This particular love story involves a storybook setting in Paris starring two characters: an American photographer and his French muse. Photographer Steven Pan and makeup artist Violette (Global Beauty Director at Estée Lauder) first met in Paris on a shoot almost a decade ago. Their agents assigned them to many of the same shoots and it was a surprise to Violette that they ended up together romantically. Their bond and love was sealed when Violette became pregnant with their daughter, Ines.
As two very independent souls, Steven and Violette each saw themselves as a Vesica Piscis (a geometric formation featuring the overlap of two circles of equal radius). So, to materialize this symbol, Steven gave Violette a diamond ring upon the birth of their baby. This ring, embedded with sparkling grey, white, champagne and cognac diamonds designed by Spinelli Kilcollin, represents their two independent lives merging into one.
GRACE FULLER MARROQUÍN What is your home life/routine like right now? VIOLETTE For me, It’s a lot of work now. Every other day I switch with Steven on our daughter’s routine in the morning. Whether it is having breakfast with her, dancing to music, or playing in her room, we have at least two solid hours before we start working. We have basically built a children’s park in our backyard. We have a nanny now, luckily, who then comes to be with her during the day. On the weekends we go to the farm, on hikes, and put out the kiddie pool in the backyard.
How is your quarantined routine and environment different than normal life for you? STEVEN PAN For me, it’s changed a bit. As a photographer it’s different now. I am not traveling, but it has been great working with the most creative and most amazing person I know.
Where did you shoot these photos and what was your inspiration? SP We shot it in our house and in the Shirley Chisholm State Park. It’s on the bay towards Rockaway and it just opened last year. V It was super sunny, it was actually nice because it was just the two of us. You could smell the sun and the water. It felt like we were transported back to our travels in the Cote d’Azur.
Why did you choose to capture these photos the way you did? SP I think that for myself, my photography, I love finding those real moments. My photography is not so much about creating fantasy but finding beauty in what is around us. A lot of my work is about working with my muse. And she and I both love to be outside.
Tell me a bit about your love story, how did you two meet? V We met a long time ago and Steven was assisting Steven Meisel and I was starting my career in a real way as a makeup designer. I was not interested in dating somebody from the industry, but our friendship grew. I had the opportunity to move to New York and Steven helped me move to the city. One late night, we became closer. It was at a point in my life where I was able to take a breath and finally let go.
What is your proposal story? Steven, what was Violette’s reaction? V So, the funny story is that we never got married and we were never engaged. I used to be married and it really broke my heart to divorce. It’s not like I don’t believe in [marriage] anymore, because I do. Steven is the love of my life. But for us, the biggest commitment was our daughter. It was not very easy for me to get pregnant, so the birth of our child was the biggest miracle for us.
“It has a lot of meaning. The interconnectedness of the rings. It’s like our family, our love, it’s our commitment to each other, we are all linked together.”
Tell us about the ring. V The ring was actually my push present. It means so much more than that. It means everything that we have our little miracle in our life, Ines.
Can you tell us about the buying/selection process? Did you do it together? SP I would love to say that I secretly went there and picked it out and did all of those things. You can tell from her, she has a very, very, high-level and specific sense of taste which I am still trying to predict to this day. It keeps me on my toes! Once I knew that Violette wanted this ring, I reached out to the brand and they were so nice. They offered me so many choices so I then got Violette involved. V I was fully pregnant and the designer came and I tried rings on my bloated fingers and we found the one.
What does it symbolize? V We talked a lot about how we wanted this relationship to be because we were both very independent. We have a symbol of two overlapping circles and when I saw this ring with all of these bands interconnected it seemed very representative of us. SP It has a lot of meaning. The interconnectedness of the rings. It’s like our family, our love, it’s our commitment to each other, we are all linked together.
What do you think is the most important part of the diamond ring buying process? SP It’s stressful, because it has so much meaning. You want to get the perfect thing. It’s an aesthetic statement but also a personal statement. Even though I see jewelry all the time and you think I would know more than the average guy, I was still totally clueless. V I know it’s beautiful to be surprised, but I was also really happy to do it together. The whole process for us was very natural to do as a pair. But I think it’s important to take a lot of time with it. Identify the style. I think the key is to always find symbolism in the diamond and in the color of the stone. Also, a diamond is my birthstone and also Ines’ birthstone. That gives it an extra meaning.
What is the story behind your other ring you photographed? V This ring, by Statement, was gifted to me by Steven for our anniversary. It symbolizes to me how life has a plan for you that you don’t always control. It wasn’t easy for Steven and I to be together. We fought for it, and this ring represents that. It also happens to be designed by my dear friend, Amelie Huynh. When I look at it, I feel love from every angle.