Russian State of Mind

ever since we shot our September catalog in
Saint Petersburg, we’ve been obsessed with any
and all things Russian
1. Dr. Zhivago; Number one on our Netflix queue (worth it for the outfits alone).
2. Old-world charm—antique brass candlesticks.
3. Painting by Russian master Kazimir Malevich.
4. Smoky perfume inspired by Russian tea (with a “hint of shelves full of old books”).
5. The only thing fancier than a raised pinkie—a teacup from the famed Imperial Porcelain Factory in Saint Petersburg (est. 1744).
6. The ultimate foodie splurge: Russian caviar and chocolate.
7. Our take on the Russian ushanka (literally “ear hat”).
8. A forever favorite: NARS Red Square lip pencil.
9. OPI St. Petersburgandy nail polish (best name ever).
10. Chamomile, Mother Nature’s Ambien and Russia’s national flower.
11. Nothing says “I just got back from Russia” like souvenir Matryoshka dolls.
12. Crime and Punishment, Dostoyevsky’s most famous novel (and our prop for impressing strangers on the subway).

(post by Alexandra Andrews)

Setting the Scene

our visual viceroy, Ashley, shares
her scouting snaps of the Saint Petersburg
backdrops that made it into the catalog
Because so many things factor into getting the picture right—
timing the light, choosing angles, editing backgrounds—our scouting
days are crucial. In Russia, our planning ended up translating literally.
Our scouting snapshots matched the final catalog edit almost exactly.
–Ashley, art director in chief
“We wanted the iconic Hermitage Museum to frame the model, not compete with her. Shooting at a low angle makes her long and elegant.”
“Canal + cobblestone + traditional onion dome architecture = quintessential Saint Petersburg.”
“Turn the camera a few degrees and you can’t avoid the growing crowd. Shooting into the building (with a tight crop) gave us control over the background and highlights one of our location musts, the Mariinsky Theatre (one-time home to Mikhail Baryshnikov).”
“Many of the dance studios we scouted were basic and dark. When we found these windows, I knew we had to take advantage of the milky (and ever forgiving) backlight.”
“Shooting from the bottom of the hill hides the groups of tourists visiting the Spas na Kravi Church without obstructing the picture-worthy architecture.”
“A happy accident—we stumbled upon this location while scouting a bridge nearby.”
“Timing is everything! This picture taken an hour later in the day wouldn’t have worked—once the sun gets too high, the light instantly turns hard and unflattering.”

(post by Ashley Sargent Price)

Dispatch from Russia

Jack, our men’s stylist, shows us his
on-set snaps taken while shooting our
September catalog in Saint Petersburg.
1. “We had to break for foot traffic while we were doing this shot on the bridge.”

2. “Our local security team.”

3. “Arthur, our model, and a soviet-era hatchback, shortly after his arrival in Russia.”

4. “Back to the location van for a wardrobe change.”

check out the rest of the men’s travel notes on

(post by Jack O’Connor)

Behind the Curtain

a peek at our September women’s shoot at
the Yakobson dance studio in Saint Petersburg,
Russia, featuring local ballerinas
We cast the lovely, lithe ballerinas from the Yakobson and Mariinksy schools through a local in-the-know Saint Petersburg production coordinator. The Mariinsky ballet school is known for helping hone the skills of such mega-talents as Anna Pavlova and Mikhail Baryshnikov.
Between takes, the girls stretched, giggled and snacked on catering with us. Fun fact: Each time they put on their satin pointe shoes, they sew the ankle ribbons for perfect placement.
We were so impressed by the girls’ dedication—they practice six days a week, with only one off for rest (and it’s a major core strength workout, we’re told). But the payoff is huge—they go on to perform in major productions around the world at renowned venues like the Metropolitan Opera, Carnegie Hall and the London Royal Opera House.
Our crew was so inspired after spending the day shooting in the studio that they attended the ballet at the Mariinsky Theatre that night. The performance? A captivating rendition of “Romeo and Juliet,” the classic tale of young love.

Check out the rest of J.Crew’s trip and cashmere collection at

(post by Ashley Sargent Price)

(post by John Ciombor & John Fei)

© 2014 by J.Crew. All Images and materials are copyrighted by J.Crew unless otherwise noted.

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