Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Vogue Paris March 2010

by Katherine Hom

Cover by Mert & Marcus from "L'Allure, pas la guerre"

Power is indicated and negotiated in all aspects of Vogue, from its place in the fashion world, down to the images that are displayed in it. Specifically I looked at the editorial of the March edition of French Vogue.

The first of the series is call "L'allure, pas la guerre" translating to "The look, not the war." It was photographed by Mert Alas & Marcus Piggott. The two were both born in 1971 and came together in 1994 and started doing fashion photography. They're known for spending a lot of time on make-up and hairstyling and this kind of scene with the model against a neutral background in common in their work. They have done 7 covers including this issue's for French Vogue. The shoot was styled by Carine Roitfeld, who has been the editor in chief of French Vogue since 2001. Before finding her place at Vogue she worked as a model, writer and stylist for French Elle, as well as freelancing.

The next series is called "Commando," above. The photographer here is David Sims, a British fashion photographer. He won the Young Fashion Photographer of the Year Award at the Festival de la Mode in France in both 1996 and 1994. He has done 9 covers for Paris Vogue since 2002. The stylist/director is Emmanuelle Alt who has been the head fashion editor of Vogue Paris since 2000.

"Lady Cops" was photograph by Bruce Weber, an American photographer who was born in 1946 and also makes films and music videos. The stylist here was, Joe McKenna. This spread was interesting, it seems to be a parody of American cop shows, with actresses acting as models, in overly sexualized scenes a bit ridiculously. "With a lipstick or a gun, they get their man!" I would say that this exhibits mockery, one of the 3 styles that Roland Bathes outlines in "Fashion Photography".

The next is "en Permission" photographed by the British photographer Alasdair Mclellan. He gets more creative in using the format of the double page spread, often using this technique of placing a color photograph opposite a black and white photograph is a common theme in his work. Jane How is a London based stylist.

"Mission Lanzarote" above was photograph by Cedric Buchet. He was born in 1974 and specializes in landscape photography as well as fashion. The stylist was Anastasia Barbieri.

The photographers and editors/stylists are both figures of high status and neither of them are emphasized over the other in the print. However, while the make-up artist, and hairdresser and assistants are noted in small print on the last page of the spread, nowhere is the name of the model to be found. She becomes this unidentified figure, though she is essential in realizing the vision of the director and photographers. She simply embodies femininity and takes on the attitude and role dictated by the director, but is bleached of any particular identity. Except in the case of celebrity/actresses turn models in "Lay Cops" in which their names are plastered everywhere.

Models go without recognition

If you look at the past work and clients of these photographers and stylists, they often work with magazines and brands. By looking at who exactly is working on these photographs and the clothing that is being featured, you can see that the magazine works with a set of high caliber photographers and stylists who are familiar with and often work with each other. I think collaboration happens from time to time but I'm sure it depends on the renown of the photographer, the editorial vision and the relationship between the editor and photographer.

The interjection of an editor/art director might compromise the photographers vision. I spoke with the photographer St├ęphane Bourson who said that sometimes an art director will tell you exactly what they want and need and you just control the light and take the picture, while others will just tell you the subject they want and let you do whatever you want. You might not agree with the direction that you're given at all. But direction isn't necessarily a bad thing, cause as with art its easy to fall into doing one specific thing that you like and the art director can push you to try things you normally wouldn't that look good.

The editor really has a strong influence over everything that happens in the photographs and everything that happens in the magazine in general. In deciding what goes into the magazine they decide what is worthy to be looked at and celebrated. Vogue itself is published in over 18 countries an was declared by NYT book critic as "the world's most influential fashion magazine".

What might seem like a simple glossy photo is connected to and is a product of this whole other social hierarchy where most of the power rests with the magazine editor within a network of other fashion elite in which power is constantly being negotiated.

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