Monday, August 9, 2010

[fashion] Vogue Italia August 2010 cover/editorial of Kristen McMenamy by Steven Meisel

A couple days ago, I happened to come across Yahoo!'s homepage which featured this article from Yahoo! Shine about Vogue Italia's oil-spill themed editorial featuring model Kristen McMenamy shot by Steven Meisel.

The supposed controversy regarding this editorial has lingered in my head for the past few days, and I've been mentally running through my thoughts. Now is the real deal on what I think of this.

(Image via Fashion Gone Rogue)
I LOVE this editorial. It embodies what every magazine and photographer should aim to produce: an evocative cover that you absolutely cannot stop to look at; an image and theme that will linger in your mind. But this, this is so much more than that. It's ineffable. When I first saw the preview of this editorial from Fashion Gone Rogue, I was immediately drawn to it. No doubt, it was the sole preview that took my breath away.

Now, getting back to the Shine article, which I find extremely irritating...

Firstly, Joanna Douglas doesn't even have her facts right. In the first paragraph, she refers to this cover/editorial as part of the September issue of Vogue Italia. But it's actually the AUGUST issue. This error made me skeptical about her credibility/anything else that she was going to say, but anyway...

According to Joanna Douglas of the Shine staff, "Without question the photographs are beautifully constructed, and overwhelmingly dark. They bring about a sense of urgency that makes you want to educate yourself, donate money, or help in clean up efforts. But we do question the intentions of Italian Vogue, and whether or not they wanted to make a poignant statement or merely hoped to get attention by being provocative."

Well, Douglas, like you said, these photographs "bring about a sense of urgency that makes you want to educate yourself, donate money, or help in clean up efforts." So if that's the case, that is GREAT. I do not see why it is so important that we question the "intentions" of Vogue Italia. The ends justify the means. If these photographs really do instigate a sense of duty in us to contribute an effort in helping with the oil spill (which they do), it doesn't matter whether or not Vogue Italia was aiming for a poignant statement or hoping to get attention. And for heaven's sake--this is a magazine (but so much more than just a magazine, if I may say so)--it's pretty inherent that magazines would want to GET ATTENTION, because who the hell would bother picking one up and actually reading it if it didn't grab your attention?! If magazines did not "hope" to attract attention, then I really must say that this marks the end of the print industry.

And we shouldn't forget that "Water & Oil" was shot by Steven Meisel. Anyone who is going to write something related to fashion magazines should know that this man is one of the most highly-regarded photographers in the fashion industry. And it's not just because he has this star status that I respect him (I wouldn't if that were simply the case). It is that he is daring, innovative, and masterful at shaking the world with his craft: photography. He has shot many remarkably controversial editorials (many of which are some of my all-time favorites), but it's not controversial or striking because they're racy or anything like that--it's because his work makes you think, it opens up your mind and eyes, makes you consider things, evaluate, it moves you, it--words wouldn't do his work much justice coming from me. But you get the point. (If not, I suggest you check out his work.)

The man thinks. He thinks about his work. I don't know him, I've never spoken to him, but I implicitly believe and know that he thinks about his work, and what it does, and how it impacts viewers. He is a thinking artist, whose works have a motive. "Water & Oil," was shot both artistically and meaningfully--it is intense, stunning, eerie, fascinating, provocative, evocative. Clearly we see that the editorial stresses the aftermath of the oil spill.

(Image via Fashion Gone Rogue)

You can see the rest of the photographs from the "Water & Oil" editorial at Fashion Gone Rogue.