The Masons’ style is the direct result of two minds crashing into each other, forming an incredible symbiotic partnership. Known for their bold and evocative imagery, Maruska and Donna-Marie Mason are partners in life as well as partners in business and creativity.
This female photography & film duo have been together for twelve years, during which time they have developed an impressive body of work and reputation within the industry. They have worked with brands such as Space NK, Different Eyewear, Jo Malone, Uptown Yardie and Ezzio. And have been published in many high profile publications such as the New York Times, Vogue Italia, Harpers Bazaar, Forbes, ArtPlay magazine and WWD.
Today we take a closer look at an outfit that features heavily within The Masons’ portfolio of moving and still images. Coco Chanel first brought the idea of remixing masculine and feminine stereotypes in the 20s with this outfit. The Algerian-born designer Yves St Laurent had christened Le Smoking in his A/W 1966 collection, and of course, behind the lens, there’s Helmut Newton’s iconic take on the outfit - we are of course talking about the one, the only, the suit.
We have many historical trailblazers to thank for establishing the suit as a must-have staple in every formidable woman’s closet. The Masons’ have picked up the gauntlet and are running with it, along with a new generation of trailblazers. When The Masons’ contemplate suits being akin to armour, they are quick to dispel that theory; they insist that a woman can indeed retain a sense of vulnerability, softness and individuality while rocking a two-piece. Their ethos is reflected in their images - the image of Jasmine below is a beautiful example of how The Masons’ can capture strength and vulnerability all in a single frame. A sidelight has been used to provide depth and contrast, and the careful use of backlighting adds to the overall feel of the image, it gives Jasmine more of a bold look on the shoulders and a softer look up top.
On set, The Masons’ main priority is the talent. Even when it seems unreasonable to take time out of the schedule to get to know the talent - they do. They believe that connection, authenticity, and placing an importance on getting to know the person behind the face is invaluable in their quest to create imagery that is timeless, bold and meaningful. They are avidly against treating models merely as clothes hangers, and in doing so, not only do they manage to create wonderfully vivid images which demonstrates the duos visual virtuosity, expertise and dedication to their philosophy.
We find ourselves in a unique place in time. We now live in a world where historical gender restricting rules no longer apply. The mavericks mentioned above was most likely the spark that lit the fire and helped us get to where we find ourselves today. And it seems that the fashion industry is finally catching up. There’s no longer a need to separate what we wear into stale, outdated categories such as menswear and womenswear. The time has come for genderless fashion to take centre stage. Potential synergies within the fashion industry need to be actualized for both the sake of the environment, as well as to reflect this generation’s current sentiment and feelings concerning gender and identity.
The Masons have a reputation for being able to depict the full spectrum of skin tones faithfully. They take care to research specific needs for the shoot beforehand and will modify their lighting set up to best highlight the model’s beauty and uniqueness. They extend this approach to the other elements of their shoots, including makeup, hair and styling. This is where The Mason machine really kicks into gear, Maruska and Donna-Marie each bring their unique skills to the table - Maruska with her lighting and stills camera skills, and Donna Marie with her film/TV set design and styling expertise.
Being photographed by the duo in a suit has a way of bringing to the forefront a side of the model that usually remains hidden. Free from judgment, the person in front of the camera is free to be as playful as they wish to be. The Masons’ adore suits as every woman has a different take on it; every woman makes the suit uniquely her own.