Directed and shot by Astrid Salomon, Melbourne label Hardwick’s latest collection focuses on femininity and sexuality. With an emphasis on classic glamour, Hardwick’s second foray into the world of mainstream ready-to-wear fashion for Autumn/Winter 2013 (the first being ‘Range 1′ for Spring/Summer 2012)  is nothing short of impeccable. Coming from a bridal background, Mariana Hardwick‘s creations are made for women to feel comfortable in their own skin and to feel their very best all the time, not only on their special day. The aptly named ‘Range 2′ focuses on ‘dark luxury’ with an emphasis on the underlying concept of transforming the raw and organic into something refined and luxurious. This is further highlighted by the ‘dark crystal’ colour palate which although dominated by black, shades of aubergine, and metallic grey hues make subtle appearances.

Hardwick’s craftsmanship and design is stunning and is only further imagined on screen as the models move and slink around in the luxuriously wearable pieces. While the peplum trend is clearly evident in the current collection, there is something timeless about the way Hardwick has put together her pieces and through the use of natural fibres and intricate lazer cut designs, statement pieces such as a feather leather mini skirt and feather collar and the the undeniable focus of the Byzantine leather garments, the designer has managed to really find a niche away from her bridal aesthetic. Bringing this collection to life really allows the consumer to imagine the covetable garments, something which director Salomon explained to Portable in this exclusive interview.

Portable: What is your background?

Astrid Salomon: I am originally from Berlin and lived in Hamburg for a couple of years, then for a little bit in New York. When the financial crash happened, I had to return home to Germany, because there was no work to start over in New York, but then a very close friend moved to Sydney and I visited her and after the second visit (somehow always at Christmas) I spontaneously decided to stay longer, just to come back to Berlin and meet my now boyfriend who is from Melbourne, so it took me back to Australia in December 2011 and here I am…still.

P: When did you first become interested in photography and why?

Astrid Salomon: Coming from photography, I still am a photographer at heart. I studied at a rather old fashioned school near Berlin. I think it is important to learn your skills properly. Later I moved to Hamburg and quickly started to work as a freelance photographer in 2006. As a photographer I worked for clients such as Elle, Vogue, Gala, Flair, Haaegen Dazs, Adidas, Nivea and Closed. Since I left my Hasselblad behind and started shooting with Canon, I discovered the film possibility and that’s how it started. Then I got recognition with that as well and brands were also interested in that aesthetic. Working with Edward Goldner as a DOP on this project was just wonderful. His portfolio is so impressive and it is great to equally exchange your ideas with someone on set.

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P: What are you inspired by for your work and who are your influences, and what in particular inspired and influenced this film?

Astrid Salomon: Human behaviour and role play in general is a great source for inspiration. I like the glossy surfaces, but only with all their revealing crackles. In fashion photography you are telling little fairy tales, inventing characters with the model and it is more so the dark sides that are interesting even when everything looks shiny. For this film, the always enchanting image of a woman in the media was the basis. A pretty girl sends out her charm and the lovers follow her call. Our film shows a girl, that does not necessarily want to behave this way, but finds herself doing all those little seducing and loveseeking behaviors subconsciously. She is not sure how to think of herself. Is she just missing a lover? Is she just playing a game? Is she just bored by the same old story?

P: What is it about the marriage between fashion film and photography that interests you in particular?

Astrid Salomon: I always like to explore the possibility a tool offers you which you are working with and when I bought the Canon four years ago, I found myself not shooting with my Hasselblad anymore because the smaller camera gave me more freedom (it is a lot less heavy and I rarely use tripods) so of course I was tempted to try everything and I started filming and experienced a lot of joy with the fact that you are not just focused on one frame, or eight to ten images for a story. It also influenced my aesthetics in my photography work, I am not as static as I used to be. I would say this love affair started like a big flame and now they are figuring out how to grow longterm into a perfect team.

P: What perspective do you think film brings that a still image can’t and vice versa?

Astrid Salomon: Film has more character development in their actors and works with much more time to create it, while in photography you have to put all you want to say into one image. People can look at this one image as long as they want while in film you decide how long a scene is going to be and then its gone. Also you are working mostly with models, which makes it different again, and if you want to work out a certain character in your fashion editorial, you have just one day, on set, while shooting.

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P: What interests you about fashion film as it becomes more widely recognised?

Astrid Salomon: It is just a nice new playground really, and as digital media becomes more and more important , it is good to play with different possibilities to tell a story and place your garments in movement. I personally also look forward to collaborate with cinematographers, so I can create these worlds together with them.

P: Why did you approach Hardwick in the first place, what draws you to their design and aesthetic?

Astrid Salomon: I got in contact with Hardwick through Monique Malone, who is producing for them and was my booker in Sydney, when I was living there for six months back in 2011. We stayed in touch and enjoy working together so everything is quite a collaborative process. Their ready to wear range is new, coming from the traditional Mariana Hardwick design of bridal wear, and this film shows part of their second collection evening wear. It’s just beautiful craft and design. When I first came to their warehouse in Brunswick, I was truly impressed by the fact that everything is handmade and the whole atmosphere is just very friendly and inspiring. Helping them launch their first ready to wear collection, which is of such a high level of quality is exciting to me as well.