(Originally posted on the Judgment of Paris Forum, August 23, 2004.)
An examination of two other Fall 2004 campaigns provides us with an opportunity not only to enjoy seeing more images of plus-size beauty, but also to observe the value of shooting campaigns in gorgeous settings rather than against flat, studio backdrops.
First of all, here is a pair of images from Dress Barn Woman. We have completely reconciled ourselves to this company's unfortunate name, since it consistently allows Valerie to look so lovely in its promotions:
DBW also deserves credit for shooting its campaigns in interesting locations. Thus, even when the outfits are a bit dull (as in the following image), the lush setting helps to kindle the viewer's interest. True, the model could attract the viewer's attention all by herself, with her radiant beauty and enchanting smile, but the elegant backdrop, with that marvellous stone balustrade, certainly helps:
Now, let us turn to our attention to Saks Fifth Avenue (www.saks.com)--a retailer that usually garners little notice at this site. Saks customarily restricts itself to booking faux-plus models, but for fall, the company has finally employed a more curvaceous girl (Crystal Renn)--and the difference is obvious. The model infuses the store's predominantly . . . mature offerings with some much-needed youthful energy, and her softer curves help to humanize the Salon Z outfits.
One item in the Saks lineup that is definitely worth a second look is the following uncommonly feminine ensemble. Chic and sophisticated, with a bit of a Spanish element thrown in for good measure (a Goya painting comes to mind), this outfit would be perfect for attending the season premiere of Die Walküre at the Met in September. The dark burgundy suits Crystal's raven-haired looks exceptionally well:
But oh, how utterly inappropriate that two-dimensional, flat-panel backdrop is for showcasing such a romantic ensemble! The modern angularity distracts and detracts from the outfit's timeless elegance. An ensemble such as this cries out for a more elaborate presentation--something to help weave a touch of fantasy around it. Imagine how lovely it would look photographed against the grand staircase of the Paris Opéra:
Or, if budgetary constraints restrict one's shooting possibilities to the New York area, then the lobbies of Manhattan's more venerable hotels provide a worthy alternative:
Even the outdoor setting of Valerie's Dress Barn campaign would have been more appropriate than Saks's studio environment.* * *
Here at this site, we focus primarily on the innate beauty of plus-size models, followed by the types of fashions, hairstyles, etc., that best compliment full-figured femininity. Locations rank a distant third compared to these other concerns, but they still play a significant part in the creation of beautiful images.
The guiding principle in selecting a choice setting should always be timeless beauty--i.e., the same principle that should govern the creation of feminine apparel, as well as the selection of the models themselves. When all three elements harmonize successfully, the results are images that both satisfy their commercial requirements, and embody the highest artistic ideals.
(Opéra photograph by the author.)