In the closet: An Pauwels

People In the closet: An Pauwels

Posted:
6 februari 2015

In the closet: An Pauwels 

We think we might have interviewed the coolest mum on earth: she’s the ‘A’ in Intials L.A., she’s busy organizing shoots all over the USA and Europe, an acknowledged Instagram-addict, totally in love with her hubby and best friend of her two stylish girls – Nona and Mira. We took a step into her closet and asked her lots of questions about her style, work & lifestyle. And while we were at it, we shot even more questions to Miss Mira, 15 years old and already a true fashion enthusiast. 

HOW DID YOU COME UP TO START INITIALS LA?

We started Initials L.A. 6 years ago. I met my partner in crime Lies at a former employer, Roses are blue (a film production agency) where I hired her. We were sitting at the kitchen table talking about the fact we should really start something together. Our husbands sent us to Paris to think about it. We came back with some ideas written in a little book, thinking we might become wedding planners.  Coming home, our husbands just started laughing. Then, they gave us the idea to start a photo production agency. And bang. That’s how it all started. Our first client was Renault and from that day we did not sit still.

HOW DO YOU MANAGE YOUR BUSY LIFE AS A FULL TIME ENTREPRENEUR AND A BUSY FULL TIME MUM?

I have 2 daughters of 10 and 15 years old. I get a lot of help from my mum and mother in law. My eldest daughter is very independent already. She cooks a family meal every Tuesday. She’s a good cook! Every other week we have a home delivery from Smartmat: food at home with recipes.

HOW DOES A NORMAL DAY LOOK LIKE FOR YOU?

I wake-up at 7:15, shower and have a healthy breakfast at home (yoghurt with granola or oatmeal). On a standard working day at the office I work from 9-18:00. If necessary I work some more at home after diner. When I have a photo-shoot the hours are more flexible, depending on the job that needs to be done ;-).

WHAT ABOUT SUNDAYS? 

I love lazy Sundays! A brunch with my family or friends, the perfect cappuccino, our typical Belgian crispy ‘pistolets’, newspapers and weekend magazines, some classical music in the background. Relax & chill modus… 

INITIALS LA IS A PHOTO MANAGEMENT & PRODUCTION AGENCY. HOW DO YOU PREPARE FOR A PHOTOSHOOT? WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE BEFORE, DURING, AFTER THE SHOOT?

We have to prep everything from A to Z: casting of the models, scouting the right locations, hiring a studio and technical material, briefing the crew (stylist, hair & make-up, set dressing/ props, etc.), finding the right accessories,... 

During the shoot, we prep the set with decoration & props, while the models get their hair & make-up done. The photographer and his assistant set up all the lighting and technical equipment. The stylist installs a rack with all the clothing and accessories. We make sure that everybody has healthy and good food and drinks during the shooting day (breakfast & lunch). And yes, models DO eat :-) .

After the shoot we clean up the set. A lot of heavy lifting included. The following days the photographer makes a selection of the pictures in dialogue with the client.  The retoucher starts retouching the final selected images, which we call post production. We do the supervision of the post production in order to get all the images to the client in time.

In other words, photo production is problem solving, with a smile.

HOW DO YOU FIND THE RIGHT PLACES TO SHOOT? DO YOU GO LOCATION HUNTING?

The past 6 years we have built up a nice location database. We do research on the internet, in interior books and magazines.  We always check the location in advance by making pictures from all angles, so the client and the photographer have a perfect view on the location. If we shoot outside we need to know where the sun rises and sets. Always important for the lighting, shadows, etc.

HOW DO YOU CHOOSE PHOTOGRAPHERS FOR THE SHOOTS?

Over the years we have met a lot of national and international photographers. My partner Lies and I have 'a good nose' for new talent. From our experience we pick the right talent by searching the best match with the briefing of the client. We don’t like to work with ‘ego’s.  It’s important to create a good vibe on set. 

WHAT MAKES A PHOTOSHOOT, A SUCCESSFUL PHOTOSHOOT? 

When everybody is focused, happy and enthusiast during the shoot. And it doesn’t really feel like working.

WHAT’S THE COOLEST SHOOT YOU HAVE EVER DONE?

Shooting with the Red Devils, our Belgian soccer team. We had to shoot 2 videos for TV with the soccer team and make portraits of most of them within only 2 hours!  A big challenge! I must say I was impressed to see all our national soccer players, hahaha!

CAN YOU TELL US A FUNNY ANECDOTE? 

Once we had to shoot a model hugging a pig at a pig farm! Not an easy job. Pigs scream like hell, a bit like a baby. And they pee and poop all the time. The smell was awful. Something I will never forget.

YOU ORGANIZE MANY PHOTOSHOOTS FOR ESSENTIEL. WHAT’S YOUR FUNNIEST ANECDOTE ABOUT WORKING WITH US?

For the 2 previous campaigns we worked with Belgian top model Hanne Gaby Odiele. While she’s posing, she sometimes makes a kind of weird ‘opera’ noise. Like an opera singer. Really funny!! :-D

YOU RECENTLY ORGANIZED THE ESSENTIEL SHOOT IN LA. WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES ABOUT PLANNING A PHOTOSHOOT SO FAR AWAY?

*The planning itself! It wasn’t easy to find suitable dates for the busy crew, but we managed.

*Casting of the model is always a big challenge. We always get lots of proposals from agencies worldwide, but it’s not easy to get 1st options on the models. The good ones are always traveling around the world. So we only know a few days in advance which model will be available. And then we need to book the flight ticket from the place she’s traveling from.

*Being sure the crew brings his/ her passport to get everybody on the flight ;-).

*Arrange the permits for the location, in the US it’s stricter to shoot on location.

*Finding extra technical equipment for the photographer in the neighborhood of the location. Mostly rental via photo studios.

 

WHO IS THE COOLEST MODEL YOU WORKED WITH? DID SHE/HE HAVE ANY SPECIAL REQUEST DURING THE SHOOT?

Hanne Gaby Odiele. She’s an amazing Belgian topmodel. Very professional. A funny girl. She’s a chameleon!

WHO ARE THE PHOTOGRAPHERS YOU REPRESENT AND WHERE ARE THEY COMING FROM? ARE THEY ALL BELGIAN?

Currently we represent 11 main photographers: Guillaume Lechat (Paris), Tom Hull (London), Jaap Vliegenthart (Netherlands), Gus & Stella (London), Ivan Jurado (London). The rest of them are Belgian.

We have a ‘new talent’ platform where we present new upcoming talents like Jan & Jorre, Stefanie Geerts, Maroesjka Lavigne, Frederik Buyckx; Gael Delahaye (London).

WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?

Being in contact with all kinds of people & places. There is a lot of variation, every week is different.

WHAT’S THE LEAST FAVORITE PART OF YOUR JOB?

More difficult client, maybe? That really doesn’t happen a lot.

ANNEKE, WHEN WE TAKE A LOOK AT YOUR INSTAGRAM WE SPOT PICTURES OF FOOD, SHOOTS, YOUR FAMILY, TRAVEL & EVEN A DEAD MOUSE.

Haha, yes! I found that mouse on the street, dead and all alone, it was so cute! Poor thing. 

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR STYLE?

Black, with a touch of business. Black is always a good idea. It gives a woman a strong appearance at any time of the day. I soften my look by choosing soft materials like 100% cotton, wool and cashmere. Almost always on high heels. But at shootings I like to wear my comfy sneakers. Even on a dress or chic pants.

WHO OR WHAT INSPIRES YOUR CLOTHING PURCHASES?

Magazines, Instagram, people on the streets of London, Paris and New York.

WHAT ARE THE MUST-HAVES THIS SUMMER? 

Black and white, silk, flared pants, Acne Studios of Balenciaga flat sandals, no or natural make up with berry lips,...

IF WE WOULD GIVE YOU SOMEONE’S CLOSET, WHO’S CLOSET WOULD YOU LIKE TO HAVE?

Tilda Swinton with a touch of Kate Moss to make it a little more feminine.  And I love the way Robin Wright is beautifully aging. 

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE MUSEUM?

Guggenheim in New York.

IF YOU WERE A BISCUIT, WHICH WOULD YOU BE?

An almond biscuit from Jules De Strooper.

WHO ACCORDING TO YOU IS THE BEST DRESSED WOMAN IN THE WORLD?

Jane Birkin, without a doubt.

IF I CAME TO YOUR HOME AND LOOKED INSIDE THE REFRIGERATOR, WHAT WOULD I FIND?

Avocado, red beet, eggs, goat cheese. And wine, tonic & beer of course.

WHAT’S A BOOK YOU PLAN ON READING?

Wave (or Vloedgolf) by Sonali Deraniyagala. It’s an amazing, emotional story.

WHO SHOULD EVERYBODY BE FOLLOWING RIGHT NOW?

Eva Goethals, Kein Magazine & Cara Delevingne, I love her! 

IF YOUR LIFE WAS A SONG, WHAT WOULD THE TITLE BE LIKE?

The time is now – Moloko. It was our opening dance at our wedding and is really appropriate for my life.

PERSON YOU WANT TO HAVE A COFFEE WITH?

Jan Mulder. A Gin Tonic would be fine too ;).

IF YOU HAD ONE SUPERPOWER, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

I would let the sun shine every day and make it rain only by night.

FAVORITE ITEM IN YOUR CLOSET?

My Delvaux clutch. It’s a vintage, I received it when Arne’s grandma died.

FAVORITE DESIGNERS?

A.F. Vandevorst.

WHO WOULD YOU PLAY IN A MOVIE?

Uma Thurman in Kill Bill.

 

THANKS FOR THE INTERVIEW, AN!

 

HI MIRA, WE TOOK A LOOK AT YOUR CLOSET TOO AND COULDN’T HELP NOTICE YOUR FASHION SENSE. WHERE DID YOU GET IT FROM?

My mum.

WHAT INSPIRES YOU?

Blogs and the street. I like to watch people on the streets and look at what they’re wearing. First, I look at the shoes, then the rest of the outfit.

FAVORITE BAND?

Oscar and the wolf.

HOW OLD ARE YOU?

15.

WHAT’S YOUR LIFE QUOTE?

I love to sleep because it’s like a time machine to breakfast.

HOBBIES?

Drawing & graphic design on the computer. I like to be creative.

FAVORITE SOCIAL MEDIUM?

Instagram, by far!

WHO DOES EVERYONE NEEDS TO FOLLOW RIGHT NOW?

@Parpies.

WHERE WILL YOU BE IN 10 YEARS?

Designing posters in New York, Brooklyn.

FAVORITE LUNCH ADDRESS?

BLT (Lange Lozanastraat, Antwerp) and Barnini.

 LOVE IS ESSENTIEL