As it turned out, Barbara Brickner's edition of Figure
(Sept/Oct 2008) earned scathing criticism due to the fact that it was infested with diet-company ads. However, since Figure
redeemed itself with its next issue (the most recent one, featuring Kelsey Olson), from which diet ads were expunged, we feel it worthwhile to go back and give Mrs. Brickner's layout a nod.
Barbara's editorial consists of seven pages, of which by far the most beautiful is the following. One rarely sees Barbara, usually a sensually sedate model, in such an active pose, but she brings it off with élan. Even in this position, her figure looks incredibly voluptuous, and more importantly, the image displays a particularly alluring detail--the swell of her abdomen, visible beneath the fabric. The gold bangles are gorgeous accessories--fun yet chic--and the model's hairstyle is sufficiently bouncy to respond to her movement. The dress (actually a two-piece item) is quite pretty, and the length attractively abbreviated. Notice how the belt binds close, but is appealingly thin, so as to define but not compress the model's generous waist.
This "little black dress" does all everything right, showing off both the model's shapely legs and full arms (which are her most attractive accessories). Notice in particular the softness of Barbara's arms--far more alluring than they would be if they were androgynously "toned." Mrs. Brickner's modelling technique is evident: Consider how her stance emphasizes the womanly curve of her hips, and how the hand-in-the-hair pose and steamy expression communicate great sensuality. This image speaks of all-out glamour.
As sweaters go, the one pictured here is quite attractive. The stylist effectively picked up on the purple elements by adding a similarly-hued shirt and scarf. The model's stance is confident and engaging.
But really, it's Barbara's expression that makes the image so effective--a self-assured, direct gaze, communicating equal parts invitation and challenge. The "measured messiness" of the hairstyle compliments the look. Long hair can be nearly as effective tied back as it is when it is allowed to flow freely, as long as it features stray wisps, which signal a desire to be unbound (suggesting a similar wish on the part of the wearer).
The top in this Kailee-ish picture may be an acquired taste, but the image is nevertheless quite arresting, as it features perhaps the most sensual physical detail in the entire editorial--the soft fullness of the model's legs spilling out over the lip of the boots, which are too narrow to encompass the generous circumference of her calves. The contrast between the stiff black leather of the boots and the softness of the plump legs within is intensely alluring, and is a prime example of how plus-size goddesses exhibit aspects of beauty that waifs can never possess.
Again, Barbara hits just the right note with her pose in this outfit--self-satisfied and poised, but not overly strong or aggressive. The placement of the hands--embracing her own hips--is subtly suggestive.
The close-up reveals much more. Note the banked-down fire smouldering in her eyes, the unmistakable glint of "I want." The hairstylist performed magic here, with Barbara's curls undulating softly around her face and over her shoulders. The pièce de résistance is the lone curl falling over her face, encouraging the onlooker to reach out and gently brush it away. No other model could achieve so much sensuality in such casual attire--although one must compliment the wardrobe stylist for effective touches like the burgundy shirt and the dramatic gloves.
The following outfit is not particularly notable, but the stylist did an excellent job of livening up the image by dressing Barbara in vibrant red pieces beneath the cloak, and for giving her those tall black boots. (High boots intensify a model's allure.) The model's pose is very creative.
And finally--because they can't all be masterpieces--here is Barbara is the least interesting look of the editorial.
Given that Mrs. Brickner is such a gorgeous and accomplished model, it's regrettable that she hasn't appeared in magazines more often. As this new tear sheets show--and as all of her Mode work testifies--she is a brilliant editorial model. Even when the fashions are not remarkable, Barbara infuses her images with fascination and sensuality. She turns commercial work into pictures of editorial quality, and takes editorial work to a still-higher level.
And speaking of Mode, Barbara still looks every bit as gorgeous now as she did when that magazine was in print.
Figure deserves praise for enlisting Mrs. Brickner's services, and for shooting her in an effective way. We earnestly hope to see more of Barbara in future issues of the magazine (so long as Figure is never again blighted by size-negative advertising).
(You may click on each of the above images to view them at a larger size.)