When Hervé Léger creative director Christian Juul Nielsen needs to get a job done, he calls upon his model muse Dilone. Shooting a lookbook this year was no mean feat, but together they made magic. Nielsen tells THE DAILY how and why she became his go-to star.
Tell us how you first met Dilone.
I was working with a brand in 2017 as their head of design and shooting my first campaign with them. She was the first model I picked for the lookbook, and she just had this fantastic energy. Then she started wearing a lot of clothes that I designed.
What is it about her that makes her a great muse?
She’s such a chameleon; she can do so many kinds of looks. My idea for this shoot was inspired by Peter Lindbergh and Herb Ritts, in terms of the hair and makeup. She immediately turned into my vision. You can see that she goes from super posh and chic, then she was suddenly in streetstyle mode, dancing at construction sites and running across the sidewalks.
And she’s a New Yorker!
Yes, she’s so bubbly, full of energy, and vibrant. She’s been active in the Black Lives Matter movement, too. We gave her some dresses for a charity [Urban Dove] she’s involved in. She’s a good person and has a super personality. I was happy to see the news recently that she’s going to be in the new TV show about Halston.
Tell us about this shoot.
We shot in May. It was definitely quiet on the streets. We had to get photos, and I wanted to pick someone I was comfortable with because it was still during COVID, so I chose her. We came in our masks and got together with the minimum number of people that we could shoot with. We followed social-distancing protocols. Alessio Boni shot the images on Fifth Avenue, in front of the Empire State Building where our offices are.
What was the vibe like shooting last spring?
I mean, there’s a little bit of worry before you start. But once you’re there and everyone is respectful, you get back to the energy of creating something beautiful. Dilone was easy to work with. It’s easy with an inspiring model. Just look at her move! It was a great moment, and we forgot about COVID briefly. There were some people around who were curious; it always adds fun and energy when you’re shooting in an open area.
Who else inspires you?
I love women, and there are a few women I love following. That’s how I create collections. I need to look to women for inspiration!
Are you still working from home?
Yes. It’s been interesting the way we’ve done it. The factories are sending the dresses to my home. I pre-fit everything on a mannequin, and then send a video to my team. Then I pack everything up and walk over to my fit model’s house. She meets me downstairs and receives the suitcase. Then the team and I go on Zoom while she tries everything on by herself. Then she goes to FedEx and sends everything back! It became normal really fast.
Sounds crazy! What kept you sane during that time?
I was cooking a lot. It was all about learning a new way of communicating. Everyone was doing Instagram Lives, speaking into their cameras, photographing themselves at home. Doing things that they usually wouldn’t because they don’t want to get judged. Not that I’d worry!
We heard you got super into TikTok!
I started doing it myself. They’re so ridiculous! What I think is interesting about TikTok is that there are people on there teaching you all these tech things. It’s surprisingly easy to do all this editing and adding music.
Did you start doing dances?
No dancing. I find it so basic!
Would you start a Hervé Léger TikTok? You could have Dilone run it!
I would definitely do it given the opportunity. I’d love for her to do it. She would be ideal!
What else have you noticed on social media this year?
A new way of dressing and a new way of living. We all started to look at clothes in a different way and started dressing differently. We don’t know what’s going to happen, but people still want to look good. I think we’re moving into a new era of comfortable chic.
How will that inspire the new collection?
I think we’re enjoying being comfortable, but we still want to look nice. Before, there was a very American vibe of sweatpants and sweatshirts, but we learned that you can still wear something decent even though you’re home alone. You don’t want to change your wardrobe completely, but there’s a part of the day where you want to be comfortable, then another where you want to pop out easily and go for dinner in your neighborhood.
You’ve been at Hervé Léger for two years now. Did you do anything to celebrate your work anniversary?
No, but I should! You’re so right; I do need to celebrate. It’s been a beautiful journey, working with fantastic people. I’ve enjoyed it. It’s a beautiful house to work for with beautiful heritage, amazing archives from the ’80s and ’90s. So yeah, I definitely want to celebrate it and the future of it!