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Miss Grand Gibraltar Jaylynn Cruz pays homage to her mother Part 2

Miss Gibraltar 2022 1st Princess, Jaylynn Cruz, is continuing a journey into the worlds of modelling and fashion that her mother Lynette also embarked upon some years ago.

Earlier, Charlene Figueras interviewed mother and daughter after Jaylynn had recreated a photoshoot of Lynette’s from the 1990s.

Ms Figueras was also intrigued to explore the topic with Lynette’s original creative team on said shoot to bring those stories to life.

Lynette’s team was comprised of photographers Derek McMahon and John Harper, and Alex Britto as Creative Director, who spoke to Ms Figueras about their memories

The following, in part paraphrased, are highlights of a far lengthier conversation.

Tell us about the original shoot?

The principal theme was teamwork. Everyone supported each other and we all had a common vision: create art and empower the model we were working with.

It was easy to work with Lynette as there was a deep-rooted mutual trust, understanding and respect, including an appreciation of the wider process. Even though there were uncomfortable poses, she had a great attitude of trying it out.

Remember, back in those days, there was no way to instantly see the image. There wasn’t a screen at the back of the camera.

However, Derek managed the first local photo printing shop, so the following day we had the images, which we could not wait to see.

Resources were difficult to bring together.

There were no budgets for these shoots, so we pulled in resources from everywhere, including being creative.

Alex had recently returned from the UK and sold [fashion] accessories.

However, many of them were made by us, for example the large hoops Lynette wore were part of a wooden curtain rail.

Also, on one of Lynette’s looks we needed some silver earrings, so we asked a waiter for a bit of aluminium foil paper to wrap up a pair of earrings we had and they did the job.

We’d originally all met though the Miss Gibraltar and Miss Plater shows.

There was a strong desire to collaborate and create art within production shows and photoshoots were another avenue for that.

Were you aware you were inspiring others?

No, but we did realise many ladies wanted to be a part of what we were creating.

I think we contributed to the boom in fashion photography as a thing in Gibraltar in the 90s – we would come up with the concepts, locations, logistics, etc.

Tell us more about what you did back in the day?

Beauty pageants were central to, and a backdrop to, a lot of our work.

The late Eddie Viotto [a Gibraltarian who studied fashion design in London and became a celebrated Fashion Designer locally and internationally] was instrumental in bringing our team together.

He had great creative vision and formed a multi-faceted team wherein we each had our role: photography, makeup, directing, etc.

We tried to be innovative with everything – Stephen Perera once designed some entrance tickets for a fashion show and we printed it on acetate [plastic] paper for a different effect.

We produced Top Model too. We all pitched in to create the show – even creating the staging. Derek recalls laying down a carpet and using a staple gun to secure it.

The team supported Eddie Viotto when he produced three Miss Gibraltar shows.

Alex Britto was then contracted by GBC three consecutive times to coach and direct Miss Gibraltar – he recalls them by their opening outfits: ‘there was one look with a yellow swimsuit and a large wicker hats, which were mexican hats, which I cut the top and approached a car garage to sponsor the show and they helped me spray paint them yellow!’

Why did it stop?

When Eddie passed, some of the enthusiasm left us.

It was gradual but there was also a feeling of ‘how can we do this better than we have done already?’ [Alex continued for a while, being contracted by GBC as a Miss Gibraltar pageant coach but after that other producers were selected].

New generations have emerged which we have very much enjoyed, with particular mention to Christian Santos’ Miss Gibraltar shows and the current productions by Kelvin Hewitt.

What do you think about the fashion photography currently on social media?

We all follow many local photographers on social media and enjoy the content they share.

However, our general view is that retouching has gone beyond enhancing the natural beauty to blurring the skin, which looks very unnatural [Derek recalls that in yesteryear, the methods were far more rudimentary, and that he would fix the red eyes in an image by drawing on top of the printed photo with a felt tip pen].

Photographers are represented in their work. Our team all prefer ladies represented elegantly, with class and style, and not overly and gratuitously sexualised.

Where did you find your inspirations from?

[The team all pointed to Alex] Alex worked at Vidal Sassoon in London where he assisted in photoshoots and fashion events. Alex formed great networks in London where he would often source design pieces for the shoots. Derek also spent some time in London to learn the photographic equipment and processes for the lab. He too absorbed a lot of his fashion photography inspiration from his time there.

What do you think about the recreation of the shoot?

‘It’s fantastic’, although Alex clarifies that more than a recreation, it’s an inheritance, with a definite but distinctive thread of DNA woven into Jaylynn from Lynette (including in her take of this photoshoot).

Like mother like daughter.

Derek reflects that when Jaylynn smiles she looks more like her mother.

They also felt they got a flash-back of Lynette when Jaylynn walked the Miss Gibraltar runway during last year’s pageant.

Which of the looks do you feel best represent the original?

They really like the one where she’s wearing the Eddie Viotto dress and the swimsuit ones too.

Derek is partial to movement in images and loves the one where tulle is flowing.

They comment that one of the images looks like a commercial and, generally, they are very complimentary on how Jaylynn is styled and presents/carries herself.

Finally, would the original team like to collaborate with the current team?


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