Paper dolls: behind the scenes of the October 'Luxury' fashion shoot

The looks feature a mix of real-life props and some post-production wizardry

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Paper Doll is the theme of the fashion shoot for the October issue of The National's Luxury supplement. Having had a personal fascination with cut-out dolls — the sort with tabs that allow you to change their outfits — since childhood, it was only a matter of time before it surfaced as a concept.

Our October issue focuses on the idea of collecting and highlights some of the UAE's foremost specialists, in areas ranging from art, design and cars to clothes, trainers and vinyl records. This spurred thoughts of all the paper dolls gathered in childhood bedrooms, and how this early experimentation was, for many, the first foray into the playful world of fashion.

A snapshot of Vanusa 'hiding' under a Dior Bar jacket, as seen on the photographer's laptop while shooting. Photo: Sarah Maisey

We expanded the idea to include cardboard cut-outs of balloons and old rotary telephones, as well as a puppet complete with strings, and also added drawn outlines to some images for that extra hands-on feel. It all came together in a photographic studio in Al Quoz, Dubai.

Using a mix of real-life props and some post-production wizardry, the talented team of Italian photographer Nicoleta Buru, Polish hair and make-up artist Ania Poniatowska and our Brazilian model, Vanusa, started experimenting. Vanusa, in particular, had her work cut out, interacting with things that weren't there, keeping her composure while jumping up and down, and pretending to talk on a fictional phone.

It is remarkable just how much discussion goes into shooting a real-life paper doll — for example, trying to ascertain how puppet strings might be attached to arms and legs.

An outtake from the October shoot. Vanusa wears Prada while walking a cardboard poodle. All that's missing is the drawn in dog lead. Photo Nicoleta Buru

We shifted from the playful prints of Stella McCartney and Etro for our puppet cover star, to playing hide-and-seek under a tweed Dior Bar jacket, via the feminine cut-outs of Fendi and Carolina Herrera, or the colour blasts of Alexander McQueen and Valentino. The neon halos around our Hermes and Louis Vuitton looks, meanwhile, are another reminder that you are never too old to play dress up.

Scroll through the gallery above for more pictures from the Paper Doll shoot for 'Luxury' magazine

Updated: October 14, 2022, 8:55 AM