TOAST Magazine

Capturing the Golden Light of Gassin in Isolation

STYLE & STORIES


Just outside the small village of Gassin in the Var region of France is the home of artistic duo Máté Moro and Borbala Szanto. Pivoting to a new way of working in lockdown, Máté and Borbala created the Autumn/Winter campaign for TOAST remotely, with limited equipment, and without the aid of any crew. And yet, their collaborative efforts, working entirely with the natural light afforded in the South of France, produced beautifully considered results. We spoke to Máté and Borbala about their journey so far, the inspiration behind the campaign, and what it was like being in front of the camera.


Can you tell us a little about yourself and what you both do?

Máté is a photographer and I [Borbala] am an artist and set designer. We are a couple and have been working together as a duo for the past few years. We are originally from Hungary and now live between London and the South of France.

At the core of our approach to image making lies an interest in playful interactions. We strive to find the right balance between an incidental scenario and a carefully constructed composition.

We enjoy documenting moments of everyday life with poetic attention to the often-disregarded small details, and for the past two years we have been compiling a travel diary. A project that abstractly documents personal, fleeting moments alongside intricate still life compositions that draw on objects closely associated with places we know.

Where in France is your home when did you first move there?

Our home is just outside of a small village called Gassin, which is in the Var region of southeastern France. It is a family home where Bori’s grandfather used to live, she has been coming here since she was a teenager.

In the past few years we have started to spend more and more time here, escaping from London whenever we have the chance to work from here. In the process it has become a real creative hub for us.

This has been our longest stretch here as we arrived in March just before the lockdowns of France and the UK, so we have now been isolating for several months. We have been spending our days gardening, but we have also tried our best to find new ways to keep creative and inspired.

Can you describe the landscape that surrounds the house?

The house is located between two small villages in the hills, surrounded by a cork oak forest with the beautiful golden light that is so typical of the South of France. The nature around us is a constant source of inspiration and we spend a lot of time observing the wildlife. We are especially fond of the wild boars that roam the edge of our garden every evening.

The house is a Provencal house with painted wooden shutters, terracotta tiles and a beautiful view on the forest and surrounding hills.

What are the benefits of living a creative life in the South of France?

We have been toying with the idea of what life and work would be like away from a large European capital. The past few months has really pushed us to contemplate giving up our flat in London for a more tranquil, quiet life.

Being here is so inspiring for us and we feel always full of ideas and creative energy while we are here. In the long run, we hope to set up a small studio in the garage and perhaps also a darkroom in order to have all the facilities we need to work.

Can you tell us a little about the planning for the Autumn/Winter campaign for TOAST?

We decided to approach the Autumn/Winter campaign with a similar sensibility to our ongoing travel diary. We know the surrounding area so well, so we made our shooting plan based on the movement of light.

The process felt very natural in many ways. We packed a selection of TOAST clothing into our car and went on little trips and hikes in the surrounding villages and hills. Sometimes we just walked around wearing the garments, and other times we would capture chance moments, in the same way you would for a family photo album. Other times we had an exact location or a certain time of day in mind.

The early morning hours were the most magical. The streets were empty and the villages were asleep, so we had the freedom to move around without meeting a soul. We would then head to the boulangerie to catch the first batch of warm morning croissants.

What were some of the main challenges you faced?

Our main challenge was that we had no team with us. We really value the input from a great crew and it is always so vital to have those extra helping hands that we could not rely on in this remote shoot situation.

Our other big challenge was not having any proper lighting equipment to make up for those inevitable dark and gloomy days. This meant we had to work entirely around the weather, adapting our schedule day by day.

The whole process felt similar to shooting entirely on film. There has been a constant surprise element when discovering the final images at the end of a day of shooting.

What is it like working together as a duo?

We have been working together for about two years now, and the best thing about it is that we each bring a different approach to image making. It is a bit like having an extra set of eyes, a complementary extension of your own.

Normally we would be looking at the images and discussing them as we shoot, but in this scenario, I was on the other side of the camera, as a model.

I often model for our personal projects and we have learned how to tune into this process as a creative team. In this aspect, not having a crew with us definitely made each image more relaxed, intimate, and honest.

The latest Autumn/Winter campaign for TOAST was a collaboration between photographer Máté Moro and artist Borbala Szanto, known collectively as Matzo & Matzo. Find the full lookbook, modelled by Borbala, here.

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