Photographer Peter Hapak asked Emily Blunt to get into character during the cover shoot for TIME Style and Design, which relaunches this March after a three-year hiatus. It was an easy task for the British actress, who has played myriad roles—from a bossy fashion assistant to a young royal—in her career and currently stars opposite Evan McGregor and Kristin Scott Thomas in Salmon Fishing in the Yemen.
“I wanted to create something that didn’t feel earthy,” Hapak says. “So I asked her to imagine that she was in outer space, where she was experiencing different noises and light and trying to get along in this new space.” Hapak, who used harsh light to bring out sharp highlights and shadows on Blunt, even likes to say he was working with two different people during the sitting. “The thing about fashion is when people walk in, they look like every other person wearing normal clothes,” he says. “But when we are working on a fashion shoot, we’re creating a stylized person, a character that completely differs from the actual person.”
The cover shoot, which took place in New York City this Februrary, was a reunion of sorts for Hapak. The selection of clothing and pairing of designers such as Prada and Stella McCartney were creatively conceived by Ali Toth and Aniko Virag, stylists whom Hapak first met in Hungary nearly six years ago. In fact, it was Toth and Virag who commissioned Hapak for his first foray into fashion photography. “I was photographing dancers and experimenting with how dancers can interpret fashion in different ways,” Hapak says. “They saw one of my series and called me to collaborate.”
Among the many outfits Blunt exhibited for their latest collaboration, Hapak’s favorite piece was a black Balenciaga hat worn by the actress on the cover. “I just loved that Balenciaga hat,” Hapak says. “And this is exactly what I like about fashion. The right accessory speaks for itself—and the entire picture.”