Fashion designer skilfully handles big shoots
Fashion designer and tailor Rene Hill likes to say, when it rains it pours.
This month, not one, but two high-end fashion magazines will feature clothing altered by her company Rene Hill Originals.
Back in June she was working on gowns and party dresses for New York socialite Meghan Horstmann's marriage to Adam Kloop II. The Bermuda-based event was going to be featured in Vogue.
Then she got a call from Nhuri Bashir, of Burnt House Productions. Town & Country magazine needed her help with a Coral Beach & Tennis Club-based fashion shoot the very next week.
“I was up to my eyeballs,” she said. In addition to the Horstmann assignment, it was also prom season.
But she said yes.
Then a few days later she got another call. Town & Country needed her that afternoon, a day earlier than expected.
Ms Hill didn't panic.
“I had an ace in the hole,” she said.
She turned to Channing Dill, a 32-year-old Bermudian designer with her own fashion line, Native by Channing Elizabeth. Ms Dill had been helping Ms Hill with alterations, off and on since Rene Hill Originals opened six years ago.
Ms Dill was in the midst of designing her collection for the Bermuda Fashion Festival in July, but readily responded to Ms Hill's cry for help.
“She was here within the hour,” Ms Hill. “We soon had her packed up and headed to Coral Beach.”
Ms Dill took along what Ms Hill calls her “go to kit” that includes a sewing machine, rulers and various other vital tools of the trade.
“I thought I was going for three hours or a regular work day,” Ms Dill said. “In the end I think I worked with them for 30 hours.”
The shoot featured actor Aisling Franciosi, known for the 2018 film The Nightingale, and also for her role as Katie Benedetto in the BBC Two crime drama television series The Fall; and Wolfgang Novogratz, from the 2018 film Sierra Burgess is a Loser.
Town & Country market editor Marykate Boylan styled the shoots — on the beach, the tennis court and at other spots around the Paget hotel.
Ms Dill did most of her work in a cottage on the property, and watched as models got ready for their shoots, and outfits were selected and rejected. She was invited to attend one photoshoot done on the tennis courts.
“My initial thought before I went down, I will just get to go and witness everything,” she said. “Then I thought, let me take the kit, just in case. Then I got there they said, Channing, a button popped off. I had to run over there and stitch it back on, mid shoot.”
Later, she found herself removing the bustier from an Oscar de la Renta designer gown, and replacing it with small cups for a particularly small model.
“I thought it was just going to be tailoring to make things fit nicely,” she said. But in several cases, she as asked to make actual changes to the outfits.
“I was surprised because this is not actually how these items look,” she said. “If you go and look the dress up on Oscar de la Renta's website, that item would look slightly different than what it does in the magazine. The editors are really specific about how they want things to look.”
And she had to make changes that could easily be reversed with no damage to the outfits.
“Many of them are on loan from the designer or from a store,” Ms Hill explained.
She got on well with the people involved in the shoot.
“No one was really snooty,” she said. “The conversation was easy.”
She waited until the last day to tell them about her own collection.
“They said give me your card,” she said. “Marykate followed me on Instagram. She said Channing if you want me to look over the collection and help me with editing. That was big deal.”
After the shoot, she got busy with the Bermuda Fashion Festival.
“I did send a picture of my work to Marykate,” she said.
Ms Hill said she was pleased with the reputation Rene Hills Originals is building up.
“The other day we got Jeff Corwin, a television biologist who was here shooting the longtails,” Ms Hill said. “We are getting a lot more international clients.”