World-famous British stars caught on camera by world-famous photographer

London’s Royal Naval Reserve HQ HMS President provided the setting for leading British women from the world of sport, charity and the arts – including Dame Helen Mirren, Olympic gold-winning boxer Nicola Adams and artist Tracey Emin.

The photoshoot – for Marks and Spencer’s autumn fashion collection – was directed by legendary photographer Annie Leibovitz.

In the shadow of Tower Bridge HMS President’s Lt Cdr Tony Scott and AB Glen Parsonage line up with a mix of celebrity and fashion royalty, Olympians, and inspirational women from the world of the arts and charitable work, including Dame Helen Mirren, gold-medal-winning boxer Nicola Adams and artist Tracey Emin.

Which is a very nice memento of an unusual photoshoot staged at London’s Royal Naval Reserve headquarters.

But what makes it extra special is the snapshot was taken by the world’s most famous female photographer, the legendary Annie Leibovitz.

All of the ladies were amazing and Dame Helen, Ellie Goulding and Katie Piper happily posed for photos and chatted to us. Ellie looked especially good in my cap and should consider a career in the RN!

AB Glen Parsonage

Over the past 40 years she’s photographed the who’s who of rock and roll: Sting, Fleetwood Mac, John Lennon, the Rolling Stones, 'King of Pop' Michael Jackson, Lady Gag, the iconic cover of Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the USA album, plus a naked and heavily pregnant Demi Moore for the front of Vanity Fair magazine which caused quite a stir a couple of decades ago, The Queen, the Obama family, Microsoft maestro Bill Gates among others.

Now she’s been commissioned by retail giant Marks and Spencer to shoot its autumn fashion collection featuring a dozen women – ‘Britain’s Leading Ladies’.

Over several days, at various locations, during the summer, Annie photographed the ten ladies: Olympic gold-medal winning boxer Nicola Adams, chart-topper Ellie Goulding, 2011’s Nurse of the Year and AIDS awareness campaigner Helen Allen, Model Katie Piper, Artist Tracey Emin, Oscar-winning actress Dame Helen, Model and fashion guru Grace Coddington, Supermodel and musician Karen Elson, Novelist Monica Ali, Ballerina and Strictly Come Dancing judge Darcey Bussell, Singer-songwriter Laura Mvula, Charity boss Jasmine Whitbread. 

The last of the shoots was staged at HMS President, with London’s most famous river crossing as the backdrop. Reservist Lt Cdr Scott had the arduous duty of press liaison officer, assisted by AB Parsonage – a full-time writer on the unit’s staff.

And there was plenty of time between the shoots for the sailors to take a few snaps of their own with Tony’s Canon EOS 600D camera… until he handed it over to Annie.

“There was a hush all around when I did,” says Tony.

“Helen Mirren whispered to me, "You do know that’s the most famous photographer in the world?" For the rest of the day Annie’s staff kept coming up to me saying, "Wow, you have Annie Leibovitz photos on your camera." How cool is that?’”

Very.

“Meeting Annie Leibowitz and having her take my photo is an honour usually reserved for the A List,” says Glen, who equally enjoyed his brush with celebrity. "It’s not everyday that A Listers – film stars, No.1 pop stars and inspirational women like Katie Piper turn up at work. All of the ladies were amazing and Dame Helen, Ellie Goulding and Katie Piper happily posed for photos and chatted to us. Ellie looked especially good in my cap and should consider a career in the RN!”

Tony added, “It was a very special day. I took as many photos as I could – but the tables were turned on me by Karen Elson who took one of me and posted it there and then to her Instagram feed. There’s also a photo of me with Tracey Emin standing just behind me – she was actually ‘photobombing’ me as I had no idea she was there! She found this very funny.”

As for the professional photographer at work, well once the shoot was over there was time for a natter.

“I had a good chat with her at the end,” said Tony.

"Her dad was in the US Air Force and she spent her childhood travelling from base to base – she spoke highly of the armed forces in general and said it was a wonderful childhood.”

You can see the results of Annie’s work on the day with HMS President at President’s Facebook page.

And you can learn more about the M&S campaign at www.marksandspencer.com/Britains-Leading-Ladies-Preview-Womens/b/3147215031