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What Can Fashion Photographers Learn from Recent Shoots of Paul Mescal?


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IMAGE: (Unsplash)


There is a lot to be learned as a fashion photographer, designer, or blogger, from the inspiration of existing shoots. If you are interested in fashion, no doubt you have piles of heavy coffee table books featuring the fashion of the time.

And who is the biggest fashion icon of the time now? Well, maybe not Paul Mescal, but he is definitely an underrated fashion icon that needs more eyes on him. His look is distinctive, as proven by his appearance at this year’s Met Gala, where he understood the assignment, and even by the cover of Harper’s Bazaar in August of this year. So, what can you learn? Read on to find out.


The retro fashion of Paul Mescal

As to why we’re looking at him in particular for a lesson in fashion photography, Paul Mescal is quite the underrated fashion icon nowadays. His fashion influence begins as far back as the first episode of Normal People, where his character has to take part in a school swimming lesson. But that doesn’t mean he has to take off his iconic gold chain. The combination of wet skin and dangling jewellery made national headlines, as sales went noticeably up.

His next big role, again set in the 90’s, shows more of his retro fashion, with baggy slogan tees paired with bootie shorts, and tortoise shell sunglasses that are definitely of their time: all while playing a simple single dad role.

Since then, Paul Mescal has made additional subtle enhancements to his wardrobe that get eyes on him. The chain was nothing new – Normal People is set in the 90’s – and so his proven talent appears to be “bringing it back”. Suits with white t-shirts or vests, baggy loose trousers, quirky sunglasses: all of this he carries with an effortless charm that, let’s face it, only the Irish can achieve.


Harper’s Bazaar

Mezcal’s debut magazine cover, a shoot on Harper’s Bazaar by Mario Sorrenti and styled by Beat Bolliger, is an exercise in subtle retro. Not the full beard most celebrities are sporting nowadays, but a close trim, not a trend-setting mullet, but a wink at it, and of course, the 90’s gold chain hanging above a very low-cut shirt. This is useful to study if you are thinking of filling up a photo book with a photo book maker like the one offered by My Social Book. Look back at your old looks and see what you can incorporate into the future.

Getting into the magazine, you’ll see the heartthrob draped across a burnt orange sofa and discover that that top is again a vest paired with suit trousers. He’s had to dress up for his job but he’s more comfortable undone, around you.


The photography

Despite the smooth front page cover, with lighting that might even hint at angelic, there is a lot of texture in the set of the interior photos. Mescal and his chain fall across a cracked concrete floor, on a sofa that showcases every stitch as part of the design, with another crumbly concrete wall behind him. Additionally, the sofa is a burnt orange that might evoke the idea of a polaroid or some film still in development.

Every element here invokes the idea of old photos without adding the Instagram-filter grain or the artificially red tones. The setting does the hard work of the photography for the camera.

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