Vogue Paris August 2011 – “Escale à L.A.” (Freja)

While I’d love to do an in-depth analysis of the entire editorial, I’m afraid it’d take me several weeks to come up with something satisfactory that would include all of my thoughts about the myth surrounding the city, what aspects of L.A.’s image and history that each model represents, and how successful VP & I&V were in achieving their vision.

Instead, I’ll look at Freja’s and Arizona’s shots and give a brief analysis of each, focusing primarily on style, tone, and how well Freja and Arizona work in their respective shoots.

Thought I’d start with Freja’s component of the editorial since it’s much easier to analyse than Arizona’s. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that it’s a no-brainer – Freja as a scowling, fierce-eyed rebel/rockstar (complete with hot new band of the moment, The Parlor Mob) being edgy on the streets of L.A. and in the desert.

And it’s boring as shit.

While Alt’s rocker aesthetic served her well as creative director of Balmain, here it fails – we’ve seen Freja-as-rocker many times over, and each time is just as dull as the last – see: “Think Punk” (Vogue Paris October 2010 – also by Alt), “Diva” (Vogue Paris May 2011) and “Punk’d” (Vogue US March 2011)

The reason why these editorials disappoint so much is remarkably simple. Take a look at Freja’s personal style:

Leather jackets, skinny jeans and big boots, mostly in black – Freja’s personal style is already pretty rockstar-like. More importantly however, is how relaxed she looks – Freja’s not out to prove that she’s cool with her personal style, she is just herself.

And it is within this simple observation that demonstrates the elusiveness of ‘cool’ – cool can’t be made, nor necessarily bought, but rather honed over time and tailored to each individual.

It appears that this manufacturing of cool is the stylist’s fundamental flaw – by trying to create the illusion of cool, it backfires and comes off as fake and trying too hard. Perhaps Alt should have stuck with selling insanely over-priced ripped jeans and studded jackets to people with too much money. Incidentally, another great example of this paradox is stylist Kate Lanphear – fabulous personal style but dull styling work.

Lastly, back to Freja – while this rockstar-themed editorial was dull, it doesn’t mean that all similarly themed editorials are dull – in particular I’m thinking of “Freja Beha, The Rock and Roll Star” (i-D Spring/Summer 2009, styled by Edward Enninful) and the upcoming “Kapow!” (W, September 2011), which I will write about once I get my hands on a copy.

(Freja’s street style image collage from sohoiman.blogspot)

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