Doen FW17: Behind the Scenes at Stinson Beach

Doen FW17 came out about a month ago and I’m finally sharing it with you! (Typically I’m able to gather photos and create these posts right away, but between work and family life, it took a little longer this time around.)

I know I’ve written about this a few times now, but shooting with the Dôen team is such a special experience for me. It isn’t just about clothes or fashion – but rather, a collective effort to create beauty and have fun along the way. Every shoot that Dôen puts together feels like a family reunion. Sisters, aunts, family friends, children, pets. LIFE! Although it isn’t a marriage of worlds that I see too often — that of fashion and family — it works so beautifully. It is so special. And most definitely, it is one of the reasons behind Doen’s success. There is soul, excitement and…

For this Fall Winter campaign, Dôen took us to Stinson Beach in Northern California (about an hour away from San Francisco). With tiny, winding villages and homes surrounded by tall trees and gorgeous beaches, Stinson feels like a hidden treasure. I flew into San Francisco directly from France the day before the shoot, and from there we drove north towards Stinson. Arriving at a beautiful, eclectic beach home about a stone’s throw away from the ocean, I was shown my princess room (beautiful bed, canopy and all!) and quickly fell asleep. Thankfully my jet-lag and 24 hours of traveling worked perfectly for having an early call time, and soon enough I was up and going! I joined the team and family in the kitchen, where we ate a breakfast of oatmeal, granola, and fruit.

Here are the FW17 photos shot by the beautiful and talented Hilary Walsh. Erin Lee did the beautiful makeup. Thank you to Phoebe, Helen, Margaret, and Katherine for putting everything together. And, for loving me as I am. It is an honor and joy to be a part of your journeys.

The shoot day started with a little game of chess with these two boys, “Shep” and “WyWy” (Sheppard and Wilder, Katherine’s boys). They are two of the most adorable kids. It’s hard to believe that I’ve known them for almost two years. After wardrobe, hair, and makeup, we crossed the house’s massive, flower (and banana slug!) -filled winding garden until we hit a wooden gate. Past the gate was a street and then the beach, where we would have our first shot of the day. Because it was around 9 or 10 in the morning, the Northern California air was foggy and crisp. Seagulls flew overhead in triangular patterns. I had to wrangle Shep and WyWy for a few shots, pose like Brigitte Bardot, and – click, click – we were done with the first part of the shoot.

Helen, one of the wisest, intelligent and eloquent young women I know. She glows like an angel and always has delicious treats on her.

For one of the shots, Dôen took us to Bronwen Murch’s beautiful homestead in Bolinas, where she lives with her husband and three children. I love Hilary Walsh’s words from this Doen journal: “Bronwen’s family owns and runs the local farm stand, selling produce grown on their farmlands, which lie adjacent to this very stand. Her husband Mickey was born on the farm, as were her three children Oliver, Arlo and Phoebe. The farm stand operates on an honor system, with two small scales and a notebook to log your purchases. This unusual model of living and conducting a business, particularly foreign to the mind of any city dweller, has found success in this community for many years.”

Taking in the slower pace of this family farmstead was a joy. If you can dream up what it must look like for a family to live on a farm, this was it. They grew their own crops, the kids were running around, playing in trees, finding snail shells, rough-housing and riding their bikes along dirt paths. Every inch of their house was genuine and unaffected by the “Pinterest look.” No moons. No Moroccan rugs. No millennial pink. Just memories, like found seashells. Or drawings and notes. Family photographs and paintings. Meaningful symbols of love and family. In particular, I smiled when I saw a sweet “Acts of Kindness” chart, clearly checked off by the kids. It reminded me of the beauty that is found in simplicity — the less we are distracted by things that don’t matter, the more room we have for the things that do.

One of my favorite locations from this shoot was Hilary Walsh’s incredible wooden tower located in Stinson. With spiraling staircases, spaceship-like windows, beautifully-tiled mini-bathrooms, gorgeous wooden beams and seemingly endless nature and forest surrounding it, this home-away-from-home is absolutely majestic. The skeleton of the structure paired with Hilary’s eye and taste for subtlety and style makes for a match in heaven. (Hilary could totally be an interior designer; she’s so good at it that she occasionally helps her friends design their own spaces.)

I can’t remember if it was to or from, but along the way of shooting at Hilary’s tower, we stopped by an abandoned house that happened to have two massive blackberry bushes. Imagine on a hot midday, a team of six stopping entirely to eat these juicy, delicious blackberries for a good five minutes. That’s exactly what we did, and it was joyous! Nature’s candy.

The last few moments of shooting Doen FW17 were beautiful. (Well, I can’t say the same for a few of the girls that had to hike up the trails in thin sandals!) After hiking and shooting along the way, we arrived at the top of the mountain which opened up to a beautiful, glistening blue ocean. The sun was slowly setting, giving way to golden hour, which is my absolute favorite time of the day. Golden-hour light has tips of yellow grass (or hair!) glowing like fire. Inanimate objects dance, introducing funny shadows. Soft, nurturing warmth brushes my face, almost as a mother would brush her child’s face. A glimpse of love and reassurance.
As we shot the last few pieces and I danced around in a beautiful silk dress, one of us cried out “WHALE!”. Indeed, there were many whales swimming, and seemingly dancing, out in the ocean. We took turns looking through a pair of binoculars (come to think of it, who brought those?)in awe of the simultaneous wrapping of a shoot, a golden light, and whales. A perfect way to end this beautiful trip.

In the morning we all had breakfast at the local cafe, and I had a little snuggle with Wilder. His big eyes looked up at me in wonder as I melted inside. Precious.

Thank you for this beautiful memory.