Born in Paris to a family well established in the world of the publishing and fashion, Vanessa Bellugeon did not usurp her talents as a photo stylist. Developing her career from the very beginning in both the United States and France, where she brings to each culture the character that it sometimes lacks.
At a very young age Vanessa attended her first fashion show — the first of many ¾ this experience inspired her to pursue studies at one of the best fashion design schools. Following a year at the Paris University, the Sorbonne, Vanessa went to New York to study at Parsons completing a degree in Design and Marketing in1998. She continued her training with an 18 month internship at the magazine Visionaire. Here she discovered a different reality within the publishing business: the constant need for top fashion photographers and the search for unique and highly creative collaborations and sponsors. It was in New York that she got her first job in the BCBG Max Azria communications department. Here she remained a year, but publishing is in her DNA. So when the family business decided to launch an American edition of the magazine Jalouse in New York it was natural that Vanessa was an integral part of the project. In collaboration with editor-in-chief Stephen Todd she developed the magazine’s editorial content, evoking the esprit of the French Jalouse but with material aimed at a North American youth market.
In January 2002 Vanessa returned to Paris to manage the Fashion productions at L’Officiel magazine. However, balancing budgets and maintaining spreadsheets did not tax her creativity and it was while making her own fashion series as stylist that her true metier came to light.
Inspired by her professional experience and the exceptional personalities of her family—an eccentric Parisian grandmother, friend to the great couturiers; a mother who was also a photo stylist, then editor in chief of the magazine L’Officiel¾Vanessa developed an especial aesthetic sensibility. Open to the most eclectic elements of the times, Vanessa operates like a mixing deck of cross-cultural references. She respects the style of some of the icons that will never go out of fashion. Romy Schneider’s dark glamour, Lauren Hutton with her sporty elegance and Brook Shields’s mischievous sensuality. All the while enhancing them with the musical influences of Madonna, Mikael Jackson, No Doubt, Daft Punk, Françoise Hardy, Blondie, etc. Yves Saint Laurent’s 1970s boho style or Helmut Newton’s more sexualized sophistication also influenced her work. Her movie references are also many: Faye Dunaway and Steve McQueen in the Thomas Crown Affair, Michelle Pfeiffer in Scarface, Sylvana Mangano in Death in Venice, Riz Amer and Catherine Deneuve and David Bowie in The Predators. As for art, her hall of fame opens with Lucien Clergue’s nudes, Melvin Sokolsky’s and Erwin Blumenfeld’s avant-garde works, Viviane Sassen’s sensual colors. The œuvres of Louise Bourgeois and Cindy Sherman are also echoed in her work. As for Design, Le Corbusier, Charlotte Perriand and Pierre Paulin (a friend of the family) are the names she most often mentions.
These influences are found in her work as photo stylist for Beyoncé, Katy Perry, Lana Del Rey, Georgia May Jagger and Suki Waterhouse, among others. She also adapted her specialized talent to commercial businesses such as L’Oréal, Galeries Lafayette and La Halle in ad campaigns and catalogues.
“Creating a good fashion story”, she says, “is like being a good cook: you have to have the right quality ingredients. A good stylist is like a chef or an orchestra conductor: he knows how to put into order in the apparent chaos of profusion.” Her favorite quote is also by Lauren Hutton: “Fashion is what designers have to offer four times a year. Style is what you chose.”