It’s July, and I’m in London during its NY-style heatwave for a shoot with Benedict Cumberbatch. The location is in a private home, located in a cemetery in the High Gate area. The house, made entirely of glass, is up a steep hill, and once I arrive and see that everything is set up, I wander through this awesome Bond-style creation with its amazing floor to ceiling glass and a kitchen roof that — get this — retracts.
Benedict arrives. He’s very low key, with just his friendly publicist in tow, and I can instantly tell we will get on. He just has this open, chilled-out energy about him. As I whisk him through the clothes — a mix of conservative and funky tailoring — I show him some of my favorite items, things I think he could rock. Just as I had hoped, Benedict is a guy who gets clothes, has a great eye, and is willing to try new looks.
The brands range from Armani to Ralph Lauren to Prada to Rag & Bone. I pull out a dark teal shirt from Salvatore Ferragamo. “Oh… too tight,” he says, and I can clearly see his shoulders about to burst the armhole. He knows how clothes should fit, but he also knows how they shouldn’t fit, which is just as important.
He swiftly goes through the racks, shows me what he likes, and we put together an edit of things that we think will make him look bad-ass for the photo shoot. The first look is an amazing charcoal Prada suit with a chesterfield coat. “This coat is fantastic,” he says, his posture becoming more powerful as he slips it on. Next on his list is a Rag & Bone suit in a faded royal blue. “I’ve got to have this.” I immediately inform the brand they have a hit on their hands.
Next I show him some Armani separates with a turtleneck, which I’m not sure he’ll go for, especially since I personally wouldn’t be caught dead in a turtleneck. But, then, I’m also not a movie star. I explain I want him to look like a very posh ’70s TV villian for this shot. He totally gets it — love this guy — and puts it on and pulls it off with zero camp, translating the look to a modern, alternative way to dress things up.
Benedict and the photographer, Julian Broad, have a great rapport going, which helps create a collaborative vibe. And although he’s spending his day in some pretty expensive clothing, Benedict acts like he’s wearing T-shirts and jeans. He’s so down-to-earth, and the whole atmosphere is relaxed, creative and fun. We start to run over our time a bit, but Benedict is flexible. He stays a bit later, and we get our last shot of him— in the Gucci patterned coat on the street — just before the rain starts.
The shoot wraps, and Benedict sincerely thanks me for a great day. All I can think to myself is, “Wow, that was so cool.”