The worlds of music and fashion are often intertwined: whether it's the soundtrack to a runway collection recontextualising its meaning (see: Prada), or models sourced from indie bands wearing the clothes on the catwalk (see: Saint Laurent), Madonna on the runway, or Nicola Formichetti styling Lady Gaga, the two domains often collide to exciting effect. To celebrate this interaction, photographer Timo Wirsching collaborated with AnOther Magazine fashion editor Nell Kalonji to create an entirely new way of both looking at a fashion story and listening to music, by photographing the portraits of students from the Guildhall School of Music while they listened to pieces of music they felt a strong emotive connection to. The result is a beautiful series of fashion imagery accompanied by a soundtrack of the students' favourite songs for a fully immersive experience.
The idea for the story emerged when, after spending time with musician Bena Wood, photographer Wirsching noticed that his friend's way of listening to music was somehow different to his own experience. He caught him making little gestures and expressions whilst listening; minute movements which you might miss under different circumstances, but when looked out for become strangely powerful. "I was wondering if it was possible to transform his musical sensibility into a visual language; a portrait," explained Wirsching "and so Bena introduced me to some of his friends at the Guildhall Music School."
"I was wondering if it was possible to transform his musical sensibility into a visual language; a portrait" - Timo Wirsching
"The people we shot weren't used to being the centre of attention for any other reason than because they were performing musically," explained Kalonji. "But as soon as the music started playing, it felt like they forgot everything around them. It was so interesting watching them in this zone... Getting carried away by the chosen pieces. To watch them feel the music and get emotional because they were reminded of different situations in their lives. Some of them started laughing, some of them started crying – it was really amazing to see." Here, we showcase the fashion story and speak to some of the musicians featured about the reasons for selecting their chosen tracks, which range from The Beatles to Shostakovich...
Jasmine Faulkner: Let It Be by The Beatles
"Paul McCartney wrote this piece when he was going through a particularly hard time in his life, when he was turning to drugs and drinking to take the pain away. One night, his mother came to him in a dream and simply said 'Let it be'. When he woke up, he was overcome with a feeling of calm and realised that he could stop fighting against the world and just let everything be. I find this exceptionally powerful and moving as a life lesson: 'There will be an answer, let it be.'"
Bena Wood (Left): Passion Dance by McCoy Tyner
"The first time I heard this piece, it was a musical turning point for me. I think that it really captures what it means to be a jazz musician as it is performed with such an emotional intensity, an aggression and honesty that I found irresistible. There is something so commanding in the way all four members of the band play that somehow really opened up the possibilities of jazz music in my mind. It's such a directly expressive and communicatory resource, both for the listener and the performer, and it was really this piece that converted me to the jazz music that I later chose to study."
Frederike Bieber: Nuit d'étoiles by Claude Debussy
"The text within the piece speaks about remembering a lost love and, while the vocal line build far lyrical far-reaching phrases, the piano paints the images of glittering stars and the darkness of the night. What I love so much about it is the sad longing for the unreachable, the melancholy, the 'sad smile' which is expressed both in the music and in the text. The poem (by Théodore de Banville) uses wonderful natural images, so that one can imagine going through a park in a mild summer night and remembering happy days. It's also the beauty of the French language which makes the song so special, I think."
Alex Maydew: The First Touch by the Marcin Wasilewski trio.
"When I was 18, before I left Bristol to move to London, my piano teacher Anna gave me one of Marcin Wasilewski's albums as a parting gift. I really got into the album and whenever I feel like I can't decide what music I like or dislike I go back to the album as something that keeps me grounded. I feel that I will always enjoy listening to this particular song – which I don't think I can say about many other pieces of music."
Mina Beldimanescu: 24 Preludes opus 34 by Dmitry Shostakovich
"I remember hearing a young pianist perform these kaleidoscopic miniatures during a masterclass I attended many years ago, when I was still a teenager, and being fascinated by their array of human emotions and characters. Although I didn't listen to the Preludes for a long time afterwards, I still held a very vivid memory of their individuality, wit, lyricism and spirit, and hoped that I would one day find the time to learn them between other projects. I finally did that this year and performed the set for my final recital in July, which was a joy for me."
Hair: Jose Quijano at D+V
Make-up: Mona Leanne at The Book Agency
Photographic assistant: Julian Mahrlein
Stylist assistant: Natasha Peacock
Hair assistant: Delphine Bonnet
Retouching: James Midwinter