Andrew Werner: More to the Story
Taylor Harrington 10/01/2021 2:47pm EST
Andrew Werner is a celebrity photographer and creator of Fleur’d Pins, the newest and best lapel company! Werner’s creative mind and artistic touch brings Fleur’d Pins to life. These beautiful lapels have been seen all over the runways and at major celebrity events, being worn by greats such as Tom Hanks, America’s Next Top Model Miss J, and former President Bill Clinton. It was such a pleasure to get to know Andrew a little bit better, and we can’t wait to share his story with you.
Hello, Everybody. Welcome to Confessional Magazine. I’m Taylor and I am joined here today with the wonderful Andrew Werner. Thank you so much for being here, Andrew!
Thank you so much for having me. I’m excited to touch base and talk some details with you.
Yes, so Andrew is a celebrity photographer, but he is also the owner, stylist, and creator of Fleur’d Pins, and he’s wearing one of these wonderful lapels right now.
Thank you. Yeah, I have a whole roster of them, but I’m like, this one is just me.
I love it! So how did you first get into the photography world?
It’s a really fun story, because photography is something that I’ve always had an interest in. When I was little, I used to take pictures and develop rolls and rolls of film, or I had rolls of film developed, I didn’t know how to develop them. It was just always something that I gravitated to, wanting to connect with people. I’m very much a people person. I love the human elements of everything, but then also just wanting to capture moments and make something that’s as insignificant or significant as just a second in time last forever. So that’s kind of always been around my aura. When I went to school for musical theater, I couldn’t dance and I didn’t have the whole triple-threat thing down, so I picked up a camera went for it, and it just worked. Then through my friend groups and everything, I organically just started taking pictures of everything from set design to school events to news, to you know, really everything. Moving back to New York City, or where I’m from in Long Island after graduation, I was like, “You know, this is fun. Let’s try it.” I started going out in nightlife and to bars and clubs and promoters were like, “What’s your rate? We want to hire you.” I realized that I could make this into a living and then it kind of just worked again. People liked my photos, and I figured what I wanted to do was that because I love fashion, arts, culture and society, like, that whole thing really just appealed to me, so I figured out how to make it work. I taught myself how to shoot things like jewelry, interiors, and headshots, and all this stuff. It stemmed from just being lost for a little bit and not knowing what worked and just trusting my instinct and being like, “Let’s just try it. I have nothing to lose.”
There you go! I mean, that’s such an inspiration, because you could have easily just been like, “Man, this isn’t working” and move on to the next thing.
I heard from so many people, and this is going back around 10 years, not to age myself, but people would say that photography is not really a career and that it’s something that you do only when photos are needed like for the news or when there’s a war going on, God forbid, or anything that’s really important. I was like, “No, there are so many other special moments.” What about wedding photographers? What about advertising? What about marketing? I learned and I failed a bunch of times, but I use those as benchmarks.
Absolutely, and now you’re photographing big-time names like Laverne Cox, which is just amazing!
Funny story about that. I’ve known Laverne for almost a decade, from when I first started my career when I was shooting events and stuff. She has this amazing, amazing soul and watching her career, climb and just progress, it’s so nice to see people that you knew, from before they were international icons and social justice warriors to see where they go. Always stay close to people who have great potential and great hearts. Yeah, great hearts.
You are such a great storyteller. How do you pull the inspiration or find the right technique to get your story told through your photos?
That’s a really good question because there are so many stories to tell and there are infinite amount of ways to tell them. It really depends on how I approach a situation. Let’s say I’m shooting for a jewelry company and they want to tell a story about this new collection. I will send them a creative brief to find out what’s the story that they want to tell, what inspired the collection, what/who is their target demographic, how are we going to sell this product without hitting someone over the face, so it’s working with every individual client, but also every individual person. When I shoot weddings, or graduation portraits, or even newborns or family events, it’s finding out what the story is that they want to capture, and the narrative that they want to tell. You see a lot of photographers who, and I don’t love this, but photographers who are a one-trick pony. This is what they do, it’s their thing. I try to be a chameleon of the camera where I can, not replicate, but create different scenarios and have a whole breadth of styles to tell the stories that each person wants to tell.
I love that. There is so much individuality with each story, and so you’re able to pick and pull and create the whole thing.
I don’t like it being cookie cutter. Everyone is an individual and I like to capture that individuality.
Yeah, and you do it so well! What can you tell us about Fleur’d Pins? We are obsessed with all of the styles we’ve seen!
Thank you! The name of the line is Fleur’d Pins, and it came about when I was attending an event at Cipriani in New York City, which is this grandiose venue. It’s absolutely stunning and on 42nd Street, and I believe the event was for FIT, honoring Linda Fargo, Bergdorf Goodman. Linda Fargo is the kind of person who you get dressed up for. You have to make a statement. I couldn’t find anything on the market that I wanted to wear as an accessory to really stand out from what I’ve kind of coined as a sea of tuxedos. Whether it be a red carpet, black tie events, or weddings, guys traditionally were wearing the same thing. It was kind of bland. Yeah. So a lapel flower is part of that whole dynamic ensemble that you can include to showcase individuality, but once again, I couldn’t find anything on the market that spoke to my values or what I wanted. A lot of the stuff I was finding was mass-produced overseas or made with very cheap materials. I couldn’t find what I wanted, so on a very shoestring budget, I went to Michael’s Craft Store, I got burlap, I spray painted fire engine red, and I plopped it on. It was something I considered at the time avant-garde, but it was the first step, anyway. It got a lot of compliments that evening, and different fashion directors were like “Oh, I like these.” Fast forward to a few weeks later, a fashion director asked if they could get a few for an editorial photoshoot. Then I approached this company in New York called The Accessory Think Tank that helps foster brands and tell their stories through their designs. And Nancy Forman at The Accessory Think Tank is incredible. She helped me realize there’s a vacancy. ‘We need luxury, we need to be made in New York, we need all these things that stand for you.’ It came about because I personally needed something, which a lot of brands, that’s how they start. Almost every piece, every material, fabric, leather, exotic skin, is sourced from New York from the Garment District. Everything is handcrafted in New York, and I’m certified by Pratt as a ‘Made in New York Small Business’, so that’s a big thing.
My sister went to Pratt!
I love them. I also work with them and do a lot of their events. I didn’t go there, but it’s an amazing school. Fleur’d Pins just came about from needing something to have that pop of personality when everyone else kind of looks pedestrian, and it just grew and grew. Over the last six or seven years now have Fleur’d has been in stores like Bergdorf Goodman and Nordstrom. I was in Barney’s for about five years from New York to Beverly Hills and did trunk shows in LA and New York.
So you went from spraying this burlap piece of fabric from the craft store and then all of a sudden you’re seeing your product in stores like Barney’s. What was that first feeling like when you saw your creation hit the shelves?
It was exhilarating. It’s the best feeling to see something that you have slaved over and created and put so much love and passion and heart into coming to fruition. It takes a while, a lot of trials and tribulations to create the right thing, and everyone has different budgets they work with and I was trying to figure out what can I do and who is my target demographic? Who am I selling to? Initially, I was like, ‘Okay, I’m selling to the guy who’s going to tons of weddings’. Whereas women had lots of accessories and wear colors, men couldn’t, so they were geared initially towards men. Over the last few years women have been buying them and eating them up, especially like this one is made out of a raspberry sorbet pink patent leather. When the US Open was happening I made one out of tennis ball material that I imported from France, that’s the same bold neon wool. It’s really cool because yes, there are novelty ones. It’s fun to just incorporate a little personality.
This is a brilliant way to add a pop of color to any outfit, and the creative lens is limitless.
Exactly. Let’s be honest, I did not invent flowers, nor did I invent the lapel flower, but what I did do was take something that I needed to make work for me and I just adjusted it. It’s just really cool because everyone likes compliments. Everyone likes to feel good about themselves, especially when they feel like they look good, and if I can help make that happen for anybody, that makes the world a better place.
Absolutely. Just building confidence and individuality is just such a beautiful, great thing. So where can people find your Fleur’d Pins and follow your journey on social media?
My personal handle across social media is my name, @AndrewWerner, and Fleur’d Pins is pins is just @FleurdPins. Depending on if it’s award season or something, you can see a lot of them on the red carpet. I’ve had so many celebrities I’ve been fortunate to have done my lapel pins on their tuxedos or suits, everything from the Academy Awards to the AMA’s, to magazine covers. I’ve had people like Don Lemon wear them, Billy Porter, who is a friend has worn them to places and magazines. I’ve had Tom Hanks, former President Bill Clinton, Miss J. for America’s Next Top Model had one of them during Fashion Week, also Wolfgang Puck. What’s great about something as simple but as significant as this accessory is sportscasters wear them. Patrick McEnroe wears them when he hosts the US Open on ESPN, so there’s no gender-specific, there’s no job-specific fit. If you want to look and want to feel good, you throw one of these on.
It totally changes the whole outfit. Fleur’d Pins are truly stunning and we are so excited for everybody to get this pop of joy on their shirt!
Thank you, and you know right now as the world has been changing and the economy, they are available on www.FleurdPins.com, but definitely check out social media because sometimes I post social media only sales or VIP codes. It’s a great gift for anyone who thinks they have everything.
…And for anyone that doesn’t have anything. These pins are literally for everyone. Everyone can get on board with these!
It’s an equal opportunity accessory, yes!
So I always like to ask this question. In five years, where would you like to see yourself both personally and professionally?
That’s a really good question. In five years, I would like to see myself doing more of what I would like to, and that is creating and partnering with brands that speak to my voice. Partnering, whether that’s with photography, or knocking on a billboard for anything, but I stay true to myself. Working with people who share the same dreams and goals. Working with makeup artists and hairstylists and designers and people who want to create something beautiful and fashion editorials. I’ve also found myself frequently over the last few years working with schools and teaching or coming in and be on panels and giving advice. So I’m not sure if teaching is in my future at the moment, but going through the experiences I’ve had, and things that I’ve learned throughout the course of my years in this career and making mistakes, and what it takes to build confidence and the power of the word “yes”, but also the power word “no”, being maybe more confident in taking control and saying, ‘this is a great fit’ or ‘no, this isn’t a great fit. So seeing the trajectory that I’m grateful to already be on, I just want to watch that continue.
Yeah, I can actually see it now! They need you on Project Runway as one of the panelists!
I would love it! Back in New York City A few years ago, there was a competition called ‘So You Think You Can Drag’ and I started out my photography career in nightlife. This was something very special to me, and this fantastic drag queen and Paige Turner and I hosted this competition and it was fantastic because you got to watch people on stage, being vulnerable, doing something they loved, and giving them feedback, not to have the whole American Idol where you have a nice judge, a mean judge, but this was somewhat indifferent. It was nice to give feedback and say, ‘This is what you can do better’ from a photography perspective, or a fashion perspective. It was very exciting to give some advice to people and watch them receive it so that they can better their craft based on my experiences and what I’ve learned doing what I’ve done.
What kind of advice would you give to somebody trying to make it in either the photography or the fashion industry?
It’s tough. It’s really tough and every day is a whole new adventure, to put it lightly. I mean, with photography, everyone has a phone and almost all of them have cameras of some sort. I’m constantly asked, “How do I feel about the art of photography and how it’s shifted with everyone being able to take pictures?” I advise people to take pictures, to take videos, to tell the stories that they want, and then to refine their craft if they want to do that more often. So if you’re taking pictures, ‘Is this a good picture? Yes, or no?’ It’s kind of like that flow chart, where you can say if this works, go this way. So, there’s always going to be a need for the high rez hardcore, actual job and art of photography, and there’s always going to be a need for social media content. They can both work hand in hand, so when it comes to it, find out what works for you, and then pair it with what you’re actually good at. So if you’re not good at taking pictures, even though you love it, maybe it’s not the best profession. Sorry, there’s only so many different ways you can sugarcoat it, we’re not going to give you a trophy just for trying your best if it’s not going to work, but that’s something that’s very important. Photography, it’s constantly evolving, technology is always coming out and improving, and we all have it at our literal fingertips. That’s the advice in terms of doing what you do– trying what you want to try. If it doesn’t work, great, try something new. Then in terms of fashion, fashion is always changing as well. People put so much stress on fashion, and while looking good is always a constant, and feeling good about yourself is important, you have to again, do what’s right for you. If something makes you feel good, maybe it’s not in trend, great, that’s why there are classic brands, there are trendy brands, there are brands that are super expensive. Fashion is like this– it comes and goes so quickly. I’m backstage during Fashion Week and people are stressing out, but it’s gonna change in four months anyway. Have a good time. Life is short.
I love that Andrew, and I just I thank you so much for sharing a little bit of your story with us!
Never forget that people can change their careers. There’s nothing embarrassing or crazy about starting over at any age. I didn’t know what I wanted to do for a long time, and then I’m like,” Screw it. I’m just gonna try to do it”, and it worked for me. I have friends who were in their 20s 30s 40s 50s, who have had to start over for one reason or another, and they just make it work. Success is different for every person, so just keep doing you.
Originally from Edison, New Jersey, Taylor won the 2005 “Middlesex County Caring Award”, and hasn’t stopped caring since. When she is not writing or hosting More to the Story, Taylor can be found chasing her two mutts around Athens, Ohio where she currently resides with her husband. Moving to Appalachia has made a huge impact on her life, and she can’t wait to share some of her stories, laughs, and (mis)adventures with you!
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