Usha Dean at the legendary Chateau Marmont, Los Angeles
The legendary Chateau Marmont on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood is far more than just a hotel – it’s a cult. A place of worship for scandals and excessive partying. Rock stars like Led Zeppelin once rode their motorbikes through the lobby of the hotel modelled on the French Amboise castle. Johnny Depp once said that he had sex with Kate Moss in all 63 rooms and the legendary photographer Helmut Newton was also a regular guest at the hotel and even died there in a car accident as he was leaving the hotel.
Curiosity finally drew me to the luxury hotel on Sunset Strip after the Director Sofia Coppola filmed her award-winning film Somewhere with the actor Stephen Dorff there… and once you’ve succumbed to the flair and magic, it’s very difficult to let go of it again. The idea of also using my stay to connect with the hotel through my photographs started to grow after just the second night of heavy drinking when I met Jared Leto at a party. Apparently fashion is at home here too, which was reason enough for me to set up an editorial.
In response to enquiring about a photo production in the hotel, reception kindly referred me to the owner’s marketing department which only issues permits for a fee… but hey, I’m in a place where laws and rules were written in invisible ink and even Heath Ledger’s drug-fuelled parties were not a reason to ban him, quite aside from scandalous VIPs like Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan, it seems that quite a lot has to happen here to be banned for life… at the end of the day who would I be if I cared about a photo permit.
So I spontaneously invited the charming Usha Dean, model and jewellery designer to join me. In total contrast to the required permit was the fact that the hotel concierge even organised the cult make-up artist and hairstylist Nichalas for me for the production. And the fact that the Chateau’s marketing later shared my photos on their own social networks, reaffirmed my decision to overlook the permit.
Maybe the photographs turned out so special in the end specifically because we didn’t use any fancy production equipment and shot them spontaneously in a small team.