Fashion & Photography

Budapest’s Presence in Fashion Shoots

How The Hungarian Capital Inspired Fashion Brands

Budapest is an amazing city that has drawn in and inspired countless creatives for centuries. It has a unique combination of majestic historical architecture, on which the marks of time accumulate, as well as a dynamic urban atmosphere with Soviet and contemporary architecture.


In the second half of the 19th century, a large cultural and financial boom resulted in the construction of a large part of Budapest in an elegant eclectic, historic style. The buildings of this period still form the basic texture of the city today. Since then Budapest has been enriched by Art Nouveau, early modernist and Soviet era designs, as well as contemporary ones. This offers fashion photographers a vast range of locations and inspiring atmospheres among which they can choose the one that fits their shoot the best.

Budapest is an amazing city that has drawn in and inspired countless creatives for centuries. It has a unique combination of majestic historical architecture, on which the marks of time accumulate, as well as a dynamic urban atmosphere with Soviet and contemporary architecture.


In the second half of the 19th century, a large cultural and financial boom resulted in the construction of a large part of Budapest in an elegant eclectic, historic style. The buildings of this period still form the basic texture of the city today. Since then Budapest has been enriched by Art Nouveau, early modernist and Soviet era designs, as well as contemporary ones. This offers fashion photographers a vast range of locations and inspiring atmospheres among which they can choose the one that fits their shoot the best.

Let’s Travel in Time

Some commercials have been inspired by the untouched aspect of many parts of Budapest, which are perfect for shooting a scene set in the past. Also, Hungary’s eventful and turbulent past seems to have become a strong symbol of European history in general. A good example for this is Lacoste’s captivating commercial, that tells the story of the history and evolution of the brand by an adventure of love at first sight, with the lovers running through a train and simultaneously through time itself. The starting point of the story, back in the middle of the 20th century is Budapest’s streamy and atmospheric Nyugati, the archetypal train station, and then ends in our current times on the underground.

Youtube LACOSTE - TIMELESS

The Elegant Style of History

The unique Art Nouveau style architecture of one of the Hungarian capital’s most important hotel got mixed with Soviet interior decor during the second half of the 20th century. This unusual mixture of styles inspired Wes Anderson to create the movie Grand Hotel Budapest, which quickly became a global favourite of quirky cinema. Although the film was not shot in Hungary, it inspired Americana Manhasset’s “Welcome to Budapest” commercial to shoot in Budapest and its Gellért Hotel. The two models appear in countless significant historic locations, always with outfits matching their current surroundings. It shows how playful, diverse and adventurous shooting in Budapest can be.

Youtube AMERICANA MANHASSET FALL 2015

The Story Behind the Title of Wes Anderson’s Most Successful Film

Even though Wes Anderson’s film was named Grand Hotel Budapest, it was not filmed in Hungary, partially because he was following the tradition of hotels with names other than their actual location, but more importantly he was inspired by certain early Hollywood films. These were made often by Central European filmmakers, who recreated European cities as film sets in the US. This aspect of fiction and artificial locations is what he developed further, creating a fictive country the Republic of Zubrowka. Still with the title he highlighted Budapest as a major inspiration for the film, next to Austria, Czechoslovakia and Poland. After traveling all around Central Europe, they finally found a department store in Götlitz, Germany for film in, because it was the only one they found that was sufficiently untouched by time.

Regardless, for example such places inspired Wes Anderson as the Gellért Hotel, where the multiple layers of history are present in the building’s interior architecture. This is how he got the idea to rewrite the script, making it multi-layered with multiple stories within stories. The opening scene is set in the 60s, but the main plot happens in the 30s, creating layers that aim to whisk the viewer far away from the present and non-fiction into a world of memories. This period of Central Europe between the World Wars had such a strong impression on him, that he recreated it with the help of the books and films he encountered from this period. Next to this he also used his experiences of traveling and living in Europe, a continent so rich with unique history.

The photoshoot for Brax captures a classy cosmopolitan atmosphere

Another fashion project drawn to Budapest’s elegant and stylish locations is Brax’s 2015 A/W catalogue shoot. Here the Hungarian capital features as a classy urban backdrop, with beautiful textures that fit the collection’s  features, such as leather seated cafés, historic stone buildings, cobblestone streets and wrought iron. Brax is special because they choose to photograph each of their collections set in a different city. Each time they focus on the city’s unique world, aiming to use such iconic sites, that reflect the city well, making it easily identifiable. For this shoot they decided to focus of the capital’s stunning bridges, since they are a perfect embodiment of the stylist historic feel the city has. Still, instead of viewing Budapest as a tourist, they created images as if they were shots from the everyday lives of its cosmopolitan, central European inhabitants.

Furthermore, the USA magazine LaPalme shot an editorial for NousMode in Budapest, which also focused iconic locations like the Andrássy Boulevard and the State Opera House, but were used in an energetic, hip style perfect for the Spring collection. In the video below the elegant city vibes follow the models while they continue their adventures around the Danube and the Chain Bridge.


NOW’s photoshoot features Hungarian grandiose architecture, given a chick twist by the cool models

Next to these urban locations, Hungary has many other historic faces to show, which one can see in the NOW Magazine’s shoot, using these locations in a chick, classy and sexy way. They even shot in the Gödöllő castle’s stunning mirrored baroque ballroom, as well as the abandoned Tura Castle, creating a luxurious, aristocratic feel. Next to these special places, this shoot could not either leave the streets of Budapest out, where the cool exteriors prove to be a good match for these elegant, urban outfits.

Last but not least, we would like to highlight the Brazilian label Morena Rosa Shoes’ stunning campaign for Fall-Winter 2013. It focused on the compelling shift from day to night, creating a captivating feel. They also uniquely reinterpreted the iconic locations in the heart of Budapest with their special atmosphere. The beautiful, centuries old wrought iron bridges linking Buda and Pest are much loved sites for photographers of all kinds. The Chain Bridge forms a monumental, grandiose sight, while the Liberty Bridge shows a more elegant and decorative side of the Austro-Hungarian Empire’s architecture. These are a great example of how the historic features of the Hungarian capital can be used to create cool, elegant and luxurious images.

Youtube Inverno 2013 - Making Of

Vibrant and Diverse Styles

GQ’s photoshoot of Ryan Gosling in the Gellért Baths is playful and dazzling at the same time

In 2016, Ryan Gosling made the aristocratic, urban life of Budapest’s his own during the American GQ’s colourful photoshoot. This shoot, made before the premier of La La Land, was used to promote the release of this feature film that he stars in. The creative directors focused on making this a colourful and playful photoshoot to fit the atmosphere of the movie. At the same time Craig McDean, this project’s acclaimed photographer wanted to feature elegant, historic and typically Budapest locations, which is why the central location of the shoot is the Gellért Baths in the heart of Budapest, with its dazzling blue Zsolnay porcelain tiles. This place had the beauty of the historic architecture and although it is kept well, the mark of the past is present on it too. These stunning colours make the photoshoot truly unforgettable - if Ryan Gosling taking a dip in the thermal baths in a designer suit wouldn’t be enough. These brilliant Art Deco and historic locations have a strong atmosphere, which is unquestionably Central European.

Youtube GQ

In the 20th century, four decades of Soviet influence had a strong effect on architecture and the development of Hungarian cities. New materials, colours and aesthetics appeared, such as plastic, concrete, bold colours and a more geometric, minimalist taste, which by now count as unique and retro.


Budapest’s retro transport system makes a perfect colourful backdrop for Boden’s catalogue shoot

Hungary is home to scorching summers, which combined with the colourful details of the past can result in things like the British fashion brand Boden’s catalogue shoot for its 2016 Spring/Summer collection with its specially charming summer vibe. While focusing on the vibrant features of Budapest’s public transport system, naturally the romantic historic streets couldn’t be left out either. It is obvious looking at the photos, how much fun the stylist and photographer had creating them. These retro locations perfectly fit the outfits’ colour and style, creating images of an imaginary, lovely summer adventure. The yellow plastic chairs in the colourful interior of the waiting room in the Nyugati train station’s are a special gem.

Although it was made back in 2012 and the location is currently unavailable due to construction, this brilliant photo shoot cannot be left out.  The acknowledged photographer Tom Craig created an unforgettable series of photographs for British Vogue at Hotel Ezüst Park, the most emblematic Soviet era hotel in Hungary, by the Lake Balaton. He created a bizarre world, with the charm of late summer and of a period in history soon to end. Sun-bleached pastel colours and geometric shapes create the world in which the model wonders, somewhat enchanted, as a lonely holiday maker lost in the past.

Getting Your Bearings For Shooting in Central-Eastern Europe

We would like to share a bit about the differences between of some of the countries in Central-Eastern Europe, that are often chosen for shoots next to Hungary and Austria, which is the Czech Republic and Romania. The Czech capital, Prague is also full of historical buildings, but of a different nature compared to Budapest. The city has a lot of Medieval architecture, which gives the city a historic atmosphere that is a lot more ancient and clustered than Budapest, since the Hungarian capital was significantly developed in a planned and unified way a century and a half ago. Furthermore, the Czech Republic is full of cobblestone streets and ruined countryside palaces, but this seems to be quite typical of Central European countries, because this is true of Romania and Hungary as well. All these countries have range of concrete Soviet housing blocks, some colourful, others simply aging, cement grey. What makes Romania unique next to its larger scale and the presence of the huge Carpathian mountains, is the presence of Eastern architectural motifs in its architecture, due to its geographic situation. Islam-like, highly geometric beautiful ornamentation is what makes special Romanian places special. Therefore, next to some types of locations that are typical for this entire region of Europe, each of these countries have their own unique characteristics, their own historical types of buildings and atmospheres.

Hungary’s Say in Fashion

Hungary and especially Budapest has a thriving fashion world, with countless designers of all ages founding their own independent brands. We would like to show a playful and imaginative video made by the Hungarian brand Je Suis Belle in collaboration with a local film director called Viktor Horvath. In every moment of the dynamic short film the main character interacts in various ways with her surroundings, which are the rooms of an abandoned historic mansion and church in the atmospheric Hungarian countryside.

Youtube JE SUIS BELLE

Also, Budapest has another side to it - its underground scene. As most large cities, the Hungarian capital is a meeting point for the youth in search for alternatives, new styles and new tastes than what is historical and traditional.


This cool shoot shows an unfeatured side of life in Budapest; its underground scene. The photos gives us an insight into a gang’s day-to-day life, as they hung out among Soviet era architecture. Baseball courts surrounded by typically concrete apartment blocks and underground pathways are the normal surroundings for so many, and are yet featured in hardly any photos and films shot in Hungary.


These photos featured in the magazine Philosophy’s 2017 Fall issue also give an insight into the aesthetics and anti-aesthetics of the moody life of young people in Budapest. Yet again it’s the colourful public transport and concrete housing blocks that make the shoot special and playful, next to a street shot of not the most charming downtown street.

And Finally: Go Crazy

Budapest is my true home. It is where I really grew up and it has not changed.”Petra Collins

Last, but not least is the dazzling video presenting Gucci Eyewear’s 2017 Spring/Summer Collection. It was directed and photographed by Petra Collins, an acclaimed young photographer of Hungarian origins, who recreated her childhood daydreams using her typical playful and vivid aesthetics. She shares with the viewers a magical world of children having an adventure starting in their grandmother’s living room and ending in an epic party in the Gellért baths, featuring eccentric characters for whom the colourful mosaics are obviously their natural habitat. In the heart of the party is a grandmother jamming on an electric guitar standing on the water of the thermal water pool. Things couldn’t get much more crazier that this.

Youtube GUCCI

Therefore these are the highlights of the most creative and stylish fashion shoots made in Budapest and Hungary. This historically diverse capital has thankfully been hardly touched by modernisation, welcoming many international brands to find their own unique ways to combine with its European atmospheres. Let the style either be classy, aristocratic or colourfully modern, the Hungarian capital has inspirational locations to offer all sorts of photo projects.

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