Friday, August 27, 2010

Two for One

Two stories, two similar surface appeals, two different reactions....

Starting with the good. Vogue Paris + Mikael Jansson + old French horror story set in the Louvre = me taken totally by surprise

Neo Belphegor
Vogue Paris September 2010
Ph: Mikael Jansson
Styling: Anastasia Barbieri

Have to admit I wasn't too excited about this editorial when I first saw the preview snaps, but after seeing these images I've completely changed my mind. The patina of these shots are manipulated in just the right way that they add to the overall chill of the story. The dark aura and elements enhance the myth of the story and the feeling of dread you get from the potential threats lurking in the shadows. Freja is sinister, the panther is eerie, and if you look at the images in just the right way under just the right light, you'll get slight shivers up your spine.

Even though I'm already tired of the new model stereotype of Freja as the tough, dark, mysterious, cool girl (although I suppose it's better than being solely the androgynous girl), it plays well in this particular editorial. Freja makes for a great villain, and she's emoting well, especially in the shot where she's sitting down. Yes, the dangerous but glamorous femme fatale role is a bit trite, but when it's done well I don't mind seeing it again.

It's Freja's third time working with Jansson, but we have yet to see color work from the two of them. Luckily Freja has a face with angles and planes perfectly capable of expressing wide range and depth without the aid of the color spectrum. Just take a look at the history of their work together and you'll see (Pop Magazine part 1 and 2, Interview Magazine). So maybe all the b&w is a careful case study over time. I absolutely can't wait to see this in print, because 99.99% of the time editorials look better when they're in print and in your hands instead of on your computer screen.

Now another b&w editorial, but with a less positive outcome in my mind.

Uptown and Downtown
V Magazine #67 September 2010
Ph: Mario Testino
Styling: Sarajane Hoare
Other Models: Anna Selezneva, Carmen Kass, Sasha Pivovarova

Too bad Freja's first collaboration with Testino since early 2007 had to be this unremarkable story. Not a fan of the deer in headlights look, messy hair, and fur and feathers galore. I much prefer Sasha and Carmen's "uptown" shots, where the studio setting (although usually boring) provides a good contrast to the clothes, hair and makeup. Freja and Anna's "downtown" shots are too busy for me. Too much to look at, too much of it being pushed in my face, too much to distract me. What's the point? What's the purpose? What's the message? Why does Freja look so confused? How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop? The world may never know....

Freja, I love you and your work, I really do. But I have to wonder....does modeling treat you badly? Are you unhappy with your job? Because why the hell can't we see you smiling and in something happy? If I only had your recent editorials to look at, I'd think the world was approaching its end or something. I know it's not your fault. You're doing the best with what you're given in the parameters you're allowed to work within. But I hope people give you chances to expand beyond and move away from this, just like they finally gave you chances to move away from all the androgyny. Until then, I'll just be happy that you're getting work with a wide range of photographers and people, but too bad you don't look more happy about it. :)

Image Credits: Scans via tFS member Carla-A,


Gill Ford said...

I'd have to say I completely agree with you on the VP shoot. It looks great, and the addition of the panther is interesting too... I wonder what that was like working so closely with such a beautiful (albeit, dangerous) animal?

With regards to Uptown & Downtown, my issue isn't so much with the styling or anything, I'm more annoyed with the mixing of the highly detailed 'downtown', and the less so 'uptown' looks... My mind is just rebelling against the two aesthetics, because there don't seem to be enough similarities between the two that they be included in the same ed, if that makes sense? Maybe I'll appreciate Testino's contrast in time, but for now, I just find it distracting.

The downtown shots are actually recalling to me the 'Live From New York' shoot with Sasha Pivovarova from a while ago, which I really loved. It's a shame that they couldn't have explored the downtown a bit more and gotten a wider range of expressions.. Freja's face doesn't appear to change all that much here :S

Anonymous said...

LMAO!! you had me at 'Tootsie Pop'.
great review!

yantomycin said...

it will be interesting to watch "behind the scene" vid for that VP ed, right? :)

Anonymous said...

is that black leopard for real? peta wouldve have a field day lol!

maybe its photoshopped in?

Juliet said...

I love the first editorial the panther is so amazing!

juliet xxx

Float Ho said...

I like the concept of Neo Belphagor but not the hair styling, really, it's getting trite and repetitive. What's sadder, the panther is PTSed in the two-page shoot (by judging its shadow, am I wrong ?).

Im in love with Uptown and Downtown. You know, sometimes photos don't need a specific story or a clear message in it. It can be about the feeling, the vibe, the visual emotion that are brought. Some random details are interesting to me: the unusually highlighted text in the third photo, the mannequin behind her that seems "fatter" than her, and the t-shirt stand with tee of metal bands (which appear to be Satanist, Anti-christ ones).

Styling is very satisfying for my taste. Im loving it :)

But I agree about Freja's smile. Since the shoot of head-to-toe Jil Sander, I dont see any other smile. Is it why you put on a very cheesy backstage photo (Jump!) ? Backstage photo is what I expect most of every season, that's where my love for her develops.

M said...

I thoroughly enjoy the editorial for French Vogue. She is beautiful and I LOVE the all black outfitting and the panther is the perfect accessory. So glamourous yet so dark, beautiful!
I posted it this morning as soon as I came across it->


Rrose Sélavy said...

@ Gill Ford: Yeah, the downtown shots are very similar to the Live from NY editorial, but for me these are somehow lacking in the energy that the other ed had. Maybe these are more contrived? Idk, can't really explain it.

@ anonymous at 2:54 : I think the panther is fake. :) At least I hope it is for safety's sake! Hmmm...after looking at the images again and more closely, now I'm not so sure. Can anyone tell if it's just a really good Photoshop job?

@ Float Ho: Have you seen the Live From New York ed that was in V last summer? That's a way better example of a fun, energetic, emotional shoot imo.

Float Ho said...

Hi Rrose, I saw Live From NY a while ago

Live from NY is surely very energetic, very urban but what I think is different in Uptown, Downtown is the hint of subcultures and social images - sth darker more intense and more sultry, imho =).

Anonymous said...

as for the panther, i think they might have a real panther on a leash. just took a couple pics of the panther alone in different positions. then they photoshop it in frejas pic....

i doubt they would let a real panther without a leash walking around paris!

i always remember years ago, rapper Eve did MTV's making the video. she had two white tigers in the radio in the background and she had to stand near them. when one of the tigers paw moved a little bit, she screamed and got super scared.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm....I just don't think a real panther can strike these vogue poses.....suspicious...

PH. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rrose Sélavy said...

^Hmmm, I'm confused as to what you're referring to. The other model in the shots with Freja is Anna S as I stated in my post. The model in the uptown shots is Carmen Kass. Karmen Pedaru (If that's who you're referring to) is not in the editorial at all. :)

PH. said...

lol. sorry! haha, I misread the post or a comment- but i was scared for a sec cos you're always reliable with this stuff sorry I misread it haha.