Uni |The Seven Photographs That Changed Fashion

In yesterday’s seminar we watched the BBC documentary ‘The seven photographs that changed fashion’, which invites us on a journey with photographer Rankin in his recreation of his favourite most iconic fashion photographs. This documentary was a great insight into the impact of photography on fashion, and really motivated me to do a blog post on it.

Rankin’s first recreation was of Cecil Beaton’s ‘Hat Box’ from 1934. Cecil was a well known portrait photographer, famous for his glamorous style, wit and playfulness. He created many Vogue covers throughout his career and really paved the way for an early photography style. “I wanted to make something more than a photograph” Cecil stated in one of his interviews “I created a dream world”. In Rankin’s recreation he chose to use model Sophie Ellis-Bexter, who I felt perfectly fitted the role within this photograph. He also started off using the same camera as Beaton, but later referred to his digital camera as he desired a faster and easier way of shooting. It was really interesting to see that the difference in camera, from film to digital, not only changed Rankin’s approach to shooting but also the quality of the image itself and the emotions it evoked.

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The second image was Erwin Blumenfeld’s 1950 Vogue cover, a photographer who created more Vogue covers than any other. For Rankin this was really about looking at how Erwin played around with surreal imagery and explored lighting. What really amazed me about this image was the fact that it was photographed in black and white, and was bleached and coloured by hand. And so I was really intrigued to see how Rankin would go about doing this himself. For this recreation, Heidi Klum was the model and was chosen to give the photograph a modern edge. I feel like this recreation was definitely my favourite, and was the closest in similarity to the original. In the documentary Rankin analyses the image, explaining that “you do not question where the rest of the face is” and I think this is what made the image so iconic, because it’s so true.

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We then went on to photographer Richard Avedon, and his ‘Dovima with Elephants’ image from 1955. Rankin first explored his perfect composition and his use of drama and spectacle to add to his images, and then set out to recreate the image. Lillian Bassman was the chosen model for this particular photograph, she had been told previously that she looked like the original model, Dovima. For this particular photograph location was just as important as the casting of the model, and so Rankin’s went to Whipsenade zoo. The final creation, compared to the original, evoked more positive emotions and an uplifting message as a result of the elephants not being chained up and being free within the photograph.

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David Bailey and his photography for Vogue 1962 followed. For this particular photograph Bailey used his lover at the time, Jean Shrimpton as his model, and so it was only right that Rankin’s used his model girlfriend. This recreation was all about bringing life and energy to image, just as Bailey did to his. Having David Bailey himself on shoot was really beneficial, and it was great to hear first hand how he created that image originally. I feel like the final outcome was as great as the original and really captured the three key elements position, pose and beauty.

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Helmut Newton and his eye for sexual liberation then lead on from Bailey, and the image ‘Rue Aubriot’ was the motivation behind this fifth recreation. Highly charged sexual scenarios is what made Newton’s work so extraordinary, and so I wasn’t sure how well Rankin would be able to do this. He decided to go back to the same street that Newton took the image, and also had the original model Vibeke Knudsen fly out to assist and help guide the shoot. This was an incredible recreation and was almost identical, I feel like returning to the same street and using the exact same street lighting is what really made this successful.

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The sixth recreation of Rankin’s was one Guy Bourdin’s images for Vogue in 1977. For this Rankin had to really capture the provocative and erotic imagery of Bourdin’s work, as well as his storytelling style. Guy Bourdin had an eye for making commercial images feel like art, he was a creator, an image maker and a perfectionist and I feel like Rankin’s didn’t recreate that element at all. I also feel like the model casting for this recreation could have been better, and maybe this added to the image not being as successful as the others.

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And then there was Herb Ritts’ ‘Fred with tyres’ photograph, which was the final and most challenging recreation for Rankin. Ritts really transformed the way that men were viewed within fashion photography and as models and so this made his work that more fascinating. Rankin used model David Gandy for this shoot, and despite him being smaller in size compared to the original model the final outcome was incredible. I love the fact that Rankin stuck to using the film camera, as I feel that this really completed the photograph. Shockingly I actually prefer Rankin’s recreation, just because it is a lot more natural and intriguing. After seeing the final image, it’s really surprising to think that Rankin struggled to shoot a male model.

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What I loved about this documentary was that Rankin didn’t just set out to create the same image and that be it, he really did his research and went out to recreate the meanings, the messages within the photographs and it was a whole experience. The documentary as a whole was extremely eye opening, especially in terms of technology advancements and photography styles. I was familiar with a few of the images but not the history behind them and so that element of the documentary I also really enjoyed.

I hope this will be just as interesting for you guys as it was for me.

Love always

AHVB X

Uni |Cultural Appropriation Or Cultural Appreciation

First it was Gucci at the beginning of the year when they were criticised for sending white models down the runway with turbans, then Chanel was accused of humiliating the indigenous Australian Culture, and then it was Vogue who had to apologise for offending people  with the photographs of Kendall Jenner with an afro. But most recently  Dolce and Gabbana are facing backlash after their ‘racist’ advert, which features a Chinese woman struggling to eat spaghetti and pizza with a pair of chopstick, and have been forced to cancel their fashion show in Shanghai. What is happening within these big brands for this type of cultural appropriation to keep reoccurring? What conversations are being had?

At the minute within my fashion communication and promotion course we are working our way through the creative process and the four key stages. There is a lot that happens before you can even get to an outcome, from research, investigation and experimentation to planning, analysis and development. From working through this process myself in the last few months, I struggle to understand how no one within the team of Gucci or Dolce and Gabbana decided to challenge the idea or question it.

Personally I feel that the main issue, especially in terms of what Gucci and Vogue did, is that they have chosen to use a white models and have placed features, practices and products of non-white cultures onto them instead of just using models from that particular culture, and that is the problem. When I initially saw the Vogue photo I was more offended that Vogue considered that to be an afro more than anything, and I did understand why people found the whole concept offensive. I also felt that a lot of people were more upset and angry because the model was Kendall Jenner and once again it was another member of the Kardashian’s being associated with cultural appropriation. I just feel that if you are going to use diversity then do it properly and really embrace it, and then it will be appreciated and celebrated, but for now this isn’t cutting it and something needs to change.

It will be very interesting to see how Dolce and Gabbana bounce back from this backlash and how they go about changing things moving forward. After a circulation of Stefano’s racist comments online, will getting rid of him make things any better? Let’s wait and see…

Uni | ‘Clothes Are Not Consent’

“Does the evidence out rule the possibility that she was attracted to the defendant and was open to meeting someone and being with someone? You have to look at the way she was dressed. She was wearing a thong with a lace front” 

In what world does a woman’s chosen style of dress give consent? 

On November 6th, a 27 year old man was found non guilty of raping a 17 year old girl as a result of her wearing a lace front thong, and the statement made by the man’s defence (above) really bothered me. For me fashion and the clothes I choose to wear is a way of expressing myself, and it is also that for so many others. The clothes we choose to put on as women can make us feel confident, empowered and sexy, but is in no way an invitation or consent to being raped or sexually assaulted. Personally, I dress for myself to make myself feel good and to look good for myself. In no way do I dress for the attention or satisfaction of others. 

In so many cases the victim is blamed for the behaviour of the attacker. Whether this be down to their choice of clothing, how much they had been drinking, who they were with, where they were or how they were acting. None of these factors are a good enough excuse for someone to be raped, in fact there isn’t an excuse, it simply shouldn’t be happening. 

This trial sparked up a lot of anger and frustration, and so in Dublin an exhibition was put on with the clothing of rape victims from the time they were attacked put on display, one item of clothing of display being a Holy Communion dress of a child. Rape victim Leona O’Callaghan attended the exhibition and made a really valid point that there was no clear pattern in the exhibition, and how the clothes on displayed ranged from lingerie to boxer shorts, going out dresses and skirts to work uniform proving that clothes do not matter. The hashtag #ClothesAreNotConsent also went viral on social media and became both a public and political debate.

When will we start supporting our rape victims instead of trying to pin the blame on them? When will we understand that no factor can be used to excuse the behaviour of a rapist? 

I would love to know your thoughts so please comment below. 

Love Always 

AHVB X

Date Night | Restaurant Ours

It has been a while since our last date night out, which means our date night posts have taken a back seat for a bit. As we are now both at uni with very busy schedules, movie nights and a pizza delivery are as romantic as we are getting at the minute.

Yesterday I was looking over photos from this year, because I can’t believe how fast it’s gone, and I came across photos from our first Valentine’s Day. This sparked an idea to write a blog post about one of our first proper date nights at Restaurant Ours in Knightsbridge.

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I want to start by saying that there is no other restaurant like it, and it really is a whole experience. I really appreciate how much thought and effort has been put into the restaurant, which is evident not only through its decor but the menu and the overall atmosphere. The beautifully lit hallway to the reception desk was a feature I loved from the start, it really gave off an elegant and sophisticated feel. The staff at the reception desk right through to the bar were absolutely amazing, and really went above and beyond to make our evening the best it could be.

For Valentine’s Day the restaurant had a special set menu based off of a couple sharing, and so we were served kale chips, smoked saggy beef tartare with quail egg and horseradish cream and wild sea bass sashimi with a raw crunch salad for starters. The kale chips were definitely our favourite, I could’ve eaten that all night with a few cocktails and been very happy. For mains we then had buratta aubergine caviar, truffle tagliatelle with shaved black truffle, blackened miso salmon with ginger and cucumber and peppered beef fillet with sweet soy and sesame seeds with sides of seasonal greens and skinny truffle and parmesan chips. The tagliatelle was unreal as well as the skinny chips, Damian and I both love truffle and so we demolished both in no time. The miso salmon was also made to perfection and went so well with the seasonal greens. Lastly we shared a hazelnut and orange marquise cake for dessert which we both struggled with, but it was a lovely finish to our meal.

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Before leaving we had to get some photos for our scrapbook, and so we rushed to the flower wall while it was empty and grabbed a few shots on the Polaroid. I initially put Restaurant Ours on my date list because of the beautiful flower wall, and so there was no way I was leaving without a photo by it.

After our experience for Valentine’s Day I would absolutely love to go back again and see what’s on their menu now, as I know it’s always changing. I also would highly recommend it for those of you looking for an intimate date night setting.

Love Always

AHVB X

General | There’s A Rangtang In My Bedroom…

 

Over the weekend I came across the Iceland Christmas advert on Facebook and Twitter (which I will post for you all below), and it really motivated me to do a blog post on it and spread awareness, especially after reading it won’t be shown on TV and in fact has been banned.

The advert has been described as being too political for a Christmas advert. However I feel like the advert portrayed exactly what Christmas is about, and was encouraging us as human beings to extend the love beyond our close family and friends this year, onto our wildlife and our planet.

Before coming across this advert I had no idea about the effects of palm oil on our planet, and so I set out to look into it a little deeper. Plantation linked to the Palm oil industry has led to major issues from deforestation and habitat degradation, to climate change, animal cruelty and indigenous rights abuse. Every 25 seconds an area the size of an average football pitch is torn down in the rainforests of Malaysia and Indonesia, pushing more and more species to extinction. And with 50% of supermarket products containing palm oil, it is growing in demand.

To know that there are so many people out there just like me, with little to no knowledge about the damaging effects of palm oil on our world, who won’t see this advert is really frustrating. How can you expect change when you are preventing awareness and education? However I try to see the positive in every negative situation and so I want to applaud Iceland for working with Greenpeace to really make a difference. As well as putting actions into play to become the UK’s first major supermarket to stop using palm oil in it’s own brand products by the end of the year. I hope this will motivate many more of you to make a difference.

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From today I will be making a conscious effort to stop using products that contain palm oil, and start looking for the RSPO trademark. Change starts with you. and if we all make an effort to prevent palm oil consumption we can really make a difference to our planet and our home. I would hate for my children and grandchildren to miss out on seeing the beautiful animals that God created because they are all extinct out of the selfishness of my actions.

Netflix & Chill (And Uni)|Abstract

In all my lectures I like to note down recommended reading material, recommended films/series as well as useful websites that will advance my learning and better my knowledge. This evening I had some spare time and so I decided to watch a series recommended by one of my lecturers called ‘Abstract: the art design’.

I decided to jump to episode 7 which focused on Planton’s photography. In the last year photography has been an art that I have really taken an interest in and so this documentary really caught my eye. Also Planton has been described as a Cultural provocateur, and so I was intrigued to see how he worked, how he got to where he is and where his inspiration comes from.

The documentary switches between the life of Platon Antoniou, and some behind the scenes footage of him working with General Colin Powell, both giving great insights into his work and how he got to where he is now. There were also some really moving parts to the documentary in which Planton speaks about some of his greatest projects, and takes us on an incredible journey to one of his scariest missions in Congo 

What I found most interesting about how Planton went about his work, was not only did he do his research before working with someone, but before capturing a moment he really took time to build a connection and bond with that person. I feel this is what allowed him to communicate some really interesting stories through his photography. Along with the fact that he shoots in film rather than digital, which keeps the connection between a photographer and their subject. 

I really enjoyed this documentary and gained so much knowledge, not only into the work and life of Planton Antoniou but into photography as an art and the power it has to not only captures moments, but tell

a story that can inform and inspire others. I also learnt so much about things that have happened and that are still happening in our world and how photography has played an important role in spreading awareness of these happenings.

For those of you interested you can find the documentary on Netflix, I highly recommend watching it.

Love always

AHVB X