Discovering Grey Gardens Again with Tom Corbett and Alexa
When the world was introduced to the two Edies in 1975’s documentary ‘Grey Gardens,’ we fell in love. The two women used style as a weapon against their struggle, facing mounting social and lifestyle pressures with grace. They inspired a generation of style that continues to live on today. Their home, Grey Gardens, was a mess when the documentary was filmed, but it has since been brought back into repair – and Alexa Magazine picked it as the perfect location for their latest cover story. They invited Tom Corbett to photograph a high fashion interpretation of the original documentary at the original location, and it looks spot on. “It worked out for us that day because it was a very misty overcast day and that vibe really, added to the tone. It was ethereal and a kind of spooky Grey Gardens moment – what you have in your head from watching the documentary. We got lucky with that,” says Tom. “It was an amazing location, it really was kind of cool exploring that and going into different rooms.”
Tom got lucky with the natural light of the day, but he wanted to make sure that the tone was maintained throughout the shoot. As they set up every shot he ensured the feeling of the light stayed consistent, sometimes using a little bit of flash to fill in when needed. And then the magazine wanted to make sure the clothes looked amazing so Tom balanced everything to keep it looking great. “The client was pretty aware of trying to keep the colors consistent with the clothes so it was really about balancing that out and also getting an interesting picture,” explains Tom. “It was finding that middle ground.” Once all the specific needs were taken care of Tom got to play a little.
Throughout the shoot, Tom sprinkled little details and surprises. One of the biggest secrets is in an image of the model wearing a gorgeous fur coat in the driveway. “If you look closely there’s the ghost of Edie in the window. We put the stylist assistant in the window of the house and if you look closely you can see her head staring out,” says Tom. There’s another image with the model in a stairway with a shadow on the wall behind her that Tom placed there on purpose. It adds a sense of foreboding and presence without bringing in another figure. “I like doing things like that. In fashion it’s nice to have a bit of fun with it and put little things in it that you may or may not see,” Tom says. One of the key lessons we learned from the original 1975 documentary is that it’s all in the details, and Tom made sure that there was beauty in every detail.