The team behind our Francesca Hayward shoot on staying creative in challenging times

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  • Earlier this month, some of the UK’s leading creatives came together on a COVID-secure set to make Marie Claire’s #savethearts campaign, fronted by principal dancer Francesca Hayward, happen. The faces behind the shoot, The Cruel Hearts Club band, make-up artist Nikki Wolff, and photographer Vicky Lawton, reveal how they’ve navigated a devastating year for the creative industries and their hopes for the future. 

    The fallout of the pandemic has been felt by creatives across the arts industry. With theatres, museums, galleries and music venues closed, the sector that employs over 2 million people was left on its knees as the nation locked down – and then locked down again.

    But despite the devastation, creatives across all disciplines fought to find new ways of working. From photographers to make-up artists, musicians to dancers, the UK’s creatives proved their resilience, grit and resourcefulness in the face of huge economic difficulty due to little or no government help.

    So when Marie Claire brought together some of the industry’s brightest creative minds for our Francesca Hayward #savethearts campaign shoot, things on our socially distanced set might have looked a little different, but the results were nothing short of magical.

    Meet the groundbreaking creatives who made it happen: The Cruel Hearts Club band, Dior Celebrity Make-up Artist Nikki Wolff and photographer Vicky Lawton.

    Meet the creatives behind our Francesca Hayward shoot

    Cruel Hearts Club: ‘Playing live is how we make our living’

    Blending everything from cheerleader chants, to gnarly guitar work, infectious lyrics and a whole load of attitude, sisters Edie (vocals, guitar) and Gita (vocals, guitar, synths) Langley began their musical adventure by moving to London and after recruiting drummer Gabi Woo, they formed Cruel Hearts Club, a no-nonsense, sisterhood of captivating punk-pop goodness that pulls zero punches.

    Cruel Hearts Club have supported Sting, Iggy Pop and The Libertines. Playing at Isle of Wight Festival, Hit The North and Camden Rocks is something of the norm for the band, who have crammed festival tents, sold out venues and warmed up for some of the biggest artists in the world.

    We caught up with Cruel Hearts Club’s Gita Langley (vocals, guitar, synths) and Gabi Woo (drums) on longing for live music, and why the government needs to stop ignoring the arts.

    creatives behind the #savethearts campaign

    For a lot of people, seeing live music is so incredibly important, it’s like therapy for the soul. And I think the nation is grieving. Playing live is how we make our living, so for it to have been taken away from us for almost a whole year has been really stressful.  

    We did as much as we could remotely. We had just recorded a single before the first lockdown, so we had material we could promote when we weren’t allowed to perform gigs. But it’s been incredibly hard. We’ve had to think of the long game and just stay positive and keep going mentally and physically.

    The government seem to have a lack of empathy for anyone making a living from the arts.  The funding they have provided is not at all adequate enough for people and venues to survive, and so many businesses will disappear. Lots of people have been forced to think about another career or get a different job. The arts need more sustained support, as simple as that. 

    Nikki Wolff: ‘Campaigns encouraging people to retrain from their creative careers can be damaging and hurtful’

    Nikki Wolff is Dior’s celebrity make-up artist. Internationally renowned, her clients include Kim Kardashian, Kendall Jenner, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Dua Lipa. We caught up with her behind the scenes of our shoot on the new world of pre-recorded red carpets, and staying Covid-safe on set.

    creatives behind our #savethearts campaign

    Red carpet events are now done in studios and filmed, and regular Covid testing takes place to ensure everyone’s safety, alongside all the appropriate PPE. As there are far fewer celebrities travelling for premieres and parties, I’ve done no travelling. A lot of the glamorous ‘real world’ work has been replaced by content creation and hosting masterclasses.

    There needs to be greater understanding of how beauty professionals work. They’re some of the most fastidious and hygienic people across any industry. They, just like many industries that deal with personal hygiene as part of their work, had a responsibility even before Covid to make sure things are sanitary at all times. I have always been especially particular about the way my kit is organised, and my hygiene levels are second to none. And now they’ve improved further in line with specific guidance.

    Campaigns encouraging people to retrain can be damaging and hurtful, especially when people have trained and worked so hard at their craft their entire lives. There needs to be more of an appreciation of what these industries add to the quality of all our lives, and a change of attitude towards creative industries to bring about better funding. We need to stick together and support our fellow artists to rise up and contribute their gifts. 

    Vicky Lawton: ‘As a nation we are losing the freedom of expression’

    Director, Photographer and Creative Director, Vicky Lawton, has worked with brands including Rolls-Royce, Aston Martin, L’Oreal, Chanel, Jimmy Choo and Agent Provocateur, and talent including Britney Spears, Cara Delevingne and Dua Lipa. With each project, Lawton has a distinct eye for detail –always pushing performance and art direction to create bold and dynamic visuals. We caught up with her on set to talk a new way of shooting, and the soul-affirming nature of live performance.

    It’s been a rollercoaster, from long periods of isolation working from home, to lots of shoots back-to-back on set and figuring out this new way of interacting, directing and shooting behind a mask.

    Watching Francesca move across the stage was one of the most incredible opportunities. Her grace combined with her power is captivating. To lose that ability to watch live art, as a nation, we are losing the freedom of expression. Performance brings joy, and that passion is infectious. I see it as medicinal – it’s good for the soul.

    There has to be empathy and respect for the arts. For everything and everyone that goes into making the industry work. Our joy, passion and mental health relies on the escapism of art.

    * Get involved with our Save The Arts campaign this week via our social media platforms @marieclaireuk #savethearts

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