September 09 2011
This is an updated version of an article that was first published on howtospendit.com on May 31 2011.
The only thing that could cause more hysteria in Monaco during the Grand Prix 2011 than the appearance of Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton outside the McLaren hospitality unit, was these same two champion drivers accompanied by Spanish supermodel Esther Cañadas, standing 6ft tall with a mane of dirty-blonde hair and legs so long that they wouldn’t come close to fitting in the confines of a Formula 1 racing car. This I discovered when I flew there to shoot a fashion story for How To Spend It, featuring all three.
I hadn’t quite anticipated the challenges that I’d face when I got there, with 10 pages of fashion to orchestrate. The fact that moving a single individual just 50 metres across the paddock involves getting your hands on a clutch of scarcer-than-hens’-teeth access passes, not to mention navigating a complex series of high-tech security turnstiles with six huge suitcases of designer clothing, made for very slow going. Now try this with a mountain of camera equipment and heavy lighting. Factor in hordes of screaming F1 fans and a hundred-odd swarming paparazzi, and the fact that you have less than two hours with the drivers, sandwiched between practice runs and the main race, and you’ve got a daunting situation on your hands. It is a testament to the innate niceness of the two drivers, and their extraordinary media training, that they handled the situation without once losing their cool.
To say that the fans of Formula 1 are passionate is an understatement. Neither Button nor Hamilton could stand anywhere near the eight-foot barrier surrounding the paddock for fear of being mauled by desperately grasping hands. The chants of “Jenson!” and “Lewis!” were so loud and ceaseless that our photographer, Yuval Hen, could barely make himself heard directing Canadas and the drivers, as meanwhile a wall of paparazzi bore down on him, attempting to steal a shot – not to mention his lighting – from over his shoulder, and a couple of times literally tripping him as he tried to navigate around his photographic subjects.
Was it worth it? Paparazzi shots of us in action appeared in newspapers around the world. Here’s one of the fashion images published in How To Spend It magazine on September 9, and on the website on the same day.