Photographer Liz Caruana has put Bay Area fashion designers on the other side of the lens – and they look pretty damn good. Select photographs Caruana shot for her new book, The Bay: Creators of Style were unveiled last Friday at the book launch and opening reception for her solo exhibit at Valencia Street’s Carte Blanche Gallery, on display through Feb. 13.
Caruana’s new book is a beautifully curated collection of 61 intimate black-and-white portraits of Bay Area designers. In true San Francisco fashion, the photographs capture some distinct personas. An eye-catching image of Olivia Griffin of Paul’s Hat Works has immortalized a hand brushing up against her face, a perfectly tilted hat, a mysterious woman who is far off in thought. To her left, Paulina Berczynski of FluffyCo is pictured looking shy, covering up most of her face with an old arts and crafts book. The biggest and perhaps most memorable portrait in the gallery is an image of Gangs of San Francisco's Laureano Faedi – the book's cover model. Faedi looks like he is up to no good, gifting the camera a mischievous smirk.
In addition to the striking portraits, The Bay: Creators of Style features short bios about each designer and their company. You will also find words from select designers on their influences, their inspiration, and their thoughts on what the phrase "Made in America” means to style mavens today.
Some of the city’s most stylish arrived to pick up their copy of the book Friday night -- you can get yours at Carte Blanche, or through Caruana's website -- eagerly flipping through the pages to search for their spread. Caruana was greeted with a congratulatory hugs from those featured.
All the portraits have an air of ease and about them, but as Caruana explained to the Guardian, shooting people who are usually on the other side of the lens can be a challenge.
“Some people were incredibly shy, like this woman here, [milliner] Jasmine Zorlu. She was the most shy but I feel like her image is so welcoming and open – that it is nothing like what it was when she [entered the studio.] I allotted two hours for everyone but we spent an hour and a half talking and only a half-hour shooting.”
The photographer eventually quieted down the crowd for some thank you’s and reflections on her experience creating the book. Between glances at her notes she boldly told her guests, “We [the Bay Area fashion community] do not try to design to impress other cities. We design to impress ourselves. We have a different climate, a different mood, and a different culture. This difference is what has created our community in fashion design. The designers I chose to be apart of this project are the ones I feel best represent the Bay Area. They are the ones that have been around the longest and that represent haute couture to ready-to-wear.”