Archive for the ‘ Vogue Paris ’ Category

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

I had another look at this editorial in print today and now I feel more confident about writing this part of the review. As I’ve mentioned before, I think it’s important to look at these images in printed form – while digital images are wonderfully convenient, scanning issues such as colour fidelity and image quality can make or break a weak image (strong images, however, stand out regardless of these factors).

On this second viewing I chose to look at the colours and the setting before focusing on the model, Arizona.

Stylistically this part of the editorial is the complete opposite of Freja’s modern rock-chick – Arizona is cast as a glittering, technicolor suburban housewife of a bygone era.

The grain filter and saturated colours of each image indicate that these images hark back to an earlier time – it feels like we’re looking at old photos. The background setting of suburbia, with its white picket fences and clean cut lawns invoke a sense of nostalgia and longing for an earlier time when life seemed simpler. In light of the recent troubles with America, it’s no wonder that Americans would prefer to reminisce about the past… but I digress.

Within this idealised setting, Arizona is pitch-perfect – her bobbed hair and All-American good looks suit the era that I&V and stylist Suzanne Koller are aiming for and the images look exactly as if they were lifted from a Vogue magazine circa 1960. Brilliant. Arizona does an amazing job here – her megawatt-smile in her initial shot immediately sells the image of contented suburban housewife. However, it is her subsequent, more serious poses that remind the viewer that not everything is always as perfect as it looks in suburbia. These images depict dissatisfaction and yearning (Arizona staring off into the distance works wonders here) and sublimated sexual desire (look at the fourth image: why else would one lounge on the nature strip in an outfit that could almost be considered lingerie?)

The more I looked, the more I fell in love with the entire editorial (especially Lara and Natasha’s shots). I wish I could articulate the swirl of thoughts that occurred to me as I gazed at this. I think this issue will make a great addition to any respectable magazine collection.

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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)