About Face

Natalia Vodianova, speaking at a CFDA panel on eating disorders in September 2007, on being told to lose weight off her 5'9",112-pound frame because designers were calling up her agency to complain that she wasn't as thin as she'd been before :

"I defended myself, saying it was crazy to consider measurements like 33-27-34 to be normal. I think because I was one of the girls most in demand it helped me to be able to forget the incident quickly. On the other hand, it makes me think that if I had been weak at the time, I can really imagine how it could have helped me endanger myself."

Natalia Vodianova, speaking at a panel discussion at the British Vogue Festival in April 2012, in response to the following question by Vogue fashion director Calgary Avansino: "It's undeniable that models are very thin, expected to be very thin, and thinner than 99.9 percent of the population. What message should you be sending out?":

 "Come on, guys, it's better to be skinny than to be fat! We eat well, we exercise — please, do the same and you will look like this. I'm sorry, but today the NHS [Britain’s National Health Service] are fighting against obesity, children are taken away from their parents because they’re too fat … And here we are, defending that we are healthy and skinny."

On one level, I'm not surprised by this (she later claimed on her Facebook page that her quotes had been taken out of context because of their format - audience interaction, as opposed to a prepared speech - and blamed the food industry, among others, for provoking eating disorders by constantly pushing food at consumers, ending with the statement: "I assume there ivery little Anorexia or Bulimia issues in countries like Africa, China and Russia today!"). It's not at all unexpected for a model to defend the practices of her industry, or the state of her body - a model's body is her livelihood, after all - and the "but people are so fat nowadays!" style of logic seems to be an increasingly common defence against any criticism of the demands the fashion industry places on models, with everyone from Anna Wintour to Vodianova herself eventually resorting to it. 

And even though I do think that expecting models - who are, more often than not, teenagers and very young women - to police their bodies for whatever "message" their appearance sends out is unreasonable to say the least, it still doesn't address the question of why so many young women (including Vodianova, who has said she did not get enough food as a child in Russia) are encouraged to compromise their health in the interests of a modelling career - especially now, when models are the youngest (and thinnest) they've been in years, and even taking into account the fact that many models are naturally thin to begin with. But in an age when no one wants to take responsibility for contributing to this phenomenon and instead chooses to shift the blame (by implication) to the models themselves, it's hardly surprising that Natalia Vodianova is defensive of her looks. All that saddens me is that statements like hers just allow the fashion industry to bury its head in the sand and continue to hold models up to a standard of skinny that is ultimately good for no one, least of all models themselves. 


R.I.P. Eiko Ishioka (7/12/1939 - 21/1/2012)

Being a shameless lover of both movies and clothes, it's not really that surprising that I am a complete nut for costume design, be it sumptuous or slick. And the work of the late Eiko Ishioka, one of the most brilliant and original visionaries in the field, has been my favourite thing about the films she did costumes for for over a decade now - even when they were otherwise rubbish, the chance to see her clothes up close on a 70mm theatrical screen alone made it worth the price of the ticket. To those who are unfamiliar with her, here are some samples of her designs in film:

Dracula (1992)
Sadie Frost in Dracula

dracula wedding dress full-length


On the Tweenification of Fashion

Anyone who's been anywhere near a fashion news outlet in the last few days will probably know by now that Kristen Stewart is now officially the newest celebrity spokesperson for Balenciaga, chosen by Nicolas Ghesquière to star in a campaign for a perfume that doesn't have a name yet.. 

To say this is a surprise is an understatement, for more than one reason - Balenciaga is a label that is the highest of high fashion; one that has always positioned itself as being for women, not girls, and which is usually rather judicious with its choice of celebrity endorsers - Jennifer Connelly (who featured in the Spring/Summer 2008 and Autumn/Winter 2009/10 ad campaigns) and Charlotte Gainsbourg (who has been the face of their first perfume, Balenciaga Paris, since its debut in 2010). Connelly and Gainsbourg had a longstanding association with the label well before it tapped them to feature in its campaigns, and both their public personas and filmographies reflect a sophistication and maturity that fit the label to a T. 

Stewart, on the other hand, is best known for starring in a film franchise about glittering vampires whose fans are typically very young girls. At 21, she is undoubtedly legally an adult and has worn a fair bit of Balenciaga on the red carpet, but the eyeballs she will bring to the brand are those of girls nearly a decade younger that herself - and considering the fact that celebrities are usually chosen to endorse a brand on the strength of their public images and the audience they might draw to it,  trying to appeal to the tween demographic is a radical departure from the past for Balenciaga. Though what with this and the news of Taylor Swift's Vogue cover girl status, one can only suppose the tweenification of fashion is well underway - the Powers That Be have spoken, and who are we plebeians to turn up our noses at them?

image from graziadaily.co.uk


Corinne Day, "The Long Story" Vogue UK June 2002

This is one of my favourite editorials ever to feature Gisele, not least because (in classical Corinne style) it couldn't be more different from the Glamazon Glory mode magazines usually choose to put her in. It's rather nice to see fashion taking a model with boobs and letting the boobs not be the entire point of the editorial.

Hair: Neil Moodie
Makeup: Max Delorme
Fashion editor: Kate Phelan
Model: Gisele Bündchen
scans by me


Spot The Resemblance: Swans and Rebels* Edition

Again with the Black Swan things, but surely I can't be the only person who thinks that this beautiful poster, below:

looks a lot like
the symbol of the Rebel Alliance in Star Wars? I find it hilarious, given that Natalie Portman actually had a starring role in the (dreadful) prequels.

*misbegotten twist on the title of one of my favourite books of all time. Do read it if you haven't already!


Goodbye, Carine

I can't believe Carine Roitfeld is actually quitting Vogue Paris! On one hand, her logic in favour of going out while she's still on top, and when she's completed a nice round number of years- ten- as its editor, can't be argued with (she'll leave once she's done with work on the March 2011 issue). On the other, I'll miss the frequent cheek and oddly impeccable naughtiness she brought to Vogue Paris*, and whoever succeeds her (Emmanuelle Alt?) will have some major shoes to fill.

Ah, well. From one humble fashion blogger to the woman who is practically the icon of the "Fashion Insiders As Style Inspiration" movement, good luck for the future.

*I will say it though, I'm not a fan of photographs like this one.

On Girls, Gloves And The Art Of René Gruau

...though I suppose it's not quite right to call them girls, given that René Gruau never drew female figures without a strong hint of slink and sophistication, and 'womanly' is very much the appropriate adjective for the general vibe of his illustrations (see another one in this post)
I've always been more than a little in love with the boldness and flourish of his work, combined with the sparse composition- his work (for Jacques Fath, Dior and others) was never short of impact.
If anyone takes a close look at these or larger images, you'll see a spiky star-shape above Gruau's signature in several of his illustrations- after an inkblot fell on his work and he doodled it into the shape of a star, he liked it so much that he adopted it as a motif.

About Me

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Fondest of upbeat music and brightly coloured sweets.