Behind the scenes of the Trudeaus’ Vogue photo shoot

Photographer Norman Jean Roy explains why Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau wore that expensive dress and how the shoot happened

Justin Trudeau and his wife Sophie in a photo from the January 2016 issue of Vogue magazine. (Norman Jean Roy/Vogue)

Justin Trudeau and his wife Sophie in a photo from the January 2016 issue of Vogue magazine. (Norman Jean Roy/Vogue)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sat in front of a grey canvas in the Library of Parliament as a team from Vogue worked its magic. First a set of photos with Trudeau in a navy suit, projecting the gravitas critics say he lacks as he focused his gaze off-camera. He chatted with photographer Norman Jean Roy, another Montrealer, as Roy clicked away under the lights for the portrait ordered up by Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour. Then, another round of pictures — jacket off, tie loosened, sleeves rolled up so Trudeau could move into the working-for-Canadians image politicians favour in more casual settings. It was then that Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau made her entrance. Hair coiffed and makeup professionally applied, Grégoire-Trudeau caught her husband’s eye in a form-fitting blue and gold lace dress. She went to Trudeau, who wrapped his arms around her and kissed her, and Roy snapped the photo.

Related: Soon to be in Vogue? Justin Trudeau

“He had not seen her with hair and makeup and the dress on,” Roy told Maclean’s in an interview a few weeks after the shoot. “And yeah, he was just kind of taken by it – it was a very real moment… It wasn’t fabricated at all.”

The Vogue portraits of Justin Trudeau and Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau have caused a lot of commotion in the day or so since they were posted online. Plenty of Canadians are thrilled to see a prime minister in the pages of the world’s most influential fashion magazine. But critics, including Trudeau’s political opponents, question why he took the time to do interviews with major American outlets (like the New York Times) before sitting down for print media interviews in Canada, and say he risks reinforcing the idea he’s a rich elite who’s out of touch with other Canadians.

The portrait and profile, written by a Vogue contributing editor who mostly writes about film and TV, came about after Wintour asked for a piece about the Trudeaus. U.S. Ambassador Bruce Heyman and his wife, Vicki, helped connect Vogue with the right Canadian officials and even liaised with both sides to facilitate the process.

Related: Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau’s shrewd style

Roy, who is now based in New York, said he jumped at the chance to travel to Ottawa to shoot Trudeau. “With someone like him I really wanted to try to create a portrait that would stand the times and not just fade away into this kind of pop culture picture. So I wanted the portrait of Justin to have reverence and importance and weight,” Roy said.

Trudeau squeezed in the shoot just after a press conference to talk about his November trip to Turkey and the Philippines, his first foray onto the world stage since his mid-October election win. But while the Prime Minister’s Office has provided plenty of access through regular press conferences, they tried to manage when Canadians would find out about the shoot.

“We had to be very careful as to where we photographed because there were so many members of the press there [in Parliament] all the time and we didn’t want to be all of a sudden doing a photo shoot and have it leak…it could be seen not necessarily in a good light,” Roy said.

When the photos were released, the Ottawa Citizen questioned whether it was appropriate for Grégoire-Trudeau to sport a $5,700 Oscar de la Renta dress (available for shipping to Canada!). She likely had little say in the decision: it’s generally up to Wintour and the fashion editors, who select clothes for the shoots based on a number of reasons, including whether they feel a designer needs to be featured in a particular issue.

“Or it could be as simple as Anna really wants this dress to be shot on her,” Roy said. “They would ultimately pick the best dress they want to see on this particular situation because of how they want that portrait to render, relevant to the rest of the magazine.”

While the kind of intimacy laid bare in the Trudeaus’ portrait is unusual in politics, it is Roy’s stock-in-trade as a photographer. “A lot of information is revealed with people and portraiture by just observing them, even in that first minute that you meet someone. People reveal a lot of themselves in that moment and if you pay attention to it and you can capture that, you get these incredibly powerful and intimate moments.”



Behind the scenes of the Trudeaus’ Vogue photo shoot

  1. OOh he looks so Dreamy it’s a shame I don’t have enough Spit to give him a Tongue Bath like the rest of the Media Party®………

    • Joe, see a doctor.

      Perhaps someone from this century.

      • Well, if it isn’t Canadian royalty. Did he “marry his mommy” too, Emily or do you save those classy statements for other countries leaders?

      • Yes, I agree with you, but a guy with this kind of IQ could mistake Dr. Phil as a real doctor. .

  2. He’s not your typical politician and is shaking up a lot of Canadians. Good for him. He has it all. Beautiful wife, beautiful family and the ability to bring change.

    • Alex,

      After Gerald Butts instructs Trudeau and the libs to destroy the resource sector, and implement a crippling carbon tax…….Change, is all that you’ll have left.

      • Zee furst thing you vill do eez deestroy zee reezors sektor.
        Zen vee vill take all zee guns and impliment sharia law.
        Finally vee vill make the carbon tax to enslave them all and impliment the VUN VURLD GOVERNMUNT! HEH HEH Heh heh…..

        • Well done Tresus,

          compared to your usual blather and bloviation, this is the most sensible thing you have ever posted.

  3. Ok…..enough teasing on this issue.

    Saw some interesting things today that I actually approve of.

    1. Restrict government insured mortgages for folks who can produce at least a 10% down payment.
    2. Starting to look at buying ships “off the shelf” instead of relying on Canadian shipbuilders. (south Korea has best ship building capacity – get weapon systems from USA)

    Of course, this will tick off Atlantic Canada who gave Liberals every single riding, but hey….if Irving is going to gouge taxpayers simply because they can…….who cares about Atlantic jobs. The Libs won’t need maritimers for another four years, and by then, increased EI cheques will go a long way to maintain support.

    Looks like some folks surrounding Trudeau have some sense after all.

  4. As I said in a previous post:
    Well, the CPC would almost certainly not support PR or ranked ballots – no more vote splitting. The NDP would likely not support anything that does not have significant PR content – PR gives the 3rd place party the possibility of being a coalition partner. And, the LPC likely really, really wants ranked ballots and does not want PR – ranked ballots likely benefit the LPC (at least initially), and PR means an eternity of being a senior coalition partner at best.
    I’d be absolutely amazed if anything resembling an all-party consensus could be reached.
    If the above comes to fruition, only a referendum could break the logjam.

    I’d also argue, that
    1) There is no downside to holding a referendum, and the only reason to fear a referendum is if you don’t believe “your side” can make a convincing case (in which case, it doesn’t deserve to win).
    2) A referendum has the upside of reflecting what the people of Canada actually want, and not what a government committee says we should want.
    3) The people of Canada deserve to have the final say on something as fundamental as how we choose our MPs and, by extension, leader.
    4) ON, BC, and PEI have set something of a precedent by all holding referendums/plebiscites on electoral reform (if it was good enough for the largest and 3rd largest provinces, then it should be good enough for the country).

    Full disclosure:
    – I’m a big supporter of ranked/preferential ballots. I voted for BC-STV both times.
    – I’m in major opposition to PR.
    – I’m in opposition to basic MMP.
    – I would give careful consideration to something along the lines of the Jenkins Commission Report which recommended a mix of ranked ballot and PR. See: h$ttp://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/politics/203948.stm .

  5. Canada has become an Ineptocracy.

    Ineptocracy (in-ep-toc’-ra-cy) – a system of government where the least capable to lead are elected by the least capable of producing, and where the members of society least likely to sustain themselves or succeed, are rewarded with goods and services paid for by the confiscated wealth of a diminishing number of producers.

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