Part II: Alchemy

Part II: Alchemy


The jewelry box that sat on my mother’s vanity was an ornate wooden chest, complete with brass latch, stallions etched into its lid. Long before I knew what karats were, I knew there was something beautiful about the tangled gold chains sitting in that box. Somehow, gold had an attraction that silver never managed; it could have been its luster, maybe its warmth. I think it was the unanswerable, burning question that taunted me in the fantasy novels I used to read. How does one turn any metal into gold? As a curious middle schooler, there was something deeply mysterious (and super cool) about alchemy's impossible quest for a universal elixir or metal transmutation.

I finally got the chance to visualize these ridiculous childhood interests, i.e. test my true alchemical potential, by coating Anne in the shiny substance and letting it melt off her during golden hour. 

When Meghan and I were discussing which Svelte Metals pieces to feature in this set, I was so insistent on getting a hefty box of gold accessories, please no silver, definitely not rose gold. She made it happen, with slick, stackable rings and an assortment of hammered and python-patterned gold cuffs. With all this metal, I decided the only appropriate clothing for Anne was something equally reflective and golden: matching floor-length gown and skirt, quilted shirt woven with metallic thread.

The alchemist and I pulled up to Ocean Beach at the cusp of daytime and golden hour, and hurried down to the tide to begin shooting. The wind was literally a hurricane (I complain about the weather at every beach shoot; see examples 1, 2, and 3) so Anne had fuzzy pajamas scrunched below her dress, flashes of polka-dot kitten print peaking out in stronger gusts of wind. Cassie had the equally difficult job of not letting my reflector balloon off into the ocean while struggling to light, but not blind, Anne. We probably looked like a mess to anyone passing by, except nobody was crazy enough to be on the beach in this windstorm.

The uncomfortable conditions faded to my periphery as we neared sunset and I discovered Anne's dark magic. She turned on an arresting, seismic power that can only come with literally dripping in gold. She was soaked in the substance, lit by golden hour, glowing against the ocean. In these last few shots, we solved alchemy's impossible riddle by turning Anne into molten gold. 

Photography: Ankur Maniar | Model: Anne Lin | Assistant: Catherine Zhou | Hair: Zha Maloy | Styling: Svelte Metals, Zara, Chanel