Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Le temps déborde.

I've already implied this in the last article, but lately I've been feeling like my whole relationship to fashion was built upon illusional interpretations and personal fantasies. For instance, I find the fact of being able to see beauty where most of the people can't to be a soothing treat. I most particularly cherish these moments when I run my fingers through newsstands filled in with fashion magazines, grasp one of the less notorious publications, cluelessly look through it, lay my eyes upon an arresting story featuring a model who's hardly ever to be seen and get to recognize the latter in the blink of an eye. It's the comforting feeling of being favoured, as though merged into a weary, hopeless, inhumanity-struck crowd I was given the chance to catch a glimpse of beauty and hold on to this vision, while nobody else could. It may account for my more and more turning my back on foremost publications and models ; I'm clung to this sentiment, as greedy and far-fetched as it is, to the point where I concentrate on discreet, if worthwhile, newfaces and magazines so I can feel like being sighted enough to spot under-the-radar talents while others just get satisfied with what there's (however mediocre it possibly is) at hand. I know, I know. It makes nonsense and sounds like pretentiousness verging on ludicrousness. Though humans in general do (like to) live upon illusions, and that's partly why fashion - and so on and on - exist(ed) in the first place, isn't it.? But it's not the point here, and I'm digressing as per usual. Thing is, I was digitally going through the September / October Wonderland Magazine issue - you can hand it to the Internet to give you a first appealing approach to a magazine contents and plunge you into the dire need of getting ahold of it - when my eyes went across a six-pages long set of photographs - and there it went again : the feeling I mentionned earlier on.

Displaying the Fall / Winter 2010 Cerruti collection, here is India Farrell, whose shots got squeezed into an issue jam-packed with clothing-centered, if subtle, spreads. She exudes a witty vulnerability which can be both distressing and captivating, according to the beholder and their inclination to this kind of beauty. Upon first seeing her I was smitten, without getting my hopes up as to her being propelled full force into the industry (which she hasn't been... yet?), for her tests didn't do her possible ambivalence favour. Then again, test shots (up to editorials actually) tend to reduce models down to a unidimensional definition nowadays, in lieu of enhancing their malleability. But never mind.

Plain backdrop, clothes that probably cost a bomb just because they bear the name Cerruti... - nothing spectacular at first glance, but then India comes into play and takes the editorial up to a new level of drama and ambiguity. Transitionning from being inert and mercy-demanding to being kinetic, the role the model's playing changes altogether depending on the picture you look at : alternately threatened, threatening, impassive. I think this set is interesting when you aim at not only weighing the model's value but also that of the clothes (if you don't happen to overlook them, as I nearly did), in light of the movement or lack of it. Yes, interesting, but also darksome, engaging, perturbing... up to the observer to assign the adjectives they find most suitable to this editorial, to like it regardless general consensus, to see beauty where others might see ghastliness or dullness. Exclusivity.

The entire set here.

While I'm at it, I cannot restrain myself from holding up to view these breathtaking images of Marina Buniaka. No matter how hard I tried to spell out my point - Marina being completely potential-gifted, that is - a few articles back, being convincing when you have no material to rely on but a handful digitals and candids is always a tough task to carry through. So if you were still on the fence, peek at the lookbook lensed by Sarah Piantadosi right above,which is most likely to make you fall head over heels in love with Lithuanian wonder.

source : ;

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Space Oddity.

Kristina Feldhammer epitomizes the type of models I've been longing to lay my eyes on - nothing to do with the few tediously beautiful faces that blend into each others I've grown so weary of. Show-stoppingly lethal, immeasurably chilly, seemingly camera-friendly and signed with Cologne-based boutique agency Tomorrow is Another Day... sounds like an auspicious description. We're yet to sink our teeth into some runway or editorial appearances, but the digitals above (provided by Kristina's scouts) come across as photographic testimonies of Miss Feldhammer's potential - and atypicality. Don't get me wrong - I don't conceive of models as faceless clothes hangers that should get thoroughly overshadowed by the piece of clothing they showcase, quite the contrary. It never occured to me that models could actually get sent down a runway just to wear clothes ; I think it's all about letting your inner individuality shine through so as to bring the clothes to life and make them less generic, so they can pass off as custom-made pieces in a way. Not to mention unusual girls first draw your eyes in and cause them to travel from their face down the skewed lines of their catwaling-body to the clothes hanging on them. It's what happens... isn't it? I've always felt singularity was organic to fashion modelling. But sometimes, I'm under the impression I defend a stubbornly held view of it, interpreting it so it can fit my fancy - I find the idea of a universe in which difference is sought after quite dreamy and refreshing somehow. Back to Kristina - needless to say she's among the most intricate faces I've seen in a while... Once you get past the classic beauty barrier, you're not likely to get her out of your head.!

source : via nijuyanah @ tFS

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Back in November 2008.

I've grown aware that moments during which I get the point of an editorial and love it at first sight don't come around often, all the more when it comes to Vogue Italia. Its being among the most boundary-pushing publications out there gets me to unconsciously set high expectations each month in regards to the upcoming issue, which automatically sets me up for disappointment. Exception that proves the rule? Cottage in Riva al Mare didn't need me to look back to it. I did love it at first sight.

The emotions portrayed are overwhelming and enough to set this spread apart from the sea of spreads coming out every years, and make it all worthwhile. There's an apathetic, worrisome stillness piercing through the photographs, an electrifying uneasiness between the characters (played by Toni Garrn and Katrin Thormann), a tender melancholy and from time to time an ambiguous defiance that might leave the beholder aghast. You cannot really keep track of every sentiments involved but you cannot get lost either, since the shots are straight to the point and adornments-free... Tacit ambiguity, underlying ambivalence : this is what it's all about.

This editorial looks like a mighty collection of stills from a silent movie that were gathered up into a tiny book aiming at summing up the plot... Although the lines are blurred. You can't know for sure what are the sentiments both women feel for each other. Are they old friends who've set off to their youth's vacation spot and whose friendship is growing wrong? Are they in love, hopelessly, passionately, head over heels in love with each others to the point of destruction? You can just let your imagination run wild and daydream what could possibly be happening in between each still, envision the stormy arguments both characters could be having, make this semblance of a movie your own and mold it in accordance with your own fantasy.

This is what I'm longing for when I open up a fashion magazine. A story that sends shivers down my spine. In my mind's eye, these women aren't mere friends, but they have to deny it - because the society they live in doesn't allow it, because they were brought up in families that couldn't support it, because they won't themselves accept it. Homosexuality is actually, and still nowadays, a sensitive matter to deal with. It may not be as taboo as a few decades back, but it's more stereotyped than ever (and I assume you possible reader know what I'm talking about). And this is what a fashion photographer worthy of the name should do. Getting inspired from nowadays' zeitgeists and concerns all the while smashing clichés into pieces, and it is a tricky thing to pull off. As from the beginning we all get fed on intruding stereotypes and then, up to us to conform to popular beliefs or get down to the essence of everything and form an opinion of our own. Not only do artists have to carry this out, but they also have to express their opinions through their oeuvres, as an attempt to open up people's mind. I feel like this is what Vogue Italia teamed up with Steven Meisel have (partly) been trying to achieve : bringing out the complexity in every topical issues, instead of reducing them down to simplistic clichés, and get us to break our own prejudices.

I can't help drawing an interesting comparison between this very editorial and another highly controversial one lensed by Terry Richardson. I won't get into the Richardson debate that's been on everyone's lips for a great amount of time - okay, I will, but not back and forth. On the one hand you have the love affair between two lesbians, on the other hand you have the love affair between two (several) lesbians. Same topic, opposite outcomes. One ennobles women, the other one disempowers them. Just to make it clear ; I don't support mindless and relentless feminism, as I think it's because of the very kind of feminism claiming that women are equal to men in every ways and have to act accordingly that women get, to a certain extent, treated like - for want of a better phrase - shit. But hmm, this is a blog about fashion so I'll hold myself back.

Anyway - I just meant to say that I am taken aback. How two basically similar editorials - and even pictures - can be so different in execution? How one of them can be so thoughtful and moving that it could have me shedding some tears, and the other one so exploitative that it simply has me shutting my eyes to it? How can we call Steven Meisel a fashion photographer and Terry Richardson a fashion photographer? How can the fashion industry be so compelling and off-putting all at once? Aaaah so many questions left unanswered. I guess that is precisely where the interest lies.

source : scanned by Diciassette (17) @ tFS

Monday, November 1, 2010

Rome, Italy, 41°48'N 12°36'E.

Rome Savage, Tetyana Melnychuk and Eniko Mihalik, Pop Fall Winter 2010. I've been hesitating to write about this editorial since the pictures made their way into the Internet, one or two months back - time flies by, I lose track of it - because I've kept in mind all along that my babbling would be too much of a vague one as long as I wouldn't materially hold the issue it's from. After several years as a religious purchaser of Pop Magazine, I've come to the conclusion it's among the most fashion-forward publications out there as of now - and it's close to being my favorite magazine, aswell.

Whenever I look back into my Pop archives and pick out one issue at random, I never fail to get the feeling I'm flickring through a ginormous book made up of several fashion papers that were sewed together, and get to enjoy the sight of various landscapes, the discovery of new image-makers, the touch and smell of different type of papers and the pleasure of a thought-provoking approach to fashion and its fluctuations. This magazine in its entirety strikes me as revolving around its creaters' will to overstep the boundaries, mistreat the clichés fashion has got wrapped up in and get the designers or photographers' point across (I have looked at Chiuri and Piccioli's work for Valentino with new eyes ever since I saw and read this feature).

To be fully honest, I had to scratch my head over the covers to 'get' them and was, in the first place, annoyed with people's praises as I couldn't remotely fathom where they were coming from. As I expected though, it didn't take me long to end up being in awe of the inspiration behind both covershots, the covershots per se and their uncouth and ludicrous - in the best way possible - appeal (I am that easy to be persuaded).

Back on the topic - sorry for being that disgressional of a person - the Rome Savage editorial is my chéri out of the issue, basically because it took me by surprise and drew my interest (it had me looking up both the photographers and the casting director on Google, that is - not that big of a deal, but still something I don't always bother to do). It's bold, but not in the Vogue Paris bold-for-the-sake-of-claiming-to-be-so kind of way. Here, the wow factor doesn't lie in the models stuffing themselves with food, standing by bloody meat, or other oh-so-bold concepts ; an out-of-left-field casting and a ground-breaking imagery are enough to make this story one of a kind.

Much to my dismay, this spread got a fairly negative feedback imagery-wise, and the on-purpose-amateur-lighting would supposedly be something anyone could do, without being gifted with any skills as photographers. I'm not pretending to be any familiar with photography technics, and I have no clue whether anyone could have just stepped onto the set holding a disposable camera and taken the same pictures without any talent - but all that matters at the end of the day is who would have dared to get these published? (and I'm not talking about daring to have models pulling their clothes off - posing - can you sense the understatement? - in front of a plain background - snapping quick shots to sell them to some overrated publication, mind me). The fashion industry being obsessed with a certain kind of perfection, I think this editorial is, if not easy on the eye, at least worthy of respect - and so are the photographers for that matter.

As for the casting, words can't quite express how it left me lovestruck. Both models are far away from being favourites of mine, and nor do I pay attention to their career patterns - but I find the idea of gathering them together in an editorial to be brilliant - aswell as a risk of failure many casting directors would have shied away from - who could have predicted that this antithetical duo would have worked out so well? The risk turned out to be worth running I think ; Tetyana's frail, timid beauty and Eniko's sultry attitude collide and yet prove themselves both complementary and fascinating.

The caught-off-guard, 'photographic journey' feel counterbalance the defiance of these pictures, and it may be what makes them so appealing ; unlike most of the editorials to be found in eminent publications, this very one doesn't sell a luxury and decadent way of life but depicts a raw, unostentatious trip across the most inspiring sides of fashion, all the while letting enough room for escapism and fantasy.

Photographed by Sean and Seng
Styled by Tamara Rothstein
Cast by Angus Munro for AM Casting

source :