Born In Paradise

I can actually remember the day, while sitting at my desk at Net-a-Porter at the end of a long gloomy London winter, getting a top secret email from my super talented friend Kelly Thompson about a fragrance artwork pitch she’d just won, up against five other international artists.

There were a lot of exclamation marks in the ensuing email chain, and Kelly if you’re reading this now, here’s a direct quote from you, in case you needed a reminder – “Im buying shoes HARD when I get paid for it haha.”

So finally this week the big unveiling has happened, and we get to see Kelly’s biggest, brightest and most exciting work in all its stunning tropical glory, splashed across the delicious new perfume release and stamped with the approval of one of the most renowned fashion and fragrance brands in the world…

We got a sweet little inside scoop (below) for Undone, but to get the whole fantastic story told by Kelly herself (naked dancing and all!), head over to her blog where she’ll be covering the process and product in more depth in the coming weeks.

Nice work lovely lady, now go buy some shoes!


– Josie Steenhart

In brief (though I know it’s a story at least two years in the making), how did this all come about?
In November 2011, I received an email from Grey Paris who were the agency working on the Born In Paradise campaign. I was asked to pitch my ideas for Bird Of Paradise (which was its original name) against five other artists.

The pitch was intense, bigger than any other job I’d ever worked on, and lasted for almost four months! I remember being in Byron Bay supposedly on a Christmas holiday, but up until 3am every morning working on revisions as my friends relaxed and got tans. Each artist submitted their ideas and we were then supposed to develop one of Escada’s choice.

I initially submitted five ideas and they liked two, so throughout the pitch period I was working on revisions for two images at a time instead of one.

When we first pitched our ideas, one artist was cut from the pitch, and with each phase another artist was cut. It was always pretty nervewracking waiting to hear back, and when it came down to me and one other we waited more than a month to hear… I cried when they picked me.

You’re known for your signature sunset hair hues – did that have anything to do with the vibrant locks of your Escada girl?
I always try to squeeze in a redhead when I can! Throughout the pitch and development I did play with a few different colours, but ultimately the red just looked best with the bright colours – she looked prettier with colourful hair.

Is she based on anyone or a fictional beauty?
This final face is probably her 20th version, she had many face and smile transplants throughout the project. Initially I built faces based on models and features I sourced and loved, but this final face came about in a moment of urgency when the client decided to change direction and I suggested the side-on pose (previously we had done many body-forward options).

I couldn’t find any good references and I called my friend Amanda from Red 11 who shot a girl based on my pose direction – I then adjusted her face to suit and made her my own, so she’s about 50 percent real girl…

Favourite colour to use in your work?
Reds and peach tones.

Favourite colour to wear?
At the moment it’s blue. Will be different next week.

The scent is inspired by the Pina Colada (which is actually my most favourite cocktail ever, not even kidding) – did you sample a few to make sure you got it right? Any tips or tricks on how to make a great one?
Well, I’m lucky to be married to a restaurateur, so I’ve had my fair share, and definitely had a few when the project finished in 2013! Ideally you want fresh coconut juice/cream, lime juice and pineapple juice. And fresh is best!

A cheesy question, but what’s your idea of paradise?
Constant 30 degrees, white sands and many swims.

Other than this one of course, what are your favourite scents?
I always wear Aqua Di Parma Intensa. It’s a men’s fragrance but I love it. And I also really enjoy Penhaligon’s Elixir.

Finally, how do we get hold of a pair of those jandals?!
I’m still working on a pair for myself! I’ll keep you posted on that one.

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1 Comment

  1. Anna - February 6, 2014

    Kelly Thompson is such a talent!! Fair call on the “buying shoes HARD..” Had to be done.


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