Indulge in the Subterranean Splendor Crafted by Award-Winning Celebrity Stylist, Cannon

New York native stylist, Cannon is an award winning celebrity stylist, fashion editor and creative director who has styled many iconic musicians including J-LO, Annie Lennox, Cyndi Lauper, Jimmy Page and Shirley Manson. In this interview, he expounded upon the creative genesis of 'Subterranean Splendor,' a recent photo narrative crafted for Harper's Bazaar Vietnam, while also imparting his insightful philosophy on the art of creation and personal work ethos.

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Subterranean Splendor. Stylist: Cannon. Photo: Tom Marvel.

Harper’s Bazaar (HBZVN): Dear Cannon, thank you for your creative direction behind Subterranean Splendor, the new cover story you and Tom Marvel produced for Harper’s Bazaar Vietnam. What inspired the concept behind this photoshoot?

CANNON: The art factory provided an incredible backdrop for our photoshoot, featuring a captivating subterranean cave. Due to the cave’s dark background, we aimed to infuse the space with vibrant colors through our wardrobe choices. I’ve always been fascinated by the concept of styling with parachute dresses, and this opportunity allowed us to create a truly otherworldly atmosphere with these exquisite pieces.

Parachute skirt and top, Alice Andrews. Shoes, John Ashford. Necklaces, Erickson Beamon from Showroom Seven.

HBZVN: Could you tell us about the key elements and aesthetics you incorporated into this photoshoot to bring out the theme?

CANNON: There are numerous crucial elements that go into any photoshoot, each requiring careful incorporation. First and foremost, collaborating with a skilled photographer is essential. For Subterranean Splendor, we had the pleasure of working with Tom Marvel. Equally important is the choice of a talented model, and in this case, we were fortunate to have Renata Gubayeva, a stunning model standing at 5’10”, who moves gracefully and possesses an innate understanding of how to showcase clothing through her poses.

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Then comes the selection of wardrobe. Tom had a vision to shoot with parachute dresses, and I managed to find the ideal designer, Alice Andrews, to bring this vision to life. Additionally, the expertise of the hair and makeup team is paramount. We were fortunate to work with the skilled duo consisting of George and Nikki, whose exceptional synergy was consistently evident throughout the shoot.

HBZVN: Born in New York, how did your roots influence your approach to styling and fashion?

CANNON: Since a young age, I’ve been deeply fascinated by the realms of fashion and rock ‘n’ roll. Growing up in the vibrant city of New York has afforded me the opportunity to witness the beautiful tapestry of individuality in how people express themselves through their attire.

I distinctly recall my high school days when I saw the Eurythmics perform. Annie Lennox, a pioneer in gender-bending fashion, stood at the forefront of this movement. The artists of the 1980s fearlessly pushed the boundaries of fashion, gender, and avant-garde style. From the realms of punk rock, alternative rock, the artistic influences of Keith Haring and Andy Warhol, to the emerging underground fashion and club scenes, New York City has always been a crucible for setting trends that continue to influence and inspire us today.

I consider myself exceptionally fortunate to have had the opportunity to meet and collaborate with some of my favorite legends in these realms.

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Parachute skirt and top, Alice Andrews. Shoes, John Ashford. Belt, Pluma. Earrings, House12 from Flying Solo.

HBZVN: With such an impressive roster of iconic musicians and Hollywood legends you’ve styled, can you share a memorable experience from working with one of them?

CANNON: I recently had the pleasure of collaborating with the fashion icon Helena Christensen, and she proved to be an absolute dream to work with. Her positive attitude, infectious smile, passion for fashion, and seamless collaboration during the shoot all contributed to making the day absolutely perfect. It’s truly wonderful when individuals you admire turn out to be remarkably cool. I can’t wait until the editorial comes out!

HBZVN: As a stylist, you’ve been both behind and in front of the camera. How has this dual perspective shaped your approach to fashion and style?

CANNON: As a stylist who initially focused on still images, I’ve always approached the preparation of a still image differently than that of videos and films, which require a 360-degree perspective.

Preparing for a cover shoot is inherently different from getting someone ready for an interview, a red-carpet event, or any live event. In the world of still images, we have a few tricks of the trade that aren’t applicable to video or live settings. For example, pinning or clamping can be used to achieve a desired shape in a model or subject, but when it comes to anything live, you have to rely on techniques like tailoring. 

In today’s fashion landscape, video has begun to overshadow still images as the primary format. This shift means that all of us in the industry must adapt and evolve our methods accordingly.

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HBZVN: What do you find most fulfilling about your role as a creative director, and how does it complement your work as a stylist?

CANNON: The role of a Creative Director provides a canvas for boundless creative expression. What I find most fulfilling about this role is the unparalleled freedom it offers to shape and mold a vision into reality with a team of talented artists. Collaborating closely with the entire team, including models, photographers, and stylists, allows for a harmonious fusion of ideas and expertise, resulting in a truly captivating visual narrative. This freedom compliments my work as a stylist by seamlessly integrating my expertise, exploring artistic territories, pushing creative boundaries, and enhancing my ability to craft visually stunning and emotionally resonant narratives.

Parachute skirt and top, Alice Andrews. Shoes, John Ashford. Jewelry, Erickson Beamon from Showroom Seven.

HBZVN: You’ve been a spokesperson for various brands. How do you balance your personal style with representing the image of these different companies?

CANNON: I believe true style is innate. I’ve been fortunate whenever I’ve represented brands as a spokesperson or ambassador; I’ve always been allowed to express my authentic self through my attire at events. My style is highly eclectic, often featuring vibrant, eye-catching shoes and exquisite scarves, like those from Alexander McQueen. I also tailor my appearance according to the client and the specific event I am hosting.

HBZVN: Who is your idol? Why?

CANNON: One of my idols is Bono from U2, known for his significant contributions through the RED campaign. This initiative, a division of The ONE Campaign, has raised over $360 million and positively impacted more than 70 million people. The ONE Campaign is a global movement dedicated to ending extreme poverty and preventable diseases by 2030, advocating for justice and equality rather than mere charity. Their goal is to ensure everyone, everywhere, can lead a life of dignity and opportunity.

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Annie Lennox, an award-winning singer-songwriter and the visionary behind The Circle, is another individual I greatly admire. Her relentless activism and dedication to human rights and social justice have left a lasting impression on me. Annie established The Circle to provide women and their allies with the platform to unite and work towards creating a more equitable world for women and girls.

Parachute skirt and top, Alice Andrews. Shoes, John Ashford. Jewelry, Erickson Beamon from Showroom Seven.

Another idol of mine is Christy Turlington, renowned for her Every Mother Counts campaign. Beyond her supermodel status, Christy is a true superhero to the women she assists. Every Mother Counts has collaborated with global leaders and communities to guarantee that mothers and birthing individuals have access to high-quality, respectful maternity care, free from discrimination and mistreatment. This initiative recognizes such care as a vital element of maternal health.

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HBZVN: Can you describe a typical day of yours?

CANNON: There’s no typical day which keeps it incredibly exciting! Each day, whether it’s a shoot day, prep day, or wrap day, is unique, and this variation adds to the excitement.

Here’s a snapshot of a typical day:

– Coffee: A must-have fuel for the day.
– Team Meeting with Assistants: Collaborative discussions to kickstart the day.
– Delegating Duties/Responsibilities: Assigning tasks and organizing responsibilities.
– Planning for Upcoming Shoots: Developing strategies and creative plans.
– Prioritizing Shoots and Sending Requests: Reaching out to designers and public relations to secure designer clothing for shoots.
– Moment of Calm: Taking a deep breath or meditating to center myself.
– Making Lists: Lists, lists, lists! Creating and organizing lists, which are crucial for staying on top of tasks and details.

Parachute skirt and top, Alice Andrews. Shoes, John Ashford. Jewelry, Erickson Beamon from Showroom Seven.

HBZVN: What is your most favorite book? Why do you like it?

CANNON: Currently, I am captivated by Pari Dukovic’s breathtaking images of the NYC Ballet and the designers it inspired. The book, The New York City Ballet: Choreography & Couture, showcases designs worn by ballet dancers, created by renowned names such as Virgil Abloh, Jason Wu, Christopher John Rogers, Anna Sui, and Valentino, among other top brands. Featuring the work of more than thirty contemporary fashion designers, this book, authored by Marc Happel with photography by Pari Dukovic and a foreword by Sarah Jessica Parker, highlights their unique contributions to ballet. (Link here.)

HBZVN: How do you describe your personal fashion style? How does it help shaping your image and personality in the public?

CANNON: I would describe my personal fashion style as predominantly monochromatic, centered around the color black. It serves as a versatile canvas upon which I add unique elements to express my personality. I believe in the power of a staple piece – be it a striking pair of shoes, a statement necklace/ring, or a well-tailored suit or bomber jacket. 

In terms of shaping my image and personality in the public eye, my style represents a blend of sophistication and individuality. The consistent black base reflects my preference for elegance and timelessness, while the choice of standout accessories or garments showcases my creativity and attention to detail. It communicates that I am both confident in my style choices and open to artistic expression, allowing me to make a statement without overpowering my presence. Ultimately, my fashion style becomes an extension of my identity and reflects my unique taste.

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HBZVN: Looking back at your impressive career, is there a particular project or collaboration that stands out as a defining moment for you as a creative director / stylist?

CANNON: I had the incredible opportunity to collaborate with fashion legend Carmen Dell’Orefice for the cover of VOGUE earlier this year. The shoot, captured by the iconic photographer Albert Watson, was a culmination of meticulous planning and creative synergy. Working closely with Watson, we crafted the vision for the cover with precision. This moment was nothing short of iconic for me, and it took over three years of dedication and hard work to bring it to life!

Additionally, I had the pleasure of working with the remarkable team at NASA to design the spacesuit for Snoopy, who served as the zero gravity indicator on the Artemis mission to space. It was a stellar experience!

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Photographer: Tom Marvel @tommarvelphotography |
Model: Renata Gubayeva @renatagubayeva.
Stylists: Cannon @thecannonmediagroup | and John Ashford @johnashfordshoes.
Photo Assistants: Ala Hammouda @ohmy_ala, and Michele Swain @mswain696.
Fashion Assistants: Ava Cella @ava.ella, Julia Cook @jadore.julia, and Sydney Lynch @sydneylynch_.
Hair: George Grierson @geoxge.
Products: @oribe @oribepro #oribe @aveda #aveda @hottoolspro #hottoolspro
Makeup: Nikki Jelin @nikkij_mua.
Products: @natatshadenonabeauty @danessamyricksbeauty @maccosmetics @macpro @danessamyricksbeauty.
Studio Space: Art Factory Studios, Paterson NJ @artfactorypaterson.

Harper’s Bazaar Vietnam