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As a celebrity photographer, Jeff Vespa is typically focused on his famous subjects but on Thursday night a few of those bold-faced names turned the tables and flashed the spotlight on him for a change.
Brooks Brothers opened the doors to its expansive, two-story Beverly Hills flagship to host Vespa and his Hollywood friends in celebration of the shutterbug’s first book — “The Art of Discovery” — a collaboration with art director Nancy Rouemy, The Creative Coalition, Renaissance Hotels and publisher Rizzoli. But Brooks Brothers also went one step further: The window displays were transformed using oversized images from Vespa’s book, including shots of Justin Theroux, Laura Dern, Jared Leto, Tilda Swinton and Kate Mara.
The tome features a long list of actors striking artistic poses and waxing poetic about their individual “aha!” moments, from career inspirations to personal awakenings. Vespa shot and interviewed actors including Nicole Kidman, Naomi Watts, Kate Hudson, Zach Braff, Jessica Chastain, Adam Driver, Joseph Gordon-Leavitt, Ethan Hawke, Amber Heard, Kate Hudson, Shailene Woodley, Jeremy Renner, Zoe Saldana, Kristen Stewart, Forest Whitaker and Seth Rogen.
Evan Rachel Wood is also featured in the book, which she told The Hollywood Reporter that she was happy to do thanks to her longtime friendship with the photographer. “Jeff is the sweetest guy,” she said. “I went out to lunch with him and we just started talking. We forgot about the book for awhile and talked as people and (my moment of inspiration) just came out of that.”
Jena Malone also dished on Vespa’s talents and their surprising chat. “I’ve known Jeff for 15 years and we had a really beautiful interview. I think he learned new things about me,” said the actress. “The art of self discovery is a constant journey for an actress or actor. You should be constantly discovering new things.”
And when you’re not, Malone added, perhaps it’s time to step away and recharge. “I step away all the time — anytime I like, I step away. When my carburetor is running low or when I kick my tires and they’re about to give out. As an actor, you give a lot but you should also take. You should eat; you should ingest. There’s a lot you need to discover for yourself.”
Brooks Brothers’ Andrea Dorigo, president of North America, said hosting the event was an easy decision and in line with the label’s longtime support of the liberal arts. “We love Jeff’s work and we love the book,” Dorigo said. “We love having him here tonight and being able to showcase the work.”
Also on hand to join Vespa and wife Emily Yomtobian in checking out the showcase were Braff, Renner, Erika Christensen, Joel Edgerton, Camilla Belle, Elizabeth Berkley, Greg Lauren, Lisa Rinna and Harry Hamlin, among others.
“Many times over the years I have stopped and taken stock of where I was at a particular moment and realized that a lot of people in the world would give anything to be where I was standing,” Vespa previously told THR. “I get to be places and do things that most people will never get the opportunity to do. I always feel fortunate that I have been able to reach this position.”
Afterwards, a private dinner at restaurant e.baldi was held, wtih Edgerton and Malone flanking Vespa, and Elizabeth Berkley and Greg Lauren and Mad Men costume Janie Bryant holding court with Brooks Bros.’ execs – and much pasta and red wine and budino were consumed.
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