“Lee would tell me exactly what he wanted to do, and we were there to realize it—it was no more complicated than that,” says Sam Gainsbury, longtime Alexander McQueen show producer and one-half of the London-based creative production outfit Gainsbury & Whiting. “He was a storyteller, and the tales he told weren’t about a girl walking up and down a white runway.” McQueen first recruited Gainsbury to vamp up his spring 1996 collection, The Hunger, and when one considers the late designer’s legacy of elemental runway theatrics—from models splashing down a watery proscenium in the midst of an actual hurricane (spring 2000) to a hovering holo- gram of an ever-ethereal Kate Moss (fall 2006)—one begins to get a sense of the “creative” aspect of Gainsbury’s job description. The 46-year-old Londoner, who studied fashion and textiles at Birmingham Polytechnic, got her start in creative services not in fashion but in music videos, when her director friend Zanna offered her production work on clips for the likes of Tricky, Goldie, and Bjork to help her make rent. Gainsbury met her current business partner, Anna Whiting—whom she affectionately refers to as her “line producer”—on the set for Tricky’s “Overcome.” The duo has worked together ever since. Despite the fact that they now have six children between them—Gainsbury’s son, Charlie, is 11, and her daughter, Dolly, is 7; Whiting’s four boys range in age from 5 to 9 and, according to Gainsbury, are more than a handful (“Poor Anna—and they’ve all got red hair!”)— the pair has managed to balance their very active home lives with the many demands of their booming business. They now count designers Christopher Kane and Stella McCartney, photographers Nick Knight (who took the portrait of Gainsbury you see here) and David Sims, and Louis Vuitton among their ever-diversifying roster of clients. “For us, production isn’t going to a studio with a white fichus and sushi,” says Gainsbury. “Whether it’s a video, a show, or a photograph, there’s the concept, then there’s lighting, staging, and special effects, and then there’s the realization of a vision.”
Photo: All Clothing: Gainsbury’s own.
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