Beauty compounds. That’s the theme of Wes Gordon’s latest campaign for Carolina Herrera (as in treatments formulated to deliver results). For their fifth collaboration since 2020, Gordon once again teamed up with photographer Elizaveta Porodina—but this time, to amplify the artistry of the designer’s resort and spring/summer 2023 collections, he tapped Dove Cameron to feature in the imagery.
Cameron, an actress, singer, and songwriter, tells ELLE.com that she and Gordon first “really fell in love” when he asked her to be his date to the 2021 CDFAs. “It’s such a dream when you get to be friends with an iconic designer who’s the head of an iconic fashion house,” she says. “I look at fashion designers and photographers the same way I look at composers. [They’re] people who do things that are so magical and otherworldly. They’re geniuses. I grill [Gordon] every time I’m with him. I’m like, ‘Hi! Let me dive into your brain, thank you!’”
For the photoshoot and collection, inspiration was drawn from The Secret Garden, one of Gordon’s favorite childhood books. Bold colors and striking silhouettes feature prominently throughout and are only made richer through Porodina’s lens. “She’s one of my favorite photographers that I’ve ever worked with to date,” Cameron reveals. “Between every shot we were talking about everything from the queer community to philosophy. She’s one of the best people around, and she’s a true through-and-through artist.”
For the uninitiated, Porodina is known for her ethereal and highly stylized work behind the camera. One of her signature (and highly effective) techniques requires projecting a livestream video of the subject onto a screen behind them to create contrasting perspectives on a single plane. “That was just something so genius that I’d never seen before,” Cameron says. “I found that the best approach was to not attempt to play to the camera that was capturing your face, because the more unaware you look in the backdrop, the more surreal the experience is of looking at the photos.”
According to Cameron, Gordon gave her and Porodina complete creative freedom on set. “He wanted me to bring as much of myself to the shoot as I possibly could, and I was grateful that he trusted me to do that,” Cameron says. “So much of this day was just playing and creating shapes, colors, tones, and textures.”
“When you step into a role like this on set, you just feel like you’re living in this fantasyland where anything is possible,” adds Cameron, noting that her younger self aspired to become a designer. “Elizaveta and her vision were so otherworldly, I couldn’t help but feel so free to experiment. I felt so beautiful.”
In the images, Cameron breathes movement and emotion into canary yellow gowns, fringed party dresses, and huge floral appliqués. “To get those shots, I was jumping, and spinning, and dancing, and laughing,” Cameron recalls. “I feel like there’s so much levity, strength, femininity, and boldness to Wes’ designs, and I really wanted to attempt to bring that to the shoot. Every garment was taking on a different story, and in that story, I think it’s only natural to feel the character living those moments.”
As for glam, Cameron’s eyebrows were bleached and she donned blunt wigs and dark lips. “I looked like a completely different person,” Cameron says. “Also somehow—you wouldn’t know this unless you grew up with me—but I look like my 8-year-old self. That was a haircut I had. I looked sort of like this alien hybrid of my childhood self and also this woman I’ve grown into.” That woman, as it turns out, is very much a Carolina Herrera woman: confident, effervescent, and timeless.
David Koppelaar is credited for makeup, while Olivier Schawalder was responsible for Cameron’s hair. Josef Beyer directed the lighting.
“To be integrally connected to people who make this their life—this is their talent, this is their joy—it’s always really special to me,” Cameron says.
The collection is available to shop now online at carolinaherrera.com and in stores.
Associate Fashion Commerce Editor
Meg Donohue is the Associate Fashion Commerce Editor at ELLE.com. Her passions include spicy foods, sustainability, and the Y2K remake of Charlie’s Angels. She will never stop hoping for a One Direction reunion tour.