When I first heard about this editorial I must admit that I was less than enthused. Karl had shot the couple less than 3 months before for Numero (March, 2011) and I wondered what new image he could possibly cast his current favourite pairing, Freja and Arizona. This time around the setting is much more subtle: music and instruments. In various shots Freja and Arizona are at the same instrument, presumably making sweet music together. Oh Karl, you romantic fool.
In fact this particular issue of Vogue Germany is all about couples. The three cover girls (Anja Rubik, Karolina Kurkova and Alessandra Ambrosio) are photographed with their respective dashing partners and each couple has an accompanying editorial inside. So where is Freja and Arizona’s cover? Nowhere to be seen and presumably not without reason.
Let’s go back to the word subtle. The word ‘subtle’ applies to many aspects of this editorial. Firstly, this editorial happens to appear alongside other editorials of couples – yet Freja and Arizona are not mentioned as such. To the unknowing reader this editorial would slip past, but for those in the know… well, we know.
In a broader sense the word ‘subtle’ could quite easily apply to Freja and Arizona as well. While numerous twitterbugs have spotted the two in NY and around the globe, the couple have not come out officially about their relationship. At this point it’s worthwhile to remember the strange state of celebrity that models inhabit: of being in the public eye while not necessarily being well-known to the public – well-known models like the Supers, Kate and Gisele are at the top of an industry that encompasses thousands of lesser-known/unknown faces.
Freja and Arizona’s jobs as models is to sell clothes and brands, not necessarily their private lives. Nor are they obliged to do so. Perhaps Karl’s editorials, along with Terry Richardson’s pictures, are publicly the best and most subtle way of acknowledging the relationship between these two.
And the final word on subtlety – this time regarding Karl’s photography. Karl has opted for a dark background this time, while in Numero it was stark white. Coupled with his standard use of black and white photography, the effect is rather drab – shadows on faces and bodies meld into the background and leave the image rather flat. I tend to let a print viewing decide my final opinion and this was no exception. Viewing it in print only served to highlight composition problems with the editorial – while on screen it looks as though the two are sitting intimately together – look again at where the borders of the scanned pages are: on double page spreads it meant that Freja’s face and Arizona’s face often run towards the curl and spine of the magazine, thus further obscuring both models faces and clothes.
So I must say after all that ranting – genuinely disappointing.