Google the phrase “neon trend in fashion” and you’ll read headline snippets like “…the Spring  trend that keeps on buzzing” and “The neon trend is here to stay…” In other words, now is an opportune time for a photographer to infuse his work with neon-based outfits.
Darnell Rozenblad, an Amsterdam-based streetwear photographer, is ready to take advantage of this moment.
I don’t know exactly when the neon trend started, but I think it [began] about two or three years ago. Streetwear fashion is all about reinventing, shocking, being yourself, and going against the mainstream.
Normally, my styling within my photography is a bit ‘cleaner,’ but when the model, stylist, and I first came together we all agreed that this project needed to be shocking and different. That’s why we chose to make neon the center part of our project.
One of the cool aspects of this project is that everyone involved hails from the Netherlands. This includes the model, Dieu, with whom Darnell had worked before. The pair reconnected at a party and decided to team up again. Initially, the neon jacket that Dieu rocks wasn’t supposed to feature in the shoot.
We didn’t start off with the neon worker jacket but, like with [many] fashion statements, we tried to make something that isn’t considered a fashion item into something cool and stylish.
It’s important to note that the neon gear is one of many elements featured in the outfit. In fact, Darnell believes that the rest of the getup helps crystallize the project’s concept and brings everything together.
We wanted to reinvent as much as possible, so a chain now might be jewelry in the future. But my favorite part, next to the neon, was [Dieu’s] crown and hair. Without that almost-weird looking crown and those insanely huge braids, she would just be a girl in a bunch of clothes. Luckily, she was fully committed from head to toe.
There’s a story behind this concept. Dieu is playing a character named Princess Neyon, a “futuristic princess” who has come back to Earth sporting brand new styles. Darnell and his stylist were inspired by the neon trend and wanted to create a unique narrative to set this work apart.
Since 90% of all streetwear fashion is in urban parts near cities, we needed something different to shock and create contrast.
Part of the impetus for this endeavor came from Burning Man, the American festival which celebrates artistic self-expression and has mushroomed from an underground gathering to an almost mainstream phenomenon. Darnell draws parallels between the annual event’s rise to prominence and patterns within the fashion world.
Burning Man seems like it has its own rules about style and clothing, and we really liked that mindset. If you look at culture, fashion, and the future of it all, it’s very simple: subculture becomes the culture!
You can see how the Burning Man influence manifests itself in Darnell’s images. Though the collaborators are all from the Netherlands, the “semi-desert look” that permeates the work is decidedly not Dutch and helps set the tone for the project.
The Dutch landscape is quite boring compared to other European landscapes. It’s flat, with loads of grass fields, agriculture, and ‘normal’ trees, so this semi-desert look gives the project a non-Dutch look. Most people are a bit shocked in a good sense, and the first question is: ‘Wow, where did you shoot that?’
The work doesn’t end with these captivating images, either. There is a video element as well, and Darnell hopes the combination of media will give him and his team the one thing everyone in fashion and photography craves: visibility.
As ‘small’ freelancers, it’s not always easy to get the most visibility and/or the best jobs. So, everybody involved is very eager to get appreciated by the fashion industry and attract different brands. This look book gave us the chance to tell a visual story about this futuristic princess traveling to our recent time and gives us a glimpse what she would look like.
Darnell’s specialties include streetwear, fashion, and portrait photography, which is clear when viewing this project. His well-honed style has allowed him to expand his portfolio and tell original stories through his work.
I think, as a photographer, once you find your style it becomes easy to apply that skillset every time you shoot. But preparation is also important to me, [as are] mood boards, timetables, and location. Still, improvisation when shooting can create my best shots.
Check out more of Darnell’s work at rozenbladphotography.com.
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