Surf, sex and shea butter… A radical new range of Australian body care products features the work of renowned photographer Rennie Ellis
BY SOPHIE DAVIES
We love brilliant beauty booty. We’re also partial to eagle-eyed photography and cleverly designed graphic packaging. Imagine our delight, then, when we spotted the new ‘Series: Rennie Ellis’ range by Kleins Perfumery, combining images from the legendary snapper’s archive with natural, Aussie-made body care products from Melbourne’s savviest independent perfume boutique.
It’s a marriage born of contrast as Rennie Ellis’s photos aren’t your average pretty pics. Australia’s most famous social-documentary photographer, Melbournian Ellis (1940-2003) is known for his shocking, sexy, in-your-face portrayal of clubbers, sunbathers and party people (think Martin Parr meets Nan Goldin down under!). His images from the Seventies and Eighties captured Australia walking on the wild side, from the drag queens of Sydney’s Kings Cross to Melbourne's sartorially striking Sharpies sub-culture.
Ellis was intrigued by “the offbeat, the erotic and the eccentric,” which was what drew Kleins’s founder Andrea Birnie to collaborate with the Rennie Ellis Photographic Archive on the innovative range. The packaging is adorned with iconic Seventies shots of surfers at Lorne on Victoria's Great Ocean Road, working girls in Sydney and lagered-up lads in Melbourne's Fitzroy, as well as beachgoers and panel vans topped with surfboards. “I was attracted to the freedom of expression, exuberance and individuality I saw in the Seventies through Rennie’s eyes,” says Birnie. “As a people we seemed less inhibited, more independent.”
ABOVE RIGHT: 'No Standing, Only Dancing' triple-milled soap 200gm, AU$9.95
ABOVE FROM LEFT: 'Sharpies' body cream 250 ml, AU$29.95; 'Surfing World' body cream 250ml, AU$29.95
Kleins’s collection includes body washes, body and hand creams, and triple-milled soaps, with ingredients inspired by specific Ellis images and their titles. “The 'Lorne #3' hand cream needed shea butter to be rich and hydrating, but this also captures the surf culture of an Australian summer, rich with vanilla and tangy, sweet fruits,” says Birnie. “'Fitzroy Extrovert' handwash, on the other hand, was inspired by wild scents like Australian bush mint. We also thought the subject was a bit of a geezer, possibly from Calabria. We used Calabrian Bergamot and Sea Salt to capture his essence.” The result spells mighty fine.
Tested solely on Kleins Perfumery employees, the Ellis range is the first in the Series, which will evolve to feature more art, design and creative subjects, hopefully including more Ellis's portraits from the decadent Eighties and Nineties. Bring it on...
Rennie Ellis: Decadent and Rennie Ellis: Decade, published by Hardie Grant Books, are available in select bookshops