This was a task I was to undertake for college, that I thought I would share. This is the deconstruction of an image using opinions from professionals across the fashion industry.
Kate Moss signed up to David Yurman’s company in 2010 to model his new line of jewellery, posing with a ring from his upcoming autumn collection. Yurman himself started out in the art world as a prominent sculptor (Nordstrom, 2012), his wife also shared artistic flair being a recognised painter. The couple realised the importance of classic tradition when it comes to what should be in their advertising campaigns. The collaboration between themselves and an established photographer would make for an attractive and lucrative advertisement. Moss is photographed by Peter Lindberg (Grazia, 2010) on a beach with a few key elements on display. The ring is the main focus of the commission. I selected this particular shot because, in what it is surrounded by, the ring itself becomes redundant. This makes me question who or what is being advertised by the nude. By illustrating naked form in such a way, what cultural assumptions do we make in order to understand such powerful and seductive imagery?
Smith (2004, p56) validates that a client’s shoulders, in order to appear more interesting and less rigid should not form a horizontal line throughout the frame. Moss certainly does appear more alluring and less distant. The pose draws you in and increases the length at which you would normally gaze upon the subject. This seems to be a popular stance for models that want to appear aloof and alluring when on the final turn on the catwalk and indeed this particular pose comes from classical roots. Edward Steichen photographed Gwili Andre in an almost identical method (Ewing 2008, p 253) when she modelled jewellery by Tiffany in Vanity Fair in 1936. This shows that traditional mechanisms are still being used today to attract clients to purchase products.
Steichen suggested (Ewing, 2008, p191) that if you take good photographs the art will follow suit. I believe that Lindberg may have been inspired by this standard, although in order to appeal to a more demanding consumer, he would have had to have added something else. Tobia Bezzola commented (Ewing, 2008, p192)on De Meyer who at the time was the chief photographer of Vanity Fair, to develop a form of fashion photography that itself engages the art of seduction rather than merely serving to document the art of the couturier, meant that the objective qualities of the attire were of scant interest. This suggested that even back in 1914 fashion photographers were beginning to realise the power of the nude to increase the potential value of the model associated in the advertised image. Although this commodifies the naked model, actual, rather than suggestive exposure will increase the market value of the product on offer.
Kate Moss was discovered by the owner of Storm Modelling Agency at the tender age of fourteen in JFK international airport (MCM, 2012). During her career to her mid-thirties she has intrigued her viewers by promoting vulnerability and her dominance as the queen of Heroin Chic. The image directors knew that by placing Moss in an ad campaign on a beach, soaked and appearing fragile that the viewer would feel empowered over her and relate that feeling perhaps to the jewellery that was being advertised. She is after all hiding herself behind the ring. But as we are no longer in the early 1920’s, and the fact it’s just a ring, is she really hiding anything. Or is it in fact she is really trying to promote something else?
Considering other models would have bared themselves for promotion, I looked at the portrait of Demi Moore by Annie Leibovitz (Carter, 2008 p56). Although its popularity with audiences spanning the globe attracted considerable controversy Susan Kandel (Kandel,1992) defended Moore and Leibovitz against traditionalist right wing protesters and sympathised with the progression of the nude in contemporary art. “While the self-righteous on the right lambasted the photograph’s flamboyant immodesty, the well-intentioned on the left hailed its progressiveness. Woman displayed as an expanded object, happily complicit both with her expansion and her objectification.” Kandel validates that the representation of the female body in twentieth century photography is laden with unease and constant negotiation between the physical and institutional bodies that constitute the very meanings of a women’s self-representation. Athough Kate Moss exposing a single nipple on the magazine advert attracted controversy we should realise that this is the movement of the times.
Many feel that the movement of exposure, in which female nudity is upon us now, stems from an attitude dating back to the early 1900’s. Josephine Baker (Rosetta, 2007) was one such icon which continues to inspire a century later. Famous for barely-there dresses and no-holds-barred dance routines, her exotic beauty generated nicknames “Black Venus,” “Black Pearl” and “Creole Goddess.” Admirers bestowed a plethora of gifts, including diamonds and cars. Even today her legacy exists in live performance, art, photography, fashion and film. With all the glamour attained by baring all for the camera it’s clear to see why culture has transgressed in this direction due to demand and reward from the audience. Contemporary audiences are no different.
John Tagg (1998, p16) observes the socialisation of production and consumption, with the mechanisms of discipline and desire to reveal that, by combining the two notions we are offering a medium by which we have little or no control. The technology of the camera itself is creating a division of power both between the controller and the possessor. Tagg states that within the space of these contradictions there is undoubtedly room for cultural resistance, although dissent rarely develops. Even if in today’s pressing advertisements, there contrives much controversy, there will never be enough negative press to assert a deceleration of such a strong cultural movement. This adheres with the age-old phrase that any publicity is good publicity.
On reflection, this image, even with its controversy, shows us a sign of progression in fashion and advertising. We realise that the nude has immense power in the stimulus of separating ourselves from our hard earned finances. Moss gains acclaim from the fashion world, in keeping with and moving forward the notions of au courant feminism. David Yurman projects his acknowledgement of the movement by the advertising of his products in the current fashion, and society is influenced by what they see in the magazine of this ultra-modern culture. Peter (Lindberg, 1998) proposes that “creativity is really a rebirth, a true tone we feel for ourselves and for our world. All this is a question of how deep we are willing to go”.