Refinery29 at The Saguaro Palm Springs
Alex Noiret & Polina by Amanda Charchian
Style Director Paula Di Principe Stylist Henna Koskinen Hair Marley Gonzales Makeup Amy Hanlin Saguaro Hotel
About a month ago, during the weekend of Coachella, I had the opportunity of shooting for Refinery29 with one of my favorite photographers, Amanda Charchian. I can’t quite remember the first time that Amanda and I met – was it at a gallery? or maybe her ladies craft night? NO! I remember. The very first time that I met Amanda was when I went to the Science Museum with Soko, and as three, we watched a 3D interactive video about butterflies. Monarch butterflies. Although at the time, I had no idea that who I was talking to was Amanda, one of my favorite photographers. I thought that she was a student, or an artist. I didn’t know which one. She thought the same about me, because I remember her asking me “So…are you an artist too?”
Funny small world.
Shooting this editorial was a whirlwind. I’d been informed the day before, while running around to castings, that Amanda and the team wanted me to drive down to Palm Springs that same night. I thought, “sure! Why not?” Id been wanting to work with Amanda for some time. A few minutes later I was asked if I could also pickup the other model, Polina. I said, “sure!” although in my head I was thinking “agh. No time alone. It’s okay Alex, this is service. This is a good deed”. For some reason, I always end up driving the models. Polina arrived at my house in a big black Uber SUV. She waltzed out of the car with her big sunglasses on, dressed in head to toe black and a cigarette perched between her fingers like Cruella Deville. I immediately looked down at my hands, carrying a carseat in one, and a cooler (full of snacks) in the other. I thought, “wow…I am a different species”. I felt like a country girl. I didn’t feel like a model. I felt like a girl full of love, that loved her job, that was lucky. I didn’t feel severe, if that makes any sense. I mean COME ON, I had just packed the both of us some healthy snacks and lunch boxes. I had popped us some organic pop corn, prepared almonds and goji berries, with some strawberries and blueberries. I felt like what I’d imagine a mom feels like. Maternal, calm, wise, at ease, wanting to feed everyone. Ha! And then I was a bit sad, like I usually am sometimes, like my French grandmother is sometimes, when others don’t understand. Polina thought I was so sweet, but I could also tell that she was thinking I was some sort of stay-at-home-part-time model mom with a lot of time on my hands. Guess what? That’s only half true. Ha! I’m not a mom, I don’t have a lot of time, but I have a home and I like to bring joy to others. I’ll make time to make life beautiful, and to have yummy snacks. Even if I’m rushing to do it. That’s all. Anyway, I’ll just say this : I felt like some sort of Dandelion. Or should I say- DANDYlion.
The whole two-hour drive was entertaining. There’s something about Russians that is incredibly endearing. (OK, I know it’s not right to just summarize an entire country. I’m maybe generalizing the few Russian models that I’ve met, and this has been my experience.) They are some of the most blunt people I’ve come across, daring (to me, not to them) to say some of the most crazy, truest things. Their way of viewing the world is different than mine, and I like it. It’s refreshing. It makes room for conversation, occasionally stumping me in awe, thinking “did she seriously just say that?! I love this girl!!!”.
We arrived at the Saguaro Hotel. I ended up sharing a room with my extremely talented stylist friend Henna, which was the best! (She is always one of my favorite people to work with.)What a wonderful, funny woman. Call time was 11 AM. The fashion director Paula was with us, along with Amanda, Henna, Marley, and Amy. It all felt like a woman’s hangout. “Is this work?”, I thought. Time for makeup. Paula showed two looks to Amy, the makeup-artist. One was a pink lip neutral eye, the other was a cat-eye. You can guess which one I wanted, and so I was delighted when Polina bluntly said “No, I don’t look good with Cat-eye. My eye shape is wrong for that. It won’t look good” to which I interjected “I’ll take it. I love a Cat-eye. It’s meant for me!”. We got what we wanted. For a split second, I felt like we were Linda and Naomi from the 90’s, saying ‘if you don’t book Naomi on the shoot, I’m not doing it!’ Teamwork.
Shooting around the Saguaro Hotel was a bit like putting on a show, because there were so many guests staying there at that time. Guests from all over the world, dressed Coachella-style, ready to get their party on. Some were captivated, and some could care less. It was apparent who was from L.A. and who was a foreigner, because even if someone from Los Angeles doesn’t actually see photo-shoots happening all of the time, they’ll act like they do and play it cool. Anyway- it was a great shoot. Hot, beautiful day & good team. Quiet drive home.
Enjoy the photos!