It’s BACK!!! Patriotic Pinups 2014 is happening November 1&2nd, just in time to be a special gift for the holidays! If you’re new to this event, allow me to give you the sassy low down. PPLV is an annual fundraiser featuring Las Vegas pinup photography for two full days of kick-up-your-pumps lovely. The fundraiser is the brainchild of our ‘Co friend, Sue Altenburg of Altenburg Studio. Sue and I go waaaayyyy back. As in, she was the first photographer to give a me a chance as a makeup artist. I’ve worked with her for years at her portrait studio, and so when she came to me in 2011 with the idea of doing a pin-up fundraiser to support the US Vets organization, I was all over it! How could we not? Two full days of victory rolls and red lips? Bring it! The idea was that for a significantly reduced cost, women could sign up for a mini-portrait session as a pinup. Our company would provide the hair and makeup, we’d have a load of pinup wardrobe to choose from, and Sue would have several different sets from which the darlings could choose to be photographed on. Sue partners and shares studio space with Catherine Guillotte of Portraits by Catherine, and she jumped at the idea too! Now, four years later, the trio that we are have received wonderful support from so many different local business’s and are ready to do it again in 2014! 100% of all the proceeds raised over the event are donated to the US Vets organization. You’ll look amazing, and for such a wonderful cause! Reservations are limited and the event is two days long, so the appointments go fast. And I mean fast. You can sign up starting Oct 1st, this Wednesday get those credit cards out and be sure to call Altenburg Studio at 702-252-7557 to secure your session. See you in November, darlings!
In tandem with our Sugar Skull shoot, we wanted some Zombies. Call me crazy, but after a decade of doing beautiful brides I really haven’t had a ton of opportunities to work on my fake blood skills. Only in recent years has this proven to be a liability on my part- apparently, everyone from CEO’s to ravers wants to look as though they are ready for their cameo on The Walking Dead. Being this close to Halloween and having an epic special effects makeup supply store in town definitely helped us create some undead in a hurry, sans bite marks or axes. Somehow, I talked my darling friend Jessica* into roping her husband into working with us. He’s the real deal- a practiced zombie if you will. Once inside the studio we (hesitantly) got to work on some zombie Halloween makeup. Hesitantly being the operative word here- several times I came quite close to trying to make Michael pretty. Melissa was working right next to me on Chels and kept telling me to knock it off and make him dirty, grungy, scary. Apparently I was the only artist in the room who was on struggle street with this one, but the team rallied and our zombies definitely looked menacing.
However, this small triumph of mine is nothing compared to the sheer joy of two unplanned things that came from our shoot- First, one of our models had to cancel at the last minute, which meant Chief Dude had to become a model! Imagine that- our Rob, our one man in a company of woman, in Bianca’s makeup chair! He even sported the sweet t-shirt I scored for him at the thrift store: Property of the Science Club. Appropriate, right??? When I got home after the shoot he came downstairs very upset- even after a shower his eyeliner remained and he couldn’t figure out how to get it off. Suddenly, he grabbed me and in a deep, raspy voice said “Sookie!” and then tried to Glamour me… I’m dying just thinking about it!
The second moment of sheer joy came in the form of a sweet, blue eyed baby boy. Chris and Alicia just had a handsome baby, and he was in tow with his mama when Chris arrived to do the photography for our apocalypse (huge shout-out to Orange Soda Photo!). Now follow me on this- zombies are cool. Babies are way cool. Get a couple of zombies to eat a baby? Um, YES! Is there ever a more perfect opportunity to earn cool points ever???
Talk about a snack attack!
*Jessica is an amazing, exquisitely talented caricature artist. Sure, we are talking about zombies in this post, but there’s all kinds of holidays fixing to happen and you’ll need some custom art done! Check out her website and get ready to be illustrated!
Three cheers for Brittany! Our dazzling friend and model has won another title- Ms. Nevada United States 2014! Brittany has been a face for the ‘Co since before it was even an official, real-deal company. We met first at a clothing catalog shoot back in 2009, and have been buzzing and weaving and crossing paths ever since. She is one of my go-to, know it’s gonna look amazing models I call on when I’m working on a collaborative project. Even though she’s absolutely stunning, what I love the very, very most about her is how down-to-earth her personality is. Anyone can be gorgeous, I would know- but it takes a special person to be truly beautiful, and that’s precisely what she is. When she wanted to compete in the most recent pageant to add another crown to her collection and move forward on some of her charitable initiatives, we fully supported her and knew she would earn that crown. I say earn, not win, because let me tell you- I’ve worked with plenty of beauty queens as a hair and makeup artist and those girls WORK for that title! To give you a peek into the world of beauty pageants, even though it’s a lot of work to become a beauty queen the work doesn’t stop when the crown has been placed. At least, the work doesn’t stop if your doing it right. Since Brittany is old hat at this whole crown-wearing thing, she sprinted into action. One of the first tasks at hand was to do a portfolio spread of her reign, complete with crown. A couple of calls later we were shooting with the bad-ass commercial photographer, Brian Brown. Concepts went flying and before the first shoot had even started we all made plans to meet back at the studio for a full-day session with multiple looks. This is what happens when you put several creative minds, a hot model, a bad ass photographer, a couture gown designer, and me in a studio for 6+ hours.
I’ve got a robust ass that would make Becky’s tiny flat posterior flap in shock and appall. It’s got dimples and creases and is starting to lose it’s perky lift, and I love every single inch of it.
Every cue we get from the media and general population at large tells us we gotta do something about our not-so-smooth ass. Smear a cream on it, Photoshop it, leg press it till you walk funny for three days. While I’ll admit to doing two of those three things (I’ve never felt the need to buy into a dream that rubbing some kind of potion on my butt will do the trick), it’s never to get rid of my hard-earned dimples.
At least three of those dents come from eating paklava for breakfast. No, not baklava, but Paklava, as my Armenian mother would correct me. See, I’m adopted, and have only a vague idea of what my actual ethnicity is. When my Mom took me in at 17 and became everything to me that a mom should be, she taught me her mother’s recipe for Paklava. Because the recipe makes a giant pan, there was always lots left over and that made for an excellent breakfast. She even figured out how to make it vegan when I gave up dairy. Maybe three of those dimples is being conservative, it’s probably more. At any rate, I wouldn’t give up my mom’s traditional paklava for a firm ass on any given day.
I’m sure a few of those creases and probably some of the sagging is due to the long hours I spend sitting on my lovely tush while I figured out how to run a successful hair and makeup company. I never went to college save for a few courses Mom insisted I take, I couldn’t build a website to save my life, and customer service was never my strong point. Long before we had a team of artists, I sat on a cheap office chair for hours on end trying to learn how to run my very tiny, one person hair and makeup business. Over a decade later we’ve got a team of 10, including my incredibly smart husband, and we have the worlds best clients and true, amazing friendships that all were a product of those grueling desk hours that my ass took the brunt of. Sorry, NOT sorry.
Some of those divots came from late-night wine with friends where the good times just kept rolling. And, some from solo wine parties where only a glass…or two…or three would help me turn my brain off long enough to recharge my creative spirit. I know for a fact some dimpling was earned eating amazing meals that warmed my heart with a joy no admiration from strangers on a beach could replace. Then there was all the potato chips and Oreo’s and pasta that filled my belly when we first went vegan and I didn’t know what to eat, let alone cook. It helped tied me over till I found my groove in the kitchen and on menus again.
It’s true, I’ll probably never have an ass that our fitness-crazed and over-retouched society approves of. That’s not to say I’m not fit- in reality, I’ve got an extraordinarily healthy diet and strongly advocate physical activity as part of a daily routine. However, the goal is not necessarily to win the approval of someone else. (Unless that’s your profession, and if it is, I’ve got no shame in saying so. If you get paid to look a certain way, just like any other profession, you better own it and do your best.) The real goal, for me, is to have the highest quality of life possible. That requires me being physically fit, but it does NOT require me to try and obliterate my bottom into some kind of self-depreciating ideal that would mean giving up everything that it’s been gifted. And yes, I’ve been gifted,in so many loving ways.
This wonderful, dimpled, slightly sagging bubble butt of mine shows signs of a wonderful life. It tells the story of being loved as a daughter should be loved and learning family traditions. There’s evidence of hard work and perseverance, and yes, many times that requires the focus of sitting on your ass for long hours. There are memories in the creases that are filled with love and laughter and stories and friendships and memories.
Would I trade all that for an ass that impresses a few strangers and can crack a walnut? Not a chance.
When the Viva Las Vegas shindig comes to town, the pin-ups come out with all their red-lipped, winged liner glory… it’s the quintessential rockin’ good time for greaser boys and pinned up girls! When ‘Co friend and partner Sue over at Altenburg Studio told us she had an opportunity to work with Felina Vie, who was in town for Rockabilly Weekend, we were all over it like corsets on a waistline. One of our resident hair and makeup artists, Tyler, got a chance to work with the infamous Felina to create her signature pinup hair and makeup look. While the rest of the cool cats were jump, jive, and wailing, this trio was in Sue’s studio garden area kicking up heels complete with hammocks and pink flamingos.
Felina’s dress was a signature Bettie Page by Tatyana creation, our local go-to for all things pin-up and retro. From slinky wiggle skirts to full swing dresses, the Bettie Page boutique has all the hot dolls looking their finest. I personally own a few of her pieces, and the cut of her clothing is perfect for more robust derrieres like mine. We are ultra lucky to consider the boutique as our partners for our annual Patriotic Pinups event that we host ever year with Altenburg Studio. For two days, would-be pin-ups can get their hair rolled up, their lips put on, don a Bettie Page dress and have Sue take their portrait. The end result is a super-sweet poster of each participant as a pin-up, and it makes such a cute gift! We donate ALL of the proceeds to our local US Vets organization, who helps rehabilitate and house our homeless veterans. This time of year, especially so close to the Fourth of July, they are in our hearts.
In a previous post, we gave up the goods from our amazing shoot with Bridal Spectacular. In the past three years, we usually did just the one shoot for the magazine, but this year we scored and got invited to be a part of a second shoot as well. And when we heard that we’d be working with Stephen Salazar, it was just icing on the cupcake! The set was out at Lake Las Vegas, a swanky yet quiet area just a few minutes out from the main hub of the city. It’s pretty much the perfect location for a destination bride that doesn’t want the “Vegas” wedding. I’m not sure if you can even see the strip from there! The entrance is tucked between a row of palm trees, and about five minutes down the road you start to see some really upscale resorts surrounding a winding lake. Although it’s definitely off the beaten path, the views and peacefulness of the area is absolutely worth the trip. The beauty of light colors, the flow of the lake, and the stunning backdrop of the area was just perfect for our rendezvous with Chelsea Dawn.
Daileny and Kay were the bridal hair and makeup team for this shoot, and we took inspiration from our surroundings. LLV is lux all the way, so we brought in that same kind of refined luxury into the hair and makeup but still keeping it fresh and modern. A french twist got a little sassy with the addition of a braid in front and lots of texture. Kay proved that classic wedding makeup doesn’t have to be boring, using strong nudes and dramatic eye liner while keeping Chelsea’s face clean and time less. Stephen has a fashion photography background, so getting to work with him on this project had us pretty jazzed. We just knew that he was going to really get the essence of the look we had created, and as usual, he bowled us over with stunning results!
Most of the time when I have to say good byes, it’s usually more like “Good Riddance!” As much as I’d like to think I’m some kind of super wise and uber svelte soul that can peacefully send someone on there way, they’ve usually done something that left me so disenchanted I showed them the door. So, having to say good bye to someone I really don’t want to say goodbye too is a rare thing. This whole well-wishing on those Hallmark cards that you buy for someone starting a new journey? Yea, I’ve only had to buy a couple of those in my life. And, thank God, because this feeling sucks!
Alana is moving to Kauai on June 25th. Our Alana, the first hire I ever made, our sweet, funny, talented Alana is moving. As in, won’t be in Vegas anymore. As in, won’t be part of the ‘Co anymore. SOB!!! (Seriously, I flat out cried into my pizza a couple weeks ago. It was ridiculous and I’m pretty sure I wasn’t wearing waterproof mascara.)
Let’s time warp till a far away land in history- the great city of Las Vegas in 2011. I was just starting out as an agency after spending the first 6 years of my career with another company and another year all by myself (sing it with me!). I didn’t want to be all by myself annnnyyymooooorrrreeee! I put an ad up and Alana called- and I was about as awkward as it gets. She reminded me recently how I would call her all the time, because I would forget to tell her something while we were talking, and then immediately call her back once I remembered announcing myself as “guess who?”. I didn’t have my act together at that point as an agency, so there were lots of dropped balls, fumbling, and basically faking it like I knew what I was doing. I guess she liked me enough though, because she kept calling back till I finally got it together and officially hired her. For three solid years, we’ve laughed, cried, celebrated Christmases, annoyed each other more than we would probably admit to the other’s face, made it through the *very few* doozy brides that occasionally sneak into our calendar. (If you’ve ever asked us, you know most of our brides are amazing!) Company nights and early mornings, new hires and unfortunately, a couple of fires too. More has happened in the past three years, both with the ‘Co and with our own lives than I could possibly fit into a single blog post. It feels like so much longer than just three years.
Though I openly admit I am heartbroken, I’m also excited for her. I mean, who DOESN’T want to move to Hawaii!?! Her husband got an incredible career opportunity out there and it was simply too amazing to pass up. So, as sad as we all are to see her go, she’s got a bright and beautiful new chapter of her life about to unfold. For all the laughs, all the love, and of course all the beautiful brides she made up- we wish her nothing but the happiest of happy days on her new adventure. Cheers to Alana, her husband Shane, and their adorable daughter Abby. Thank you, so much, for having faith in me! I really couldn’t have done it without you. And, just to keep hope alive, it doesn’t hurt to mention you ALWAYS have a place in the ‘Co. A hui hou, Alana G.
If you grew up in Vegas, you know that the Bridal Spectacular show is where it’s AT for brides. I remember being little and hearing their signature jingle, “If your a bride to be, the place to be is the Spectacular Bridal Show!” Now that I’m a grown woman running the amazing Las Vegas wedding hair and makeup team that is the ‘Co, I actually get to be a part of the bridal fair. It’s pretty surreal! We got our very first booth at the bridal show in 2011- and just to show how human we are, here’s a very incriminating photo of how rough around the edges we were. Yea, it was pretty bad. Thankfully, it only took one botched show for me to figure out that it’s better to hire one of the amazing floral designers in town to do your booth.
Booth swagger aside, there’s also another element that the Bridal Spectacular pulls together. Every late fall, sometime before the holidays but after the big wedding season (October is our busiest month!), the show producers put on a big shoot out. They corral a few stunning models in exquisite gowns, pick some prestigious venues, pull from Las Vegas’s finest wedding vendors, and stage a styled shoot. Of course, you probably didn’t hear much about this on our Facebook page, because the images are all kept very hush hush until the new Spectacular Bride magazine comes out at the following show. For the past three years, we’ve had the privilege of being invited to these well-done photo-shoots as the bridal hair and makeup team. The rush of making incredible images doesn’t get any less with time, if anything, it gets stronger. The original concept for the shoots was to showcase how one bride could be portrayed so differently depending on what photographer was capturing her image. (It’s really incredible how much artistic license impacts how the photo turns out!) And from there it just evolved and flourished, time and time again.
This year, stoked beyond belief, we were invited to not one, but TWO different shoots! Two amazing opportunities to work with super high-caliber photographers, get published, and get some amazing images for our book. In this post, I wanted to share with you the second of the two shoots. It thrilled us to bits when we found out Alex, the cover model for the 2012 issue, was one of our models. We also had a chance to work with Eriko for the first time, and she is as beautiful on the outside as she is on the inside. Both professional models, you could probably put a trash bag on them and they’d make it work. Fortunately, there was a ton of beautiful, curated gowns to choose from. These images come from three different photographers, and are some of the most beautiful photo’s we’ve ever helped to create. Thrilled to be sharing with you!
Photographer Credits, in order of appearance:
Rather than put this gem truly at the end, we are going to stick it right here in the middle. It’s pretty amazing, and while we could wait till everything has been posted, you could be swooning over the amazing gown collection at the Las Vegas designer wedding gown boutique, Couture Bride! There’s a saying that goes something like this- Dec 26th is the busiest day for wedding gown shops. Ok, so maybe it’s more of a rumor than a saying, but the point is this- we are just about half-way through March and that means all you newly engaged brides are on the hunt for THE gown. Our fancy stats show that’s one of the very first things you are going to purchase for your wedding. Which means right about now, about a month after engagement season, you’re probably on the hunt.
For the #30daysgorgeous final shoot, I wanted to do something over-the-top bridal. We had a blast breaking the mold with our non-bridal shoots. Reaching decades back and reviving hair and makeup styles, rocking out our version of classics, it was like a cool remix. However, at the end of the day, there’s something just so perfect about the impeccable beauty that wedding hair and makeup can be. It’s very much the epitome of when a woman looks her most stunning.
Over a month and a half, I had been in the Couture Bride shop so much I started to think of my parking space as assigned. When I’d go in to pick a gown for an upcoming shoot, I’d try to drag out the visit as long as possible without being invasive. The shop is just gorgeous- light, airy, beautiful furniture, stone floors. You just feel prettier when you’re in it, even if your rocking yoga pants like I did most of the time. I’d chat with Dawn, coo over Chloe, and just breath. A couple of times, the only reason why I managed to peel myself off their couch was because one of their brides had walked in and I knew I needed to let them take care of her. I just love how I feel when I am there. I mentioned this to Ron, how beautiful the space was and how it’s make for an amazing shoot, and almost automatically the idea clicked into place. To have models there, with beautiful wedding hair and makeup, and then turn them over to the experts in a store filled with wedding dresses, veils, accessories… it was too perfect. It’s what I imagine all of us dreamed of as little girls. And so, we made it happen. A quick call to our girl Christine over at Floral Couture and we had two stunning floral pieces to add drama to the already breathtaking scene. Add three models, an amazing wedding hair and makeup team, two wedding fashionistas, one way epic wedding photographer, and the cutest assistant in all the land… and this is what you get.
Sometimes you just feel lucky, you know? Outside of the whole “lady luck” situation that Vegas has. This particular #30daysgorgeous session made me feel really lucky. Lucky that photographer Ella Gagiano was on board with the project. Lucky that I happen to know a beyond beautiful model who just so happens to be a friend. Lucky that our friends at Couture Bride would loan us yet another dress. Lucky that this team of ours is 5-star, all the way. Lucky that M Resort liked the idea and would let us shoot there. Lucky, lucky, lucky are we.
In a pow-wow with Christine over at Floral Couture, she mentioned that we should do something over at the M Resort for the project. I admit, for all my candor I can be a bit nervous when it comes to reaching out. But I did, and the results were so awesome that it makes me wonder what else my nerves are getting in the way of. Anyways, after chatting with Tina over at M, she recommended reaching out to Ella Gagiano to do the photography for the shoot. Oh, here we go with nerves again. Ella and I had crossed paths briefly before, but we weren’t exactly on each others Christmas card lists. So I swallowed my nerves and reached out anyways. She was on board too! It was like the stars had aligned just for us, just for the project.
We’ve had the luxury of being at the M several times. The first time was when it first opened, my husband and I did an extended “date night” there and sipped our martini’s over an unparalleled view of the strip. The resort is on the far south side of the strip, far away from pretty much all the other big properties, and at the top the Lux provides an incredible view of the city. Then, a couple years ago, our company sponsored an industry event that was also in that same space. If you’re on the hunt for a sexy, swanky, sophisticated venue, let me tell you this is it. It’s got all the fixings for a glamorous Vegas wedding, easy on the Vegas. Of course, our bride Brittney had to have an equally swanky gown that hugged her curves in all the right places, and Couture Bride had just the dress. The ensemble was finished off with a chic bouquet from Floral Couture, and ‘Co artists Bri and Hayley sealed the deal with all the sexy vibe that the shoot was sure to be. And yes, it was sexy in all the right ways.