As a professional artist, it’s easy to get lost in the process. Personal projects are an important way for artists to reconnect with their inspirations and reignite their passion in creative avenues that would go otherwise unexplored. In her latest collaboration with Vogue Portugal, stylist Jèss Monterde created a mood board for a story close to her heart and expanded her role on set.
“I didn't know Ericka Hart at all when this project first began,” explained Jèss. “When Arale Reartes, the photographer, told me about her and how she'd love to shoot her, I started to follow her on Instagram and fell in love. That's when I created a mood board for a story that I wasn’t even sure she’d be interested in.” The client, Vogue Portugal, responded well to the mood board and decided to commission the story. They loved the idea of featuring Ericka and were coincidentally preparing their Sex Issue for May. Once Vogue signed on to the project, it was time to reach out to Ericka.
The project is centered around the sexuality educator with a Master’s of Education in Human Sexuality. “She is Ericka Hart: She/They, sex educator, black queer femme, racial/social/gender justice disruptor, writer, breast cancer survivor, model,” explained Jèss. “This is how she describes herself and I couldn't do it better. The inspiration came from her: from her words, from her strength, and from her knowledge.”
In addition to setting the tone and aesthetic for the project with Arale, Jèss was also responsible for the wardrobe on set. “I did the entire styling for the shoot, but as you'll see, some of the photos feature the model naked. Sometimes you just have to step aside and let the body talk. Ericka’s energy, in terms of fashion, is really bright and colorful. Her style is free and powerful. Color, tulle, and glitter are all among the dreamy elements that have become my signature on shoots. So I decided to pull the craziest dresses. I have never seen so much joy in a person wearing a Marc Jacobs dress. It was really emotional for me to see so much happiness on a shoot.”
“I wanted to use young designers for some of the accessories,” explained Jèss. “They are free, and more likely to feel comfortable taking risks. I commissioned ANH Jewelry to create a crown for Ericka. It had to be colorful, that was the most important ask. With the help of the artist Giorgia Rojas, they created a crown that transmits light and color, the same as Ericka.”
“Vogue has been really respectful, no boundaries, no rules. They trust in our mood board and our ideas, so we were really free in this story. Ericka said something about the shoot that really resonated with me: ‘If you only see stretch marks and scars in the picture, you are missing the entire canvas.’”