Yesterday the fashion and military world met in Fulham at the Mr Porter shoot for Style for Soldiers, where Production Director Xanthe was addressed as Ma’am, and the response to photographer Ben Weller’s choreography was ‘ Whatever you say Boss’’!
It was a completely new experience for the Servicemen, potentially well out of their comfort zone, but with their customary go for it attitude which I have seen so much of during my visits to the military rehabilitation hospital since the casualties started to spiral during Iraq, they found their way to the studio from all over England, introduced themselves and chatted with the production team with the charm and manners also characteristic of the Forces, and gave their all to the shoot. Tyler groomed the models, Dan styled them and then to photographer Ben who transformed understandably shy young men into stunning male models.
Archie Gemmel came from the military rehab hospital in quite a lot of pain following a fall the day before, but still showed us all the video clip of his header into the gym wall the week before when he was trying out his new blade, and couldn’t stop, which he has sent to You Tube! He was crying with laughter so we all had permission and it was very funny! He talked with the production team about his injury in Afghanistan, saying at one point ‘’ It may look cool in the films to be blown up, but I can tell you it’s not’’.
Ben’s pictures are powerful and very beautiful, and capture so much of the strength and courage of these exceptional young men. I am sure they will live on in history to help remember this period of devastating war casualties and sacrifice, and the professional soldier’s dignity.
I had dinner with Matt Weston and his fashion journalist wife Bryony after the shoot, where he told me how much he had all enjoyed the day, and I had lovely texts from everyone that evening saying the same. It’s such a great thing to do and I am so grateful to all at Mr Porter who make this happen.
Henry Sakai’s, who’s friend Deborah drove him from Stoke and back that day, emailed me this in response to the picture of the shoot I sent him afterwards:
‘Aww Emma this is beautiful. I really had a good time and barely slept thinking if I had really done all that.
Thanks for putting me in touch with Matt. Such a perfect gentle man and hope me and him stay friends.
I hope me and you are friends now too and I am allowed to say hello sometimes