Thursday, 9 November 2017

En Vogue

I often find that writing (like talking) is a great way to relive stress, tension and help with your mental health. 

This does of course require time, something which I rarely have. Time is a real and extremely rare commodity. 

I have found over the years that writing (Venting) about some frustrations often helps me to deal with other more real situations and stresses. 

The Fashion industry and in turn Fashion Photography frustrates the hell out of me. It is pretentious, often ludicrous and for the most part seemingly populated by upper middle-class and high-class silver spoon fed snobs (or people who have grafted to get to be an upper-class snob) 

That's most of us counted out then eh! 

As a somewhat avid engager in fashion photography, although be it not on the Vogue scale, I have tried a few times, and I did once get a lovely written reply from Alexandra Shulman, on headed note paper, hand signed the lot, thanking me for sending my portfolio and that she had kindly passed my deets on to her team.... 

I have engaged from a distance over the years, watching what the high-end fashion people do and create, and this has led me to my question today is 'Is Vogue really all that?' 

With a new editor at the helm, the erstwhile Mr Edward Enninful , Vogue magazine promised a new vision upon his command. I actually applied for his job when the fabulous Alexandra Shulman stood down, I figured if Turnip Trump can become leader of the free world then I had a shot at editor of British Vogue right!! 

Well, it didn't quite work out like that, but I can take it. I promptly congratulated Mr E on his appointment and quickly offered my services. I am still waiting for his reply, but I know he is a busy man.... 

Edward's first cover as editor is now out here, and with all of the press it has received over the last few days I thought I would take a proper look at what the new Vogue looks like, all these months of waiting, this is going to be fuckin awesome I thought!! 

I logged on to Instagram, and I was scrolling down the feed and boom.... 

At 1st to be honest I thought it was one of those fake covers you can do on an app, then I saw Edward himself has posted the image... 

So I look again, zoomed in, zoomed out, zoomed in again... 

My reaction... I've binned better test shots. I am being serious. 

image copyright Steve Meisel/ British Vogue. 

This is a cover that reveals more about ensuring you give all of your mates a job than ensuring you create something memorable, different, surprising and a cover you will look back in in 20 years and go, wow he/we/ they got it right. 

Of course, all of those involved and all of their mates love it, the whole of Instagram has been a total love fest. I have been itching for some honest soul to say, actually wft is this.... but no, no one has yet had the balls... 

Over the me then... 

This is nothing personal (it is just my opinion) there are clearly some exceptionally talented people involved here, but this reads to me like when everyone daren't tell the boss that everyone thinks it's shit, so they carry on nodding and grinning like good sheep.... 

The cover features a photograph of British/ Ghanaian model Adwoa Aboa (the model of the moment, apparently) 

As I examine this image, I am beginning to critique it. I am asking how does it make me feel, does it talk to me, does it do what Edward and his team wanted it to do? For this exercise I will Imagine that I am describing this image and cover to someone who is blind, a literal critique of you like. 

This is a magazine cover, British vogue, with the big Vogue type face in red across the top, with the words 'Great Britain' in the same font big and bold in white, to the bottom right corner, which actually takes up around 20% of the page. To the centre left from top to bottom is a list of no less than 21 celebrity names, people involved or featured in this issue, the font is quite British in style and a mixture of black and red, and quite difficult to read. 

The cover image is set on a white background depicts a mixed-race female model in her mid 20's. The image is a close crop of head and shoulders, with part of the models left shoulder and left side of her head off the page. Her face and shoulders, which are quite pale and milky in tone and which are bare to the elements with her head and hair wrapped in a coloured patterned head scarf, one of which Hilda Ogden herself would have been proud. This is complemented by some sort of matching shall? The strategic positioning to the right of the page allows her long neck and thin face to peer in to the page. This is a nicely lit shot, subtle shadows to the models right with minimal reflection on the right cheek giving a nice amount of separation from the white backdrop. The blue metallic eye shadow compliments the fierce eye contact, yet somehow fades out in a clumsy way, like a hasty retouch or poor application. The models faint eyebrows provide little in the way of separation between the eyes and the forehead, but I quite like that. The model's brown eyes tone down the overall blast of colour from the clear incorporation the British theme of red white and blue, but it seems to me that it was more important to get those colours in the image rather than asking should they use those colours at all? Her large red lips heavily accent the centre of the image, the strobe lights seem to bleach and heavily highlight the lips in places. 

Large silver earrings which look something akin to what Danny John Jules alter ego the Cat in Red Dwarf would adore (Fish!!!) the right-hand side one partially hidden behind the models face which clumsily peaks out from behind the model's slim cheek bone, and appears a little washed out by the lights. The earrings completely distract me from the models face. They spoil the image. 

Overall this image, although nice does not jump of the page and cream 'Great Britain' to me. It is a rather flat, nice, unassuming image, more like something from a travel catalogue, or Littlewoods latest billboard than the front page of the most famous fashion magazine in the world. Furthermore, the image is a headshot, which I guess in itself is a bold move as opposed to the regular ¾ or full-length fashion covers. But the image doesn’t work, it is awkward, almost as if they had to find an image that best fitted around all of the fonts and the list of contributors. 

The layout of the cover is ugly and lopsided. (Not the model I may add)

I am left to ponder is this image then anything special? Is it something we haven't seen a million times before? I would argue no, it is not. It looks like the kind of image you create will a create team when you are testing ideas and concepts. it feels as though it is not complete. It does not speak to me how Edward would like it too. 

For me, there are a million better ways for the team at Vogue to represent Great Britain! They could have used the same team, but perhaps pushed the boundaries at least a little. 

I expected something wow, controversial, memorable, what I got was, oh, erm, right.... 

Another massive disappointment for me is the choice of Photographer. Yes, Steve Mesiel is hailed as one of the modern fashion greats, and although this is a competent image, it is a little easy and not one of his best technically or creatively. From what I have seen of the rest of the set, they fair no better, save for the black and whites which are more heavily shadowed and edited. 

Considering this cover pretends to celebrate all that is British, I do wonder why an American Photographer was selected to shoot the set, as there are dozens of us British fuckers out here who are extremely capable of pulling of something much, much more... 

So, I am back where I began, wondering if Vogue is all that? 

It seems to me it is not really about being great, or creative, or a genius, or a boundary breaker. It appears that it is more about who you are and who you know. Getting your mates round and playing at fashion and photography, and just happening to have a massive outlet for what you create. 

Simply reading the list of this month's contributors and features tells you this, without even looking at the content. 

The chances of the likes of us working class hero's being invited to add something fresh to this faux fashion mix is about as likely as the Metropolitan police actually investigating Paedophile rings in Westminster, or Jeremy Corbin actually being any different to his predecessors. 

This is Edwards 1st issue, let us see where this goes. He has commissioned great work preciously W mag and who knows the next issue may begin to break the boundaries. Edward has promised to rid Vogue of its posh girl reputation, so let us hope he extends this to its contributors... 

My answer to my original questions: Given all of this, right now my conclusion is no, Vogue is not all that. 

But what do I know? I didn’t get his job and Mr E and his team don't answer my e mails... :)

Here's a few of my favourite 'fashion' and cover images I have created. In comparison to this Vogue cover, I know this work would be massively out of place, but perhaps that is my point? 


cheers all , Lance 

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