Tantrums, Tiaras and Typewriters – Iconic Stories from the Archive of Celebrity Journalist Alison Jane Reid and Stellar Photographer Mike Owen….
Once Upon a Time there was a journalist who interviewed and styled the world’s stellar icons. That girl is me. Each week I am going to be sharing some iconic celebrity fashion images and behind the scenes stories from my career. This week, let’s start with one of my all-time favourite fashion images of film icon, Keira Knightley, in a Cinderella Elie Saab gown, shot by Mike Owen. A gown that is a work of art; with a cloud of fluttering tulle and twinkling paillettes, and takes hundreds of hours of craftsmanship, patience and artistry and skill to create.
Elie Saab is a couturier, celebrated for designing the most beautiful gowns in all of Arabia, if not the whole world. I shot the feature for The Times Magazine at Osborne House, Queen Victoria’s summer palace, on the Isle of Wight. I wanted Keira to look as if she was rushing down the steps into the garden, on her way to a secret tryst!
Being a journalist and a princess of the pen is a singular, tough, precarious and insane job. Who goes to work in little black dress? The idea that you are only really as good as your last story is almost true. One of my most exciting, rewarding and greatest collaborations of my career so far, has been with stellar fashion lensman, Mike Owen, who assisted Angus McBean and photographed the rock ‘n’ roll glitterati of the eighties and nineties , including Bryan Ferry and Duran Duran. Over the years, we have been a great double act. Sometimes, it has felt more like a marriage – without the romance! Mike is a genius at lighting women. He uses light like the great fashion photographers of the thirties, notably, Cecil Beaton.
Here, I chose film icon, Keira Knightley, to be my muse for a fashion story on the Lebanese couturier, Elie Saab. A remarkable man, who dodged bullets in Beirut to smuggle out his gossamer, flight of fantasy couture gowns in the midst of war in the Lebanon. My editor wouldn’t sent me out to Beirut to interview Elie Saab, so we talked on the phone, as the line crackled, popped and hummed. I will never forget this elegantly spoken, cultured man telling me that his couture salon created a sense of pride and vital local employment in the most difficult times because life must go on – haute couture and bullets! Impossibly ravishing gowns were delivered by ferry to Cyprus, under rocket fire, to customers who had the opportunity to wear them in the glittering salons of Paris, New York and London.
Keira was a trooper on the feature. She has skin like a beautiful martian. Quite flawless and glassy, and we could all see that she has this innate star quality. The lovely thing about Keira is that she wasn’t the least bit difficult, precious or arrogant. She was like a gamine, sparkly tomboy. She kept us all entertained with naughty jokes and cheerfully tucked in to greasy fish ‘n’ chips at the Cod Father, in Ryde on the Isle of Wight – and here’s a priceless fact about the lovely Keira Knightley – she had her first kiss on a school trip to Priory Bay on the Isle of Wight – imagine that!
All Pictures and Words Copyright Mike Owen/Alison Jane Reid/ Eyevine.com 2017 Strictly No Reproduction or copying. Limited edition fine art prints of Keira Knightley are available to order – please visit our shop –
Keira Knightley, Fine Our Limited Edition Print