To pose alongside the almost 200 Japanese sweets we photographed for T’s Fall Women’s Issue, our photo director, Nadia Vellam, cast five fabulous … felines. With the exception of one fledgling foster kitten, the models were all perfectly trained professionals, having starred in luxury fashion campaigns and high-profile commercials. But on set, even they could not resist the bright bounty before them: Piles of artfully crafted jellies, cakes and bonbons in fairy-tale hues and dazzling shapes, each, coincidentally, about the size and color of a cat toy.
A white Persian named Crystal snacked on a few every now and then, only to turn up her nose at the taste. A plump gray cat, Cherie, delighted herself by taking an occasional seat — resting her fluffy behind on soft pillows of mochi, squatting on pink and green cakes.
On set, the photographer Anthony Cotsifas directed the cats with the grace of a ribbon dancer, rhythmically waving cat toy wands in front of the camera to lure their blue and orange eyes toward the lens.
Just like humans in a photo shoot, the animals went through hair and makeup (white furs were made whiter with little brushes) and waited patiently between takes. During that downtime, we learned that there’s much more to the cast than their catlike good looks. Get to know the models:
Her full name is Ma Cherie Laureen Cherie (her mother is Daenerys Laureen Cherie) and she is engaged to Grand Champion Paddington, who is also a blue British shorthair. One day, they will have beautiful little blue babies together. Cherie is very affectionate and loves ice cream.
Named after the song “Crystal Blue Persuasion” by Tommy James and the Shondells, Crystal has appeared in commercials and music videos. She once was on the Katie Couric show with CeeLo Green, as a body double for his Doll Face Persian cat, Purrfect. Tuna fish and turkey are some of her favorite foods.
Tyrone — and a foster kitten
They look like twins, but Tyrone and his unnamed friend, who is waiting to be adopted, are not related. Though the British shorthairs were only about 9 weeks old at the time of our photo shoot, Tyrone had already completed a gig modeling for Versace.