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Old 3rd December 2005   #1
Join Date: July 2005
Posts: 1,784
Default Crystal Renn: Opulence in Italy

Over the past several seasons, Crystal Renn has appeared in numerous magazine editorials, but her finest layout--at least since the celebrated bridal-wear spread that launched her plus career--is an eight-page story published in the November 2005 issue of Italian Vanity Fair.

The editorial bears the extremely appropriate title, "Femme Fatale"--and with good reason, for no man could fail to be seduced by the sight of a full-figured goddess dressed in such an opulently feminine manner.

What makes the editorial all the more captivating is the fact that Miss Renn is shown languishing most sensually in the images, her voluptuous lassitude harmonizing perfectly with the intoxicating richness of the accessories and furnishings.

Click to enlarge

Note the caption at the top-left corner of the image--"VanityStyle Moda"--which is extremely fitting, inasmuch as this layout persuasively demonstrates the irresistible allure of unbridled feminine vanity.

The following is undoubtedly the standout image from this layout. Like an empress, Crystal is shown here absolutely bedecked with jewellery. She rests heavily on a plush, yielding sofa--obviously of great expense--as if the very weight of her ornaments were compelling her to recline. Note that a furred covering is spread out between Crystal and the cushion, as if the fabric beneath were still insufficiently soft for her. (One thinks of the fairy-tale of the Princess and the Pea.) The model's attire is actually quite revealing (although the viewer catches only a tantalizing glimpse of her figure), and one barely perceives where the jewels end, and the clothing begins. Intoxicating settings such as these are Miss Renn's specialty, and she exhibits an appropriately satiated demeanour, reveling in her possessions, scarcely conscious of the viewer's gaze.

Click to enlarge

(You may click on each of the images in this post to view them at a larger size.)

The next picture is even more passionate, showing Crystal almost dissolving into the watery coverings of this opulent bed. It is an image of the most exquisite langour, heady in its intimacy. Note the serpentine bracelet around Crystal's wrist--an eternal symbol of temptation--and the sheer size of that magnificent ring. Has she seduced kings and princes to obtain such a profusion of worldly splendour, the viewer wonders? Or has she now herself been seduced by the need for more, always more? The furred wrap seems to enfold her gently, and her expression is one of pure abandon. The soft fullness of the model's arm and waist contribute to the image's overall impression of full-blown decadence.

Click to enlarge

And although the attire in the following image is less captivating than elsewhere in this layout, the medallion and earrings are especially eye-catching. Once again, Crystal wears a dreamy, faraway look, as if, having been given so much, she still yearns for more. The gently parted lips and lidded eyes also show the virtuosity of the cosmetics artists's work. The makeup is suitably rich and elaborate, and, like the hairstyle, possess a touch of wildness, but remains elegant as well.

Click to enlarge

This stunning and unforgettable layout perfectly exemplifies the lavish aesthetic that suits plus-size beauty best. No waif could ever convey the impression of sumptuousness that the theme of the editorial required. All of the elements in this shoot, from the photography to the apparel to the accessories to the hair and make-up, are in perfect harmony, and the result is an artistic tour-de-force. It is surely one of the high points of Crystal's career, and a remarkable presentation of timeless beauty.

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Old 4th December 2005   #2
Join Date: August 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 61
Default Re: Crystal Renn: Opulence in Italy

What gorgeous imagery. It doesn't surprise me that the Italians can still appreciate sophisticated opulence, since Italy is the birthplace of the Renaissance, much of the great art of western civilization, and of course, "La Dolce Vita."

Crystal's last pose and her eye makeup remind me a bit of another great femme fetale, icon of feminine glamour, and sophisticate who visited Rome and made quite an impression: Cleopatra, the queen of Egypt who has been a subject of fascination for scholars, novelists, and artists throughout history,

and famously portrated by Elizabeth Taylor on film.
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Old 5th December 2005   #3
Join Date: July 2005
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Default Re: Crystal Renn: Opulence in Italy

The reference to Cleopatra is quite perceptive, and invites another interpretation of the third image, above, showing Crystal lying on the bed, with her eyes shut. The theme of the "Death of Cleopatra"--who famously committed suicide by allowing herself to be bitten by an asp (a poisonous serpent)--has been one of the dominant motifs in Western art since Classical antiquity, and could well be the subject that the photographer meant to reference, in Crystal's bed image.

Here, for example, is an interpretation of The Death of Cleopatra (1796-97), by Jean-Baptiste Regnault:

Note that the gilded edges of Cleopatra's death-bed resemble those of the couch on which Crystal is lying.

And not only do artists frequently exhibit the dying Cleopatra positioned in a sensual pose, but many even fix onto her visage a look of voluptuous rapture, as if this celebrated femme fatale died, as she lived, in a transport of physical ecstasy.

We see this element in Arthur Reginald's version of the event:

How fitting that Crystal should have acknowledged this visual tradition in her own passionate facial expression. Her serpentine bracelet, then, becomes a visual cue, reminding the viewer of the poisonous asp, and further connecting the image to the Cleopatra theme.

And the association of Cleopatra with plus-size beauty is only natural, since the Egyptian queen was well known to possess a generous love of food. History has recorded that one of Anthony's approaches to wooing his beloved empress of the Nile was to treat her to a banquet on a truly legendary scale. In fact, this theme, The Banquet of Cleopatra, is second only to Cleopatra's death as the most frequently-depicted episode in her celebrated life . . .

* * *

Looking at the images in Kirsten's link, above, which are stills from the film version of Cleopatra, starring Elizabeth Taylor, one is struck by just how curvaceous Ms. Taylor is, in this movie. Her full figure more closely resembles that of a plus-size model than any of the modern actresses who are commonly dubbed "curvy" (such as Catherine Zeta-Jones, or Jennifer Lopez).

This makes it particularly appropriate that the film includes a scene showing a sculptor immortalizing the beauty of Cleopatra/Taylor's luscious curves in marble:

And in their exciting historicism, many of Taylor's costumes in the film boldly anticipate today's "New Femininity" in fashion:

Interestingly, Elizabeth Taylor--who, like so many of history's greatest beauties (including Cleopatra herself) possessed a lavish appetite--gained considerable weight during the filming of Cleopatra, as if she were channeling the spirit of the famously voluptuous Egyptian queen.

In his book about the Hollywood film industry, titled Fiasco, author James Robert Parish records that

Because of Taylor's ever-fluctuating weight, her nearly sixty costumes—including a $6,500 form-fitting gold dress—had to be constantly revamped.

Ms. Taylor may have been channelling the spirit of Cleopatra in another way, as well. Like a true femme fatale, she was seducing her co-star, Richard Burton, even though Burton was already married (as was Taylor herself).

No one has yet drawn the obvious conclusion about Taylor's figure-improvement during this film--i.e., that the actress gained weight specifically in order to seduce Burton, who initially resisted her charms. Taylor undoubtedly knew that with an even softer, fuller appearance, Burton would find her physically irresistible. And sure enough, it worked--for Taylor and Burton became Hollywood's preeminent couple, in a scandalous development that was regarded as a conquest worthy of Cleopatra herself.

Last edited by HSG : 13th December 2005 at 06:12.
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Old 13th December 2005   #4
M. Lopez
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Join Date: August 2005
Posts: 587
Default Re: Crystal Renn: Opulence in Italy

For those who are interested, I just learned that Crystal Renn will be appearing on The View on Tuesday, December 20th:

I love the opulence of this editorial, and the "Femme Fatale" theme is perfect for a plus-size model, but I have to say that Crystal was once much curvier. I remember that in her first Lane Bryant campaigns she looked particularly gorgeous. I hope that she doesn't continue shrinking, but recovers the beautifully "fatale" figure that she once possessed.
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