No one captures modern British cool like Alasdair McLellan. And no one personifies effortless modern beauty the way Alasdair does. A breath of fresh air in the often try-hard and “fabulous” world of fashion, Alasdair is a Doncaster lad, born and bred in 70s Yorkshire and cutting his teeth photographing his mates on local streets and the Leeds club scene.
His club photography was noticed in 1996 by iD magazine, who commissioned him to shoot an editorial, and there his career in fashion began. You may be able to take the boy out of Doncaster as they say… but McLellan’s style has remained largely unchanged. I had to call upon a photographer friend, the lovely Sarah Brimley, to explain to me exactly what it is about his seemingly effortless style that is somehow so instantly recognisable. She confirmed it’s his raw, less-is-more approach. Stripping back to the bare minimum draws you into the emotion and natural beauty of his subjects. This approach also works incredibly when juxtaposed with bold makeup, regularly provided by that other denizen of modern cool, makeup artist Lucia Pica. If you want to brush up on your contemporary fashion makeup, look no further than Alasdair’s work. Their punk inspired shoot “Our Time Is Now” for iD with Eliza Cummings remains one of my favourite beauty shoots of all time.
Often shooting in simple daylight, a rarity among the often hyper-real images seen in many present day editorials and campaigns, McLellan also romanticises and insists upon shooting on film. Shooting digital changes the dynamic on set, he says, “Everyone is gathered round the screen with digital. But when I shoot on film everyone is gathered round the girl… and with digital you lose that moment.” That combination of daylight and film also allows for a beautiful natural texture to the skin, full of freckles and creamy highlights, and his often muted colour palette lends itself to a somewhat dreamy 70s aesthetic. Just gorgeous.
His work, described as remaining “infused with the gritty ghost of his Northern roots” has made him one of the industry’s most foremost fashion photographers, with campaigns for Mulberry, Calvin Klein, Louis Vuitton, Moschino and numerous others, including recently painfully cool campaigns for that other Brit institution Topshop. Alongside his ongoing work for iD, he counts Vogue shoots by the dozen, as well as editorials for the likes of Pop, Love, V and W magazine, the list goes on. Check out our gallery for your makeup inspiration! From one Northerner to another, Mr McLellan, Mascara Wars salutes you!
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