Twenty-first century opulence
(Originally posted on The Judgment of Paris Forum, April 22nd, 2004.)
Just as the growing popularity of overtly feminine fashion is very good news for size celebration--since timeless styles suit full-figured women especially well--so is the increasing interest in the trappings and decor of previous centuries. Opulent environments compliment the plus aesthetic perfectly, and when all three elements (model, clothing, and setting) are in harmony, the results are images of breathtaking beauty.
The following images exude opulence rather than minimalism, and we find it encouraging to see photographers shooting plus-size models in timeless rather than modernist contexts. We do wish that the images featured fuller-figured goddesses, but for now, this is what is available.
Here is a very pretty editorial image of Crystal Renn. Crystal entered the plus-size field with a book full of punkish tears from her straight-size days, but in this image, the plush backdrop, feminine top, and jewellery all aid in the transformation of the model from minimalist waif to timeless beauty. Crystal is variously listed as a 12 or a 14, and since she is looking better with every shoot, we earnestly hope that she settles into the genuinely full-figured category (at least a 14).
Jennie, a new face at Wilhelmina, is absolutely tiny. However, this image is rich and sumptuous, and possesses a complelling Odalisque quality. The model's expression is one of captivating lassitude, and the angle of the photograph encourages the viewer's involvement. Perhaps someday, this faux-plus model will undergo a Valerie Lefkowitz-like transformation, and blossom into a more curvaceous size.
And here is an image of Leigh (Wilhelmina) that is not entirely successful, although one can see in it the germ of a good idea. The pose is a little bit awkward, whereas in an image such as this, the model should appear completely comfortable. The painting on the wall is a nice touch, and the creative team deserves kudos for finding such a magnificent couch.
As we have mentioned before, anyone seeking ideas for creating high-quality fashion layouts that adhere to a timeless rather than a modern aesthetic can take a cue from bridal magazines. For example, note the "Moonlight Bridal" selections in the latest Valerie Lefkowitz gallery. With a little imagination, one can envision the model in a sleek evening gown, or in some of the feminine styles that are now in vogue.
These images point the way forward to an aesthetic style that could soon take hold of the fashion world, and transform it--a style in which the beauty of the models, the clothing, and the art direction is in complete harmony. In fact, this may well characertize twenty-first century art direction in general--leaving behind the twentieth century's aesthetic of guilt, and ushering in an exciting time of cultural regeneration.
Valerie by Moonlight (Bridal), Spring 2004:
''Dangerous Liaisons'' at the Met
(Originally posted on The Judgment of Paris Forum, April 24, 2004, as a follow-up to the above post.)
Further to the topic of integrating settings and fashion, an interesting new exhibition will be opening at the Metropolitan Museum in New York at the end of April, titled Dangerous Liaisons: Fashion and Furniture in the 18th Century.
The exhibit promises to examine "dress and its aesthetic interplay with art, furniture, and the broader decorative arts between 1750 and 1789," and--enticingly--"the dressed body's spatial negotiation of the 18th-century interior as a choreography of seduction and erotic play."
Although this exhibition focusses on the artistic products of one particular era, in examining the "interplay" of the decorative arts in the Rococo, visitors will be able to learn much about the notion of artistic harmony in general, and the idea of giving beauty a particular character that is carried through in various artistic forms.
Because the exhibition is sponsored by Conde Nast, it will undoubtedly neglect to point out that the "dressed body" in Boucher's France was predominantly a full-figured one. Nevertheless, this show could be a fruitful source of inspiration for anyone who is currently involved in the world of art and fashion. It is yet another example of the influence of the Aesthetic Restoration, as a growing number of contemporary artisans look past the confines of the 20th century for creative stimulus.
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