Monday, August 30, 2010

Icy dreams.

Fashion is taking a new turn, embracing new technologies and leaving less room for imperfection, authenticity and escapism than ever. Thankfully, there are a few photographers left who don't let themselves dragged into that hunt for modernism, and continue to evoke imagination within their work... Yelena Yemchuk can claim to be among them. I wouldn't even call her an image maker ; dream maker would be more suitable. Not only does she squeeze something emotional and melancholy out of the models she photographed, but she also captures landscapes at their best, bringing out what makes them unique and inherent to a country.

When in the right hands, fashion can go beyond fashion ; Steven Meisel is renowned for trying - and often achieving - to push the boundaries of fashion photography... Yelena Yemchuk is more discreet (read : underrated) than him ; she doesn't get her work published every month in one of the worthiest publication around ; her name doesn't get shouted out by the most influential people in the industry ; but she's nearly as deserving as the so-called Master, for almost each image of hers pays tribute to Nordic and Eastern European countries and therefore, goes beyond sheer fashion photography.

When staring at some shots she lensed, you can take a glimpse of what Scandinavia, Russia, Eastern Europe look like (and if you happen to be as drawn to these lands as I am, then you must be as elated with her work as I am.). Not that the model becomes secondary ; quite the opposite, she complements the peacefulness portrayed and adds to the overall nostalgia. Yes, pretty much every story the Ukrainian photographer is involved in has a nostalgic feeling to it, and gives me the impression she is trying, through her imagery, to bring her early days back to life ; while some would write an autobiography, she takes pictures of landscapes she once may have stepped onto... and I daresay that's exactly why her work radiates humanity ; it's the testimony of a certain will not to forget, will intrinsic to mankind, which prevents her photography from looking distanced and cold, regardless the scenery and colors.

Yet again, fashion (I am aware this word occurs a lot throughout this article, but after all it's what it all comes down to) and its wonders helped me find a way to fight down the mournful and repetitive days ahead, the best way I could ever find since it reconciles my passion for both photography and travelling. I can't help feeling a twinge of regret when I think that all this time I digitally collected Yelena's pictures without taking notice of her name so as to look up further work of hers, though. Sadly, I tended not to pay attention to a photographer if a lot of hype didn't surround him... but I'll remedy this from now on.

Source : via ASF @ tFS ; scanned by ASF @ tFS ; via ASF @ tFS

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Volte Face.

I was peculiarly but none the less pleasantly taken aback by Anthony Maule's latest photographic prowesse, starring Samantha Gradoville styled by Samuel François, and published in the latest issue of Numéro. It's the third time he has worked in collaboration with the publication, and as a regular buyer of the magazine (regardless its quality, which keeps on decreasing) I was introduced to his photography a few months back.

His way of using lighting and black and white or vibrant colors onto a plain backdrop so as to showcase the clothes can hardly be overlooked for it's a recurring occurence within his imagery, and that's more or less what drew my interest, not to mention he's the single photographer Numéro's fond of who get to surprise me, whether it's positively or not. In spite of the straightforwardness of the editorial Volte Face, you can hardly ever mistake it for a studio editorial you could stumble upon while leafing through US or UK Vogue - simplicity doesn't mean there's no room for inspiration, Maule knows it.

Every elements that make his photography visually pleasing and editorially interesting are to be seen throughout that spread. I have noticed he has often been hired to lens stories whose purpose was to display minimalist and graphic clothes, and the more I became familiar with his work the more I understood why. Under his guidance, streamlined clothing is everything but mundane. His capability of enhancing the detailing of the fabric the pieces are made from, their clean lines and that of the body that wears them is, if not groundbreaking, at least impressive. I can already hear the criticisms rolling in as to his tendency to lean towards black and white, though. I know the choice of such (absence of) color palette is considered unefficient ; but Calvin Klein and co are renowned for their mastery of cuts and shapes above all, aren't they..? Resorting to colors would only steal the focus from them and add a unecessary clutter to the overall unfussy vibe.

As for the model choice, kudos to the casting director for picking Samantha. I personally think her features - the thick brows along with the stern and defiant stare - fit the entire atmosphere to a T. Once again, I wouldn't be surprised if she got picked on because of her static poses and the short range of facial expressions she provided (not to mention relatively new girls often get unfairly put down)... but what would be the point in over-playing when the mood of the story per se doesn't ask for it?

I cannot say it enough ; congratulations to the magazine staff for binding the right model, photographer and stylist together. And if you happen to be as interested as I am in Anthony Maule's imagery, here are a few links to some past work of his : 01 - 02 - 03

Source : scanned by me.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


Love at first sight is an expression that most certainly gets thrown around often when new faces turn up on model agencies boards... but you can trust me when I say it was instant infatuation with Ilva when I saw her digitals - I am not overstating! Not only do I have a soft spot for the "freckled complexion plus red hair" combo - although it's a rather common one - but I also find tormented gazes to be compellingly beautiful... especially considering that hers is already beyond emotional. Latest addition to Hamburg-based agency Place Models, the chiseled-cheekboned beauty (whose bone structure isn't without reminding me Melissa Tammerijn's) has the word promising written all over her face. I've already mentionned my dismal ability to get head over heels in love with newbies who aren't bound to break through, but I daresay we can take the Dutchie seriously... Sheer intuitive feeling, obviously (coups de coeur are known to be both puzzling and addictive in the beginning yet easy to get over, but the fact that my obsession with Ilva is shaping up to be everlasting slightly sway my view.). And, even though I'm not willing to rehash old ideas as to the supremacy of feelings over reason, I feel that I'm not wrong, for a change. We ought to heard of Ilva - the sooner, the better... for I'm almost literally holding my breath for new additions to her portfolio.

Source :

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Hildie on my mind.

A sharp-featured face, a runway-proportionned body and a set of deep melancholy eyes... these are Hildie Gifstad's most prominent assets and what has left an indelible impression on my mind, not to mention her power to make any test shot literally gob-smacking. Here are some new snaps of hers so as to illustrate my thoughts.

It's safe to say the Norwegian has grown into a favorite model of mine, besides being the face I'm most looking forward to when fashion week starts out. Nevertheless, Hildie will need to part from her grungy attitude once in a while (as a tFS member thoughtfully pointed it out) : not too much in order to remain faithful to her roots, yet enough not to risk getting reduced to the androgynous one... as far as I'm concerned, I think she has what it takes to pull the trick off.

But a question keeps running through my mind : will she actually be given the opportunity to let her versatility unfold? The first model I think of when this issue gets brought up is Freja Beha Erichsen. It took her four years to break herself free from the rebel image she had been associated with and to finally get her potential considered and exploited to its fullest extent.

Furthermore, some models happen to get bashed because they don't prove themselves volatile, but do photographers let them show variety through their poses and expressions...? And do beholders accept to see this variety when it is here...? Don't we all tend to mold our opinions according to how the model in question is labelled...? Even though I'm slipping towards off-topic, I reckon this matter is worth musing over... And to get back to Hildie, I will never ever let myself fooled into believing she cannot thrive in non-androgynous looks - it would be too much of an insult to her modelling skills!

Source : allaboutmodels via Teja @ tFS

Friday, August 20, 2010

Memento mori.

She's known as Marion Cotillard, French actress countlessly rewarded, but in front of Mert and Marcus' lens she becomes someone whose identity is blurry. Lying down on a bed, curls falling over her shoulders, she's a seductress... or the remainings of a seductress who wanders ghostly over the Earth as a memory, instead. She no longer exists in men's hands but stuck in their minds as a never-satisfied desire. Time has not alterated her beauty, but has turned her from a woman to a mirage.

While the Dior pieces she's wrapped up in enhance the lines of her body, she ennobles those... which somehow proves that the connection between clothes and the person who wears them does exist ; luxury clothing amounts to nothing if nobody can do it justice, as much as it cannot do polish-free women a favour.

As well as the brand she cherishes, that femme fatale has turned out timeless, whether it is in the heart or the memory of the men she enthralled. But she has already gone in a universe far away from her admirers, hence why she is more covetable than ever : she brings the myth of the unapproachable entity to life ; she epitomizes the dream that will never come true. Her motto : being speculated about but basically unknown. As eyes are the windows to the soul, she never looks straight into the camera. Slightly dramatic, thoroughly theatrical, otherworldly on top of all : she's a woman in all her glory.

J'ai eu le courage de regarder en arrière
Les cadavres de mes jours
Marquent ma route et je les pleure
Les uns pourrissent dans les églises italiennes
Ou bien dans de petits bois de citronniers
Qui fleurissent et fructifient
En même temps et en toute saison
D'autres jours ont pleuré avant de mourir dans des tavernes
Où d'ardents bouquets rouaient
Aux yeux d'une mulâtresse qui inventait la poésie
Et les roses de l'électricité s'ouvrent encore
Dans le jardin de ma mémoire.
- Apollinaire

Source : scanned by Thefrenchy @ tFS

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Les yeux revolver.

I have a soft spot for evocative faces that I can associate with a chilhood's memory of mine. Olga Karlovich, signed with Aquarelle Models in Russia, stopped me in my tracks thanks to her razor sharp features, her defiant way to stare straight into the camera... not to mention the slight Sophie-Marceau-in-La-Boum resemblance (being French, I grew up watching this movie, which is still considered a must-watch.) - both sharing the same classic beauty spiced up with a cheeky, tomboy over the edge, attitude. But beauty and attitude, aren't - admittedly - the single factors coming into play when it comes to breaking out and lasting in the industry. What sets a model apart from another and makes her covetable in casting directors' eyes is, partly, the way she stands in front of the camera and can prove herself multi-faceted and malleable. Albeit Olga's portfolio is still quite tenuous (which doesn't make it easier to make up my mind about her), the few pictures that make it up strengthen my sentiments ; with the right amount of time and work, she may have what it takes to be a good print-work model. She takes mere test shots up to a new level of brilliance ; I was sold to her sang-froid in front of the lens, the way she oozes a forceful confidence, yet all the while maintaining a certain breeziness. I'll be eagerly awaiting new test material, hoping it'll live up to that having already emerged!

Source : Aquarelle Models

Friday, August 13, 2010

Les désaxés.

Dazed and Confused, magazine dishing out both thought-provoking and artistic fashion editorials, is a publication I highly anticipate every month - I always look forward to seeing what concepts the fashion editors came up with. Lensed by Max Farago, Lakshmi Menon, Amanda Norgaard and Yuri Pleskun appear through the pages of that jam-packed September Issue (in which you can also come across a bunch of new rising stars such as Julia Nobis, Caroline Brasch Nielsen or Emily Wake, my personal favorites) in a black and white, youthful, easy on the eye story.

I adore this set of photographs for it sends me back to another era. An era when as a teenager, simple, harmless acts were enough to feel like catching a glimpse of freedom ; an era when you hadn't to dumb yourself down, to embrace a decadent way of life, to reject your inner self in order to melt into the crowd. The portrait of Amanda caught off guard while laughing, exuding spontaneity, therefore takes on new significance as it seems to rise up against nowadays' be-what-you-are-not diktat. In the light of the title of the editorial, I daresay my interpretation isn't too far-fetched. Bande à Part. Three drop-outs who stick together against the reigning shallowness.

I thoroughly enjoyed getting lost into the narrative, letting my imagination fire up picture after picture. This editorial, though hidden behind the mask of simplicity, has something to say, and this is the umpteenth proof that fashion doesn't necessarily come down to showcasing clothes on a runway or in magazines, and selling a particular way of life through those clothes. Fashion can be used as a platform to emphasize life's concerns, to open up our minds, to call upon us to take a good look at the mirror. Isn't it, as well, the primary use of art?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Veuve noire.

It's not commonly admitted, yet Jamie Bochert's features are pictorial. It didn't occur to me at first, but she somehow comes off as a portrait of Modigliani's - the Marguerite resemblance is rather striking, to say the least. This being said, she remains one of a kind ; an all-around talent, who's currently trying her hand at singing ; a model whose work reeks of intelligence ; an arresting presence, a gaze that evokes but never unveils.

It seems like her collaboration (hopefully the first in a long serie) with the master of black and white photography, as known as Hedi Slimane, is a celebration of all that. He drew out an incredible simplicity in her - neither forced expressions nor contrived poses to be seen through the entire set - and captured her essence : the poised serenity she gives off, the hint of determination flashing in her eyes as well as the subtle maturity that keeps her apart from the unexperienced and slightly generic - albeit pretty - faces the industry has kind of been after (naming no names.).

Though it may not jump out at first glance - the pictures display a slight but nonetheless worthy of note contrast between the many-sidedness of the model immortalized and the straightforwardness of the photography... which just goes to show that Hedi Slimane has understood that a plain surrounding along with an epic personality is enough. No need to fill out with loads of patterns and in-your-face colors. Charisma makes it all.

To cap this article off, I'd just like to share an excerpt from the few lines accompanying the editorial : Bochert taught herself the piano and guitar, encouraged by her fiancé, the actor Michael Pitt, also a musician in a band called Pagoda. "It took me five years to learn and I'm still learning, but ballet taught me discipline." Yes, patience and determination pay off ; Jamie is living proof.

Source : scanned by me.