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Friday, 30 October 2009


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Weird, no question, but the Avedon shoot with the skeleton is awfully amusing to view, and does show the clothes quite well...

Just proves you don't have to be overly good looking to land the hot babe. Lucky skull.

Please tell me this is just Ralph being "witty". Please. I'm begging you.

When I was young (long ago), we had to fight for equal pay and avoid being pushed into small rooms while being felt up by scummy sales people who would keep their jobs while you lost yours - if you complained. Not much has changed, has it? Scummy sales men still decide what happens to women and willfully deform the female image whenever it serves their idiotic purposes. This is not photography, its abuse.

It's not the photography that's "weird"; it's women. If they didn't continue to lust after this stuff it wouldn't exist.

That aint nothin

“Lighten up.” Vogue is about realizing the “power of fashion” she said, and the shoot was saying that “fashion is no longer a rich man’s privilege. Anyone can carry it off and make it look beautiful,” she said.


You missed the funniest (and saddest) part. That Ralph Lauren model is such a cow that she was let go after this whole brouhaha because she has gained too much weight. Have another doughnut, you fat pig, I can't believe she let herself go like that.

The Ralph Lauren thing is really unbelievable. Forget about unrealistic standards of beauty. Forget about the ethical questions surrounding photo manipulation. Ignore all that-- and she still looks just flat-out bizarre. What retoucher did that and thought it was acceptable, and what AD then saw it and agreed with them? I mean, did everyone at some ad agency go blind one afternoon? How could an image that awful ever see the light of day? I just don't understand how something like that happens.

Well i like the Avedon shoot they're fun they have a sense of humour about them, though granted a tad weird. But i have to agree with you on the seriously weirdness, and not in a good way of the other exhibits, I just can't believe that Ralphie is self reflexive in his humour enough for this to be anything other than stupid.

In regard to the title of your article, Mike...you're just NOW figuring that out? Really?

I get the whole idea that it's about the clothes and not the model, but it seems to me that designers could sell more clothes by having healthy models wear them, but then again I suppose the weirdness causes the eyes to linger a little longer.

So, help me out. Anorexic is "in" now?

This was outed by boing-boing a while back and some reader managed to find a (relatively?) unretouched photo of the model as proof.

@Barb: these ads are designed to appeal to women, if it didn't work they wouldn't do it.

I must be a weird person - cause the Avedon photos are simply superb. Weird and funny in a morbid way, but boy they are good.

Fashion is 90% emotion and 10% fabric.

I remember hating the Avedon set when it arrived in the mail in the latest New Yorker. At the time I worshipped Frank and Winogrand and thought staged photography was blasphemy to the medium and proof that Avedon was highly overrated. How silly I was.

The series is brilliant, meticulous, challenging, and beautiful. And, yes, weird, but I don't think contrived but instead forebodes, metaphorically, what has since happened in full to fashion photography.

The Ralph Lauren fiasco had one OTHER odd story line not yet mentioned: the original site that broke the story, Photoshop Disasters, was threatened with legal action by Lauren and their ISP forced them to remove the image. The web site Boing Boing distinguished itself by replying to a similar request with chutzpa and utter disdain: http://boingboing.net/2009/10/06/the-criticism-that-r.html

I still can´t believe how mr. Avedon could put up with such low low-light performance. It should be a human right to have cameras with AT LEAST 16.569.856.859.874.551 ISO, for heaven´s sake!

No arguments from me that the fashion industry is a long running joke. Fashion is by definition ephemeral and advertising is about creating fantasy. Hardly surprising that the the result is an industry pushing the boundaries of unreality to more and more absurd levels.

The shame of it is that the actual photography (the bit done before the magazine editors create human parody) is often highly creative and technically exquisite. But how often do we notice?

Each time I glance at a one page ad for some banal fashion label, I put my semiotic prejudice aside for a moment and check out the lighting. Chances are it's bordering on perfection.

Barb, I don't think it's scummy sales people who's responsible. They don't decide what's to be offered.

I've heard theories why the standard of female beauty in magazines and fashion changed, but since the theories sound loony, I won't repeat them.

Well, Avedon's pictures in this post are absolutely brilliant in my book. He and Helmut Newton are pretty much my holy trinity of fashion shooters - yes, they're so good there's no room for the third. Although David Bailey comes close.

But those teensy little pelvises, well, I like feminine women, and this really gets on my nerves. If for no other reason, it's because my girlfriend (who is really into fashion, but doesn't want to spend my money, which makes her even more perfect) keeps banging on about being about 10 pounds overweight, and I love each and every one of those pounds.

I am a huge Avedon fan. Those are strange....but.....not boring.

Not too subtle processing on that Ralph Lauren ad. I'd hate to think that young people see this as a appealing or appropriate body image. That is scary stuff.

"It's not the photography that's "weird"; it's women. If they didn't continue to lust after this stuff it wouldn't exist."

I am afraid that this was not meant to be ironic. The abuse of women in the fashion industry is utterly sexist, but the interpretation that its the women's fault is even worse. I would say that is not primarily photography what is weird, but the whole industry. Little girls who are driven into all sorts of psychic distortions and not so seldom death eventually are the most visible victims in the game of beauty. One cannot exculpate the multi billion dollar business interests which are pushing the thing and making murder profits (literally). This industry with the high gloss media as the main distributor has a huge defining power over what is en vogue and what not. This implies responsibility. And since market driven institutions don't even know this word (except for PR purposes themselves) there must be external regulations - though I know this won't happen anytime soon.

From a theoretical standpoint I have to note that women are subject to patriarchal power since mankind resides under "civilized" conditions. A fashion dictate - which is in the least inconvenient, more often unhealthy and sometimes dangerous to health - is just one variation of manly suppression. One cannot reverse causality and revise history by argumenting that the victims are to blame because they submit deliberately to the pressure, or even demand it. Because, first is suppression and force, than over generations comes the implicit acceptance of whatever crazy customs there have been invented to tighten the dominating grip (high heels, corsets, veil, ruff, tight dresses etc.). And last comes the _man_ without historical memory and argues...

Does it actually make any difference to anyone in the real world?

Did anyone look at the other photogs on the site with Avedon? What is this? http://www.paranaiv.no/inspiration/2009/07/clown

"I am afraid that this was not meant to be ironic. The abuse of women in the fashion industry is utterly sexist, but the interpretation that its the women's fault is even worse." -- Andreas.

You are arguing that women have no volition. That's more sexist than anything else said here.

But those teensy little pelvises, well, I like feminine women,

There's a good hypothesis lurking in your comment for why women in fashion have boyish physiques. Just saying.

Man, those Avedon photos made me feel embarrassed.

"Tell Mike it was only business" as Tessio would say in Godfather I. Commercial deals are deals.

The only thing I remember after I scan through it is that there is a large format camera with only a bit of ground glass and the next photos is one with a broken glass I have taken a picture with my Kodak 2D 8x10 with just a bit broken ground glass like the first one. It is a challenge to have the photos at all, even without a skeleton. Sorry, I think I am more in photography then in commercial or business side of the story, thinking in this way!

It's weird unless it's pretty good. The http://www.anthropologie.com/anthro/catalog/shopbycatalogentry.jsp>Anthropologie href> Catalog is always filled with pretty good photography. It's advertising but I think a lot of it is really beautiful.

The fashion biz is full of gay men who resent women. Everybody knows it and it's really as simple as that.

Thank you, and well said, Andreas.

Skinny young women with shrunken pelvises look more like adolescent boys, which I suspect is what many denizens of the fashion industry really want. IMHO, of course.

Adreas wrote:
"The abuse of women in the fashion industry is utterly sexist, but the interpretation that its the women's fault is even worse."

But is it the men's fault? Men usually prefer (way) curvier women. Just watch almost any straight porn and compare the women in porn to ones in the fashion industry. You'll suddenly realize, that the woman's image in the fashion industry is not targeted to men.

The women's image in the fashion industry is made for women, often by women.

Fashion Photography weird? It's supposed to be, just like most of the fashion pictured. BUT, check out the photos from the new show at the Museum of the City of New York with images and contemporary pictures by Diane Cook and Len Jenshel. Framing and compositions to die for - in my, very, 'umble opinion, gents and ladies. Had to share them with someone.

"A fashion dictate - which is in the least inconvenient, more often unhealthy and sometimes dangerous to health - is just one variation of manly suppression."

I think I've seen spam that reads like this. The contrast with the preceding post is, erm... striking

I blame Anna Wintour entirely.

I find the photoshopped stuff very disturbing. I have a daughter who was anorexic, and stuff like Miss Hamilton's overdone picture are beyond the pale. I find it interesting that it's the hips, the very seat of female sexuality they slim down to next to nothing. This stuff is the reverse of the early Barbie doll, which has long been criticized for being an anatomical impossibility. Yet there are women who wear a 39D bra. There are no women who should look like these photos. Ladies, I say rebel, and rebel loudly against people like Ralph Lauren and others who have clearly lost all perspective in regard to the female body. As for Mr. Lauren: Face it! Rubens was right.

I generally find that fashion photography makes women look as though their brains have been sucked out through their noses. I guess this is one case where for me the message makes whatever other qualities the images may have irrelevant. I don't really care if the images have exquisite composition and lighting, I just experience fashion photography as being mean-spirited towards women. Fashion claims it celebrates women but I don't believe it.

No matter how technically good Avedon was, he's a second rater compared to shooters who are engaged with something other than fashion's fantasy, Take Emmit Gowan's early family work for example. Now there was a man who knew how to honor women even when they were dowdy.

Wow, sexism *and* homophobia in one thread! The fashion business sure brings out the best in humanity.

pax / Ctein

Actually the more i look at it the more i think that the Lauren ad is a Star Trek transporter malfunction plain and simple, i mean i've never seen a 'boyish' anything look like that.

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