressful, multicultural city; on the other, he works with nature and lives in a small town in southern France, enjoying the sun, the fresh air, and the disconnection from social media. Nevertheless, their relationship is great, as you can see in the following photo story.
Shot under the golden light of the Mediterranean sun in France, Laëtitia styled and shot the entire session using Gino as his model. But this is not the first time they collaborate together: she always goes back to her roots, her blood, so her family has always been a great inspiration, and Gino is always happy to help and contribute to her artistic projects. Inspired by Gino’s day-to-day tools and collection of gloves he uses for gardening, we present you the photo session by Laëtitia in which you’ll wish to stop touching screens that much and caress a flower instead.
Laëtitia, when did your interest in fashion start? How did you know you wanted to work in this field?
Laëtitia: The first time I learned from my mother that designing clothes was an actual job, I immediately knew that’s what I wanted to do. I was perhaps five years old. I did go to study fashion, and at some point, I realized that I was more interested in creating images. The inspirations and research process was always my favourite part, so I naturally went in this direction.
Gino, you are a gardener and live in contact with nature rather then spending time on social media. This sounds amusing. Could you tell us something more about your passion for gardening? How and when did you discover it?
Gino: I found my passion for landscaping during my apprenticeship. I was once working outside when I had an epiphany: I saw nature, I was feeling the sun, no one was bothering us. I suddenly felt very balanced, feeling the fresh air and communing with nature.
Apparently, the two of you have a completely different lifestyle: Laëtitia is a fashion stylist based in London, and Gino is the perfect representation of the simple life established in the South of France. How do you see each other’s life choice? What is something you envy from each other’s lifestyle/profession?
Gino: It’s true that Laëtitia and I have a totally different life, she works in fashion and uses clothes, photographs, etc. while I’m surrounded by nature, clean air and trees. I think what Laëtitia is doing is great, it’s her passion and she’s very good at it. It seems to be a hard job to me, mentally especially. I like what she does and I like to be her model when she comes home.
Laëtitia: The quality of life in South of France is definitely better: the weather, the food, the cost of living and the lower levels of stress. I always want to stay when I visit! I sometimes envy the peace and the simplicity of my brother’s life.
Have the two of you ever done something artistic together before? And something not related to fashion or photography (but in a professional way)?
Gino: Yes, Laëtitia and I did already a project together for a magazine in the South of France where I was modelling but she was only styling me. She flew a girl from London to be part of the photo shoot.
Laëtitia: I have been shooting my little sister and my brother since they were teenagers, as I’m inspired by them, by their youth. I have enjoyed creating stories they were part of, but more as a hobby than a professional activity.
How did the idea of doing a photo shoot with your brother in his daily routine come up? Was it a happy accident or was it a project you already thought about?
Gino: The project of that summer was more funny and pleasant, it didn't disturb me at all in my routine. It was enriching to see Laëtitia in her work, and if I had to do it again, I would.
Laëtitia: I wanted to create a story around my brother, but I wasn't sure how to frame him. Then I bumped into this collection of gardening gloves in the garage, and I had my leitmotiv. I was going to portray his passion for nature. I wanted to stage his daily life, halfway between reality and fiction.
I would say that it is incredible how the pictures feel real and fashionable at the same time, and there’s also a sense of familiarity. How would you like people to react after looking at them?
Gino: What people thought of the images was pretty positive. Generally, getting feedback is good: if we make mistakes, it’s better for us to know, and if it’s good, we can feel reassured. In any case, I always prefer to know.
Laëtitia: I wanted the pictures not to be fashionable initially, as I’m working in this industry as a stylist; my initial idea was to get closer to classic portraiture. I’m a bit surprised to hear that they look quite fashionable, but in a way it kind of makes sense. When I showed the pictures to a couple of close friends working in the industry, they were surprisingly enthusiastic about them. I wasn’t expecting that, as I initially did this project only for fun, to enjoy myself.
Tell us Gino, was it your first experience as a model? How was it to be styled by your sister?
Gino: Since I was a teenager, Laëtitia always took pictures of me, so in a way I was always a model for her. It feels a bit weird to be dressed by her because I’m used to dress in sportswear, so in that way it was a bit different and fun. But in the end, I like the outfits and the pictures as well. It was great to see her passion in dressing me.
How did the shooting develop? Is there any anecdote or funny moment you’d like to share with us?
Laëtitia: I planned each shot by drawing the scenes in a small notebook, I talked to Gino about the project and he agreed to do it. Each morning, I was waiting for the sun to be at the perfect height and without clouds, I wanted it to be sunny but with light shadows. When I was happy with the light, I would get Gino and we would do a few images. The entire series happened on several mornings. I completed the series with the still lives the following days. There was a funny moment when I asked Gino to put on a specific outfit that included his eight-year-old size judo trousers. He was confused and didn’t really understand the point of that.
The first thing that comes to my mind looking when seeing the project is the need to connected with nature again. Is this a way to highlight contemporary urban society and its alienation from the natural environment?
Laëtitia: I wanted to show the peace and the pureness of South of France as well as the beauty in the simplicity of manual jobs.
Let’s talk a bit about the styling. How did you source the clothes? Did you use your brother’s real clothes to create the looks?
Laëtitia: The styling was minor for this story. I wanted it to look real, not too fashionable or fancy, so it’s mostly my brother’s clothes and my own. I didn’t want the clothes to be the focus of the photographs.
One lives in one of the busiest cities in the world; the other one in the tranquillity of France’s countryside. So your points of view and personal experiences are very different, I assume. What do you think about today’s society?
Gino: It’s true that it’s crazy how our lifestyles are so different just by the environments we are living in. What I think about society nowadays is that wherever you live, life could be hard for some people and expensive especially. Nothing ventured, nothing gained; so give yourself fully, live from day to day and enjoy working and living.
Laëtitia: People are individualists nowadays, there is no such solidarity. That’s how I feel about society and that seems true for both big cities and smaller towns.
After this shoot, are you considering on collaborating more? Would you like to have an artist-muse relationship in addition to the brother-sister one?
Gino: Working on projects with Laëtitia is always enjoyable and never a pain. I don’t consider myself being such an inspiration for her but more of a model who can give her (I hope) more crazy ideas. I like challenges and I like to make her happy in posing for her so I will never say no as I love my sister and what she does.
Laëtitia: My family and my brother will always be my first inspiration. They are my blood, my roots, so doing projects with them is always more personal and nourishing. I would love to do more projects with Gino, perhaps something in another domain, not necessarily a photographic story.
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