A limited-edition "bookazine", Shell, is about to make its way onto coffee tables, showcasing subjective beauty and aimed at boosting creativity in the hair and beauty industry on the island.

Shell's goal is to motivate and creatively challenge the industry by producing alternative visions of beauty, pushing up standards from a commercial to a more artistic, experimental level, says the man behind it, Pierre Camille.

The brainchild and 18-month project of the hairstylist and photographer, Shell marks a first by bringing together competing hair and beauty agents in a "milestone" collaboration, which aims to drag them out of their commercial cocoon and into the art scene, which is, after all, the raison d'être of their careers.

The unique element is that the agents, normally competitors, are joining forces to fund it through their brands.

About 60 hairdressers and make-up artists, who are often isolated in their salons, with no time to be creative and establish an identity through their own photo shoots, have been provided with a platform to portray their interpretation of beauty, Mr Camille explains.

He too feels he had fallen victim to the salon rut, entering the scene at 18 and feeling 40 at 24. Moving out of the salon, breaking the rules and being imaginative is a refreshing exercise, he maintains.

"The idea is to be creative for yourself and not just work for the client. To return to the roots of what inspired you to take on the job... You can balance the business and creative aspects."

A coffee-table book with a difference, Shell is a cross between an art publication and magazine content. It is 70 per cent pictorial, resulting from about 24 photo shoots, producing about 100 images.

"Unfortunately, so many good magazines end up in the bin..." But Shell should not have the same predicament.

Mr Camille has combined his photographic skills with hairstyling and art directing to produce Shell, handling every element, including the business aspect. Although he was at the core of it, it was not a one-man show, he is quick to remark, pointing to his stylist wife Carina.

The roller-coaster experience also had an educational aspect and he held meetings with every hairstylist and make-up artist - the creatives - to teach them what to look out for and how to go about it. Preparation is, after all, the cornerstone of every photo shoot, he highlights.

Shell is, in fact, accompanied by an educational DVD, featuring step-by-step haircuts and dress work.

Apart from the industry professionals, he also roped in students of the Malta College for Arts, Science and Technology, with their innovative jewellery designs, and picked models from Verdala International School.

Available in a limited edition of 1,700, and costing €35, the "bookazine" is being launched through a week-long How Do I Look? exhibition at St James Cavalier, which opens with a multi-media affair on Saturday.

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