Friday, December 31, 2010

On the passage of time.

While starting off writing this article, I swear I was meaning to touch on a topic related with neither Steven Meisel nor Vogue Italia (because I'm under the impression I've already touched on both of them a bajillion times) - but then their January 2011 cover emerged within sight and I couldn't help but give in. This is such a pictorial image, pastel-colored yet far away from being corny, reminiscent of long-gone fashion eras yet anything but rehashed-looking.

This cover actually stands out due to the opposition you can draw up between the overall feel of it and its components took apart. Paradoxically enough, it echoes back to the past and yet it's firmly pinned down in the present : on the one hand you have the setting, the numbers held up by both mannequins and the color palette that bring you back to the 40's, on the other hand you can spot two pieces from the Chanel Spring / Summer 2011 collection, two of today's most en vogue models and the 2011 Allure words printed below the picture. When you strip away all its aesthetic value, you can begin to feel the underlying issue that's raised by the covershot : time within fashion and to a further extent, within life.

I'm aware I might be sounding like I completely missed the point of this photograph, but what most drew my eyes in is the kinetic figure in the background. It is so loaded with significance that it makes it tough to just see it. It appears like the signifier of the most menacing characteristic of time, namely its invincible restlessness : what is right now will be gone a second later (and what's in as of now will grow outdated next season). However detached from time you're willing to be, it won't stop it from slipping away ; the more you try to cling to it and hold it back to you, the more it drags you down into its nomadic course. Whatever you do, you lose, for struggling against time equates to struggling against the unknown, an unpalpable might you get put through but can't begin to describe let alone fight off.

I think this adds a brilliant touch to the picture because it also seems to question the primary purpose of photography. Prior to being an art or a hobby, it intends to capture and document fleeting moments so they're never fleeting anymore. It's utilized as a medium to keep a semblance of a chockehold on time (and is a nice testimony of what human beings are capable of thinking up to leave bits of themselves behind), but if you keep in mind that this bustling silhouette is the depiction of the continous passage of time, you're elusively reminded how much of a deceit photography is. You don't capture an instantaneous moment but an image of it ; photography doesn't enable you to immortalize the instant but only provides you with a stagnant representation of it. Magritte called it the Treachery of Images in regards to painting, but this is also applicable to all the recording means that have surfaced ever since.

As for the models choice, it earns an A+ from me. If you are either an Arizona or a Freja follower, you have probably witnessed their blossoming friendship and this should leave you as eager as I am to see how this possible chemistry between them will translate onto the main editorial (assuming and hoping they were commended to interact with each other). I personally don't belong to Arizona's fandom (not yet) but she's slowly been growing on me by means of the solid printwork she's put out and there's undoubtedly potential to be tapped in her. Besides, you may have felt how big of a Freja fan I am, so it should be enough of an explanation to back me up, but I still feel like trying to throw light on why.

I think that one of the greatest factors in keeping me hooked on Freja is her constancy in terms of persona. Working amidst a hubbub constantly moving on from the past, she embodies the sustainable force who not only sticks around but also takes on increasing importance all the while remaining the same at heart - and even through the image she projects. All throughout her most prosperous years (from late 2008 up until now) she's stayed true to the nonchalance she's crafted and that has basically taken part in making a true brand off of herself. Funnily enough, just when you think the inconceivable success she's been gaining is likely to get to her head and gets you wondering if it will cause her to change wholly, she seems to reach her peak of steadiness - untouched hairstyle, immutable streetstyle, pervading casualness.

This is a comforting feeling indeed, to know that you can count on one model at least to provide you with a certain stability that is hardly ever to be found in fashion and its endless fluctuations. Accordingly, this stability that defines Freja seems to translate into her fanbase through a certain loyalty intrinsic to a lot of her followers. Perhaps you can chalk it up to hazard, but to me there's something more than coincidental about how most of her fans can't seem to stray away from her once they start answering to the name of Freja fan. It's a tacit give-and-take relation - she guarantees you constancy, you guarantee her lasting dedication.

I am fully aware that these last sentences might come across as out of the blue, but it seemed to me that they'd fit in with the rest of this article somehow. It isn't lost on me either that this post - its length and the topic it deals with - might be off-putting to some, but sometimes you just have to get your thoughts down and write for yourself, don't you?

source : scanned by ZFashionBlog @ tFS

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Asche zu asche.

By Franck Gelabert

If you've been a long enough follower of this blog, you certainly know that I don't deem exclusives indicative of successful careers prospects when it comes to newcomers. IMG's Eileen Hydorn walked exclusively for Prada in Milan, and seemed more than randomly thrown in the all-around brunettes casting, as though with the purpose of rounding out the line-up. So if you can take anything away from this all, it's that I don't raise my hopes as to Eileen and don't lull myself into thinking she's bound to rack up countless opening slots and prestigious covers (I wouldn't mind eating my words within the couple years to come though). Nonetheless the shots above, deftly lensed by Franck Gelabert, led me down the path of writing a few words down about her, because she remains among the newbies I'm most keen to see exist, at least. What warmed me up to her is that antagonistic quality to her presence : that runway-ready sterness about her, which dies away and grows into a certain vulnerability - though slightly androgynous aswell - on pictures.

By Karl Rothenberg

Killing two birds with one stone, I'd also like to devote a few lines to Karl Rothenberg, who is among my favorite tester around as of late. Actually his work doesn't clamor to be more than what it has the humble goal of being (i.e. testing models and make them more familiar with the camera), but it's all to do with how he captures the essence of every girl he snaps a shot of through his photography than his photography per se. He lays bare the beauty that lies beneath in every model ; it's not a type of beauty that instantly burns into the cerebrum but one you can identify with, or at least feel close to, because it's neither burried under insane amounts of airbrushing nor rolled up in unaffordable clothes. There's also a tangible sense of modesty and a palpable emotion to his imagery that makes it truly stick out.

Just when you're certain that superficiality has a stranglehold on fashion as a whole, you stumble upon such odes to naturalness, and there's no denying it is refreshing. This is a little puzzling when you think about it, the way fashion is capable of breeding two ideal beauties that utterly go against each other - abstemiousness versus shallowness : the first one that people embrace with the will to stay true to themselves, and the other one that a decent amount of fashion aficionados buy into at all costs. I won't dare any conjecture as to what pushes the latter into such an attention-demanding, (self-)deceptive take on beauty and style, but it most definitely isn't the crowd of fashion lovers that sollicits the most positive responses from me... Though Anna dello Russo approves of it, and it's naturally all that matters at the end of the day.

source : ;

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Lignes et Attitude.

Denmark's Cover is not a publication whose releases I usually look out for. I think this magazine fails at cultivating a solid connection to Danish fashion scene and the talents it most likely holds in, and hiring home raised insiders is the most crucial standard I expect a local publication to live up to (don't get me wrong, I'm not claiming that foreigners should continuously get written off the editorship of the magazine - let alone that the era of globalisation must make this increasingly tough a project to take on... but still). However, a most pleasant surprise turned the corner as their January 2011 issue hit the newsstands : Snejana on and inside the magazine, wearing denim from head to toe (or almost.)

The impetus behind the editorial may not consist in challenging the fashion codes related to wearing jeans, but there's something about this that is so akin to Daria Werbowy's printwork circa 2003-2005 that I cannot help being partial to it. Nostalgia takes up an important place in my relation to fashion and I will be more prone to soak up a recent editorial if it brings to mind an older one that had a hand in reinforcing my love for the fashion industry. As for the instant association I drew up between Daria's early body of work and these images, it must have to do with the strong sense of rawness pouring off them, the proeminence of casual pieces throughout the set and the subtle range of expressions - no wonder I'm drawn to this spread so much all in all, not to mention it features Ukrainian model Snejana Onopka, who is high up in my book.

If they're going to stick around, mere models can't allow themselves to miss out on opportunities to pop up in magazines, as opposed to Snejana, whose scarce appearances only add to her mystery, and who has this brooding daintiness to her that holds her up a notch higher than the sea of tall faceless creatures that will get whisked away sooner or later.

The downside to being a model whose work extends beyond the pages of low-key publications is that you consequently earn a certain reputation and ineluctably run the risk of getting entrenched within the stereotypes people attach to you. Snejana is no stranger to getting labelled as someone she might or might not be, and sadly, her supposed persona seems to overshadow the role she's playing here, at least from the opinions I've read. To be honest, I wish her going tough wouldn't equate to her letting her inner bitchiness shine through - in people's minds, that is. I wish they would see a model getting into the character she was prescribed to get into. I wish they would stop letting what Snejana is rumored to be tarnish/magnify the image they hold of her, and I wish they would concentrate on her capability of channelling emotions into print instead.

That's why, to a certain extent, I wish models wouldn't emerge as public personalities as they've been doing for a while, so we could all objectively dwell on their actual work rather than what they may be like outside the modelling sphere - although this non-distinction between work and privacy also applies to commoners, and I find myself a little startled at how these two often get intertwined together into a single entity. Who you are privately shouldn't overstep your job, while your job shouldn't come to define who you are. At any rates, this makes me wonder if that increasing enthusiasm towards models and the personalities behind is due to fashion and the part they play in it rendered more accessible and thus more recognized thanks to the Internet, or if models are shaping up to be tomorrow's mainstream entertainment...?

source : scanned by iluvjeisa @ tFS

Friday, December 24, 2010


June July 1988 - October 1989 - August 1992

Christmas... What a fantastic excuse to slacken off and float through the consumerist craze that has come to define this celebration (unless, of course, you prefer using your common sense rather than mindlessly throwing your money about just for the sake of being obedient to the diktats society has set). All bitterness aside, I could - at least - take advantage of the meaningless atmosphere of this all to get offered a couple fashion-related books I had been eyeing forever, among which Steven Meisel : Three Hundred and Seventeen and Counting, which pulls together all the covers the photographer has lensed for Vogue Italia from July/August 1988 up until April 2009. This book may seem too meager a mean to round up twenty one years' work (back when it was published) to some, but I personally apprehend it as an encyclopaedia not only recording Meisel's major body of work but also lifting everything it consists out of from undergoing the onslaught of time and neglect.

December 1992 - August 1993 - October 1996

The front cover is adorned with black capital letters superimposed over a plain, white bakground while the back cover provides us with a mild overview of Meisel's work ; mild, if right on :
[...] Meisel not only depicts fashion. He defines it and gives it cultural reasonance.
Way to 1) set the tone 2) sum up a two decades-long undertaking in a handful words 3) express why I admire this photographer better than I ever did. Meisel has seemingly been slagged off quite a lot recently, as well as Vogue Italia has been claimed to be going downhill. As a fan of both the photographer and publication standing in the midst of this all, you would expect me to react indignantly, but being a fan shouldn't preclude from being realistic, and fact of the matter is that I consider 2010 to be more of a down than an up for Franca Sozzani and what she's come out with.

March 1999

Nevertheless, this book helped me comprehend that the views on Steven Meisel I had been holding up until one day ago were actually incorrect. I used to think he had never been outdone because of his capability of singling out current phenomenons at the right moment and basing his photography on them, which is inaccurate. Not only does he master topical fashion photography but he also knows how to give birth to typical, though amazing, fashion photography. That is why he is unparalleled. He can swing back and forth from reality, irony or harshness to beauty, luxury and dream, and that's why I cannot pick on him for going from Water and Oil to Vision of Feminity as nonchalantly as possible. I think that's what every image-maker worthy of the name ought to be able to do : make the beauty that may not surround us on a daily basis more accessible, broaden the primary goal of fashion to more up-to-date of a function, get us to face up to reality, mock some of our current zeitgeists ; and sway between these styles in the blinking of an eye.

July 2000 - April 2002 - October 2002

However awe-inspiring and talented Steven Meisel is, here's to keeping in ming that talent is worth nothing when not left open the possibility of expressing itself and blossoming out. It is in collaboration with Franca Sozzani, editor in chief of Vogue Italia, that Meisel has churned out fashion-forward and life-inspired concepts every month since mid-1988, and thanks to her that his visionary skills got to reach their peaks of intelligence. I've always felt Franca was unfairly left out of the cuddle in terms of public recognition, as opposed to her peers Carine Roitfeld and Anna Wintour, who relentlessly get put up on a pedestal and crowned as fashion godesses. Of course I'm not trying to play down Anna and Carine's impact on fashion, the control they had/have had over their respective publication and what they have achieved as business women but unlike Franca, they can't purport to uphold fashion as a thoughtful art and can't take pride in setting creativity above selling clothes, that's why I can't help feeling resentful when realizing how poor the recognition the latter's gained outside (and even inside) the tight fashion-lovers crowd is.

July 2003 (Supplements) - November 2003

I'm sorry to harp on this as much as I do. In real life I would tend to say being under the radar is nothing worthy of getting worked up over, but it's fashion we're talking about, and the fashion industry is miles away from real life. It's a world within which you can set forth the reputation that precedes you as a favour to make your way up. The image you cast is nearly as important as what you do, while what you do, however brilliant it may be, guarantees you neither acknowledgement nor praise. This is the realm of fashion, and this isn't lost on me. Should I necessarily swallow it down without further protest notwithstanding? Don't blame me, complaining is just organic to human nature, and making your complaints heard rises up as a safe balance between utter apathy and attempting to actually change something - both being absolutely intolerable to mankind.

August 2005 - September 2008 - March 2010

source : ; ; scanned by iluvjeisa @ tFS ; scanned by Mojopin @ tFS ; scanned by Proximity @ tFS ; scanned by Diciassette (17) @ tFS ; ;

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Pagan Poetry.

First visual of the Balenciaga Spring Summer 2011 campaign to leak. You might recall how averse I felt to the condescingly gimmicky casting the brand tried to shove down our throats in the show, and I wasn't expecting something more demure from the ad campaign when Gisele got confirmed to star in it, to say the least. In the end it seems like Mr. Meisel and all the behind-the-scenes so-and-sos agreed to break my parti pris apart and make me learn my lesson - none should jump to conclusions without anything concrete to base their thoughts upon.

When piled next to each other, these shots get you to scratch your head at why on earth they ended up tied together and if you, as the beholder, are not leaving something out that could possibly help you grasp the meaning of such a correlation. I happen to think it actually begins to make sense once you move past the bewilderment caused by such a sight onto a different approach to the pictures as a whole. Of course it's tough to get a true sense of what point was trying to be made when only two images out of 8? 9? 10? have been released. I personally get a feeling of resistance and timelessness from the clothes within both pictures and reckon the ad is aiming at enhancing those particular properties of theirs throughout different sceneries.

On the first shot you can see - almost feel - clean pieces of clothing aswell as their well thought-out cut and pattern interacting with an immaculate surrounding ; then you lay eye on the second one, cluttered, hard to decipher, close to grotesque, and yet the clothes still get to pierce through as neat as ever, as if Balenciaga could assert itself as an unalterable high-end brand regardless what may happen around. Of course it's more of a personal interpretation than the actual concept (sorry if you were expecting me to solve the mystery and hand the explanation to you on a plate!), but there's no denying that the quality of the craftmanship that went into the creation of the clothes is brought out as a strong sales argument here.

As for Gisele, she is made barely recognizable with a random wig on, something I couldn't wrap my head around in the first place (I mean, why hiring Gisele-legendary-Bündchen and attempt to transform her into someone else with various ornaments?) but which I could figure out after a deeper look into these first pictures and the overall feel emanating from them. It's like getting Gisele's charisma and presence in front of the lens without Gisele stealing the focus from the fashion the campaign intends to bring out prior to having any artistic value whatsoever. All in all, the cunning minds behind the Gisele-not-looking-like-herself trick definitely outwitted most of other advertising-makers, who tend to get trapped into laying far too much emphasis on the celebrities/supermodels at hand and forget the goal they should actually strive toward and carry out - doing the clothing a favour, that is.

Finally - the Balenciaga origami. You actually owe this entire analysis to it, because it is what stirred up my curiosity and caused me to read a little deeper into the first pictures released. It is such a whimsical touch to the ad, let alone a spot-on one. It seems to me that it echoes back to what partly makes Balenciaga this cutting-edge of a label - namely the intricate, sharp and futuristic cuts - and sums up what the brand is all about in the most evocative way possible.

I am well-aware that it's time for me to put an end to my garrulity, but I'll just add that this is when feeling rushes of Balenciaga-related inspiration such as this one (and it's not the first one I've experienced) that I realize that I cannot not love this brand, despite leaping at the chance to rant about it whenever I can. However elitist and pretentious the shows may be, regardless the disappointment the collections have bred for a couple seasons (minus the last one), it remains too inspirational not to keep me under its spell.

source : via Flashbang @ tFS

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Sweet by and by.

The first public introductions of a new face have a strong hand in building up hype around her. I'm positive that depending on how you propel a new model out of anonimity into the fashion scene, she will be prone to draw interest or not. It's all about striking a balance between disclosing everything as from the beginning and being tiresomely secretive ; working out how to maintain mystery all the while catching people's attention enough to leave them wanting more and make them wait until more information leaks out. Some agencies have brought this trick to perfection and even built their renown upon it (Silent in Paris, Bloom in Amsterdam, just to name a few). It seems like it's the kind of launch Yana has benefited from. Coming out with a blog entry barely providing us with a minimum vital (full stats, full name, digitals) concerning their freshly signed newbie, US-based agency Specimen Models has succeeded in piquing my curiosity with just a set of tests by Alexandra Wespi. Lensed in different locations and transitionning back and forth between black and white and colors, it's the otherworldly feel that Yana brings to the pictures that binds them together and creates a consistent ensemble.

Pouty-lipped - and Lord knows that pouty-lipped girls have been in the crest of a wave these days - yet nothing alike Daphne Groeneveld or Hailey Clauson, Yana gives off such a strong edge that I've come to find her reminiscent of Chloe Memisevic. The resemblance is by no means striking and it's nothing to do with similar facial features, it's more of a connection my mind drew up at first glance and onwards. Goes to show that being tooth-gapped and/or sulky-lipped doesn't equate to being an inane Lara Stone lookalike without nothing worthwhile to bring to the modelling arena. It's not the first time the industry has tried to uphold a model trend defined by the proeminence of a particular feature, and I find this disheartening how medias (at least online ones) are so inclined to reduce models within this wave down to pale copy-pastes from the model who first set that wave. Would it be too much of a bother to let these girls be in their own way? Okay, it may be sink or swim in the modelling industry, but I wasn't aware it was to the point where models can't share an ounce of resemblance without some of them getting labelled as rip-offs of the other ones. Oh well. Casting directors up to designers themselves are seemingly willing to take all this (cyber?) babbling out of account, so - may Yana get solid connections, and let the work come in!

The Full Set : 01 - 02

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Origin of Symmetry.

New Norwegian-born sensation on my radar! Going by the name of Erjona Ala, newly signed with Elite, made distinguishable thanks to a chiselled bone structure and slightly manly, if polished, stance, she might not pander to anyone's tastes and expectations in terms of models, but hopefully garners up as much approval as possible from insiders once the castings for the Fall Winter 2011 season start off. Although there are several shows I could envision her in, a definite match made in heaven would be Erjona walking for my beloved Peachoo + Krejberg - since dear Carine Roitfeld has been (?) flung off Vogue Paris, we may 1) look forward to actual shows of theirs and not surreptitious presentations 2) hope that this fantasy comes to fruition. What could possibly be more enchanting than a model overflowing with wit and mystery sporting the creations of two reservedly brilliant clothes-makers?

Erjona has racked up little to no valuable print work thus far so it's still clueless to put forward arguments as to her editorial skills and there's no denying she is yet to prove herself (even though this very set of tests is downright impressive in my eyes.). Nevertheless, her streamlined - though outstanding - appeal lifts her from being easy to be stuck into a uni-dimensional category ; upon first impression, it seems like she could even out overpowering aesthetics as well as bring cleaner ones to life (how astounding would she be under Willy Vanderperre's guidance!).

It's been a while since I last succumbed to a newface and felt awed enough to get invested in her career at first glance - thoroughly so, that is - and to be perfectly frank, I've missed the twinge of anticipation that often bursts out of nowhere when getting obsessed with a promising newface. Fashion as a whole has been quite stagnant and unstimulating over the last weeks so needless to say, the discovery of Erjona comes at a most opportune moment to keep me warm and get me through the last days of 2010 up until the beginning of 2011 - which will hopefully teem with rejuvenating shake-ups, John Galliano getting back to being his crazily creative self, Katie Grand finally understanding that she has no editor in chief talent whatsoever, under-the-radar talents being given the opportunity to shine out through the crowd of tired, so-called valeurs sûres. One can hope...