Here at the Judgment of Paris, we have always considered plus-size models to be living works of art, given that their well-fed physiques correspond precisely to those of the fleshy goddesses whom artists depicted as embodiments of ideal beauty throughout Western history.
How fitting, then, that a host of images of the most beautiful plus-size model working today will soon be appearing in a fine-art gallery.
Starting April 9th, 2011, the Loft at Liz's--a gallery space in the Miracle Mile district of Los Angeles--will be hosting an exhibition titled About Face: A New Perspective on Photographic Portraiture.
An informative article
outlines the particulars of the exhibition, noting that one of the presenters will be photographer Wahb Mabkhout, whose contribution is described as follows:
Wahb Mabkhout offers a celebration of the '40s and '50s portrait photography and the glamour divas he is mostly passionate about, such as Sophia Lauren, Marilyn Monroe and Bettie Page. For this collection of portraits Wahb worked with eight curvaceous California models. "For my creative expressions, these full figured and incredibly beautiful women became my muses to become one of the advocates of the changes within the modeling and fashion industries to end the size-zero era."
"To end the size-zero era" is certainly an admirable goal, and working with "eight curvaceous California models" is an especially fine way of achieving it. And if one of those eight happens to be the gorgeous Kelsey Olson (Dorothy Combs/Heffner, size 16), then one knows that this photographer is a bona fide genius.
So far, Mr. Mabkhout
has released a number of behind-the-scenes images from his About Face shoot, showing him being inspired by his robust muses.
If this is the outfit that Kelsey wore for the project, then it would be worth travelling many miles to see the exhibition. Her golden tresses spill over her shoulders, while her ever-so-blue eyes shine like sapphires. The red lip colour vividly recalls the Technicolour images of the '50s era that Mr. Mabkhout credits as an inspiration. The model's soft, buxom curves are seductively visible. But most sensual of all is the suggestion that the images may exhibt Kelsey's most alluring figure feature, her opulent 39" waist.
Another image shows the photographer interacting with Miss Olson in a way that recalls Whitney's Thompson's shoot with Nigel Barker during the penultimate episode of America's Next Top Model, Cycle 10--the one and only time when a plus-size model won the competition. Kelsey's pose is thrillingly vain and haughty. She is completely in command of the situation, while the photographer (lipstick-bedecked from his dual-kiss photograph, above) takes the opportunity to act on a fantasy that is cherished by every red-blooded man in America: i.e., to touch, ever so gently, Miss Olson's soft, luscious waist. The sight of her golden tresses cascading over her shoulders is intoxicating.
The final three behind-the-scenes photographs show Kelsey with an updo, and while fans definitely prefer Miss Olson with her fair hair freely tumbling over her person, long, loose and luxurious, the updo does provide an opportunity to admire her high cheekbones (softened by facial fullness) and apple cheeks. This is the most relaxed and playful of the images, a fine contrast to the carnal allure of the previous photograph.
For these four black-and-white photos, one will note that Kelsey has removed her jacket and donned a lacy sheath. One is hard pressed to determine which look is more stunning. The sheath is a very feminine item, tantalizing in how it offers a suggestion of the model's physique, yet the jacket bares her sumptuous waist. Her fair skin veritably shines with its own light, as if she were lit from within. The pearls are a distinctively '50s element, reminiscent of Kim Novak. Her buxom curves appear particularly alluring in this pose (and goodness, doesn't she know it . . .).
Observe the sheer sensual energy that Kelsey channels in these images. She positively demands that the viewer fixate on her steamy blue eyes, heavily lidded to channel smouldering passion.
Based on these behind-the-scenes images, Wahb Mabkhout's "About Face" project (which should, just as well, be titled "About Figure," for it is surely Miss Olson's luscious figure, as much as her angelic face, that will be the highlight of the exhibit) will be an outstanding event, not to be missed. If these are merely the outtakes, the behind-the-scenes photos, then just imagine how seductive the actual portraits in the show will be.
The photographer tells us:
My exhibition celebrates curves, and my future work will focus on promoting beauty in all shapes especially curvy women.
We applaud him both for his aesthetic taste in recognizing the true shape of feminine beauty, and for his keen insight. For surely there is no better way "to end the size-zero era" than by showcasing the luxurious, full-figured feminine ideal that said era tragically displaced. And certainly there is no better model to demonstrate the superiority of Classical curvaceousness to androgynous starvation than the alluring Kelsey Olson, the muse of beauty par excellence.
- About Face: April 9th–May 10th