Monday, April 16, 2012

In The Name of Fashion

Firstly, I'm telling you now, I'm going to talk about some very, very disturbing pictures today but I am not putting them on my blog. I don't want to unnerve or upset anyone and they are (to me) very, very unnerving.

Lately, there seems to be an emerging trend in photoshoots: Violence. While it's true that I will never understand the fashion world, I can understand most concepts - this is one that really baffles me. Why would I want to own the same skirt as the "victim" from this photoshoot? (Crystal Renn is the "patient" and Karolina Kurkova is the "nurse").

I'm not sure if these are NSFW or not, to be honest. There's no nudity as such, but there's one picture that comes close. They're all disgusting, imho. It's a photoshoot from Interview magazine called "Institutional White", and it can be found here:

This was shot by Steven Klein, which doesn't come as a great surprise to me - I am not a fan of his work, and he comes second only to Terry Richardson on the list of photographers I don't like. I'll say no more. The stylist on this was Ludivine Poiblanc, who frankly should know better - she is responsible for some really nice styling, including a recent campaign for H&M.

What's your opinion on shoots like this? Do you think I'm making a big deal out of nothing? I'd love to hear your take on it. I don't see how a photoshoot like this even gets published, did nobody think it was disturbing? Or does anyone give a damn anymore? Is that where we're heading, the more disturbing the better?

Recent pictures of Justin Bieber might suggest that this IS indeed where we're heading. I'm not a fan, but he doesn't bother me. I can appreciate him for what he is - a young talented guy making a career for himself. He has what can only be described as an army of teenage fans. Bieber and his management know who their market is. So who thought this shoot for Complex Magazine was a good idea?

Sorry, but personally, I don't want to see an 18-year-old lad getting the living shite kicked out of him, fake blood or not. It's actually a really good interview, but I cannot fathom why that was the direction they decided to go in with the shoot. I get the concept, but it could have been done in a less... blood-splattering way. The photographer on that one was Tony Kelly, an Irish photographer based in L.A. Tony is another one of these... "unique, boundary-pushing, non-conformist" photographers. In this piece from September 2010, Tony is quoted as saying:

"I do like to shock people. I hate when people say to me, 'it's a nice picture'. For me, that's a failure. I like to get a reaction. And I do like people to have a giggle as well. It's pop art, essentially, isn't it? It's not to be taken too seriously." Irish Independent, 19/9/10

I don't know about the rest of ye - but I'd love to see something that's NOT trying to be bold and shocking for once. I cannot understand how anyone can judge any of these photographs as "Sooo hot" or "My favourite, soooo sexy". My god, is this what's sexy now? This is only two recent examples - there are thousands. Why is it alright to portray a pretty young model as a vulnerable, scared, trapped victim? Why is it alright to show a good looking young guy being beaten to a pulp?

I'd love to know what you think. Am I turning into a prude or has this "shock photography" trend gone way past shocking and into disgusting?

S xx


  1. Insensitivity is something the fashion industry is famed for, glamorisation of violence is repugnant. The pictures of Justin do not offend me as much as the ‘Institutional white’

    It disgusts me that mental illness is being used as a marketing tool for edgy fashion just because the skirt has a few buckles on it.
    Someone being institutionalised is clearly not a very sexy thing, for them to try and make it so is baffling
    The reality of mental health wards isn’t half as Victoriana and cool as they would have us believe.
    The pain in places like that is palpable, not gritty and edgy.
    That photo shoot is just wrong on so many levels it has fetish elements to it, the patient is tied up and being sexually objectified by the ‘nurse’ in control, obviously against the paitents will.
    This brings back my anger at lady gaga for glamorising rape in her pathetic piece of ‘art’ video she mustered up.

    Sadly people do not know where to draw the line anymore.

  2. You're definitely not alone - I detest all those fashion shoots, music videos, etc! Glamourising rape or violence doesn't make you 'an artist', & it's not 'pushing boundaries'. It's sick. Everyone just wants to be controversial, to drum up some publicity. What's wrong with showing clothes for the pretty pieces they are, or letting music speak for itself?
    This piece is so well-written, & highlights an important issue. Good work x

  3. @Katie - it reminded me of that Lady Gaga video too. Anyone that knows anything about mental illness knows that it's not something that should be glamorized, and the fact that institutions are so often incorporated into fashion and music is also baffling to me, I just don't understand it. Fashion is supposed to be something we want to emulate, why would anyone want to emulate being a victim? I find stories from former institutionalized patients horrifying, not glamorous.

    @Chloe It is really all about controversy, and I suppose the fact that people are talking about it proves their point - but I can't see anyone rushing out to buy "the top Crystal Renn was wearing in that picture where she was bound and gagged to a trolley". It disgusts me.

    Thanks for reading and I really appreciate your comments girls xx

  4. I definitely agree, I've actually read a bit about it recently. There was this Dolce and Gabbanna one about 5 years ago

    Like I don't get why anyone would think this looks any bit sexy, it's just weird, awkward and has rapey undertones.

    And it's not just fashion.This one for Belvedere vodka is just disgusting

    'Belvedere always goes down smoothly', with a picture that just suggests the additional sentence 'unlike some girls who just need some 'gentle' persuasion'.It's disgusting really and there's probably millions more like it.

    I haven't read much about old mental istiutions, but a book I was reading recently (about London) touched on it briefly a few times and it's been something I've wanted to look in to. Some people, women especially, had horrific experiences in places like that,barely even treated better than animals.

    Also, while we're on it, another bit peeve in advertising is sexism. Like that Ryanair ad with 'red hot fares (and crew!)'. And also the other way around, not just about women but men too, with that stupid Bachelor peas ad that's currently around with those 'sexy farmers'. FFS!

  5. The 'Institutional White' one is repugnant. Who in their right mind okayed that?? Rape and torture are two things that should never be glamourised, I can't believe that those images were actually published. What gets me even more is that the models should have known better, Kurkova at least is extremely well respected in the industry, not sure about Renn.

  6. It's probably got something to do with the recent craze over bondage provoked by the popularity of Fifty Shades of Grey.

  7. I have to say I like it, although I'm obviously in the minority here. I do get why people aren't into it, but to me it pushes boundaries and grabs my attention way more than any 'standard' shoot.


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