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The Story Behind This Musician's One-Woman Fashion Shoot For Our June Issue

A fantastical visual essay featuring Pre-Fall 2020’s grandparent-glam wardrobe photographed, art directed, styled and modelled by the inimitable April Lee, frontwoman of Singapore ambient folk duo Aspidistrafly.

What was planning for the shoot like and what was your inspiration for the moodboard? “The Covid-19 outbreak has made me more thankful than ever for what I have today. In the midst of the unprecedented challenges that the world is grappling with, in my own small corner of the world, I wanted to narrate my lockdown story in a positive light.   I love being indoors and having undisturbed time and space alone to think, and my imagination can take me to far places even if I can’t go out. On the other hand, I do reminisce about the places I’ve travelled to, and I miss the freedom to explore unknown experiences before the pandemic happened.   This peculiar conflict between my love for the safe indoors and yearning of the unknown outdoors were portrayed in some of my images, for example in the Prada look (above) where there is an empty suitcase with nothing but myself packed in it, confined safely within the bedroom.”     Cotton shirt, matching pants and brushed calf leather loafers, Prada. All other accessories, Lee’s own
What was the lighting and mood you were going for? “Since the scenes I wanted to capture were a tad dreamlike, I did use some oddball items like a kaleidoscope lamp, or a torchlight projected through semi-transparent objects. Mostly it was about shooting with whatever I could find at home, which was fun as well.”   What camera did you use? “I usually use a Canon 5D and a Contax T2, but I shot this story in digital as the photo labs were closed during the circuit-breaker to develop the films. I intentionally used a wide lens in some shots for a bit of distorted reality.”     Cotton faille vest, cotton shirt, vinyl gloves, resin cuff with crystals and metal, and metal earrings with crystals, Gucci. All other clothes and accessories, Lee’s own  
You’ve got mad photography skills. How did you hone that? “Thanks! I became interested in photography in my teenage years, having been fascinated by the spreads in fashion magazines in the ‘90s (yes, Female was among them) and music artwork (in CDs and cassettes). I majored in architecture, but at that time I was more invested in photography and would skip classes for library trips to pore over photography books.   My first camera was my dad’s Yashica 35mm point-and-shoot, but it was a medium format SLR that helped me to hone the fundamentals. What I enjoyed as a teenage hobby eventually became useful in my capacity as a musician and art director.”     Cotton faille vest, cotton shirt, vinyl gloves, resin cuff with crystals and metal, and metal earrings with crystals, Gucci. All other clothes and accessories, Lee’s own
What’s your favourite outfit from the shoot and why? “That Gucci suit (above) with the Ziggy Stardust platforms… made me feel things. It’s been a long time since I’ve worn something so prim and put together, having spent the past two months quarantined at home in pyjamas. In this photograph, I’m waiting for a dinner date that never shows up.”     Cotton-blend jacket, matching culottes, metal earrings with crystals, laminated leather platform sandals and Sylvie 1969 croco top-handle bag, Gucci. All other clothes and accessories, Lee’s own
What were the props you used? “I picked out all the props from my personal collection of curiosities, though I specially made tea and pudding jelly for the Chloe picnic shot 🙂 (above).”     Silk georgette dress, Chloe. All other accessories, Lee’s own
How long did the entire shoot last? “The whole of a weekend from morning to night.”     Viscose blouse and virgin wool skirt, Prada. All other clothes and accessories, Lee’s own
Did anyone help out during the shoot? “I shot alone, tethering with a live view to compose the images and had the camera on tripod and self-timer. There are times when I work better in solitude.”     Silk dress, Givenchy. All other accessories, Lee’s own