Mel Ottenberg Takes Us Behind the Scenes of Our Lana Del Rey Cover Shoot
I’ve known Lana Del Rey for a while. I styled what I think was her first magazine cover, for T Magazine in 2012. This is my fifth cover with her. Over the years we became friends and hung out sometimes. I’ve always really connected with her music. When I heard she was dropping an album in early March, I knew she had to be our March cover star and that we had to do something really big. The Interview staff is filled with die-hard LDR fans, one of whom is Jack Vhay, our designer. We often talk about Lana in the office and he was always pushing me to do a Lana cover. I showed him the creative and Jack’s idea was to hone in on the obvious Lana canon and really play with the mystique, rather than come up with a totally new look for her. I loved that, so I fully remixed my idea with Jack’s and that was that.
Two days before the shoot, Lana came over and tried on a bunch of clothes. Our favorite was the Dior shirt dress she’s wearing on the cover. And then the next morning I went for a jog and I thought, “Oh, she’s a bride, of course.” So I called her and I was like, “You’re the bride,” And she was like, “I’m the bride? Are you serious?” And I was. Luckily she trusts me, so she was the bride. I was thrilled to shoot with Nadia Lee Cohen, one of my favorite collaborators. We shot at Hearts Coffee Shop in Van Nuys and the second I got to the parking lot, it was perfection. Etienne Ortega and Evanie Fausto did makeup and hair, respectively, and we all loved the idea of a Buffalo ‘66 reference, the most Warholian beauty concept. My friend Alia Pop came to style all of the kids, who were so great. Charlie Grant, Lana’s brother, was in it. He’s the best. Jack [Vhay] had shown me this reference of a girl in a parking lot in the 60s in a white sweater and little black shorts, so we recreated that look with a Loro Piana sweater. Also, I’d been looking through the shows and saw this tan Batsheva dress, which fit her perfectly, and Mirror Palais made the white mini skirt, which I found amazing.
The last thing we did was the motorcycle shot. She just looked so hot in that Gucci motorcycle jacket and trashy lingerie bustier on top of the motorcycle. We were all having such a nice time, laughing so hard: Lana and Alana in the car, Lana in the lavender Coach trench and Alana in the insane rollers. Nadia knew that Alana had to be in rollers and a conservative look the whole shoot, a very Robert Altman moment. David Lopez Osuna, Nadia’s lighting director, did the music on set, which was so great. We asked him to share the playlist, which you can find here. When you’re styling, you don’t have moments as good as this that often, and you know when the moment’s there. We were like, “Damn, the gays are going to love this. But not just the gays. This is gonna work.” Nadia [Lee Cohen] nailed it. And in that moment, it was magical and powerful and fun.
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