Fashion Designer Claudia Paz for Pashioncase

Claudia Paz Designs - © L.A. Cuellar, All Rights Reserved.

Claudia Paz Designs – © L.A. Cuellar, All Rights Reserved.

The first time I met Claudia was in a cafe called Zaza by Rue de Rivoli, a nice chic parisian place at Le Marais the fashion neighborhood of Paris.  I ordered a beer while I was waiting for her and couple minutes later the Bolivian designer arrived with her latin american look strongly influenced for the Parisian style. She´s been living in Paris the last 10 years and you can tell by the way she dresses and the french expressions that escape out of her conversation from time to time.

I contacted Claudia because I was interested to know her passion story and how she has developed a brand where the main texture is the very Bolivian fabric of Alpaca, all in the middle of Paris a city that is know for glamour and sophistication.  So during that first meeting, we arranged a day of shooting at her workshop near the Arc the Triumph to get to know closer her story.

Claudia Paz by LACuellar - © L.A. Cuellar, All Rights Reserved.

Claudia Paz by LACuellar – © L.A. Cuellar, All Rights Reserved.

The day of the shooting, I arrived to her Atelier, we did the shoot and we talked a lot; while she was smoking one of those long, slim, girly Vogue cigarettes this is what she told me about her life, her dreams, her brand and history:

Claudia started in fashion for passion after her parents gave her a sewing machine when she was only 12 years old, at that age she “started to make clothes, without know how to do it, just by following her instinct” as she said. At the same time she was drawing a lot and the first clothes she made were for her parents, her sister and after for the people that was around her. When she was 17 she started doing some catwalks with her clothes in Bolivia in a really empiric way.

From those beginnings she always had clear on her mind that she wanted to come to Paris and develop herself as a fashion designer, so she started studying french and thanks to the help of a teacher she applied to one of the most important fashion schools of the world called ESMOD. To get in the school, she had to compete agains other candidates, she presented her application and got accepted, immediately opening the door for her dream to live in the city of lights and develop as a fashion designer.

Claudia Paz by LACuellar - © L.A. Cuellar, All Rights Reserved.

Claudia Paz by LACuellar – © L.A. Cuellar, All Rights Reserved.

She graduated with honors from the ESMOD and started to work with big brands as Givenchy and Tara Jarmon and some other small ones. All these different works gave her the necessary experience to know how the fashion world works and how to develop a fashion brand. Back on those days, working for these important brands, she met for the first time the Alpaca and right away she felt a strong connection with the fabric since it comes from the roots of her country of origine.

After 4 years of working for other brands, she decided to start her own brand “Claudia Paz” working with the alpaca as its main fabric, using the Bolivian vision but with the influence of the Parisian experience, as she says “I started working with Bolivia showing that Alpaca comes from there, but in a different approach, not in the typic ethnic way that you can see everywhere”

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The concept that she’s been developing with her brand is to create clothing for woman, made 100% with alpaca, with a high quality, exclusiveness and with the Parisian style but with the goal of having them in an accesible price for the market, which was her most important challenge because as we all know the Alpaca is a very expensive fabric. In the other hand, she wanted to work directly with the ethnic craftsmen communities who live in the Bolivian plateau who have worked with Alpaca for centuries; her idea was to learn a lot from them and at the same time teach them a lot of parisian techniques she already knew.

Model: Ashley Revollo from Woman Model Management

Now days, all of her clothes are made in those communities, helping them to have a new income and at the same time showing in Paris the know-how of Bolivian culture. Her objective is to continue establishing her brand in Paris, she also has already been selling in Japan and Switzerland and she’s very interested also in the markets of Australia, USA and China.

I asked her to tell me what was inspiring her for her next collections, and she told me that she has been lately really influenced by Cactus, since this is a plant that you can find all around the Bolivian plateau and also its green color reassembles the color of that magnificent land…she really loves green color and the savage and rustic idea that the cactus incarnates.

Finally I want to say that for the designers, I’m interested to show through my photography my vision of the environment where they work, their collections, portrayed them with something related to them and also to merge them with his/her inspirations.

For this photoshoot we worked in collaboration with Ashley Revollo from Woman Model Management Paris, an amazing half Cuban half Colombian model that lives in Miami but was in Paris for work during couple of weeks.

Obviously, as I always said, the spirit of Pashioncase is to have Natural Pictures, so there is No Make Up, No Hair Dressing and of course No Skin Retouch. 

Thanks a lot again to Claudia, to Ashley and to Woman Management Paris to collaborate with me for this story!!!


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I Dont Want to Shoot Models.


Tribal Invader by © L.A. Cuellar, All Rights Reserved.


The first fashion magazine Les Mondes was published in Paris in January 1901, in those beginnings the name of the model did not appear in the credits of the pictures because it was not important as it is stated in the book Fashion Body Cult:  “The work of professional mannequins and photo models was not considered a respectable career and this females had rather seedy reputations right up until between the two world wars.”

For my first fashion shoot, a friend lend me his small apartment by Place de la Republique, the day was gray and cold, I woke up early in the morning to have all my equipment ready, grabbed the metro and arrived one hour before the shoot to set everything. I remember how nervous I was because I didn´t have any idea of how to do a fashion shoot and I had to work with the make up artist and the model pretending to have done this type of work many times before.


Killer Love by © L.A. Cuellar, All Rights Reserved.

The make up artist arrived, a friendly french-asian girl, with amazing light brown eyes, we talked about the script and got ready for the model. At this moment, I had in my mind more questions to solve than answers to give to my team for this shoot. The model arrived on time, she lived in a village outside of Paris, a beautiful, tender and soft girl; we started to do the make up, talked about the script and one hour after we started shooting. Everything went well and smooth, we finish the shoot, both (model and makeup artist) said Bye to me and I was again alone in my friend´s apartment happy with the result of the shoot, but most important, with one thing clear in my mind: what I wanted to do was fashion photography from there onwards.

I had this same ritual during the next fashion shoots: the team arrived, the model arrived, the make up & hair were done, we  talked about the script, we shoot, we finish, everybody leaves and I was alone again.  That´s how it is normally goes in every fashion shoot, of course there is chat, exchange of experiences, work and different vibes like any other job…. but I had always the feeling that something was missing, something was not making sense for me at the end of each of those shoots, even though when the result as a team was great because we got the pictures we were looking for, there was always a feeling of emptiness in some part of my soul.

The work of a model is really tough, it´s not just being beautiful and posing in front a camera to get the pictures or the video, it involves a strong knowledge of the body from the top of the head to the little toe, they have to build their bodies with long hours of exercise, take care of what they eat, be ready to work no matter how they´re feeling that day, spend long hours going to castings, waiting and running from one place to the other and spend long ours working in the shooting. At the end everybody is interested on using the model as a canvas to paint the story that the they want.


Tribal Invader by © L.A. Cuellar, All Rights Reserved.

Today I feel that models are becoming like when the first fashion magazine Les Mondes appeared, objects: a beautiful, well prepared, expensive object;  you can see it even more in the catwalks where they don´t show any emotion and even some brands don´t even want people to know who they are by covering their faces with beautiful masks or any other object to make their audiences concentrate in the clothes. As I said before, the goal of that object called model is to be the best canvas, with the exact texture, measurements, colors and quality that the client wants to paint, but who cares about the person that lives inside that physically beautiful canvas? I´m very sure at the end nobody cares about it, the business just use them to reach their goals…….until that moment when they becomes famous and the canvas gets a name and a history that makes everybody to be interested about its life story. Now I know this is exactly what I felt was missing after every fashion shoot: Besides shooting the model, also shooting the person,  that was that thing which disturbs me deep inside. So I thought, how am I going to shoot the person and not just the model? my answer was: to shoot them playing a story about something they really love to do: their passion.

I started to contact model agencies and arranging castings, where I could have time to really meet the person that lies inside of the model.  What I found was the confirmation of what I was thinking: Nobody cares about the person that lies inside the model. How did I find it out? well, during the castings I started to talk with them about their life, passions, stories, goals, dreams, etc and since the first model to the last one I interviewed last week, all of them told me it was the first time instead of posing or walking or showing a portfolio, somebody was interested  about their lives as persons.


Killer Love by © L.A. Cuellar, All Rights Reserved.

I´m filmily convinced that for Pashioncase I don´t want to shoot models, I want to shoot Persons with real stories from their lives, playing their own life story based in the passion they have. I want to meet the person (or at least a small part of it), I want to give them the space to show to the world an intimate piece of their soul and I want to interpret that intimate part they share with me through my eyes.

To finish: I know a professional model should be able to get the result that the client wants without thinking if her style, life or passions go with the brand or designer concept and I´m not pretending to criticize or change the way it works, I know and I understand it is the way it is,  but I think brands and designers should care a lot more about the person inside the model and not just to see them as one more piece of the marketing strategy.

I know I can be naive, but I imagine that getting to know the person who lives inside the models, knowing their passions, their fashion style or their way of seeing life and matching the right person (model) with the values of the brand, for sure will give a 100 times better results or at least more human than the work done with a model who does not identifies with the brand, at the end the models are persons who (as everybody else) give life to fashion, as Marc Jacobs said: “Clothes mean nothing, until someone lives on them.”


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Fashion Photography with a Smartphone?

Photography byYohann Laique

Picture by Yohann Laique

I’m firmly convinced that we’re living a strong moment of change in photography, not just because of the digital age that we have been living in the last years but mostly for the mix of that digital technology with the internet. I’m talking about the democratization of photography since today everybody that has a smartphone in his pocket is a potential photographer with a direct connection to internet that allow him to publish the pictures real life.

Today there are lots of photographers who think  that anything you do with a smartphone is not photography because you are not able to manage all the technical variables that you can in a professional camera, but from my point of view managing a professional camera perfectly does not makes you a professional photographer, it takes a lot more than the technical part to consider yourself as one.

Nadar, the french master of portrait photography said: “”Photographic theory can be taught in an hour, the basic technique in a day. But, what cannot be taught is the feeling for light. . . . It is how light lies on the face that you as artist must capture.” So Photography goes beyond the technical knowledge, which of course is really important to master, but the most importat is to have clear idea in your head and your heart of that vision that you want to show to the world. Being a photographer is not just making amazing separate pictures everyday, it takes much more than that, you have to be able to create a lifetime consistent work to consider yourself as a professional photographer.

Picture by Yohann Laique

Picture by Yohann Laique

Being that said, if you have a clear vision of what you want to express to the world through your photography, the media that you choose to do it is just a tool, you can pick the tool depending of the type of public, work or client you want to reach and here is where the decision of using a smartphone is an additional option that we as photographers have today, which is also great for us! I’m convinced that rather than mentally going against the waves of change, we have to surf on the top of them and see this tendency as an opportunity and not as a treat, smarthphone photography is an additional tool to put your work out there in real time.

So I had the idea of doing a fashion story with a cellphone and life found its way to connect me with that opportunity. One day I received an email from the owner of  Chronoshooting  who contacted me in June 2014.  They are a new company which developed an app for smartphones dedicated to photographers (professional, amateurs and instagramers). The app encourages photographers to shoot series of 9 pictures inside special street courses they have created around the world to compete in a original way against other photographers inside the app.

When they contacted me to collaborate, I told them my idea about shooting a fashion story with a cellphone to post the pictures immediately on Instagram and also use them for their app. They loved the idea immediately and proposed me to shoot with a Nokia 1020 (41 megapixels camera) attached to a Profoto B1 lighting pack, which I immediately accepted.

Picture by Yohann Laique

Picture by Yohann Laique

The experience was deeply interesting for me since the beginning because I had to explain everybody that the story was going to be shot with a smarthphone, which I thought was going to be a difficult issue to find the team willing to do it, but it was a great surprise to find out that everybody (fashion stylist, make up artist, hair dresser and model agency) was amazed with the idea and ready to collaborate without asking any further question.

We did the shoot in collaboration with Elite Model Paris  and a great and motivated team in a sunny saturday in one of the courses of Chronoshooting at Le Marais . The launch of the app was the past June 24th 2014 with the opening of an exhibition at Le Galerie Thierry Marlat in Paris where these pictures along with all the series of other photographers that collaborated with the app were exposed during 2 months and here is the result:

Model: Bhumika Aurora Styling  by Paula Saiz – Make up by Charlotte Guilmot – Hair by Nina Olivet – Photography by LACuellar – Photography Assistant: Yohann Laique 

Chronoshooting also did a backstage video of the shoot were you can see how we shot the series:

My personal conclusion of this experience is that photography, internet, social media and cellphones will get closer and closer everyday to work in the same field, we already see a lot of examples in documentary photography were photographers like David Guttenfelder from Associated Press wire service documents North Korea through his Instagram.

I´m very sure that fashion will not be the exception, we already see what happens in the fashion shows around the world when thousands of pictures from the backstage of the show go live to social media or as recently Mario Testino did by document the last Fashion Week haute couture 2014 in Paris by doing the Mario Testino´s Couture Week Diary  for Vogue Paris.

All these are signs to understand where fashion photography, internet, social media and apps are going now and in the near future,  for now, here is my small contribution to the start of this new age


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JESSICA CONZEN BACKSTAGE – Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Madrid 2015

Pashioncase is about showcasing passion stories around photography, fashion photography and fashion, so the first story to showcase must be one full of those characteristics and that´s why the case of Jessica Conzen is the best to start with. Her life story is full of interesting overtones that she accomplished to translate into her collections which attracted my attention immediately from the first time I saw her work.

A half German, half Peruvian young fashion designer, who studied in ESDI en Mallorca and right after finishing the school she creates her own high fashion brand. Some time after decides to go Paris to study a Master at the Instituto Marangoni where she gets in contact with the Parisian fashion environment and works for houses like Stella McCartney, Maison Martin Margiela and H&M.

Her last collection Stylagalmaic was just launched last week at the Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in Madrid and when you take a look at it, you understand how she managed to put her intercultural life experience on every thread of her work where the original peruvian wool and leather are mixed to create pieces inspired by the architect Zaha Hadid. It’s the encounter between the traditional of her peruvian roots with the sophistication of the german style and the geometrics of the architectural influences…. a mix that I just love.

She breaths passion for her brand on every one of her pores, so much that when you talk with her you feel on her eyes that strong internal energy that drives her to develop all her concepts, dreams, ideas and visions into her work.

When she honored me by proposing to do the backstage for her collection at the MBFWM I immediately said yes!  not only just because I loved her collection but mostly because I love to work with people who has been brave enough to follow their passion in a world where that´s not the usual trend and for sure she’s one of those examples… I’m sure this is just the beginning of a successful career of a new fashion star.

Jessica Conzen STALYGALMAIC AW 15/16 Backstage

So here is the backstage from Jessica Conzen new collection Stylagalmaic launched at MBFWM last week, I hope you enjoy it!!!

Jessica Conzen STALYGALMAIC AW 15/16 Backstage




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Self portrait

PASHIONCASE (Passion – Fashion – Showcase)


Eiffel movement

Eiffel Movement – © L.A. Cuellar, All Rights Reserved.

It´s 2015 and it has been already 2 years and a half that I started a completely new journey in my life, a 180 degrees change from the traditional office life of a commercial manager to the adventure of becoming a photographer. It was a change from the natural environment of my country Colombia to the cosmopolitan jungle of Paris, from the comfortable use of my language spanish to the struggle of mastering the french, from the warm company of my friends and family to the sweetness of loneliness and new friends, from having all my life resolved to starting a new one with everything unsolved.

Making a change this big at 35 years old when you have your life already “settle” from the traditional point of view of modern society, I mean: good job, good salary, nice flat, nice car, amazing vacations and a lovely girl friend, could seem a case of a mental disease, but in reality what it means is precisely the opposite, a case of mental good health and you wonder why? and the answer it’s easy: because you should be crazy to decide what to do with your life putting first your economical security rather than what you are really passionate about…. and yes! I think that looking at money as a goal and not as a consequence, which is one of our society standards are making us go crazy.

No matter the cost you’ll have for you and your family the most important thing is to earn enough money to be able to buy your “happiness”, no matter if that means loosing all you money at the end paying for the shattered health you’ll have living a life where every minute you give to your job it’s a minute you lose to do something that you really love and I think you seriously should be crazy to make a decision like that for the rest of your life.

What we exchange for the salary that we receive at the end is Time, time of our lives, time that you’ll never get back because it’s already gone and there is no way to get back, so why are you making such a bad deal with your time? exchanging something so precious that nobody will be able to give it back to you again for something like money that for sure you can earn by doing something that will bring joy to every minute of you life?

Sunset in Popayan

Sunset in Popayán – © L.A. Cuellar, All Rights Reserved.

Well, one day after 3 years of reading, thinking, watching videos, movies, talking to people and most important: learning how to listen to my inner voice, I had the chance to watch the video of the speech of Steve Jobs at the University of Stanford and among many of the interesting things he talks about there was one phrase that came to me and stroke me directly in my heart: “Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.” ….and then I decided to quit my “normal” life and make a good deal by dedicating my life to my passion: photography and more specific fashion photography.

Today I’m opening this blog to showcase passion, fashion and photography stories , that’s why the name is a mix of those 3 words: Pass – shion – case (Passion + Fashion + Showcase. Here you’ll find stories of people from the fashion or photography industry that has decided to follow their passion or that want to talk about something they’ re passionate about and who has decided to live a life followed by what they really love to do every minute, without paying attention to what the standards of our society pray. Of course, you’ll also find the stories about my journey that are related to passion, photography and fashion photography.

Pictures by Colette L Photographie.

So, if you are or you know any young talent with an interesting passion story around photography, fashion photography or fashion and you’ll like to be showcased here, just send me an email to with a summary of the story and If it suits the purpose of the blog, I’ll be really glad showcase it here.

I Hope you enjoy the blog and that it can inspire you to keep following your passion or if you’re still doubting about it, I hope It’ll encourage you to make the big jump and make the decision to do what you really love. Cheers!!!

Self portrait

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