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Atelier Bogelund-Jensen

The Story Behind That Picture: "The Cocktail Dress Experiment"

By: Thorsten Overgaard [In Danish]

How do you get the idea to invite 70-80 women to a party and require them to wear the same dress? That is this week’s quizz, but perhaps the answer if straightforward.

If you, like Signe Bogelund-Jensen does, design dresses for women which is supposed to distinguish the personality rather than cover them in gold logos like D&G, or well-known patterns like the ones of Burberry, then same dress for all shouldn’t pose a problem. Right?

Though the dress-code was more liberal than that. In fact the women could wear the dress as designed, or they were free to tear it, rip it, choose accessories, turn it inside out (as some did) – or whatever they felt like doing.

It was interesting to see how the different women had done it, as the starting point – except for the sizes – was the exact same. What does it tell about personality if you have the ability to wear the same dress and yet be yourself, or do you dare ‘ruin’ the design and make it your own?

It was exceptional entertaining as can be seen in the slideshow we made of the evenings guests: “The Cocktail Dress Experiment” [click on the text to view it in a new window].


The Cocktail Dress Experiment


I became part of this experiment because some friends decided to give her me as a gift. And so the designer Signe Bogelund-Jensen and I had a talk about the dresses and decided on a “red carpet arrival” though designed with soft and nice “beauty light” portrait photography style. It happens – in my opinion – on too few occasions that one validate the guests dresses when covering a party. Most often it’s concentrated on the marrying couple or something.

But a large part of a party is to prepare your look and dress up for it, often involving acquiring a few new items such as bags, suits, dresses and shoes. I’ve often taken a look over the guests at a wedding and figures there was for 20,000$ or more worth of dresses bought for that occasion.

So that’s what I do sometimes; photograph guests. And sometimes it can become nice thanking cards to send to the guests afterward. And for this party it was logical to do, to document the differences and personalities with a series of the same pictures. And then see if the personalities would shine through.

Judge for your self. See the slideshow.


Me as a gift
In fact this was the second time in one week I was given away as a gift. The other gift was me as a wedding photographer. At both occasions I noted that those who had hired me, had joined with other guests and that way I was not a lavish present from a single person, but a joint-together like when you decided to give a set of furniture or something.

In fact it’s not a bad idea. Having a wedding for example is expensive enough, so if you can get the photographer as a present, well that’s nice.



The technical stuff
To create a series of similar pictures where only the persons were changing I had my Leica R9/DMR on a tripod and used a Leica Digilux 2 for other things such as atmosphere photos. The light was set up with “beauty light” KinoFlo lamps that creates an even and soft light that make everybody look great and 10 years younger. But more importantly, it’s not blinking like flash but is soft, discrete light.

The pictures are also to be found on Getty Images and WireImage – I guess a fashion blog or two will have a go with this interesting story.

See more designer dresses at


Here you can see the setup. During the evening we managed to photograph everybody except fot two persons. And quite many was photographed more than once, with friends, colleagues, family and strangers. It turned out to be quite a fun party game!




- Thorsten Overgaard

    July 2, 2009

The designer Signe Bogelund-Jensen preparing "The Cocktail Dress Experiment" in the atelier.

See the slideshow.


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Thorsten Overgaard
Thorsten von Overgaard is a Danish-American multiple award-winning photographer, known for his writings about photography and Leica cameras. He travels to more than 25 countries a year, photographing and teaching workshops to photographers. Some photos are available as signed editions via galleries or online. For specific photography needs, contact Thorsten Overgaard via email.

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