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Old 28th August 2006   #1
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Join Date: July 2005
Posts: 517
Default ''Enchanted'' at Marshall Field's

Like many readers of this forum, I often come across catalogues or layouts in magazines that make me think, "This would have been lovely if it had been photographed with plus-size models instead of waifs."

I just stumbled across a catalogue at Marshall Field's that absolutely begs to be shot with fuller-figured models. It may be the best attempt to capture Old World beauty since the Saks fall campaign from last year, which is still my all-time favourite fashion promotion:

The new Mashall Field's book is called "Enchanted," and it re-creates moments from a host of European fairy-tales, including Red Riding Hood, The Princess and the Pea (one I've always loved), and many others. But it's not just a collection of literal renderings. Instead, it tries to capture the mood, the spirit of the Old World, with its primeval forests, rushing brooks, woodland huts, and enchantment around every corner.

The clothing is so-so, apart from a few gorgeous dresses. (Many of this fall's offerings leave me cold.) But oh, how much better, how gorgeous this campaign would have been, if it had been photographed with the most popular plus-size models, who possess the kind of timeless, Old World beauty that would have suited the settings perfectly. The androgynous stick-figures that MF did employ simply don't fit, they don't belong in such romantic settings; while for curvaceous models, these locations would have seemed entirely natural.

Here is the link to the "Enchanted" book:

Perhaps some plus-size magazines, current or prospective, might derive some inspiration from this campaign...
Emily is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 29th August 2006   #2
Join Date: July 2005
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Default Re: ''Enchanted'' at Marshall Field's

The theme and settings are wonderful, and the images do evoke the dark forest of European fable. But the bone-thin models utterly ruin the effect. They "break the spell," as it were.

Furthermore, one of the principal advantages that Saks enjoyed last year, when it produced its Old World promotion, was that the fashions in that campaign were actually quite Romantic and feminine. Here, regrettably, the attire is a far cry from the lovely peasant blouses and frilled, ruffled dresses of the New Femininity.

Nevertheless, the campaign represents an admirable effort to make the best of a bad situation, and its setting and theme might well inspire plus-size fashion promotions (or even magazines, as Emily suggests).

The cover is a marvellous depiction of the Red Riding Hood fable, with a model in scarlet wandering a windy path through a misty forest:

The caption that accompanies the opening page, which communicates the idea of enriching the present with the past, is a particularly fine expression of the Aesthetic Restoration: "Once Upon a Time is Now."

The catalogue's take on "The Princess and the Pea" is well composed, but here in particular, a plus-size model was absolutely required. The premise of this fairy-tale is that the princess is so irresistibly pampered, so adorably indulged and coddled, that she feels the disturbing presence of a pea beneath so many mattresses. Her physical softness is the entire point of the tale. Only a plus-size model could embody this concept. To cast a bony waif in the role empties the story of meaning.

Some of the photographs do not correspond directly to fairy-tales, but evoke Old World culture in a more general way. This beautiful image, for example, is reminiscent of Pre-Raphaelite paintings illustrating Tennyson's poem, "The Lady of Shalott":

And this lovely image shows a model in the guise of a sleeping goddess attended by a cherub. She is identifiable as Venus by the mirror laying beside her, which is an attribute of the Goddess of Beauty, testifying to her bewitching vanity:

This image shows a model embodying perhaps a wood nymph, or even the Faerie Queene herself, attended by sprites:

Conceptually, this book is a lovely effort, and illustrates how effective Old World themes can be at enriching the beauty of fashion promotions. But its greatest value may lie in vividly demonstrating the aesthetic advantages of employing plus-size models rather than their underweight rivals, in producing campaigns depicting timeless beauty.

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